BY MACK VELTMAN
Halloween is a week away, and as many people adjust to a holiday spent in doors, movies or TV shows are the best way to fill your time and sate your horror appetite. Previously we covered the Six Horror Movies You’ve (Probably) Never Seen, and wanted to give the same attention to the small screen, so if you’re looking for some spooky TV shows to binge this season, you’ve come to the right place!
Welcome dear readers, to Six Horror TV Shows You (Probably) Never Seen:
Friday the 13th: The Series
The Friday the 13th franchise spans 12 movies and numerous graphic novels, videogames, and documentaries, but it also includes a dive into the small screen with the horror fantasy show, Friday the 13th: The Series. I have an upcoming piece for CBR.com on why this show is way better than any of the movies, despite not featuring Jason Voorhees or Camp Crystal Lake– so stay tuned for that! Rather, the show–an obvious cash grab as producer Frank Mancuso Jr. hoped the Friday the 13th moniker would help draw in audiences– focused on the idea of curses and superstition. The only thing the series shared with the entity it was named after are some crew who worked on the films.
The series–which ran from 1987 to 1990– follows two cousins, Micki (Louise Robey) and Ryan (John D. LeMay) who inherit a antique shop after their uncle dies. The cousins decide not to keep the store and begin selling off all the antiques until a friend of their uncle’s and an expert on the occult, Jack Marshak (Chris Wiggins) reveals the shocking truth: that each antique is cursed to bring misery, death and corruption to all who wield them. The cousins begin a frantic quest to reclaim the items and lock them away in a secure vault beneath the store, but they soon discover that many people are using the antiques for personal gain or revenge and refuse to part with them.
The series was violent and gory, and pushed the envelop of what primetime television allowed, however, it was well received and ran for three seasons. Unfortunately the show faded into obscurity following its cancellation, but if you’re looking for a dark and creepy series that influenced famous shows like X-Files and Warehouse 13, look no further than Friday the 13th: The Series.
Harper’s Island is a one-off series perfect for a Halloween binge, consisting of 13 episodes and following a young couple and their many friends and family who travel to the titular island for a wedding, only to find themselves at the mercy of a relentless and mostly unseen killer. The kills are memorable and plenty, several of the characters are interesting and well developed, and whodunnit format of the show will keep viewers guessing for the majority of its run.
A few years ago I attended a local Comic-Con event and had the privilege of meeting Jim Beaver (of Supernatural fame) who plays Sheriff Charlie Mills on Harper’s Island, and he told me that it was one of his favorite roles and a hell of a good time, as the cast had no idea who’d die next and who’d make it to the finale in one piece. So place your bets on who you think will make it off Harper’s Island and get ready for an entertaining take on the slasher genre.
The iconic dream demon Freddy Krueger saw his dive into the small screen with Freddy’s Nightmares, a horror anthology series which aired in syndication from 1988 to 1990. While the first episode–directed by Tobe Hopper of Texas Chainsaw Massacre fame– featured Krueger and explored his origins, the rest of the series follows a new crop of actors with each dark and twisted story. Freddy’s primary role in the show was to host each episode and sometimes indirectly interfere in the plot, although he always gave an epilogue at the end of each episode.
Similarly to the Twilight Zone, the series featured several up-and-coming actors and celebrities at the time, like Brad Pitt, Julie Chen and Kyle Chandler. Of course, the biggest draw of the series is Freddy Krueger himself, so if you’re aching for some Nightmare on Elm Street material, give this show a try.
Slasher is a Canadian anthology horror series available on Netflix. Each season follows a different masked killer who stalks a new cast of cast of characters, but it’s the first season featuring the Executioner and a fantastic lead performance from Katie McGrath that deserves a shoutout. Filled with gore and plot twists and a truly intimidating killer in the Executioner, the first season follows follows a woman named Sarah (McGrath) and her husband who move back to her childhood home where her parents were murdered years prior on the night of Halloween. Sarah’s return signals the start of a series of copy cat murders at the hands of the Executioner, and the kills are truly disturbing and bloody.
The second season takes place at a winter resort where a group of camp counselors who participated in a murder are killed one by one by a murderer in a parka and the third season follows Druid killer stalking and murdering people during the summer solstice. While the series is not a masterpiece of horror, it is entertaining and you’ll find yourself rooting for your favorite character to make it out alive.
The Returned, or Les Revenants is a French supernatural drama and one of the most hauntingly beautiful shows on this list. The series, consisting of two seasons and 16 episodes, explores life in a small French town when a group of dead people suddenly return home with no knowledge of their deaths. The show takes a deep dive into grief, trauma, and community and offers a cast of truly memorable and well developed characters. The story is compelling as the families who lost a loved one are suddenly forced to confront their grief and confusion head on, while the dead characters must regain their livelihoods and adjust to a life that initially moved on without them. Both seasons are critically acclaimed, with gorgeous cinematography, a chilling soundtrack, and top notch acting.
You’d probably want to skip the American remake which is vastly overshadowed by its source material. If you’re looking for a unique take on the zombie genre, then The Returned is for you.
While Dark leans more on the science fiction side, it’s truly disturbing and grim take on the time travel genre lands it a spot on this list. The German TV series consists of three seasons follows a cast of characters who come together to learn the truth when a child goes missing, only to find themselves at the center of a sinister time traveling conspiracy which spans several generations and brings to light the terrible secrets of four families at the center of the drama. While Dark may draw comparisons to Twin Peaks and Stranger Things, its slow burning mystery and storylines across different timelines makes it a truly unique viewing experience.
Did I miss any horror TV shows that deserve a spot on this list? Let me know in the comments and as always, stay nerdy!