Here it comes: the year’s coolest holiday! No other American holiday calls for the appreciation of an entire GENRE of movies like Halloween does. Just take a gander at your TV listings—this year’s run-up to Halloween is absolutely sick with horror goodness. Below are your best bets for basic cable, organized into five spooooky categories.
Wednesday, October 26 at 10pm | Thursday, October 27 at 2:30am | Saturday, October 29 at 2pm | Sunday, October 30 at 12:15am and 10am | Monday, October 31 at 9:30am and 8pm on AMC
This is the finest boogeyman horror film ever made, and since boogeyman horror is the best kind of horror, this is the best horror film ever made. Take a hike The Shining. Suck an egg, The Exorcist.
Saturday, October 29 at 11pm and Sunday, October 30 at 9pm on Syfy
Here, we’ll see how Rob Zombie completely misses the point of the original by incorporating the worst story retcon of Halloween 2 (that Laurie is Michael’s sister). Quick question: Is Rob Zombie still in jail for his Halloween films, or is he out on parole yet?
Halloween III: Season of the Witch
Thursday, October 27 at 8pm | Saturday, October 29 at 4pm | Sunday, October 30 at 2:15am and noon | Monday, October 31 at 3am, 11:30am, and 10pm on AMC
This movie is nuts. There’s no Michael Myers, but there is an evil Halloween mask company whose TV ads turn children’s heads into snakes and bugs, much like the current Disney Channel lineup.
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
Tuesday, October 25 at 8pm | Wednesday, October 26 at 12:15am | Thursday, October 27 at 10:1am | Saturday, October 29 at 6pm | Sunday, October 30 at 2pm | Monday, October 31 at 1:45pm on AMC
Whoops, Michael Myers and Dr. Loomis weren’t as dead as we thought. Here they tussle over a now-deceased Laurie’s daughter in this surprisingly strong entry.
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers
Tuesday, October 25 at 10pm | Wednesday, October 26 at 6pm | Friday, October 28 at 12:15am | Saturday, October 29 at 8pm | Sunday, October 30 at 4pm | Monday, October 31 at 3:45pm on AMC
This movie is utter B.S. Not only is it garbage, it undoes the cool ending of Part 4 (in which the little girl murders her step-mother TO DEATH as though possessed by Michael Myers). So, this one is for completionists only.
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers
Monday, October 31 at 3:30am on Syfy
Not even a young Paul Rudd can save this truly terrible but fascinatingly watchable sequel. Michael Myers is under the control of an Irish cult? Fair enough.
Halloween H20: 20 Years Later
Wednesday, October 26 at 8pm | Thursday, October 27 at 6pm | Saturday, October 29 at 10:15pm | Sunday, October 30 at 6pm | Monday, October 31 at 6pm on AMC
The franchise brings back Jamie Lee Curtis, adds Michelle Williams, pretends Parts 3 through 6 never happened, and gets a Kevin Williamson ’90s slasher makeover. It’s pretty good. Also, check out the Janet Leigh cameo.
Sunday, October 30 at 9:30pm and Monday, October 31 at 2:30pm on FX
Battlestar Galactica‘s Katee Sackhoff is in this abomination, which is the only remotely interesting thing about this movie in which Tyra Banks sets up an internet live-feed in Michael Myers’ pad. Otherwise, it’s hard to describe how loathsome this film is, so I’m gonna go eat candy instead.
Wednesday, October 26 at 2:15am on AMC
A rabid dog is having a really bad day and some lady and her kid have gotten on his LAST nerve.
Wednesday, October 26 at 5:15am and 12:45pm on IFC
George C. Scott teams up with a ghost boy to solve a murder. Co-starring the World’s Creepiest Wheelchair.
Pet Sematary and Pet Sematary Two
Wednesday, October 26 at noon and 2pm on AMC
Native American ghosts turn a dead toddler into a scalpel-wielding problem child. Then, in Part 2, suddenly Edward Furlong’s there and he’s like “Whaaaa?”
Thursday, October 27 at 6:30am and 1:15pm on IFC
When a portal to hell suddenly opens in a kid’s back yard—right around the time his parents take off on vacation—really disturbing things start happening. The claymation is dicey and the acting is laughable, but the movie still gets it done. This is one to appreciate, at least until the inevitable Platinum Dunes remake ruins everything special about it.
The People Under the Stairs
Friday, October 28 at 3am on AMC
My So-Called Life‘s A.J. Langer stars in this movie that I always assumed was just a bad fever dream I once had… until I found out it actually exists. Not only that, but it’s pretty great! Maybe Nothing But Trouble is the one I dreamt up? Still not sure.
The Amityville Horror (1979)
Friday, October 28 at 8pm and Saturday, October 29 at 12am on Oxygen
Fair warning: Ryan Reynolds does not appear in this one. However, there IS a hilarious sequence involving Margot Kidder and James Brolin’s attempts to flush spirits from the house via chanting.
