You can find a good scare pretty much anywhere nowadays: in the plethora of gory horror movies and TV shows like “American Horror Story,” in suspenseful books (see our guide to October books for a solid list), in… reality. But not everyone’s looking for classic jump scares and blood and gore, which is why we’ve compiled a list of shows and movies that may not immediately come to mind as Halloween fodder.
Whimsical and bittersweet: Over the Garden Wall
Follow brothers Wirt and Gregory as they try to make their way home through a mysterious forest filled with talking birds, curious creatures, and a troubling secret. Over the Garden Wall is a quintessential fall show because everything about it screams October: the moody autumn lighting, the animated “Pumpkin People” dressed in straw, and the creeping sense that something is awfully wrong. Over the Garden Wall is brilliantly paced, withholding information so that it’s almost impossible to discern characters’ motives and origins, making it incredibly satisfying to watch through the very end. And, it’s a touching coming-of-age story about family, wrapped up in nostalgia and beautiful animation.
Where to watch: Hulu
Wholesome competition: Halloween Baking Championship
October is a surprisingly crafty time, with jack-o-lanterns and DIY Halloween costumes and whatnot. For some inspiration and generally sweet Halloween content, try out the Halloween Baking Championship. It’s like its sister show, Holiday Baking Championship: Contestants create spooky treats under monstrous challenges.
Where to watch: Hulu
Halloween Guide 2019
- What to Read — Here are some recommendations for scary reads to curl up with!
- Where to Go — These spots will set you up for a pumpkin-tastic holiday.
- What to Wear — Advice from local pros on how to approach your costume this year.
Classic horror with a moral to the story: Infamy: The Terror
Infamy: The Terror, starring former Star Trek actor George Takei, combines Japanese ghost stories with American history for a whole season of horror. Set in a Japanese American internment camp in World War II, the show follows a community haunted by a supernatural presence. In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, co-director Alexander Woo said that he didn’t want The Terror: Infamy and its stories of Japanese-American internment to feel like a “museum piece.” It doesn’t. The horror brings an immediate reaction to its viewers.
Where to watch: AMC
A comedy: Little Monsters
Little Monsters, starring Lupita Nyong’o and Josh Gad, first premiered at Sundance earlier this year, and is getting its limited release in American theaters on Oct. 8 before hitting streaming services three days later, on Oct. 11. Whether or not you want to watch on the big screen or the little, Little Monsters promises to be an action-packed, hilarious romantic comedy set in the middle of disaster. Nyong’o plays Miss Caroline, a teacher taking her kindergarteners on a field trip when all hell breaks loose, and the zombie apocalypse officially reaches their placid playground. Now Miss Caroline has to figure out how to save her students from an invasion of the undead, all while keeping them gracefully in the dark from the apocalypse around them.
Where to watch: Hulu, Neon
A thrilling mystery: Veronica Mars
Before Kristen Bell was the witty, strong-willed protagonist of The Good Place, she was the witty, strong-willed protagonist of Veronica Mars, a detective noir originally released in 2004. Now, Veronica Mars is back with a fourth season, five years after the Veronica Mars movie and 12 years after the third season’s end. For good reason too: “I want her to exist and I want her to exist for my daughters,” Bell tells Good Morning America. Veronica Mars, a skilled private detective devoted to fighting injustice, makes a pretty good role model. While the show isn’t strictly Halloween themed, it’ll satisfy your craving for intense mystery and enigmatic characters.
Where to watch: Hulu
A Halloween classic: Practical Magic
I know, I know. We were trying to think outside of the box, but this family drama is a powerful tale about sisterhood and self-determination, and we’re not sure if there’s anything better than that. Practical Magic follows two sister witches (Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman) who come from a cursed family: Any man who falls in love with them is doomed to death. The movie has comedy, horror, and romance — a killer combination for any Halloween movie night.
Where to watch: Amazon Prime