October is a month for relentlessly corny Halloween puns, and this year, hardly any streaming service was innocent. The Peacocktobers and Huluweens of the world descended to trick-or-treat their users this month, but while their names might be what everyone notices, there are actual Halloween hubs attached to them — and some are better than others. They hold within their clunky interfaces and clumsy wordplay some legitimately terrifying and entertaining movies and television.
To help everyone make smarter choices about where we’ll spend our time before Halloween, we’ve assessed the spooky streaming landscape before you, evaluating the best of these Halloween-themed streaming hubs on the strength of their content as well as their design and layout. Below, we’ve looked at major services that have put some effort into beefing up their spooky streaming libraries. Here’s what we found, ranked out of a possible Fang count of 13 — our very scientific holistic measure of assessing an optimally entertaining Halloween experience.
Nom de scare: “Peak Screaming”
Catalog variety: The Peak pickings are slim; Paramount+ has just 22 horror Halloween movies promoted on its Halloween collection past. It also features Halloween selections of Beverly Hills 90210, Evil, Frasier, and Cheers episodes, as well as kid-friendly options in SpongeBob Squarepants, Blue’s Clues, and other Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. shows.
Catalog depth: Surface level.
Unexpected gems: Darren Aronofsky’s Mother! is on here!
User friendliness: Here’s how bad the user experience is on P+: The Halloween hub has rows devoted to “CBS Halloween Classics” and “Nickelodeon Hallowscream” (which is great!), but the individual shows included are listed without the show title. Seriously. In order to find out that “Room Full of Heroes” is an episode of Frasier, you either have to recognize the disguised faces shown in the poster art or click on the tile because the name of the show isn’t listed. (Its original airdate, however, is included.) And as noted, there’s very little depth here, with just a few dozen titles overall. Given the overall lack of effort Paramount+ devotes to curating its ever-expanding content library, it’s sadly no shock so little attention was paid to making the Halloween experience rewarding. (In fairness, the branding is clever and the spooky picture frames illustrating the section are excellent. Maybe put the graphic-design folks in charge of the whole user-design team?)
Score: 1/13 Fangs
12. IMDb TV
Nom de scare: “Hallow-stream” and “Hallow-scream presented by Reese’s”
Catalog variety: Donnie Darko, the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer film, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and The Hills Have Eyes films anchor the Hallow-cinema on Amazon’s free streamer, but otherwise it’s fairly light compared to the endless caverns of content in Prime Video’s selections.
Catalog depth: IMDb TV does go fairly deep on the kid-friendly scares of R.L. Stine, with several of his Mostly Ghostly and other films available. This is also one of the few places online where you can watch the original Bewitched as well as the horror-satire Scream Queens.
Unexpected gems: Karyn Kusama’s Jennifer’s Body.
User friendliness: Like sibling platform Prime Video, the overall IMDb TV interface is super basic and does a meh job making content stand out. That’s certainly true when it comes to Halloween programming. There’s no one central hub to navigate to; instead, we found just a couple of lonely rows of titles allegedly devoted to spooky fare: “Hallow-stream” and “Hallow-scream presented by Reese’s.” What’s the difference between “stream” and “scream” other than one having a sponsor attached? Well, the former category somehow considers ’90s sitcom 3rd Rock From the Sun and family toon How to Train Your Dragon as Halloween fare. Clearly, IMDb TV’s Halloween curation was designed by computer. You can find some genuinely scary stuff here, but you’ll have to do a lot of hunting around.
Score: 2/13 Fangs
11. Pluto TV
Nom de scare: “31 Nights of Horror” (live); “Halloween A to Z” (on demand)
Catalog variety: Some of Pluto’s Halloween titles are legendary; F.W. Murnau’s influential Nosferatu is there, as is Troll 2, Claudio Fragasso’s iconic candidate for the worst movie ever made. The horror movies (whether good or terrible) are really the focus here, and you may feel stymied by Pluto’s lack of curated TV specials or lighter horror-comedy categories.
Catalog depth: Not much beyond Halloween: A to Z.
Unexpected gems: The Love Witch, a film shot “as far from the male gaze as possible.”
