One of the upcoming TV shows we're most excited by is The River, a found footage horror outing created by the minds behind Paranormal Activity. Straight-up horror is rare on television, and we're hopeful this show will make its mark.
To celebrate, we've rounded up a list of the best horror shows that blazed a trail on television.
The River is backed by a heap of talent, Steven Spielberg is producing, Oren Peli (Paranormal Activity, Insidious) is also producing (and helped with the story idea), plus it stars Bruce Greenwood and Joe Anderson (the deputy from The Crazies that went nuts). We're not sure how this series could go on for more than two years, but we're completely sold on the "Dr. Livingstone, I Presume" premise. Plus, if you're going to make a mockumentary style show, use the best — and right now Peli is the best at this type of genre. Here's the brand new trailer for the ABC series.
Crafting a popular TV horror show is a difficult task. Most of the classics either fall on one end of the spectrum or the other. (Crypt went straight for the gore while Are You Afraid of the Dark remained kid friendly.) And while we loved them all, we have to admit to being a bit biased towards those rare shows that managed to walk the middle between intense drama and horror, such as Twin Peaks or X-Files. But they're all an important part of TV horror, and this is our list of the best of the best.
Tales From The Crypt
We're not sure what was more frightening: the Danny Elfman intro, the terrifying TV gore, or merely the Crypt Keeper's face. Crypt raised the bar for the anthology shows that were popular at the time. If you were going to use a narrator, you had to beat out the Crypt Keeper, which was an impossible task. This HBO series was on for 7 seasons, launched a number of horror movies, comic books, and radio series. It even had a spin-off Saturday morning cartoon!
Someone's at the door! The small town of Trinity, SC had a lot of big problems. Specifically, the evil Sheriff Buck who was a murderer, rapist, and basically the devil on Earth. This series was all sorts of terrifying. The main character (Caleb) is a little boy whose mother was raped by the sheriff, then committed suicide after giving birth to Caleb. It was packed with horror, and one moment that will forever plague us is when a local bug lover chains Bruce Campbell in a box and dumps a bucket of flesh eating beetles into his lap.
The Walking Dead
A perfect example of a drama/horror mix. Based off the comic books by Robert Kirkman and directed and produced by Frank Darrabont, The Walking Dead is oppressive with the horrific dread it dumps on the viewers. It forces you to stare the undead reality right in the face as people become monsters (both alive and dead). Plus, it doesn't scrimp on the good scares here and there.
Has any other series come up with more terrifying creatures than the aliens from X-Files with their elaborate plans and black oil dealings? What made X-Files truly horror wasn't the freak of the week monsters, but the elaborate conspiracy theory beasts that were never fully revealed until the final showdown. And the pay off was always epic. OK, the freak of the week beasts were pretty scary too! The episode "Home" still haunts our dreams.
Are You Afraid Of The Dark?
It might have aired on Nickelodeon, but don't lie. Every time the theme song started to play you got the chills and turned off the volume.
The Twilight Zone
The Twilight Zone loved to scare us by giving each character exactly what they wanted! Take the little man with the huge glasses, Burgess Meredith. All he wanted was peace and quiet so he could read, then the world ends and he's the last man on the face of the Earth with plenty of reading material. Then he breaks his giant coke-bottle glasses. The Twilight Zone revelled in giving each character his or her just desserts.
The Outer Limits
Twisty endings galore. Anyone remember the episode "Nightmare," where a group of alien-abducted soldiers begin to turn on one another in a horrific "survival of the cruelest" twist? Between that and the horrible smiling spider creatures, Outer Limits won on scifi horror alone.
Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Hosted by the puppet master of suspense himself. These short stories were more scary due to the dark secrets each character kept, and the way everyone responded. Rather than actual shock and fake skin flaps squirting red dye awe!
Supernatural may be loved for its comedy, but it's been carrying the banner of great TV horror for several years. When you're dealing with the end of the world and the fires of hell, things get pretty scary pretty quick. "Sympathy for the Devil" and "No Rest For The Wicked" are two completely different "kinds" of Supernatural episodes, that both delivered the horror.
There is nothing creepier than Twin Peaks, nothing. Especially when they go full crazy "Beyond Life and Death" style. Created by David Lynch and Mark Frost, what started out as a mystery about the murder of Laura Palmer slowly developed into a cult sensation with possessions, time travel, tiny computer-voiced characters, and acid mind trips. May we never have to sit in the waiting room of Agent Cooper's mind job ever again.
Kolchak: The Night Stalker