So there aren't that many horror based TV shows out there (which is a shame) and the few that show up often aren't that great. I am a purveyor of such shows however, and I am trying to come up with what I would consider the best horror TV shows of all time. The problem is that I haven't seen such classics as Kolchak: The Night Stalker or haven't seen that many episodes of things like The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, or Alfred Hitchcock Presents. So, I am going to do the 5 best Horror Themed TV Shows Since 1990. But where to begin?
*A couple points of criteria:
1. They have to be shows I watch(ed).
2. The shows need to be American in origin (sorry Riget).
3. Not miniseries or one-offs, actual series.
4. I need to consider them horror (Buffy and Angel, while good, are not quite horror enough for me).
5. Masters of Horror (Showtime 2005-2007): It only ran for two seasons (and the second season wasn't quite as good), but it definitely made me take notice. With episodes like "Incident On and Off a Mountain Road" (Coscarelli), "Cigarette Burns" (Carpenter), and "Imprint" (Miike), the series could chill and frighten. It also showed that some directors still had the ability to make something good. I really enjoyed the overall run of the series, but when it went to Fear Itself, it pretty much lost me. But watch the 2 seasons of Masters of Horror for some great moments, even if not all the episodes are that great.
4. Millennium (Fox 1996-1999): Chris Carter, creator of The X-Files, managed to create another gem with Millennium. It follows Frank Black (played wonderfully by the amazing Lance Henriksen), a detective who has the ability to see things from the mind of a killer and try to track them down. As the series progressed, Frank got deeper and deeper into a conspiracy involving the mysterious Millennium group, not knowing what he had gotten himself into. It was dark, scary, and unfortunately short. The series was so poorly wrapped up that Carter wrote an episode into a season of The X-Files in order to wrap up Millennium. It was a great run for this show, even if it was a short run.
3. American Gothic (CBS 1995-1996): Featuring the considerable talents of Gary Cole, Lucas Black, and Jake Weber, American Gothic was a nefariously overlooked show at the time. It has since gained a bit of a cult following, but it nonetheless remains a criminally underrated show. Cole plays a vicious Southern sheriff that is trying to take Black as his own son. As the series played out, you find that Cole has some very evil intentions (and equally evil powers) for our young hero, but Black has his dead sister and a friendly doctor (Weber) to protect him. With a tagline that still creeps me out ("Someone's at the door"), the show was a great mix of scares and serious storyline. Buy it on DVD if you have a chance!
2. Tales from the Crypt (HBO 1989-1996): Yeah, I said since 1990, but this is close enough for me. Quite frankly, no list of horror TV shows is complete without Tales from the Crypt. From the intros by the Cryptkeeper (which scared the hell out of me when I was a kid) to the theme by Danny Elfman to the many great guest stars, it was just an incredible TV series. I can't tell you what my favorite episode is, but I can tell you that anytime I go back and start watching them again, I still enjoy them. Anytime I find them on TV (which is rare), I stop and watch whatever happens to be on. It's just that good.
1. The X-Files (Fox 1993-2002): The show that redefined Sci-Fi and Horror television. It made people that didn't care about horror and sci-fi tune in week after week to see what would happen next to Mulder and Scully. I started off watching the show every Sunday. After a couple of weeks, my mom would sit and sew while sort of watching it with me. Pretty soon she wasn't sewing anymore and was just watching the show. That brought my sister and father in out of curiosity and pretty soon, it was a family viewing experience. The show was so well written, wonderfully scary, and just all around a blast to watch. I have the first 7 seasons on DVD (after Mulder left, I didn't like the show as much), and I still watch them. My mother will still tell me that her favorite episode is "Home", which features inbred brothers trying to produce offspring with their mother. The episode was banned from TV for a couple of years because of its graphic subject matter and it remains one of the best episodes of The X-files or any other TV series ever in my opinion. Plus, I bet if you start whistling the theme song, nearly everyone will know it (and probably get a bit freaked out in the process).
As always, what do you think?