User friendliness: Pluto has, by far, the best interface of any free live-TV platform out there — which is why it’s such a bummer the app does so very little to help users get in the October 31 mood. It has channels for everything (there’s a 24/7 network for cats!) but hardly any pop-up destinations devoted to Halloween? Yes, as noted above, there is a “31 Nights of Horror” themed channel, but as far as I can tell, it’s just the year-round Pluto horror channel with a new name. And “Halloween A to Z” isn’t curation, it’s a list (and not a particularly long one at that). Given the breadth of its classic TV offerings, Pluto might have easily launched a channel devoted to seasonal episodes of sitcoms. And it might have used its ViacomCBS ties to highlight kiddie scares from Nickelodeon or the spookiest movies from Paramount.
Score: 4/13 Fangs
10. Amazon Prime Video
Nom de scare: “Now Screaming”
Catalog variety: Amazon’s massive horror selection and Welcome to the Blumhouse titles likely won’t disappoint for fans of the genre, who can watch newer frights like Midsommar and Black as Night as well as classics like Ju-on and The Wicker Man.
Catalog depth: Neither quality control nor curation seem to be Amazon’s priority, but its sheer volume of obscure B movies — often sporting fun titles like The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism — is laudable.
Unexpected gems: Alan Parker’s Angel Heart.
User friendliness: Arguably the most confusing, least user-friendly browsing experience among major streamers stays firmly on-brand for Halloween: Hunting for screams is a horror. The “Now Screaming” branding is buried in Prime’s endless rows, where you can only hope you’ll stumble upon something good. As noted earlier, it can be a worthwhile effort given how deep the overall offering goes. But Amazon’s interface is the opposite of frustration-free packaging.
Score: 5/13 Fangs
Nom de scare: “Terror on Tubi”
Catalog variety: Sporting one of the largest streaming libraries of all, Tubi’s offerings feel both free and free-spirited. Cult favorites like Hellraiser and the original Suspiria sit happily alongside the nigh-unwatchable 2008 Day of the Dead remake.
Catalog depth: Practically every direct-to-video sequel — and knockoffs of titles like Quarantine, The Hills Have Eyes, and Rosemary’s Baby — is available on Tubi if you’re in the mood for off-brand character or love low-budget scares. A few of the better-known titles include Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, I Spit on Your Grave, and Train to Busan. It’s also managed to squeeze out a few originals, like the Michelle Trachtenberg–hosted true-crime show Meet, Marry, Murder. (Guess what it’s about.)
Unexpected gems: Jim Henson’s Labyrinth, among many others.
User friendliness: Nothing fancy about the Terror on Tubi portal: It’s just a collection of scary movies (and a couple of series) gathered together in one place. That said, the sheer tonnage of Tubi’s offering is so impressive that you can almost forgive the lack of curation. Scrolling through the dozens of titles sort of feels like rummaging through your local grocery store’s DVD bargain bin, only here, you don’t have to risk $5 to find out what the hell Blood Pageant is. (Spoiler: It’s a horror reality parody featuring Snoop Dogg that was released … this year!)
Score: 7/13 Fangs
Nom de scare: “Hallowstream” (in theory, if not on the site)
Catalog variety: Safe as ever, this familiar-looking collection of family friendliness is divvied up into predictably descriptive categories. For adults, new films like Cruella or nostalgia plays like The Nightmare Before Christmas and select “Disney Channel Halloween Episodes” are enticing — and having every “Treehouse of Horror” Simpsons episode in one spot rules.
Catalog depth: While the subcategory breakdown feels perfunctory (“Movies and Series,” “Shorts and Specials”) and not much on Disney+ feels edgy, the specific episode guides are very helpful.
Unexpected gems: Gargoyles, always a sight for sore eyes.
User friendliness: The Mouse House’s famed imagineers clearly had nothing to do with organizing how it was all put together. For one thing, even though Disney+’s marketing team has been hyping the cute “Hallowstream” banner on social media and at IRL events, that branding is missing on the platform itself. Instead, content is grouped under the very generic “Halloween Collection” banner. Two years since launch, D+ has done little to evolve its very workmanlike user interface, so it’s not a shock this is all so dull. And on the positive side, there’s an Ikea-like utility to the Halloween Collection design that makes finding a show or movie relatively simple. But for a company known for inspiring wonder, it’s sad D+’s curation generates little more than a yawn.
