Top 7 Horror Movies-Turned-TV Shows

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How can the nudity and gore-filled wonder of horror movies translate to TV? It takes some ingenuity and hard work, but these seven flicks turned out pretty well on the small screen!

Besides the fact that horror movies usually deal with levels of adult language, copious nakedness, and unrepentant blood that are unfit for most channels, it’s kind of a surprise that the film genre doesn’t pollinate more with television. Back in the day, TV networks were way more risk-averse than Hollywood studios (the situation has flip-flopped in today’s media climate) and there was nothing more reliable in the 80s and 90s than annual horror franchises.

It’s not easy, but horror movies can make the transition to the small screen if a few key concessions are made. Sure, the gore has to go, but if a show can compensate in other areas (by fleshing out characters or increasing the humor), the movie-to-TV transition isn’t the nightmare most movie adaptations are. Here’s seven programs that show it can be done.

7 – Scream

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Happy, millennials?! Even though we should be salty that one of the best horror franchises of the mid-90s has been repackaged as an MTV drama-horror series (a drorror series, if you will), it actually makes sense that MTV has revived this show for a multitude of reasons.

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SPOILE-Ah shit, you saw it already.

Firstly, us 80s kids have to shoulder some of the blame for SCRE4M underperforming at the box-office – and the Courtney Cox-David Arquette divorce that it probably caused – in lieu of the Paranormal Activities and Saws of this world. Regardless of your age, however, most of what worked for Scream in the 90s is custom-fit to air in between Girl Code and Awkward.

Scream was never big on nudity, so MTV’s customary parade of scantily clad teens doesn’t seem like a cop-out. The soundtracks for the first three movies were some of hottest late-90s CDs (including classics like Master P’s Scream rap), so it makes sense that One Direction or Demi Lovato provide the modern-day soundtrack to Ghostface’s murdering sprees. Plus, the four-film series’ biggest strength is its continuity where Sidney Prescott and those close to her deal with copycat killers, so an entire season of a close-knit group getting slaughtered makes for an intriguing premise.

6 – Toxic Crusaders

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This may be blurring the line between action and horror, but if the original Toxic Avenger didn’t scare the crap out of you as a kid, you deserve a Congressional medal for bravery. The original film began with a possibly mentally disabled janitor being tormented by good-looking gym-goers until he throws himself in a vat of toxic waste due to embarrassment:

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Once out, he becomes a murderous street hero who is excised from the community due to his mutated visage. Then the sequels made him a witty superhero who fought the devil masquerading as a CEO and laid waste to Japanese warriors as he searched for his father.

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As you can imagine, the cartoon adaptation (called the Toxic Crusaders because a true hero doesn’t seek vengeance) dove even deeper into the corny nature of the sequels, but also took advantage of the animation to expand on what the low-budget flicks couldn’t; more mutated heroes.

In a world where kids were going crazy for more Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles characters, many found refuge with Toxie and his pals No-Zone (a man with a giant nose), Junkyard (a homeless man/junkyard dog hybrid), and Headbanger (a pair of fused together twins consisting of a cranky scientist and laid-back surfer dude) as the opening theme showed:

When you add in the fact that the Crusaders fought against villains harming the environment, you get a show about saving the planet that isn’t for giant nerds – sorry, Captain Planet fans.

5 – Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

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We somehow live in a world where Killer Klowns from Outer Space never got a cartoon (whoops, we mean “kartoon”) adaptation, so the best B-movie-turned animated series would be this early Fox Kids joint.

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Since the Killer Tomatoes movie franchise always leaned more campy than gory, it had a much easier transition than the likes of Toxic Avenger, and it was still a pretty hot property when it hit the small screen a year after the George Clooney-led Return of the Killer Tomatoes. Remember this scene the next time Clooney is mentioned as an Oscar contender:

It didn’t take much to impress a kid of the 1980s so AotKT’s tomato juice, cheesy-puns, and classic theme did the trick. Before the likes of Tiny Toons and Animaniacs smartened us up, Saturday morning toons only needed one of two things; fast action or gross humor, and AotKT nailed both.

Where do Freddy and Buffy rank? Read on to the next page to find out!

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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