Horror Movies We'd Love To See As TV Shows

Television could do with being a little bit scarier. Though there are some great horror TV shows out there, like the Paramount+ series "Evil" or Mike Flanagan's "Midnight Mass," the small screen doesn't always seem to make room for great horror as well or as often as the big screen does. Maybe tension is harder to maintain over multiple episodes than it is over two hours, or maybe TV execs simply haven't bet on horror as often as they should.

Some of television's best, freakiest, and most interesting horror series originally started off as movies. Shows like "Bates Motel," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Ash vs. The Evil Dead," and "Chucky" pull from beloved horror films of decades past, reinventing them for a longer format while maintaining the integrity of the original. So why stop there? If the TV landscape could use more great horror, why not make more great horror films into TV shows? Here are five titles that, if adapted well, would be worth tuning in for.

Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark

André Øvredal's 2019 film, "Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark," tells the story of a group of small-town teenagers who stumble upon a book of horror stories purported to belong to a witch named Sarah Bellows. After the kids open the book, its stories seem to come to life, and the ragtag group is pursued by all manner of freaky beasties. A murderous scarecrow named Harold, a chimney-dweller named the Jangly Man, and a seriously messed-up zit all make an appearance in the movie.

These stories might sound familiar to readers of a certain age: they were all collected in Alvin Schwartz's haunting, folklore-influenced childrens' book series in the '80s and '90s. The books are jam-packed with truly nightmarish tales accompanied by utterly disturbing illustrations. Øvredal's film only had time to cover a few of Schwartz's most well-known stories, though there is a sequel in the works. A live-action or animated anthology TV show from the team behind the film could cover even more ground, bringing indelible stories like "Room For One More" and "The Drum" to life to scare the pants off a new generation of burgeoning horror fans.

The Wicker Man

The 1973 British folk horror classic "The Wicker Man" is a masterpiece in its own right, but it also includes elements that are especially hot in the horror scene today. The movie follows a policeman named Neil (Edward Woodward) who journeys to a remote island to track down a missing girl. Once he arrives, he finds that the island's townspeople are engaged in all sorts of mystifying activities, some of which seem considerably more serious than others. The movie includes a lot of singing and pagan frolicking, but by the time its climax roles around, its violence is a far cry from the whimsical spirit the story began with.

The DNA of "The Wicker Man" clearly exists in plenty of recent horror hits, from "Midsommar" to "The Ritual." With respect to the delicate tonal balancing act of the original Robin Hardy film, Neil's story would almost certainly make for an excellent slow-burn limited series. It's easy to envision a prestige horror director like Ben Wheatley ("Kill List"), Osgood Perkins ("Gretel & Hansel"), or duo Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala ("The Lodge") reimagining the tale. A bleak, creepily ominous take on the mysterious, Christianity-bucking residents of Summerisle would no doubt hit with horror fans today. Expertly stretch out the tension for six episodes instead of 88 minutes, and that gobsmacking finale might hit even harder than it did in '73.


When it comes to horror movies that would translate well on the small screen, teen movies can't be beat. The familiar beats of a school year, the ever-shifting character dynamics, and the opportunities for era-specific nostalgia make these flicks a great option for further exploration. And while plenty of teen-centric horror movies — from "The Craft" to "Assassination Nation"–would likely make awesome horror shows, few in recent years seem to have as much TV potential as "Freaky."

The 2020 horror comedy stars Vince Vaughan and Kathryn Newton. Vaughan plays a ruthless and off-putting serial killer called the Blissfield Butcher, while Newton plays high schooler Millie. Only, this isn't your stereotypical slasher: it's also a "Freaky Friday" style body swap movie, meaning Vaughan spends much of the film playing a girly-girl teen while Newton plays an empty-eyed, deranged killer. "Freaky" takes place over just a few days, but it would be fun to see this sort of plot played out over a longer time span. The Butcher could take the SATs while Millie tries to find an alternate career. With the right script, a "Freaky" show could be one of the strangest and most sublime coming-of-age stories on TV.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Like teen slashers, dystopic horror is a rich subgenre that lends itself well to long-form exploration. "The Walking Dead" has trudged along for over a decade, but that zombie saga will leave a major hole in the TV landscape when it ends after this season. What better to fill that hole than a creative, pulse-pounding, genuinely scary new take on an old classic? "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" hasn't just been made into one great movie, but two, both of which pull from Jack Finney's book "The Body Snatchers." The 1978 remake starring Donald Sutherland is often included in lists of the best sci-fi horror films of all time, and for good reason.

The propulsive and harrowing story follows a group of friends, colleagues, and lovers as they witness the dawn of an insidious alien takeover on Earth. Instead of outright declaring their intentions, the extraterrestrial beings are quietly replacing humans one by one with creepy, stoic doppelgangers. The 1978 version of the story ends on a perfectly startling note, but a series could even go beyond those early stages of the invasion, imagining what life may be like for humans surviving among the Pod people.

The Cabin in the Woods

Drew Goddard's endlessly surprising 2011 movie is perhaps the most meta horror outing this side of the "Scream" franchise. Initially, the film follows a group of archetypal teenagers as they vacation together at a run-down cabin in the middle of nowhere. Soon, their trip dissolves into bloody chaos, but not in the way audiences could've possibly expecting.

Without spilling the details of its excellent secrets (the movie is so good, it's worth keeping unspoiled a decade later), "The Cabin in the Woods" ultimately imagines a version of the world kept in check thanks to the reliability of popular horror tropes. The films's intricate mythology, complete with tons of cool creature designs that viewers only glimpse for a moment, practically begs for a "Cabin in the Woods" extended universe. The movie's all-in ending means any TV show based on it would have to be a prequel, but luckily, there are hundreds of years worth of in-universe scenarios the show could cover. How did the Japanese schoolgirls conjure Kiko in the first place? What's the deal with the lamprey-mouthed ballerina? "The Cabin in the Woods" has already laid so much creative groundwork, the show basically writes itself.