Scary movie marathons are a staple for Halloween, but in recent years the small screen has exploded with Demogorgons and serial killers, and television has never been scarier. From psychological thrillers to dark comedies, everyone can find their favorite kind of spooky series to gorge on all throughout October. Check our recommended list of 13 horror series available on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime right now, starting with “The Haunting of Hill House,” which comes out Friday on Netflix.
“The Haunting of Hill House” (Season 1)
Many have called Shirley Jackson’s gothic novel the scariest book of fiction, as it drew from characters’ psyches rather than spotlighting cheap scares or the house itself. Starring Carla Gugino and Michiel Huisman, the Netflix adaptation looks to inspire terror in the same way, by plunging into the deepest fears and psychological scars of the now grown-up inhabitants of Hill House.
“Stranger Things” (Seasons 1-2)
Monsters have never been more fun than with the Netflix original “Stranger Things,” which became a pop-culture phenomenon for combining demons, a young girl with psychokinetic powers, video games, and homages to the 1980s with aplomb. The Duffer brothers have created a fast-paced story that’s both dark and darkly humored, with sheer terror and witty quips in equal measure.
“Mindhunter” (Season 1)
The crime drama is based on the true story of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit and its task to get in the minds of serial killers like Edmund Kemper, a.k.a. the Co-Ed Killer. With thriller expert David Fincher (“Se7en,” “Zodiac”) directing four episodes, the series is a bone-chilling examination into the psyches of the world’s most evil and infamous individuals.
“Bates Motel” (Seasons 1-5)
The modern prequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” has Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) living with his mother (Vera Farmiga) in a motel and losing more of his grip on reality every day. The A&E drama seeps with intrigue and foreshadowing, and the leads’ outstanding performances capture the fraught relationship between the duo as they manipulate and murder in order to protect themselves from prying eyes — and each other.
“Goosebumps” (Seasons 1-4, plus specials)
For more kid-friendly fare, the “Goosebumps” TV adaptation is just the right amount of spooky for kids and nostalgia for adults who grew up with R.L. Stine’s iconic horror novels about mummies, werewolves, and everything in between.
“The Walking Dead” (Seasons 1-8)
No horror TV roundup would be complete without AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” which spawned masses of loyal fanboys and became the most watched basic cable drama when it first aired in 2010. The fact that the post-apocalyptic drama has lasted so many seasons is a testament to the show’s ability to extend zombie killing into an emotionally nuanced saga that compels half the internet to obsess over plot twists or mourn for days when a beloved character dies.
“American Horror Story” (Seasons 1-7)
Showrunner Ryan Murphy took an idea that shouldn’t work — a family bottled up in a haunted house for an entire season — and turned it into a miniseries with a revolving door of talented actors (like the incomparable Sarah Paulson) and some truly twisted stories. With each season containing a separate plot, the show brings to life our worst nightmares, like “Asylum’s” storyline revolving around perfectly sane individuals committed to a mental institution. And with creators who aren’t afraid to push the boundaries — dead babies, religion, and rape are among past plot points — the series provides audiences endless shocks and twists.
“Lore” (Season 1)
Aaron Mahnke, whose podcast of the same name inspired the anthology series, narrates and delves into the real events that gave rise to our worst fears, from haunted houses to vampires. Always informative and often surprising, the show leaves it up to audiences to decide whether it’s more or less scary that so many gruesome myths had roots in reality.
“True Blood” (Seasons 1-7)
The series, which ran from 2008 to 2014, followed telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) as she meets werewolves, shapeshifters, fairies, and vampires fighting for equal rights. Chock full of gore, romance, shocking deaths, and wild plot twists, critics hailed the show (especially its earlier seasons) as an imaginative and thrilling take on the vampire subgenre.
“Grimm” (Seasons 1-6)
Homicide detective Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) finds out he’s one of the last remaining Grimms, or guardians who keep the peace between humanity and the mythological creatures known as Wesen. The drama updates the police procedural format while blending in fantasy archetypes, and keeps the viewer rooting for Nick and dreading what terrifying creature will come out of the woodwork (sometimes literally) next.
“The Twilight Zone” (Seasons 1-5)
Made during a time before advanced special effects, Rod Serling’s iconic anthology series captivated audiences with tales about ordinary people’s brushes with the strange and supernatural. The stories also conveyed deeper questions about topics like racial tensions and the dangers of technology, and remind us that even 50 years later in the age of “Black Mirror” and “Westworld,” the fears “The Twilight Zone” explored are more relevant than ever.
“Castle Rock” (Season 1)
Returning Stephen King characters collide with new faces in the small Maine town of Castle Rock in the series, which focuses on Henry Matthew Deaver (Andre Holland), a lawyer who takes the case of The Kid (Bill Skarsgard), a secret prisoner who’s been held for 27 years and claims he’s from an alternate universe. Is The Kid evil or merely misunderstood? What is Henry’s role in his father’s death? Is killing for the greater good morally just? These questions and more will keep you up at night, as the show never allows the viewers to completely trust either character.
“Into the Dark” (Part 1: “The Body”)
Each episode of the 12-part Hulu original is inspired by the holiday from the month it’s released, and October’s installment features a hit-man on Halloween night who tries to blend in among the costumes as he transports a corpse. The creative take on horror is packed with heart-pounding action, and manages to both utilize and make fun of the slasher film trope.