Score: 8/13 Fangs
Nom de scare: “Ghostober”
Catalog variety: Mostly reality TV fare, the stuff of UFO conspiracy theorists and highly credulous takes on ghost stories from so-called “experts.” It’s all probably amazing to watch stoned off your ass, unless these shows actually scare you, of course. No films or traditionally scripted series.
Catalog depth: Within its category, this collection goes quite deep, featuring multi-season titles like Ghost Adventures, The Haunted Museum, and Paranormal Caught on Camera, as well as “Screaming 24/7” modules for marathon sessions.
Unexpected gems: Six seasons of Halloween Baking Championship.
User friendliness: For its first Halloween since launch, Discovery+ has gone all out to design a fun, easy-to-navigate hub for all things spooky. It went to the trouble of designing a cool, comic-book-style logo and appropriately punny titles for section rows: “Screaming Now,” “It Came From Discovery+,” “Feed Your Fears,” “Click or Treat.” That said, as with the platform’s overall UI, it takes a few clicks to get details about each title, which makes finding something worth watching a bit time-consuming. In general, though, it’s a great first effort for a streamer not yet a year old in the U.S.
Score: 8/13 Fangs
6. The Criterion Channel
Nom de scare: “Universal Horror Films,” “Home Invasion,” “True Crime”
Catalog variety: Finessed curation is what your Criterion subscription buys, and appropriately, its October offerings pick their spots with these three homepage collections. You can watch titles like James Whale’s Bride of Frankenstein and George Waggner’s The Wolf Man under the Universal banner, but it’s worth noting several of the titles are also available on other platforms, like Peacock or HBO Max. The 19-film “Home Invasion” and 30-film “True Crime” hubs have a better selection, from filmmakers like Fritz Lang, Donald Campbell, and Nagisa Oshima, to name a few.
Catalog depth: Criterion does a better job than any other service of delivering context with its content, and that’s no different here; the picks are specific and richly remastered. We do wish there were more of the features and documentary extras that the collection is known for, though.
Unexpected gems: Charles Burnett’s To Sleep With Anger.
User friendliness: While the platform itself is elegant and beautifully curated, Halloween clearly isn’t a huge priority for Criterion. There’s no distinct hub for all things spooky; instead, users will simply find holiday-themed programs sprinkled throughout the service via some of the aforementioned content rows. It’s a bit of a shame given how good Criterion is at recreating the festival experience at home (as this month’s deep dive into New York City–centric films demonstrates). On the other hand, because the platform isn’t larded up with thousands of titles you’ll never watch, it remains pretty easy to scare up something good to get your fright on.
Score: 9/13 Fangs
Nom de scare: “Netflix and Chills”
Catalog variety: From early September on, Netflix was tracking the Halloween beat, dropping buzzy titles like Squid Game and Midnight Mass onto its service and rolling out an Elvira video (see above) for good measure.
Catalog depth: Over the years, Netflix’s library of classics has slowly winnowed out, so don’t expect to see many iconic ’70s or ’80s slashers on here. What it does have is hundreds of hours of popular spooky TV like The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, and The Vampire Diaries.
Unexpected gems: He Never Died, starring Henry Rollins.
User friendliness: While there’s no centralized spot for spooky things, Netflix’s everyday interface makes navigating content much less of a nightmare than Prime Video. That said, it’s a bit of a bummer the streaming giant continues to rely on basic content rows to guide members to seasonal content. In the same way the company has introduced mini-hubs for new and popular content, as well as movies and TV shows, it would make a lot of sense to carve out a space just for pop-up offerings, like Netflix and Chills or its annual Christmas event.
Score: 9/13 Fangs
Nom de scare: “Huluween”
Catalog variety: Diverse but dreck-ridden, you may have to dig a little for the goods in Huluween. Notoriously panned sequels like Exorcist: The Beginning and The Gallows: Act II share bench space with acclaimed newer titles like Sputnik and Possessor alongside plenty of classic crowd-pleasers. Having What We Do in the Shadows doesn’t hurt either.
