Once you’re past prime trick-or-treating age, Halloween is little more than an excuse to watch scary stuff on TV and steal candy meant for little kids. This week provides plenty of opportunity for the former, via your friendly neighborhood cable or streaming service. Here, we’ve broken down the best creepy (or at least Halloween-themed) offerings.
For your standard “slashers with dark pasts” stuff: “Halloween” (7 p.m. Monday, AMC)
Perhaps the best definitive proof that low-budget doesn’t mean low-quality, John Carpenter’s 1978 slasher launched a 10-film franchise, the career of Jamie Lee Curtis and the tropes now in use by all 295,738,573 or so “Saw” movies. Not to give anything away, but don’t get too attached to the teen couple who have premarital sex!
“Twilight Zone,” but funnier: ‘The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror’ marathon (various times Monday-Thursday, FXX)
No one would blame you for being sick of “The Simpsons” after FXX’s two-week marathon last month, but, sorry, it’s “Treehouse of Horror” season now. FXX is celebrating with a marathon of beloved Halloween episodes, which in the past 26 seasons have parodied film noir, “Gremlins” and killer dolphins.
So bad it’s good: ‘House’ (Hulu Plus)
Stay with us here. A schoolgirl invites six friends to join her on a trip to her aunt’s country home, only to find that the house wants to kill and eat them. Japanese director Nobuhiko Obayashi’s young daughter gave him several of her own ideas for the 1977 movie, which might explain why the piano has teeth, the cat has glowing eyes and the mattresses are great at pillow fights.
Film history 101: ‘The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari’ (Amazon Prime, YouTube)
Show off in front of your film-snobbiest friends and suggest this 1920 silent film from German director Robert Wiene about a somnambulist with a habit of killing people. Widely considered the first horror movie, it combines “American Horror Story’s” favorite things: creepy insane asylums, murderous carnival side-show acts and fabulous all-black costumes.
Demon-fighting, girl power and late-90s fashion: ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ (5-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m., Friday, Pivot)
Sure, you could curate your very own episode playlist on Netflix (in fact, go ahead and queue up “Hush” and “The Gift”). Pivot has already done all the work for you, though: The network will air themed “Buffy” marathons each day this week, ending Friday with all the show’s Halloween episodes. But really, wasn’t every “Buffy” a Halloween episode?
Unhealthy mother-son relationships: ‘Bates Motel’ (Netflix)
The A&E series “Bates Motel,” which modernizes the events preceding Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho,” is lauded for the “who can be creepier” contest played out by its leads: Freddie Highmore as Norman and Vera Farmiga as his controlling mother. The first season, now streaming on Netflix, is the perfect lead-in to TCM’s showing of “Psycho” on Wednesday at 8 p.m. Then, maybe skip the shower.
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