The Shining (1980)
Saturday, October 29 at 5pm and 8pm on IFC
This is the original Kubrick masterpiece. But do you remember that awful TV remake from the ’90s? Ugh, that miniseries was like a walnut in your Trick-or-Treat bag.
Saturday, October 29 at 9pm and Sunday, October 30 at 1am on MTV
The first ten minutes of this still hold up as one of the scariest scenes in horror history, and the rest stands up pretty well too!
Saturday, October 29 at 11pm and Sunday, October 30 at 2am on IFC
Except for the telekinesis, religious zealotry, public menstruation, and mass murder, I think we’ve pretty much all lived this story, right? This Brian DePalma classic is basically just a documentary on being a teenager.
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Sunday, October 30 at 3:30am on Syfy and Monday, October 31 at 9:30pm on Turner Classic Movies
Nevermind the black-and-white (an intentionally creepy choice of film stock), this movie feels as modern as Cloverfield. Watch it with someone you love (who owns a crowbar and can nail doors shut quickly when necessary).
Sunday, October 30 at 2pm and Monday, October 31 at 8pm and 10:30pm on CMT
I know what you’re thinking: This is a Christmas movie! But I assure you, this Joe Dante-directed horror-comedy works any time of year.
The Sixth Sense
Sunday, October 30 at 3:30pm on FX
Are ghosts real? Bruce Willis learns the hard way.
Sunday, October 30 at 5pm and 10pm on BBC America
In this William Friedkin-directed classic, a troubled little girl does unspeakable things with gourmet cooking and religious iconography.
Wednesday, October 26 at 4pm and Sunday, October 30 at 8am on AMC
Remember the part where the “pregnant” lady blows up into a huge balloon like Violet from Charlie & the Chocolate Factory? That was disgusting! Still though, I believe it’s only a matter of time before this thing is regarded as a classic, so I’m just getting the ball rolling, folks.
Thursday, October 27 at 8am on FX
Were movies just better in the ’90s? Don’t answer that. But yeah this teen Body Snatchers riff was fun.
Thursday, October 27 at 10am on FX
God makes His slasher film debut in this film about airplane survivors who are apparently nothing more than human-shaped blood balloons.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
Friday, October 28 at 6pm and 11:30pm on IFC
Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes has botched a lot of remakes, but I think time looks kindly upon this, the production company’s first attempt. It’s a surprisingly solid re-envisioning of the lo-fi LSD trip that is the original. (Although, obviously, the original is preferable to this one for sure.)
Drag Me to Hell
Friday, October 28 at 9pm | Saturday, October 29 at 9pm | Monday, October 31 at 11:05pm
A good rule of thumb is to never anger gypsy women who resemble walking corpses.
30 Days of Night
Friday, October 28 at 10:30pm and Saturday, October 29 at 5:30pm on FX
Most people regard this as a C or C-minus film, but I think it’s more in the B+ range. Very few movies have the aggressively picturesque atmosphere this one does. Plus the vampires are some of the coolest ever put on film. And that overhead tracking shot! Do you know which one I mean? Holy moly, that is the best!
The Skeleton Key
Saturday, October 29 at 11:30am and Sunday, October 30 at 1am on Oxygen
Kate Hudson explores a haunted New Orleans manor while “Thinkin’ she cute. She ain’t cute!” —Woman in theater when I first saw the trailer for this
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Saturday, October 29 at 4:30pm on Syfy
Tune in for the stellar first ten minutes, stick around for the unnecessarily good remainder.
Ichi the Killer
Saturday, October 29 at 7:50pm and Sunday, October 30 at 3:25am on Sundance
When prolific Japanese director Takashi Miike unleashed this seriously demented serial killer movie on arthouse audiences, most people didn’t know what to make of it. Trust me, it’s good, and trust me, eat beforehand.
Saturday, October 29 at 8pm and Sunday, October 30 at 6pm on TNT
Just your typical John Cusack-terrorized-by-metaphorical-ghosts-of-regret-in-between-Samuel L. Jackson-monologues horror film.
Sunday, October 30 at 1:30pm and Monday, October 31 at 10:30am on FX
For my money, this is the best modern horror film of the past few years. (Hypothetical, I don’t have money.) But no joke, The Strangers is verrrrry scaaaaary!
Sunday, October 30 at 9pm and Monday, October 31 at 2:15am on IFC
Whoops, maybe let’s just take a staycation this year?
Monday, October 31 at 10pm on IFC
An adolescent Canadian girl becomes a werewolf in what is basically a feature-length metaphor for “female problems.”
The House of the Devil
Monday, October 31 at 4am on MTV
Check out this extremely slow but extremely awesome ’80s throwback. Remember how HUGE Walkmans were back then?
My Bloody Valentine (2009)
Tuesday, October 25 at 9pm and Wednesday, October 26 at 3pm on Syfy
CW stars Jensen Ackles and Jaime King star in this proficient but not amazing remake of the ’80s slasher classic about an angry dead miner who gets super ticked when a town celebrates Valentine’s Day.
