Watching: Only the Best (Spooky) Things

On Netflix, Hulu and Disney+

By The Watching Team

Halloween is here. Maybe you’ll safely and responsibly wear a costume outdoors, or maybe you’ll need a movie or TV series to watch at home. Regardless of what streaming service you subscribe to, we’re here to help. We’ve gone through Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ to find the best seasonally appropriate movies and TV shows on each service.

Here’s one of the 50 best movies on Netflix

Anjelica Huston, center, in “The Witches.”Warner Bros.

‘The Witches’

A delightfully playful bedtime story with a wicked sense of humor, this family adventure is adapted from a novel by Roald Dahl, and comes with his deliciously dark and cynical worldview intact. Younger viewers will treasure its inventive (and convincing) special effects, as well as the empathetic protagonist, a recent orphan whose grandmother helps him sniff out a society of witches. Meanwhile, parents will enjoy the vampy leading performance by Anjelica Huston, who invests her character with high style and an outrageous accent. Our critic called it “a fanciful film for savvy children and a witty, well-made movie for their parents.”

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Here is one of the best TV shows on Netflix

Mike Colter and Katja Herbers in “Evil.”Elizabeth Fisher/CBS

‘Evil’

The writer-producer team of Robert and Michelle King (“The Good Wife”) have made one of TV’s most charmingly bizarre mystery series with “Evil,” an offbeat examination into the culture-changing effects of fervent faith, religious and otherwise. The show has Katja Herbers as a skeptical psychologist who’s aiding a Catholic priest-in-training (Mike Colter) on a mission to investigate supernatural phenomena — while also working to stymie a mysterious man (Michael Emerson) who seeks to sow chaos. “Evil” is often quite funny and occasionally frightening. It is also a thoughtful attempt to understand the madness of modern life. A Times article about the creators called it “a response to the world as the Kings see it.”

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Have a Hulu subscription? It’s a lot to wade through. We can help!

A scene from “The Twilight Zone.”CBS

‘The Twilight Zone’

Rod Serling’s innovative, influential, unforgettable anthology series married the tropes of science fiction with the humanism of morality tales, using the social shifts and rampant paranoia of the Cold War era to tell stories both wildly fantastic and uncomfortably familiar. Its theme song remains ubiquitous (ditto Serling’s hard-boiled introductions), and its best episodes have permanently embedded themselves in the common consciousness, but “The Twilight Zone” stands as more than a mere cultural touchstone. “While he hosted weekly visits to other planets and alternate universes,” our critic writes, “Serling asked his viewers to question authority, innovation and the role of faith in their lives.”

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Amazon Prime Video doesn’t make it easy to find stuff. Luckily, we have done the work for you.

Itay Tiran, center, in “Demon.”The Orchard

‘Demon’

This Polish possession story from the writer and director Marcin Wrona opens on a note of uncertainty and dread and then holds it for 94 harrowing minutes. Wrona transforms the relatable fears of wedding day into something far more sinister, as our groom protagonist discovers horrifying skeletons in his new family’s closet (or, more accurately, its yard); the filmmaker offsets the considerable nightmare imagery and wild-eyed desperation with piercing moments of gallows humor, particularly in contemplating how “sensible people” might react to these events. Our critic praised its “light shivers” and “bluntly old-fashioned screen magic.”

Disney+ is full of older classics. But there are a lot of newer things to watch as well.

Fairuza Balk in “Return to Oz.”Buena Vista, via Everett Collection

‘Return to Oz’

Disney would come to regret making a sequel to perhaps the greatest children’s film ever made, but Walter Murch’s “Return to Oz” has picked up a deserved cult following over the years for its half-wondrous, half-nightmarish reading of L. Frank Baum’s Oz novels. This time, Dorothy (Fairuza Balk) goes back to a far less enchanting place, with the Yellow Brick Road and the Emerald City in ruins, her old friends turned to stone and the land patrolled by people with wheels instead of hands and feet. Our critic warned that “children are sure to be startled by [its] bleakness.”

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