Halloween is nearly upon us. You know what that means—time for carved pumpkins, candy, and, best of all, scary movies! We’ve pulled together a list of the most spooktacular films and TV shows to enjoy this Halloween, no matter your age.
Halloween Movies for Little Kids
Room on the Broom (TV-Y7)
In this Halloween flick based on Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s picture book of the same name, a gentle witch with a ginger braid offers rides to a variety of animals on her increasingly crowded broom, much to her grumpy cat’s chagrin.
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (G)
This Disney cartoon double-feature contains two stories based on books: Mr. Toad’s adventures from The Wind in the Willows, and the Halloween tale, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, which earns this movie a spot on our list. Watch as Ichabod Crane tries to court the lovely Katrina, only to be scared out of town by the Headless Horseman!
Halloween Movies and Shows for Big Kids
A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting (PG)
Recruited by a secret society of babysitters, high schooler Kelly Ferguson battles the Boogeyman and his monsters when they nab the boy she’s watching on Halloween. This film follows the events of the first book in Joe Ballarini’s series of the same name, and we’re hoping we’ll see movies for books two and three as well!
Based on the bestselling novel by Neil Gaiman, this stop-motion animated feature tells the story of Coraline Jones who discovers another world that is a strangely idealized version of her frustrating home, but with sinister secrets of its own.
The Witches (2020) (PG) and The Witches (1990) (PG)
It’s not Halloween without witches! Roald Dahl’s spooky novel, The Witches, has been retold on the big screen twice now—one film released in 1990, the other released October 22nd, 2020. We leave it to you to decide which film is a better adaptation of the book’s story about a boy faced with an international witch convention.
Goosebumps (1998) (TV-G), Goosebumps (2015) (PG), and Goosebumps 2 (2018) (PG)
We can’t talk about Halloween without mentioning R.L. Stine! His Goosebumps book series has been spooking kids for decades, and the films and TV show based on his books are no different. Whether you’re looking to binge an entire series, or just a movie or two, there’s a Goosebumps story for you.
A Series of Unfortunate Events (2019) (TV-PG) and A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004) (PG)
If you’re looking for something villainous this Halloween, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events book series has inspired both a film and a Netflix series, so take your pick as to whether you want to see the Baudelaire orphans face off against Count Olaf for only two hours or something closer to twenty-five hours…
In this made-for-TV movie based on the book series T*Witches, Tia and Tamera Mowry play twins Alex and Camryn who, on their 21st birthday, discover that their unusual powers double in strength when they work together.
Halloween Movies and Shows for Teens
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (PG-13)
Inspired by one of the most terrifying children’s book series of all time, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark follows a group of young teens who must solve the mystery surrounding sudden and macabre deaths in their small town.
Nancy Drew (TV-14)
You’ve never seen Nancy Drew like this before! This TV series is much darker than the yellow-spined book series the show is based on. Follow along with teen detective Nancy and her friends as they uncover the mysteries of Horseshoe Bay after a socialite’s murder makes them prime suspects.
Vampire Diaries (TV-14)
Vampires may not be the “in” creature this Halloween, but this list wouldn’t be complete without them. The Vampire Diaries is just the thing if you’re looking to get your vampire fix as you watch feuding vampire brothers Stefan and Damon vie for the affection of captivating teen Elena.
Speaking of vampires…Bram Stoker’s Dracula popularized vampires. Now the Netflix series brings new life to the legend of Count Dracula, with new tales that flesh out the vampire’s gory crimes—and bring his vulnerability into the light.
Halloween Movies and Shows for Adults
Sleepy Hollow (R)
While the kids watch The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, the adults can opt for a creepier rendition of Washington Irving’s tale with Sleepy Hollow. Johnny Depp stars as Ichabod Crane, who in this case is an eccentric investigator determined to stop the murderous Headless Horseman.
I Know What You Did Last Summer (R)
In this film based on the novel by Lois Duncan, four friends share their final summer before heading to college, but accidentally kill a pedestrian on a drive home. Scared and confused, they make a fateful decision that will come back to haunt them.
Silence of the Lambs (R)
You may not know this film was based on a book by Thomas Harris, but there’s a good chance you know the name of his villain, Hannibal Lecter. Watch as FBI trainee Clarice Starling ventures into a maximum-security asylum to pick the diseased brain of Hannibal Lecter, a psychiatrist turned cannibal.
Pet Sematary (R)
We would be remiss if we didn’t include Stephen King’s horror masterpieces in this list. There’s so many of his book-to-film projects to choose from, but one of the more recent examples is Pet Sematary, in which a couple move to rural Maine only to discover a mysterious burial ground hidden deep in the woods near their new home.
The Haunting of Hill House (TV-MA)
Though the book was first published in 1959, Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House has inspired numerous haunted house stories that came afterwards. It’s also the inspiration behind Netflix’s 10-part mini-series of the same name in which a fractured family confronts haunting memories of their old home and the terrifying events that drove them from it.
There are so many more spooky movies out there! Which ones will you be adding to your Halloween watch list? Tell us in the comments below.
Megan Barlog loves great stories, be they books, movies, TV shows, or anything in between! She has studied both creative writing and screenwriting, and worked for both a library and a major NYC publisher. When she’s not writing a novel or screenplay, she’s probably out for a run or binge-watching something on Netflix.
If you enjoyed this piece, check out: 12 of the Best Book-to-Film Adaptations in 2020