House of Wax (2005)
Thursday, October 27 at 12am | Friday, October 28 at 11am | Saturday, October 29 at 3am on AMC
Supernatural’s Jared Padalecki stars in this arguably pretty good riff on Texas Chainsaw Massacre (not so much the original House of Wax). The melting house finale has to be seen to be believed.
Prom Night (2008)
Friday, October 28 at 11am | Sunday, October 30 at 11:30am | Monday, October 31 at 8:30am on FX
Nothing can beat the original’s ten-minute arm-dancing disco sequence, but oh well.
Friday the 13th (2009)
Friday, October 28 at 10pm | Sunday, October 30 at 11pm | Monday, October 31 at 2am on MTV
Really only for you Danielle Panabaker or Travis Van Winkle completionists, this Platinum Dunes remake decided to forego most of the elements that made the original franchise special. But hey, great opening-weekend box office numbers, dudes!
The Fog (2005)
Saturday, October 29 at 7am on FX
This thing is just terrible. But it’s got Tom Welling and Maggie Grace. Oh well.
The Omen (2006)
Sunday, October 30 at 7am on FX
The Bad Seed (1956)
Wednesday, October 26 at 2:45pm on Turner Classic Movies
Without The Bad Seed we wouldn’t have Orphan, and that’s just not the kind of world I’d want to live in.
Bride of Frankenstein
Saturday, October 26 at 8:15am and Sunday, October 30 at 4:15am on AMC
James Whale’s classic entry in the Frankenstein franchise is as poignant as it is scary. How often does THAT happen?
Godzilla, King of the Monsters
Saturday, October 29 at 10:45am on Turner Classic Movies
Gojira VERY MAD at Tokyo.
Cat People (1942)
Saturday, October 29 at 5pm on Turner Classic Movies
An immigrant woman warns her new husband that she may or may not transform into a cat if they get it on. Where I’m from that’s just called “fair warning.”
The Ghost Ship (1943)
Sunday, October 30 at 5am on Turner Classic Movies
A sea captain boards a ship with hopes of chillaxing but instead deals with intrigue, murder, and I’m guessing, ghosts.
Village of the Damned (1960)
Monday, October 31 at 8pm on Turner Classic Movies
Don’t trust children, particularly not a gaggle of platinum-blond zombies who march around in lockstep.
Wednesday, October 26 at 12:30am on IFC
Before he became a very classy Oscar-winner, Peter Jackson directed this absolutely crazy zombie (I guess?) movie about a claymation monkey who infects everyone with a rage virus. Note: It’s absolutely disgusting.
My Super Psycho Sweet 16 2
Thursday, October 27 at 3pm on MTV
You know, it’s pretty rare that a cable channel endeavors to create its own slasher film franchise. This one might not be an amazing film, but I think we should all support this practice. Also it stars your new boyfriend and star of The Secret Circle Chris Zylka!
Thursday, October 27 at 8pm and Friday, October 28 at 12:30am on IFC
This is an indie film about a young girl with teeth in her hoo-hoo. There’s really no other way to say it.
Thursday, October 27 at 9pm on Logo
The rare low-budget slasher that exclusively features gay guys, it’s also surprisingly scary.
Psycho Beach Party
Friday, October 28 at 4am on Logo
This Charles Busch parody mixes the movies of Frankie & Annette with modern slasher conventions and the result is WEIRD. But a cast that includes Lauren Ambrose, Amy Adams, and Nicholas Brendon doesn’t go wrong.
Friday, October 28 at 9am on AMC
Here’s the Joss Whedon-penned movie that preceded the classic TV show. It’s interesting to see which elements he maintained from the show! Unfortunately Kristy Swanson’s incredible multi-colored leather jacket didn’t make the cut.
Friday, October 28 at 11:15pm on Turner Classic Movies
I’ve seen this movie twice and I’m STILL not sure what it’s about. It definitely involves planting people in the garden and a dude who wears a severed pig’s head for a mask.
Rocky Horror Picture Show
Saturday, October 29 at 12:30am and 11:30am on VH1
All right, this isn’t terribly scary, but it IS appropriate for Halloween, the one day a year everyone is allowed to explore their sexual identities IN PUBLIC. Plus the awesome music. Plus the MEAT LOAF scene!
Shaun of the Dead
Saturday, October 29 at 5pm | Sunday, October 30 at 8:30am | Monday, October 31 at noon on Comedy Central
The rare horror comedy that is both funny AND super scary, this one also has an undeniably big heart. Seriously! It’s borderline heartwarming.
Saturday, October 29 at 6:20pm on Sundance
Is everything okay in France? Their horror movies have started getting INTENSE. This one involves a zombie virus, ultraviolence, and cannibalism. Sacrebleu?
Cropsey: The Urban Legend
Monday, October 31 at 6am on Investigation Discovery
For a dose of reality-based horror, check out this documentary about the legendary child murderer who terrorized Staten Island in the 1980s. Genuinely unsettling stuff.
What scary movies are YOU going to watch this week?