Horror movies get a lot of attention, but sometimes you can forget that there’s an entire history of horror on that other media, television. These days, with shows like True Blood, The Walking Dead, Vampire Diaries, and American Horror Story (returning tonight), the television schedule is flooded with horror tales, adding to the storied history before them. Here’s our picks for what we believe are the best horror TV shows ever.
Read our picks and vote in the poll below.
Dan’s Pick –Are You Afraid of the Dark?
To many of us, our very first experience of horror was accidentally walking in on our parents getting it on, and also Are You Afraid Of The Dark? This show was Nick’s brilliant answer to the more gruesome and raunchy Tales From the Crypt, replacing the old skeletal Crypt Keeper with cute as a button teenagers.
They would all sneak out of their parents’ houses in the middle of the night and meet at their secret location. But instead of drinking booze and causing mischief, these kids would tell ghost stories by the campfire. All of their stories were adaptations from earlier horror films or had some overall message on life that would only come together after the final story was told.
While most of their stories weren’t very scary, every once in a while you would catch a gem that had all the perfect elements of what makes a good scary story.
Mark’s Pick – The Twilight Zone
There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.— Rod Sterling
Horror is a genre that has never been fully embraced by television executives, but that trend is currently changing. Even if it does become as mainstream as police procedurals, nothing will be better than the series that started it all, and my choice for No. 1 horror TV Show, The Twilight Zone. Rod Sterling’s classic consisted of half-hour short movies, and contained almost every idea you’ve seen in recent horror films and TV series, including deceiving aliens (“To Serve Man”) and mutants hiding on Earth (“It’s a Good Life”). The original run of the show lasted for five season totaling 156 episode and aired from 1959-1964. It did have a revival in the 1980s, but it failed to capture the magic and have the same impact of the original series.
The number of episodes and success of the show pales in comparison to the influence that it had on most of the horror writers of the last three decades. Just about every horror film today owes at least a part of its plot to an episode of The Twilight Zone and the short stories which the episodes were inspired by. This reason and this reason alone, is why The Twilight Zone is the No. 1 Horror TV Show.
Anthony’s Pick – The X-Files
The 1990s were a much simpler time in television. With cable channels in their infant stages, there usually wasn’t room for original dramatic work and the networks weren’t exactly breaking new ground. Law shows, cop procedurals, and the occasional medical drama were basically all you had to choose from. But in 1993, a phenomenon was born, which changed the game for just about everyone.
Back then, FOX more or less had two shows: Married…With Children and The Simpsons. The upstart network was in desperate need for a dramatic hit and that’s what they got with The X-Files. Essentially a cop procedural structure (with it’s story-a-week format), The X-Files broke new ground for what exactly was expected on network television.
Boosted by the charisma and chemistry of its two leads, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, The X-Files grew out of the fascination of the unknown and more specifically, aliens. But the stories weren’t always about aliens; in fact, the show ran the gamut of both horror and sci-fi storylines, from swarms of deadly bugs in the Pacific Northwest to inbred Hill People from Pennsylvania. On top of the continuous investigations, you had a great push-and-pull sort of relationship between Mulder and Scully; Mulder, the believer, was on a constant search to find out what happened to his sister. Scully, on the other hand, was a skeptic and kept Mulder grounded from his more fantastical nature.
The X-Files was appointment viewing for my sister and I back in the early-to-mid 90s. I can still remember eagerly awaiting each and every episode. The truth is out there.
What’s your favorite horror tv show? VOTE in the poll below or comment with your answer.