Halloween's upon us once again. In between handing out candy for the little trick or treaters who come to your door, maybe you'd like to curl up on the couch in front of the Apple TV (or your Mac or iPad) with some spooky shows to get you in the mood. Of course, horror's best when you mix it with some laughs, so I've tried to mix up the gory and the goofy on this list of ten movies and TV shows with spooky Halloween themes. Here are my picks for the best stuff to put you in the Halloween spirit!
Adam and Barbara Maitland live an idyllic, quiet life in New England until their untimely demise, when they suddenly find themselves as ghosts in their own home — a house that's suddenly invaded by loathsome urban yuppie scum intent on remaking their quaint house into a garishly designed and decorated place. Unfamiliar in the ways of haunting, they enlist the help of Beetlejuice, a troublesome spirit with ideas of his own, only to find they've made a deal with the devil. Hilarious comedy from Tim Burton, starring Michael Keaton, Geena Davis, Alec Baldwin and Winona Ryder.
Director Sam Raimi created an enduring franchise featuring cult movie icon Bruce Campbell with The Evil Dead, the story of college students who stumble across an ancient tome that unleashes demonic forces that possess them until only one is left. A terrifying, gory take on the "cabin the woods" trope that spawned sequels and countless imitators.
William Friedkin's 1973 adaptation of William Peter Blatty's novel stands apart from most horror movies for its shocking, controversial and genre-defining portrayal of a twelve-year old girl possessed by an ancient evil. More than 40 years on, the movie still has the power to chill, horrify and amaze as you watch Regan wracked by the demon Pazuzu as her mother and two priests attempt to save her. This extended cut incorporates 10 minutes of footage not included in the original theatrical release, along with iTunes Extras including two documentaries containing interviews with the director and writer and more.
Mary Shelley's 1818 novel served as the template for this story, featuring Boris Karloff as the monster. Frankenstein is, of course, not the monster, but the mad scientist who defies nature by returning the dead to life. Director James Whale created what many consider to be the greatest horror movie ever made way back in 1931, and it's stood the test of time as a compelling, frightful tale.
Spawning one of the most prolific franchises in horror movie history, it's hard to top the original Halloween: The story of deranged killer Michael Meyers. It's this move that put Jamie Lee Curtis on the map as the "scream queen," and it also features Donald Pleasence as the doctor trying desperate to get Meyers to stop his murderous rampage.
No Halloween movie night would be complete without one of the greatest TV shows about Halloween ever, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Charlie Brown and his friends get ready for a night of tricks or treats while Linus takes to the pumpkin patch with Charlie's little sister Sally to stand watch for the Great Pumpkin. This enduring classic is a perennial favorite around Halloween, but now you can own it and enjoy it whenever you want. Remastered in 2008.
Tim Burton's paean to stop-motion TV specials from the 60s and 70s, The Nightmare Before Christmas imagines the world of Halloweentown, where spooks and spirits, ghouls and ghosts spend the year preparing for that very special day. The leader of Halloweentown, Jack Skellington, is bored with his place in the world, and decides he can do a better job with Christmas than that roly-poly Santa fellow. What happens next is hilarious. With an amazing soundtrack by Danny Elfman, The Nightmare Before Christmas is an enduring Halloween tradition.
Steven Spielberg and Tobe Hooper blew the audience's mind in 1982 when Poltergeist was first released: A truly terrifying tale of a family afflicted by paranormal forces that invade their home, torment them and take their beloved younger daughter beyond the veil. Full of vintage practical effects that still look great more than 30 years later, Poltergeist is a chilling movie with an emotional core that make it resonate with families regardless of age.
This glam-rock musical is a loving valentine to B-movie sci-fi fare and the classic age of movie monsters. Going to a midnight showing of Rocky Horror is, of course, a big part of the fun, but it's still great fun to sing along at home and join in when they're doing the Time Warp.
Tobe Hooper's classic slasher film is now 40 years old, believe it or not. Leatherface is more horrifying than ever in this remastered version, which looks better and sounds better than ever before. iTunes Extras include outtakes, bloopers, and interviews with the actors.
Hopefully this will help you kick your Halloween movie and TV show collection into high gear. There are so many great titles to choose from, I'm sure there are some I've left off that you would love to have seen. Let me know your favorite picks for Halloween shows and movies in the comments!