Shannon O’Connor ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Editor-in-Chief
For generations the horror genre of filmmaking has ruled the box office. From Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, to Scream; horror films are beloved cinematic guilty pleasures. However, in the past couple of decades the fascination with horror has leaked onto the small screen. Now horror television series provide audiences with a weekly hour-long episode to satiate their horror fix. The best of these horror shows not only tell an interesting story, but immerse the audience into a world of terror. Here are those shows:
Yes, the graphics and references may be outdated in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but the campy feel is half the brilliance of the series. Created by Joss Whedon as a way to finally show the world that a blonde teenager can not only fend for herself but the entire world, Buffy the Vampire Slayer remains to this day one of the greatest sci-fi/horror series. While, the adventures of a teenage vampire slayer may seem silly to many people, viewers know the show is much more than the campy premise. Throughout the 7 seasons, the show deals with a myriad of issues that are not only terrifying, but completely realistic; such as dealing with the death of a parent, death of a loved one, addiction, etc. Buffy fights countless demons throughout the series, but the majority of them are not supernatural beings, but life. The series, although not always classically scary, will fill all your horror needs and then some.
Scariest Episode: “Hush” – A terrifying lullaby and a group of creepy skeleton-like creatures searching to cut out 7 hearts, are just two of the eerie components to this all-around frightening episode. Though the average episode of Buffy may not incite fear, one of the show’s most prolific episodes, “Hush,” will surely strike fear in audiences.
4. Bates Motel
As many horror fans know, Alfred Hitchcock is the king of horror and the mastermind behind one of the most classic horror films ever, Psycho. In A&E’s hit horror-drama Bates Motel, a modern-age prequel to Hitchcock’s Psycho, the peculiar relationship between psychopath Norman Bates and his over-controlling mother Norma Bates is highlighted. The prequel allows audiences to be privy to the inner workings of Norman Bates’ mind, which if you have seen Psycho is not exactly a pleasant place to be. The most terrifying component to this show is the intensity of the performances, as Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore completely embody their eerie characters to the point where there is a sinister vibe behind everything they do. Fans of Hitchcock’s classics and horror fans in general should check into the Bates Motel for a terrifying and thrilling hour of television.
Scariest Episode: “First You Dream, Then You Die” – the first episode of the series features Norman blacking out (the first of many clues that not all is right with this young boy), the death of Norman’s father, Norma getting raped and then murdering her rapist. These shocking events plus the peculiarity of Norma and Norman’s relationship would make any viewer dart under their covers.
3. The Strain
FX’s new horror series created by Guillermo del Toro, The Strain, definitely puts the “sexy vampire” craze to rest. Toro’s “strain” of vampirism is about as unsexy as it gets, to the point where it is downright terrifying. In place of the classic sharp canine teeth are tentacle-like arms that emerge from the vampire’s throat that not only suck the blood of their victim, but release thousands of tiny worms that infect the new host with the ancient strain of vampirism. Now if that description did not send you running for hills, you are in luck as the series, which is based on comic books of the same name, has a fascinating and engaging story line filled with rich, interesting characters. Not checking this show out is what would really suck.
Scariest Episode: “Creatures of the Night” – In this extremely stressful episode, a majority of the main characters are trapped inside a gas station convenience store that is surrounded by blood-thirsty vampires. As the night wears on and their attackers grow hungrier, the characters must make life-changing decisions. You, along with the characters, will not make it out of that episode unscathed.
2. American Horror Story
Although Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s American Horror Story is the most well-known horror television series currently airing, that does not mean it isn’t one of the best. Each season of the anthology series is set in a new and terrifying world; from a haunted Los Angeles home, a Boston asylum for the criminally insane, a New Orleans school of witchcraft, to one of the last surviving “freak shows” in America, American Horror Story knows no boundaries. Whether it is the demon baby or the terrifying serial killer “Bloody Face,” AHS has contributed more than its fair share to its viewer’s nightmares. Maybe watch this one with the lights on.
Scariest Episode: “Piggy, Piggy” – this episode is mostly terrifying due to its opening, which features a school shooting sequence extremely similar to the Columbine High School massacre. Just try and see if you can get through the opening without a whole bunch of chills running down your spine.
1. Penny Dreadful
Showtime’s new hit horror series brings together famous gothic novels such as Frankenstein, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Dracula and combines them in one enthralling story. Famous characters from these gothic novels and a few characters made especially for the show, join together to find Mina Harker who was taken by Dracula. The series weaves the character’s storylines together in such a way that the original text these characters derive from stays intact within the story, while also expanding to create new and different storylines. Penny Dreadful adds to the un-sexy vampire trend with their nightmare-inducing creatures with blood-red eyes. Fans of classic gothic novels and horror fans in general should flock to their nearest television and start watching the best new horror show to satiate any horror fan’s needs, Penny Dreadful.
Scariest Episode: “Séance” – Going from a chilling voice impression of a young boy to wild contortions; Eva Green’s performance during the séance scene in this episode is one of the eeriest, most brilliant moments of television ever.