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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Elizabeth Gregory

The best scary Halloween TV shows and films to watch this weekend

Halloween is just a few days away, and while some will be celebrating by donning ridiculous costumes and eating copious amounts of sweets, others will have set aside the weekend for watching back-to-back terrifying films and TV shows.

Happily for the second group, all of the usual streaming platforms have risen to the occasion, welcoming in a haunting host of scary classics, excellent scary movies, and spooky series to watch over the coming days. Here’s our pick of the best of the bunch, listed in no particular order.

The Others (2001) – Prime Video

One of the scariest films of all time, Nicole Kidman plays a woman who starts to suspect that her home and children are being haunted by ghosts. Doors open of their own accord; there are unexplained footsteps and whispers in the corridors. Servants disappear, others show up uninvited. But everything is not what it seems. Ooooer!

Haunted Mansion (2023) – Disney+

With an all-star cast that includes Tiffany Haddish, Owen Wilson, Danny DeVito, Jamie Lee Curtis and Jared Leto, Haunted Mansion is a real laugh: described by Disney+ as a “frighteningly fun adventure”. The film, which was released in the States in July, follows a woman and her son who call in a group of spiritual experts to help them banish the ghosts that are terrorising their house. It's based on the Disneyland ride of the same name.

Ring (1998) – MUBI

Ring is still often cited as one of the best horror films of all time: unlike others that were being released in that era, Ring used suspense and psychological terror, rather than gore and jump scares, to frighten its audience. A perfect Halloween addition to MUBI, Ring tells the story of a journalist who gets entangled in a curse when she investigates several deaths linked to a video tape.

Scream (2022) – Netflix

Wes Craven’s 1996 slasher Scream changed the horror genre forever: not only did it introduce Ghostface, but it was cynical and self-referential, with its killer quizzing victims about horror films as part of his sadistic game. It starred Courteney Cox, Rose McGowan, Drew Barrymore, Liev Schreiber, David Arquette and Neve Campbell at the beginning of their careers, and, having made $173 million off a $15 million budget, three sequels followed in quick succession.

On the 25th anniversary of the original film, a new Scream was released: Cox, Arquette and Campbell returned to take down Ghostface, who was now picking off a bunch of high school students.

Dead Ringers (2023) – Prime Video

The original was described as “cold and creepy” “uniquely disturbing” and “unnerving but also enthralling”. It electrified some and appalled others, with its meditation on obsession and its depiction of human disintegration. Then this year David Cronenberg’s 1988 cult classic, Dead Ringers, was turned into a blow-your-socks-off six-part Prime Video series – and it would make for a perfect Halloween watch.

Rachel Weisz stars as twins Beverly and Elliot, two incredibly brilliant obstetricians living in New York. The story follows the utterly bonkers doctors as they try and raise money for a new birthing facility.

Werewolf By Night in Color (2023) – Disney+

This time last year, Disney+ released Werewolf By Night, a special Halloween adaptation of the Marvel comic character of the same name. The black and white film told the story of a group of monster hunters who, while searching for a powerful relic, end up coming face to face with a terrifying creature. Now, the highly-rated film has been re-released, in colour.

The Conference (2023) – Netflix

It’s a set up we’ve seen a million times: a group of people go to a cabin and then get bumped off by a lunatic running around in a mask. Do we really need another iteration? Well, yes, because we’ve watched the other ones. In The Conference, a Swedish slasher-comedy from Patrik Eklund, a group of employees go on a retreat. Conventional work tensions, which include accusations of misconduct, take on a rather macabre edge when members of the team start being murdered.

Halloween (1978) – MUBI (Landing on October 31)

There’s a reason why Halloween went on to spawn an insane 12 further films, the last of which was released last year. The hit horror, which introduced psycho-killer Michael Myers and his favourite victim, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is about as classic as a slasher film could be. Set in a small American town containing an isolated house, the horror builds with high-pitched, spine-tingling music, shadows against windows, and the glimmer of a large knife. Oh, and naturally there’s also a killer that’s on the loose.

The Burning Girls (2023) – Paramount+

Things get extremely spooky when Reverend Jack Brooks (Samantha Morton) and her daughter  Flo (Ruby Stokes) try to start a new life in an English village which has been stalked by tragedy: villagers burned Protestant martyrs at the stake 500 years ago, two teenagers disappeared 30 years ago, and most recently, the old vicar hanged himself.

What We Do In The Shadows (2023) – Season 5 – Disney+

It’s always a good time to watch What We Do In The Shadows, FX’s satirical take on the vampire genre (which is based on Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi‘s 2014 film). But, with Halloween just days away, this month’s release of the fifth season is particularly welcome. The Emmy award-nominated American mockumentary series follows four vampire roommates (the eldest of which is 760 years old) who are living on Staten Island and having a go at modern life.

Carrie (1976) – Prime Video

It’s no major surprise that when Brian De Palma, the legendary director of Dressed To Kill, Body Double and Scarface, took on the horror genre, the result was a bloody, horrifying icon of a film. Sissy Spacek plays Carrie, a student with telekinetic powers who is relentlessly bullied by everyone at school. At home, meanwhile, she has to contend with her psychotic, ultra-religious mother. Matters explode at prom when Carrie becomes the butt of a particularly cruel joke. She loses control of her hidden talent, and mayhem reigns.

The Fall of the House of Usher (2023) – Netflix

Loosely based on gothic fiction writer Edgar Allan Poe’s 1839 short story, this miniseries follows a family over a century detailing the rise of pharmaceutical boss and patriarch Roderick Usher, and a series of incidents that result in the deaths of his six children. Created by Mike Flanagan (Absentia, Oculus, The Haunting) and starring Bruce Greenwood and Carla Gugino, the series became Netflix’s most-watched English-language fiction program when it was released earlier this month.

Slotherhouse (2023) - Paramount+

First there was Cocaine Bear, the completely absurd comedy-horror tale of a bear that devours a load of cocaine and goes on a rampage. Then came Winnie The Pooh’s transformation into an axe-wielding killer. But nothing could have prepared audiences for this next inspired transformation: the sloth, one of the slowest mammals on earth, has become a psychotic murderer in a new film, Slotherhouse. When a college girl adopts a pet sloth called Alpha, little does she know but she has brought a rabid killer into her sorority house.

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