John C. McGinley stars as the titular Stan, a disgraced former sheriff who opts to pick up the battle against evil after a close call. He teams up with new sheriff Evie Barret (Janet Varney) to defend the town (and sometimes world) from supernatural threats.
Available on: Netflix
It seems so obvious now but in hindsight there was little buzz about this nostalgic tweenage horror project on Netflix from the relatively unknown Duffer Brothers. Little did we know that the Stev(ph)ens Spielberg and King-inspired Stranger Things would be one of Netflix’s biggest hits.
Stranger Things takes place in the fictional Hawkins, Indiana in the mid-’80s. Hawkins is your typical smal ltown American city. The kids like to ride bikes, play Dungeons & Dragons, and tease one another. Unfortunately it also just happens to be home to a mysterious government building on the outskirts of town may have opened a portal to another world – a portal that will usher in multiple seasons worth of monster fighting mayhem.
Tales of the Unexpected
Available on: Freevee (U.S.) Sky Go (U.K.)
Not all horror involves demonic creatures and the supernatural; there’s evil enough in humankind to sustain years of chilling storytelling, which is just what Tales of the Unexpected exploited throughout its nine-series ITV run. Some of these half-hours did dip a toe into the paranormal (who could forget the plump infant reveal of ‘Royal Jelly’?), but they mostly showcase earthly corruption and domestic noir, like chilling child abduction tale ‘Flypaper’.
With 112 episodes in total, around a third were based on stories by Roald Dahl, whose name prefixed the title in the early years and who filmed fireside introductions teasing what was to follow. The nasty misanthropy of Dahl’s imagination is well-known to those who’ve read his children’s books, and it found full expression here with stories of revenge, lies, murder and cannibalism.
Based on a 2007 book of the same name by Dan Simmons, The Terror season 1 tells a fictionalized account of Captain Sir John Franklin’s expedition to the arctic in 1845. In real life, the doomed men likely got lost and succumbed to the cold but the show asks “what if there was something more sinister than low temperatures lurking about?”
The Terror features a cast impressively full of “hey it’s that guy” guys like Jared Harris, Ciarán Hindis, and Tobias Menzes. It deftly turned itself into an anthology with the second season The Terror: Infamy that tells a ghost story within the setting of a Japanese interment camp in World War II.
Available on: Prime Video
Premiering in April 2021, just half a year after Lovecraft Country‘s series finale, Them is another TV series that understands no embellishment is necessary when cataloguing the horrors of the Jim Crow era…but throwing a few supernatural terrors in there still helps.
This Prime Video series from Little Marvin and Lena Waithe follows the Emorys, a Black family in 1953 who moves from North Carolina to an all-white neighborhood in Los Angeles. While in the idyllic west, seemingly living out the idyllic American life, the family soon discovers that their home might be a gathering place for all manner of evil forces.
The Twilight Zone
Available on: Paramount+
The Twilight Zone is an all-time television classic for good reason. Join Rod Serling each episode for a new tale of mystery, horror and woe.
Whatever you do, however, do NOT drop your glasses.
Available on: Netflix
Any reboot of continuation of the classic ’80s/’90s true crime series Unsolved Mysteries just needs one element to be considered authentic: that music. Thankfully, this modern iteration on Netflix maintains a version of the original’s haunting theme. Beyond that crucial aspect, Unsolved Mysteries honors the original by continuing the formula to great success.
Unsolved Mysteries remains largely a true crime enterprise. The show covers unexplained disappearances, murders, and crimes. But it also spends plenty of time with the truly unexplained: the paranormal. This reboot has covered UFOs and some tsunami ghosts. That, combined with the atmospheric music, makes this a suitably spooky watch.
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