Top 7 Horror Movies-Turned-TV Shows

4 – Freddy’s Nightmares

Let’s address the razor-gloved elephant in the room right away; yes, Freddy Kreuger wasn’t the mainstay on Freddy’s Nightmares that he was in the Nightmare on Elm Street series. While Freddy would sometimes take the starring role in one of his show’s anthology stories, he’d more often be relegated to a Crypt Keeper-esque host, but you know what? Sometimes that works for the heavily-burned host, as Freddy proves his worth as a true MC in this clip:

Without the budget to put together the special-effects showcases that served as the films’ absurd dream sequences, Freddy’s Nightmares leaned on Mr. Kreuger to work with his biggest strength; wordplay. When the main thrust of a show is to tell standalone Twilight Zone-esque stories, a quick pun here and there can add some much needed levity, and there’s no better horror jokester than Freddy. Seriously, if you think that Chucky is funnier, I hope you die in your sleep.

3 – Hannibal

The fact that Hannibal was optioned for a TV show at all is a minor miracle since there were five fucking movies explaining the backstory of Hannibal Lecter when one (The Silence of the Lambs) sufficed. Still, there’s no denying that the concept of HL’s murderous mind being used to help the FBI solve crimes fit well within modern TV’s obsession with police procedural programs, but what really made Hannibal’s TV adaptation a success was the talent involved.

The criminally underrated Bryan Fuller didn’t have much success with TV before Hannibal (some might stay he still hasn’t), but his key strengths helped propel the show to a level of critical success and a cult status higher than his previous work.

Pushing Dasies; aka Ronan the Accuser: Origins
Pushing Dasies; aka Ronan the Accuser: Origins

First and foremost, Fuller imbued Hannibal with the type of colorful costuming and set design you’d expect in a movie, but he also filled the cast with likeable characters. The show eventually got fans to root for Hannibal Lecter without shedding the anti-hero’s murderous image! We’ll take this show with some fava beans and a nice chianti. That’s the viscous red liquid splashing around during the intro, right? Please tell us it’s wine.

2 – Beetlejuice

You may be scoffing at the level of canon-breaking that occurred the Beetlejuice cartoon. Possible complaints: Lydia is now BFFs with the demon who tried to marry her against her will, while the ghostly couple she tried so hard to protect no longer exists. However, putting the two central characters together was necessary for the animated adaptation of Tim Burton’s classic.

Also, they didn't use this guy's likeness for some reason...
Also, they didn’t invite this guy to do voiceover for some reason…

With Lydia and Beetlejuice no longer at odds, the show opened up to include even kookier characters like a French skeleton meant to skew Jack Lalane, a big hairy Texan monster, and a talking car (just in time to capitalize on the surging popularity of Benny the Cab from Who Framed Roger Rabbit).

No room for Alec Baldwin or Geena Davis in this tight ensemble!
No room for Alec Baldwin or Geena Davis in this tight ensemble!

The animated show also dove way deeper on parodying pop-culture of the preceding decades which is something that Michael Keaton’s classic character didn’t need to do but was necessary to keep the attention of a kid in the early 90s. Plus, the show totally got a pair of characters who call each other “Babes” and “Beej” past the censors, which was pretty amazing. Take that, Tipper Gore!

1 – Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Who would have thought that a spinoff of a Luke Perry and Kristy Swanson-led movie would have been the savior of the WB’s early years? In a rare change of pace, Buffy went grittier on TV than on film – it’s hard to go campier than a film where Paul Reubens plays a vampire – and had more relatable characters on the small screen (again, Luke Perry and Paul Reubens were in the movie).


The simple premise of a cheerleader-turned-vampire killer was enough to 90-minute flick for teens to make out in front of, but the feature-film length nor the campy tone could do service to Joss Whedon’s core strengths; creating witty characters who have interesting relationships.

By putting together a superior cast of the best late-90s teen stars, including Sarah Michelle Gellar, David Boreanaz, Alyson Hannigan, Seth Green, and Eliza Dushku, TV’s Buffy had enough of a core to carry the cast through high school and beyond as they killed Sunnydale’s scariest creatures while falling in love with each other. But mostly kicking butt.



What do you think of our favorite horror films-turned-horrorshows? Any Teen Wolf fans in the house? Let us know in the comments?

6 thoughts on “Top 7 Horror Movies-Turned-TV Shows

  1. Great list, although Beetlejuice higher than Hannibal? Beetlejuice the movie isn’t even really horror… well, I suppose you can then argue that Hannibal’s a series of books before movies.

  2. okay… I agree with this list. Indeed Buffy was the absolute best transition from film to screen.
    that beetlejuice opening is amazing. that dive/split he does off the morphing rocks is breathtakingly animated. I used to know what studio did that intro… can’t remember anymore.
    I’ll say this that product placement scene from killer tomatoes was actually kind of funny.
    I didn’t know they had a scream show but then again I don’t own a TV and haven’t watched MTV since 1998 so… I guess it’s fine.

  3. Beetlejuice used to air every morning before I left for middle school on a local channel. They always followed it up with reruns of The Real Ghostbusters or Reboot. Awesome cartoon, based off of one of my favorite movies. In a way I’m amazed that my parents introduced me to something like Beetlejuice when I was only maybe 6 or 7. I always thought the strip club joke was hilarious, but never understood it. The cartoon was definitely more PG, but had some awesome writing and plot lines, even if they didn’t really make sense along side the movie. Sand worms blow.

  4. okay… just had to come back to say, because of this article I’m now home from work and doing a beetlejuice marathon. movie first then as many episodes as I can before my roommate screams enough already. haha
    iiiit’s SHOWTIME!

  5. Oh my god yes! The Beetlejuice cartoon is my FAVORITE cartoon! I love it even more than I do the movie and that says a lot, coming from someone who is a huge fan of Tim Burton. The movie is still a great film and deserves a load of praise. But the cartoon??? Where do I begin???? The cast is amazingly funny! The visual and word puns never fail for laughs. The relationship between Beetlejuice and Lydia? THE BEST PART OF THE WHOLE SHOW. Some who prefer the film may disagree, but I personally enjoy them bordering on being a couple. It provides a load of hilarious moments where something gets greasily snuck past the network censors!

    I really enjoy how the cartoon pushed every boundary or button that it could in ways that were not then considered unable to be shown on kids’ TV. In fact, I’m glad you touched on this because I have a short story to tell. Once, I signed up for a Nicktoon and CN streaming site with a live chat channel. I chose the username “BeejNBabes”. I entered the chat and started trying to make friends. Within five minutes, someone attempted to report me because my username infringed on the rules to protect child users… then everyone laughed at them for not realizing I got my username from the Beetlejuice cartoon! Lol

    I have the DVD box set from Shout Factory and have watched it at least fifty times or more… I am addicted.

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