Cosy vs Scary Halloween TV recommendations

Halloween (Samhain) is when the veil between worlds thins, and the undead things enter our world with ease. Not only is it an ancient festival that demands wearing a costume, but it’s a great time to catch up on movies and tv series. If you are not the partying type and prefer staying at home, then I have great news for you. Whether you wish to have a cosy Halloween wrapped in a blanket with hot cocoa or be so scared you are forced to sleep with the light on, I’ve got your poison.

Please note that there are so many classic Halloween movies that I cherish dearly, just like everyone else, but I try to leave out the most obvious ones from this list. It’s more fun that way!

Cosy recommendations:

Death becomes her (1992) is a masterpiece. A proper storyline wrapped in dark humour played by two of Hollywood’s greatest as gorgeous self-centred women fighting over a nerdy guy to the bitter end. Add some magic and death, and you got a recipe for the perfect cosy Halloween movie. This movie will entertain you, and make you laugh, plus it goes perfectly with the Halloween theme without actually scaring you.

“This is life’s ultimate cruelty. It offers us a taste of youth and vitality, and then it makes us witness our own decay.” -Death Becomes Her

Continuing with dark humour and great acting, I present Witches of Eastwick (1987). It’s a story about three besties living in a cosy village when one day a mysterious man moves there and strange things start happening. I watch this one every few years; it’s that cosy and entertaining.

Horror writers imagined monsters get loose in a cosy town and a group of teenagers have to find a way to save everyone. Goosebumps (2015) is a light and a funny movie without being patronising, like most movies aimed at younger audiences. That said, I’m a fully-formed adult who immensely enjoyed this movie. I feel like this is one of those movies that anyone could enjoy, no matter their age.

“You can call them ghosts, if you’d like, or as I like to call them; the living-impaired.” -Casper

Yes, this is an old classic, but I didn’t have the heart to leave it off the list. Casper (1995) is a funny and sweet story of a father and daughter who move to an old mansion and discover it’s full of ghosts. A few spooky moments later, the duo is elbows deep, fighting bad guys and helping a friendly spirit called Casper.

The new Netflix series Sandman (2022-present) is brilliant, and I say that as a girl who read the comic books this tv show is based on back in the 90s. I was extremely hesitant when they first came out with the series, and I started watching it with one eye open, scared it would ruin my beloved Sandman memories, but I was pleasantly surprised. In short, Sandman is an eternal being and the ruler of human dreams. He is captured, and while he rots in a cell, the human world goes crazy with all the nightmares roaming loose. When he finally does manage to escape his captors, he embarks on an exciting journey across worlds to put all the dreams back where they belong.

“As powerful as you are here in your realm, dreams rarely survive in the waking world. Nightmares, on the other hand, seem to thrive there.” -Sandman

Scary recommendations:

I watched The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016) alone, and I confess it did take me some time to fall asleep that night. Two coroners, father and son, receive the body of an unknown young woman one night, and as they start performing an autopsy on her, weird and scary things start happening. This movie grabs your attention from the get-go and holds on to you until the very end. It’s not about cutting heads and splattering blood but something much worse. It’s a movie that manages to pull off a psychologically unique atmosphere of fear.

The Ritual (2017) follows four men who come together to mourn the death of a friend. They decide on a healing trip hiking through the Scandinavian wilderness, but one bad decision leads them deep into the forest where horrors await. Again, not a slasher movie but a movie that psychologically builds up terror.

“You need to listen to me. The world’s a hungry place. A dark place. I’ve only met two or three people like us. They died. When I was a kid, I bumped into these things. I don’t know about magic. I always called it the shining“. -Doctor Sleep

Based on Stephen King’s novel Doctor Sleep (2019) follows the story of that little boy you might remember from The Shining movie, you know the one with Jack Nicholson. The boy is now all grown up but still battles with his inner demons. He comes across a little girl who shares his gift of seeing beings from other dimensions. As the creatures close in on the little girl, our hero must face his fears to protect her. We all know that movies based on Stephen King’s novels haven’t always been a success, but this one is nearly perfect.

The Conjuring (2013) is terrifying, and if you fall asleep peacefully after this one, you are a tough cookie. The movie is based on a real paranormal investigative couple going on a mission in an old haunted farmhouse where unseen forces terrorise a family. Need I say more?

“Diabolical forces are formidable. These forces are eternal, and they exist today. The fairy tale is true. The devil exists. God exists. And for us, as people, our very destiny hinges upon which one we elect to follow.” -The Conjuring

My last recommendation is a collection of three movies consisting of Fear Street (2021), Fear Street 1878 (2021), and Fear Street 3 (2021). Here we have that classic Halloween-vibe slasher trilogy with blood, murder, and a group of teens trying to unravel a mystery. This movie isn’t an emotional assault but an excellent old-gory horror film that gives action, jump scares, and retro vibes. This trilogy is for you if you want scary but not something that will haunt you for days after.

Wait…I got one more for you! Marianne (2019) is a brilliant French series that’s only one season-long story, so you won’t have a hard time getting through it and still have time left for other Halloweeny things. This series is a slow burn but not boring at any point. Something is always happening. To describe this perfection of a series, I would say it’s intelligent, creepy and high-quality. A sophisticated horror series with intense storytelling but also great jump scares. Overall, Marianne is as close to perfection as a horror series can get.

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