5 Under-Appreciated Shows Perfect for Halloween
Fall is a time of change, and one of the most exciting changes comes in the fall television line up. Every year, shows come and go, and sometimes it can be overwhelming trying to figure out what to watch with so much content hitting every channel. Given that October is the spookiest month, this is the perfect time of year to binge some horror related TV shows. Of course there’s the standard “Supernatural,” “American Horror Story,” or “Stranger Things,” but there are also many other thrilling and chilling TV shows coming back or premiering this month! So, without any more explanation, here are five under-appreciated (or new) horror TV shows premiering in time for Halloween!
“Van Helsing” is an anomaly. On paper, the premise sounds like a bad parody of “The Walking Dead” with some “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” sprinkled in. But amazingly, “Van Helsing” works in nearly every capacity. Its conventions are no different from any other apocalypse survival show: a widespread vampire uprising forces humanity into hiding, cities are abandoned, power is lost, you can fill in the rest. But what makes this show so interesting is its protagonist, Vanessa Helsing.
Ridiculous name aside, Vanessa is an exhilarating force of nature; she’s strong, dangerous, and fiercely determined. The descendant of Abraham Van Helsing (Dracula’s rival in the Bram Stoker novel) she is truly humanity’s last hope – her blood being so powerful that it can turn vampires back into humans. She’s not alone in her crusade, and her supporting cast is just as heroic and engaging as she is.
Season 1 mostly focused on Vanessa and her team coming together as a unit and surviving, but season 2 appears to be much more action focused, with Vanessa taking the fight to the monsters. If this show sounds at all interesting, one recommendation I must make is to just skip the pilot episode. It’s not outright bad but it doesn’t serve any purpose, with episode 2 re-explaining (better) what the pilot established. Starring Kelly Overton, Jonathan Scarfe, Rukiya Bernard, and Christopher Heyerdahl, season 2 airs on Syfy Thursdays at 9 p.m. (44 mins).
“Ghosted” is the only new (American) “horror” themed TV series airing this fall. And it’s a comedy. Starring Craig Robinson (who also appeared as Daryl on “The Office”) and Adam Scott (Ben Wyatt on “Parks and Recreation”) “Ghosted” is a buddy-cop paranormal investigation TV series. So far, only one episode has aired (the pilot episode), but it’s one of the funniest pilots I’ve ever seen.
Oftentimes, pilots are awkwardly-paced slogs that are designed purely to establish characters, conflict, and setting. “Ghosted’s” pilot does all of these things, but weaves these concepts easily and effectively through a wonderful and hilarious 23 minutes. It’s certainly not perfect, as there are weird exposition-heavy bumps every now and then, but generally speaking, if a pilot can be this good, “Ghosted” is poised to be one of the best new comedies, period. Starring Craig Robinson, Adam Scott, Ally Walker, and Amber Stevens West, Ghosted airs Sundays at 8:30 p.m. (23 mins).
This entry might be the most risky to recommend of the 5 in this article solely because of its likelihood of cancellation. “The Exorcist’s” first season was one of the lowest viewed shows on Fox, and currently its second season is pulling similar numbers. However, the low viewership does not reflect the quality of the content. The premise is classic: a grizzled ‘been-in-the-game-too-long’ expert in his field is partnered with a bright-eyed new recruit who has a lot to learn. In this case, the lesson is exorcising demonic souls from a human host.
The show is a nice balance of horror and thriller, never getting too scary, but certainly not playing anything safe either. Season 2 appears to be amping up both its horror and thriller elements by having its heroes traveling from state to state, saving souls all across the US. Though it’s not strictly an anthology, the lack of an overarching plot means anyone who missed season 1 does not need to catch up before watching season 2. If this show sounds at all interesting, I highly recommend you start watching now, given its current “unsure” status. Starring Alfonso Herrera, Ben Daniels, Li Jun Li, and John Cho, “The Exorcist” airs on Fox Fridays at 10 p.m. (44 mins).
Channel Zero: No End House
If there was ever a debate about what the scariest show one television is, “Channel Zero” definitively ended it with its season premiere back in September. An anthology series similar to “American Horror Story,” “Channel Zero” loosely adapts popular internet scary stories known as creepypastas. However, while creepypastas are often riddled with clichés and generally bad writing, “Channel Zero” is a slick, elegant horror series, with a focus on disturbing its viewers rather than outright scaring them. Season 2 is inspired by the story “No End House,” an interactive “art” installation that traps its participants in a deadly cycle of progressively more awful psychological torture.
A breath of fresh air within the horror genre, “Channel Zero” does not rely on cheap tricks like jumpscares to startle its audience. Instead, it’s all about ambiance, relying on little things like soundtrack and framing to provide some of the most genuine moments of terror to ever come from a tv show. But its scariness alone isn’t what makes this show so exceptional- each season comes with a deep, personal storyline, which is so compelling that even without the heightened horror, it would still be a remarkable series. Also, unlike AHS, “Channel Zero” does not bring back its original roster of characters or actors, meaning each season is wholly unique. This year, it stars Amy Forsyth, Aisha Dee, Jeff Ward, and Seamus Patterson. It airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on Syfy.
Stan Against Evil
Branded as a horror comedy, “Stan Against Evil” is a truly rare form of television. About 75/25 in the comedy-to-horror ratio, “Stan Against Evil’s” sitcom style and humor somehow blend flawlessly with its grim/dark material. An ex-sheriff must utilize an armory left behind by his recently deceased wife in order to keep his small New England town safe from the demons which have haunted it since the witch trials. The jokes are a nice mix of absurd and clever, and never overshadow the more serious elements any particular episode. But, at the same time, the serious moments never overpower the core lighthearted fun of the series. It’s a near impossible balance to strike, and sometimes the first season falters, but overall “Stan Against Evil” has managed to pull off an impressive balancing act. And even at its worst, each episode is at least funny enough to keep a viewer’s attention.
The show employs the classic sitcom format; each episode is self contained, but it carries minor details across the season. Although season 2 does not premier until November, season 1 was so strong, I feel very confident throwing my recommendation out there now. And since the first season only consisted of 8 episodes, which are only 23 minutes long, it’ll take no time to get caught up before November 1st (Wednesday) at 10 p.m., on IFC. (“Channel Zero” only runs 8 episodes, so there’s no conflict!) Starring John C. McGinley, Janet Varney, Deborah Baker Jr, and Nate Mooney.