TV tricks or treats: What to watch this Halloween weekend

Chuck Barney

My nights of ushering our costume-clad kids around the neighborhood for Halloween ended long ago. Now, I tend to spend fright nights handing out candy and hunkering down in front of the big-screen TV for a good spooky movie or two. (With the lights off, of course).

This year Halloween falls on a Monday, which means we have an entire weekend run-up to sample some of television’s tricks and treats. Sounds good to me.

So what to watch? My top recommendation would be to jump on Netflix and binge out on the buzzy (and creepy) hit “Stranger Things.” It’s good scary fun without over-the-top violence.

If you’ve already seen “Stranger Things,” you could always catch up with — or relive — some of the best episodes of “The Walking Dead,” “American Horror Story” or “Ash vs. Evil Dead.” Still, if you’re looking for something else, here’s a cursory rundown what television has to offer over the coming days:

On the cutting edge: If you’re into the slasher classics, AMC has your back.

As part of its “Fear Fest 20” celebration, the cable network returns to Camp Crystal Lake for an airing of “Friday the 13th” at 6 p.m. Friday. Then, on Saturday, AMC dives deep into Michael Myers-style mayhem by airing three of the “Halloween” films in consecutive order, beginning with the 1978 original (7 p.m.), followed by “Halloween II” (9 p.m.) and “Halloween III: Season of the Witch” (11 p.m.).

On Sunday, of course, AMC is all about “The Walking Dead” (9 p.m.), which, at times, is the scariest thing on TV. But on Monday, AMC returns to the “Halloween” franchise with airings of the fourth (6 p.m.) and fifth films (8 p.m.), followed by another dose of the original (10 p.m.).

Creature features: They’re b-a-a-a-a-c-k. On Friday night, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) dusts off the vintage horror-film classics of Universal Studios.

Returning to give you a bad case of the heebie-jeebies are “Dracula” (5 p.m.), “The Mummy” (6:30 p.m.), “The Invisible Man” (8 p.m.), and “The Wolf Man” (9:15 p.m.). Unfortunately, “Frankenstein” is not on this bill.

Fresh (burnt?) offerings

Perhaps you’re looking for something a little more contemporary. Syfy has a new TV flick called “The Night Before Halloween” (9 p.m., Saturday). The log line: When a Halloween prank goes wrong, it unleashes a creature that wants to hunt down each of the participants and kill them. At least it’s not another Sharknado.

Over on Lifetime, there’s “Amish Witches: The True Story of Holmes County” (8 p.m., Saturday). It’s the story of a reality-TV crew that gets recruited by a group of young women to record strange and inexplicable events plaguing their small society following the death of an Amish witch. Apparently, it’s inspired by real events.

Scary in Springfield: Really, it’s just not Halloween without “The Simpsons” and their horrifically hilarious “Treehouse of Horror” specials.

On Friday, FXX airs a “Treehouse of Horror” marathon that kicks off at 6 p.m. and runs deep into the night. Kang and Kodos would give this delightful marathon two thumbs up — if they had thumbs.

Ghosts in the machine: How do you compare the 2015 remake of “Poltergeist” to Steven Spielberg’s chilling 1982 version? By watching them back-to-back.

On Sunday, HBO airs the original at 5:25 p.m. and it’s immediately followed by the reboot at 7:20 p.m.

Be advised that these films come with an Evil Clown warning.

Rocking the fishnets and heels: Did Fox’s recent remake of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” leave you yearning for the real thing? You’re in luck.

On Halloween night, IFC goes into a Time Warp with back-to-back airings of the kooky and kinky 1975 Tim Curry original beginning at 9 p.m. We do not recommend throwing toast at your TV set.

For the little trick-or-treaters: On Friday, at 8 p.m., ABC re-airs “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” The Peanuts special is celebrating its 50th anniversary. That’s a lot of lonely nights in the pumpkin patch for poor Linus.

PBS, meanwhile, has a new animated special called “The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About Halloween.” Airing on Friday (8 a.m.), it follows Nick and Sally as they join the Cat in the Hat for a “fright-filled adventure.”

Freeform has been airing the witchy 1993 film “Hocus Pocus” all over its schedule this month. Upcoming airings include 9:25 p.m. Saturday, 7:25 p.m. Sunday, and 9 p.m. Monday.

Also on Monday, after an early candy run, you can make a return trip to “Hotel Transylvania” (8 p.m., FX), the computer animated movie from 2012.