It's a cool Autumn night. The sky is clear and the moon is shining. Fall is in the air and you're cozy at home. Time to celebrate Halloween from your couch!
Horror movies full of zombies and vampires and werewolves! Classic Halloween episodes of your favorite TV shows! Funny family Halloween flicks! Documentaries on the history of Samhain or visual tours of the best haunted houses in the world! Anything vaguely orange and black!
Sure, stream to your heart's content thanks to your subscription to Netflix, Hulu, Prime - or maybe even the horror subscription service, Shudder. But some classic cable TV channels really go all out to celebrate Halloween on the small screen. Many stations have their own special traditions; and we all know tradition plays an important part in this darkest of holidays.
As October 31st creeps closer it goes without saying that you'll find more and more Halloween viewing on TV. But all of October and even much of September offers plenty of opportunities for curling up on the sofa with a bowl of popcorn to watch TV and movies essential to our modern All Hallow's Eve, if you keep your eye out for them - and if you know which channels are the best for a good Halloween binge watch.
Sometimes I think I enjoy family Halloween movies even more than the scary ones. The Halloween films that are appropriate for children tend to capture that nostalgia of this one magical night and the thrill of being out in the dark, of the potential for monsters, and the fun of candy and pranks and parties.
So here are the best TV channels for family-friendly fright:
Freeform (previously ABC Family) could always be counted on for their "13 Nights of Halloween" each year, starting October 19. In 2018 they extended it to 31 nights! You can find classics such as The Addams Family and Hocus Pocus, including a 24-hour Hocus Pocus marathon on the Halloween itself. You'll always be sure to catch the beautifully animated The Nightmare Before Christmas (and if you're a fan of that style of animation, don't miss out on Corpse Bride!). Guaranteed family fun for each Halloween. Just try to overlook the odd inclusion of movies such as Disney's Frozen.
Nickelodeon, the big name kids' television network, may not be known for celebrating Halloween all-out; but they'll still show the Halloween episodes of their hit "teen" series of the year. And among those maybe you'll even catch a replay of the werewolf movie, starring Victoria Justice, The Boy Who Cried Werewolf. Check the sub-channel Teen Nick for reruns of Halloween fun from shows like iCarly, Victorious, and Big Time Rush. Or set your DVR for the middle of the night to catch the 90s classics like the Halloween episodes of Rugrats or Hey, Arnold!
But the station that really carried 90s kids and early 2000s preteens through the nights of October (and hopefully is still a taste of magic for kids nowadays!) is Disney Channel. It used to be you could count on them for a Halloween movie almost every night! Most of them were Disney Channel "Original" movies, like the beloved Halloweentown series and Mom's Got a Date With a Vampire. Disney Halloween movies were the best to children, full of adventure and magic. Now it may be harder to find those Disney Channel Halloween classics, but they're worth keeping your eyes peeled for.
Not-so-fun Disney fact: do you remember Don't Look Under the Bed? This boogeyman flick was pretty spooky to a kid! Apparently some parents thought it was actually too scary and the fun was taken from everyone when Disney Channel gave in by taking the film out of all future Halloween prime-time lineups.
Jumping back to the rest of 'TV land', don't miss those once-a-year specials like Scared Shrekless and Toy Story of Terror! And of course last but never least: It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! ABC is the station to turn on in order to catch this 1966 classic each October.
What would Halloween be without horror? We have this genre to thank for much of our modern day Halloween celebrating. Thankfully many television networks show horror plenty of love during the fall season!
This time of year I make sure to pay close attention to the channel AMC. Not only is it home to the hit show The Walking Dead, but it will also spend several nights airing John Carpenter's Halloween and sequels. (Keep an eye on the SyFy channel if you're looking for the Rob Zombie remake.) Other classic horror films, such as the Chucky series or Scream, are often shown as well.
Speaking of the SyFy channel as I did above, they tout themselves as doing "31 Days of Halloween." Whether this is an entirely accurate statement or not is up for debate, as some of the movie and TV choices don't seem like the best fit for celebrating Halloween, but I do appreciate that they've donated a whole month to this wonderfully spooky holiday. Face Off and Ghost Hunters marathons, B movies, slasher films, monsters of the week, and more!
TCM (aka Turner Classic Movies) is, of course, the place to be if you'd like to rewatch or introduce your kids to some of the horror originals this Halloween season: Freaks and Psycho and Dracula and so on and so on, in the original black and white.
But almost every TV channel will, at some point, get in on the Halloween fun. I've watched Scream on MTV and Trick 'r Treat (a modern classic!) on Logo and various Stephen King films on an endless list of networks.
It's Halloween; I guess everyone's entitled to one good scare.
— John Carpenter's Halloween, 1978
Halloween TV Episodes
Ah, my favorite! Who doesn't look forward to the holiday specials of their favorite TV programs? Perhaps have an Addams Family or Munsters marathon. Indulge nostalgia with the Halloween specials of cartoons from your youth. Many current sitcoms, such as Modern Family, will run a brand new episode for Halloween. Or maybe you like the documentaries that teach you a little about the history of it all.
The Travel Channel is a source of vicarious Halloween fright and thrills when you can't afford to travel around the country and go to America's most terrifying locations or the scariest haunted house attractions yourself. They showcase the best Halloween destinations around the United States and sometimes the world, as well as the more extreme (extremely fun!) forms of celebration.
My dad is a fan of the History Channel, taking in educational programming about Halloween's origins and its development in America. From Samhain to trick-or-treating in modern day times.
Considering Halloween is a billion dollar industry, it makes sense that even reality TV and game shows would get in on the spooks. If you love to browse Pinterest for treats and (decorating) tricks that would make Martha Stewart proud, be sure to watch Halloween Wars on Food Network each year - groups of contestants create elaborate edible displays themed to the holiday.
Well, there you have a broad selection of Halloween viewing choices! Which TV channel gets the most of your attention during October - or do you stick to streaming? Either way, are movies and television a big part of your Halloween celebration?
Amanda (author) from Michigan, United States on October 05, 2012:
You list so many great movies, Liz-reviews! I'd forgotten about Witches of Eastwick -- I'll have to be sure to watch that one this year.
And thank you. :-)
Eunice Elizabeth from Vancouver, BC on October 04, 2012:
Movies are my Fav.. But there are also sooo many classic tv shows. Witches of Eastwick(although not Halloween) is the best. Nightmare before Christmas... absolutely adore. All the Halloween movies that had Jamie Lee Curtis. Ghostbusters of course. It's the great pumpkin Charlie Brown always a delight. Bugs Bunny Howl-oween special is the best.
Absolutely loved your Hub Amanda108
Voted awesome & up