Catalog depth: Those crowd pleasers include Signs, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Parasite, Let the Right One In, and The X-Files on demand — all of which are exclusive to the platform.
Unexpected gems: In the Earth in pole position.
User friendliness: The OG entrant in the spooky streaming sweepstakes goes all-out to make its Huluween experience fun and satisfying. While Hulu’s overall UX is never going to win any sexy awards, its holiday portal is easy to use and an overall delight, packed with lots of interesting categories of content (including one with personalized Halloween suggestions) and solid curation. There’s even a row of unlabeled tiles that offers a peek at some Huluween promos, which feature the creepy tagline “Hulu is watching.”
Score: 11/13 Fangs
Nom de scare: “Peacocktober”
Catalog variety: The most awkwardly named of the 2021 Halloween streaming hubs is packed full. Even before the Harry Potter films arrive on October 15, it already houses more film-franchise subcollections than most of the other services, including a ton of Universal Classic Monsters, Child’s Play, Friday the 13th, The Fly, Psycho, and several others. The TV showing is strong, too, with curated guides to Halloween episodes for shows as recent as Brooklyn Nine-Nine and as long in the tooth as Cheers.
Catalog depth: The category breakdowns are richer with titles and more detailed than several of the other streamers, and even shows that have little to do with Halloween — like the ’00s Battlestar Galactica — seem looped into the mix under the “Night of the Living Reboots” subcollection.
Unexpected gems: The Munsters.
User friendliness: Look, the name is dreadful, but the execution of Peacocktober is first-class and one of the best of any major streamer. While the Peacock app overall is still a work in progress, its Halloween hub makes scaring up something spooky to watch a snap. The biggest titles (including Halloween Kills and franchises such as Saw and Friday the 13th) get the hero treatment in a carousel at the top of the landing page, ensuring easy access. Peacock’s creepy curators have then divided programming into more than two dozen (!!) different categories, and those aforementioned collections of seasonal episodes make it easy to do a binge of, say, every Brooklyn Nine-Nine Halloween installment. You can even swipe over to Peacock’s collection of virtual channels to find more themed on-demand content, including a pop-up channel devoted to the witches of Charmed and another boasting nothing but Universal Monsters.
Score: 12/13 Fangs
Nom de scare: “A Shudder Halloween”
Catalog variety: Horror is Shudder’s domain, so the service kept the naming convention simple, plus it already had a ton of other helpfully curated collections. The main Halloween list is tight, a showcase of the Halloween films, Shudder exclusives, and the service’s annual Ghoul Log specials, but be sure to click on the “Shudder Essentials” hub too. It’s probably the best single mix of horror classics on this list, including Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu the Vampyre, Indonesian film Satan’s Slave, the iconic Halloween, and the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
Catalog depth: You could watch two Shudder titles every day and barely scratch the surface of what they’re offering.
Unexpected gems: Takashi Miike’s Audition.
Score: 12/13 Fangs
1. HBO Max
Nom de scare: “Halloween Is Here”
Catalog variety: Witches and magic lead this collection, with an impressive amount of fun balancing out the frights. The Witches is there, but so is Kiki’s Delivery Service and the underrated Corpse Bride alongside new horror hits like Elisabeth Moss’s The Invisible Man and classics like It and The Amityville Horror.
Catalog depth: HBO Max has a module on the page linking to new “Not Scary at All,” “Scary,” and “Very Scary” titles that rotate out every day of the month, not-so-subtly flexing how much content they have on here.
Unexpected gems: Warm Bodies, a delight.
User friendliness: The user experience here is truly in a class by itself. The graphic presentation is brilliant and makes sure you’re never bored diving into the many, many categories of content. While other services make due with generic sections like “Family Frights,” Max goes super deep: There’s a whole row devoted just to the Halloween episodes of The Middle (cleverly titled “Raising Heck.”) There’s a section devoted to daily selections rated by scare level, which encourages users to return frequently. And there are links to other curated experiences on Max, like its collection of horror movies and groupings of franchises such as the Nightmare on Elm Street collection. Before launch, HBO Max execs talked up their desire to take a “curated by humans” approach to help users discover new content. “Halloween Is Here” seems like the perfect execution to that philosophy.
Score: 13/13 Fangs
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