Making a horror TV show is no easy task. You need to have a strong plot line that will keep the viewers on the edge of their seats while trying not to kill all the main characters by the end of the first season (GoT, in this regard, might be the greatest ‘horror show’ ever created). While TV shows focus on characters’ longevity, horror shows put the same characters in grave danger on a daily basis. Maintaining balance is the key to creating the ultimate horror TV show that can satisfy both – horror fans and devout TV show watchers who like to get into a storyline and stay there as long as possible. Here we have a list of 10 shows that include both spooky classics and new additions to the genre of horror TV show.
Aren’t Victorian Era horror stories the best thing in the world? They are dark, gory, and never seem to go out of date as it sometimes happens with other monstrous beings. The plot of Penny Dreadful revolves around the dark secrets (and even darker past!) of its main characters: the charismatic explorer Malcolm Murray who is desperately trying to find all that’s left of his family; Josh Hartnett, a Wild West performer who knows more about beasts than any human ever should; Vanessa Ives, a mysterious medium that knows a thing or two about demon possessions and witchcraft; and an arrogant anatomist who’s trying to create life from scratch. Sounds promising? Because it really is! Each episode of the show is like Christmas for horror fans.
Stranger Things is not just a tribute to the ‘80s classics – the show has a voice and style of its own when it comes to horrifying monsters and that’s what makes it truly peculiar. The characters of the show live in a Steven King-esque setting of a small town infested with some really creepy events and people going missing on a daily basis. When little Will suddenly disappears, his friends Dustin, Mike, and Lucas, embark on a journey that will leave them with more questions than answers. There are dark forces involved and you’ll see a fair share of violent government agents and experiments on people. It’s a real treat!
The Twilight Zone
The Twilight Zone is still among all-time favorites when it comes to horror shows. If you look past outdated special effects that may look more charming than scary to a sophisticated viewer, the show’s allegorical storytelling still has a lot to offer. It may not be as shocking when it comes to monsters, ghosts, and ghouls of all sorts, but Rod Serling, the show’s creator and director, surely knows how to get under your skin when portraying people and their malicious behavior. Humans might still be the spookiest monsters of the bunch!
Who could have thought that making a prequel to Psycho was actually a great idea? As nothing can beat Hitchcock’s classic, the creators of the series didn’t even consider doing homage to the movie, but rather focused on reinventing the characters while putting a modern psychological twist on the whole thing. And you know what? They did a great job! While the killings themselves are more than gruesome, you will find the relationships between Norman Bates and his mother far more disturbing than anything else on the show. Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore managed to build a bond that is both stomach-turning and engrossing in the worst ways possible. That’s why this horror show is so thrilling to watch!
Masters of Horror
Showtime and Anchor Bay came up with an idea to create a horror anthology and it surprisingly paid off. Masters of Horror showcase the likes of Takashi Miike, John Carpenter, Jon Landis, Stuart Gordon, Tobe Hooper, and Dario Argento just to name the few. Each episode is a mini-film from the world’s most prominent horror makers with a vivid cinematic twist, which makes the show a unique phenomenon (hence, the mixed reviews it got). Here you will find masterpieces like Stuart Gordon’s spin on Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe and John Carpenter’s Cigarette Burns. This anthology is as versatile as it is scary!
If you think Facebook greeting you like an old friend is rather creepy, then this show is right up your alley! Not a horror show in a classic sense, Black Mirror has gathered a plethora of amazingly eerie scenarios that involve technological advances, AI, and leaps in virtual reality development. Imagine the worst things that could happen to humanity due to the ruinous effects of technology overuse, and you’ll get a deeply philosophical and eerie TV show that is at times more horrifying than anything that has loads of gore and blood in it.
The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead is, ironically, more about live humans than their dead counterparts. It’s a study in human nature and humanity (and lack of such) when people are put under stress and have to fight for survival every day. We could say that zombies only serve a purpose of building a setting necessary to play out the human vs. human drama, but there’s still plenty going on with human vs. zombie, too! The Walking Dead is packed with jaw-dropping horror scenes, suspense, terror, and gruesome zombies that seem to grow more horrifying with each passing episode. It’s definitely a must-see!
Haters gonna hate, but that still wouldn’t change the fact that Bryan Fuller has created one of the most mesmerizing, deviant, and delectable horror shows in the history of TV. Hannibal Lecter is no newbie to the silver screen, but the pressure of reinventing a familiar character (quite brilliantly portrayed by Anthony Hopkins back in the day) made Bryan Fuller and the whole cast of Hannibal only more eager to create a masterpiece that surpasses all its predecessors. Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy play the leads (Hannibal and Will Graham) that form a complicated relationship that delves into the dark territory of psychopathic behavior, genius mind, and lust to kill (and, yeah, eat the prey as well). The twisted intimacy between the two is a fertile playground on which Fuller builds his visually astonishing, sensual, and gut-wrenching episodes.
American Horror Story
Ryan Murphy proves his genius once again by creating an erratic and often sickly series that plays with our most and less obvious fears in a deviant and twisted way. It’s hard to describe what Murphy’s doing, but he’s doing a great job – this we can say for sure. If you’re looking for a larger narrative, you won’t find one here. Each series of the show starts anew, giving Murphy full freedom to do whatever he wants inside a given timetable of a few episodes and a chosen topic. But boy, does he use that freedom to its full potential! You will find deeply disturbing themes starting with clowns and BDSM leather-clad figures and ending with horror circus characters and asylums filled with agonizing spirits. If you believe one season is not your cup of tea, you can skip it and go for the next – you might still fall in love with the show!
David Lynch is a pro when it comes to creating dream-like states, disturbing visuals, and situations filled with slightly off humor that can’t be mistaken for anything else. Twin Peaks became an icon of a TV show that still has its audience obsessing over it years later (and for a reason, as we all know the new season of Twin Peaks has already aired!). Paired with Mark Frost’s genius, David Lynch turned the small town of Twin Peaks into an appalling horror story packed with eccentric, yet perfectly believable characters. And Killer Bob might very well be on the 10 most horrifying killers list!