25 best horror TV shows ever
Twin Peaks (1990)
Created by David Lynch (Blue Velvet) this surreal supernatural murder-mystery was often bewildering and frequently terrifying, never less so when Lynch was hands-on as director. Lynch regular Kyle MacLachlan played Agent Dale Cooper, who arrives in the town of Twin Peaks to investigate the murder of Prom Queen Laura Palmer. Disorientating touches included Cooper’s recurring dreams about a dwarf talking backwards, but the show-stopping bogeyman was the demonic Killer Bob, who could transfer his essence from body to body – and even into Agent Cooper.
Doctor Who (1963)
When the venerable series blasted back in 2005, it unleashed a new horde of horrors – zombie grannies, human Daleks, Clockwork men and, creepiest of all, the Weeping Angels. So iconic are these stone harpies that they’ve come back again and again. But the old series didn’t shirk on the teatime horrors, even in black and white, with Yetis and Robomen and seaweed monsters. Viewers of a certain age have never forgotten Jon Pertwee’s Doctor facing the giant maggots – made from inflated condoms, which actually makes them creepier.
This jolting parody of a ‘live’ TV special, investigating ‘the most haunted house in Britain’ was shown on Hallowe’en night 20 years ago. Although it was billed as a play, the BBC did its job too well and many viewers were quickly taken in. The descent into supernatural terror and the manifestations of the dreadful spectre ‘Pipes’, witnessed by such reassuring faces as Craig Charles, Michael Parkinson and Sarah Greene, seemed horribly real. Writer Stephen Volk later created the powerful series Afterlife, starring Lesley Sharpe as a reluctant medium.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997)
After Buffy’s shoddy cinematic debut, nobody expected much from the TV adventures of a vampire-snuffing cheerleader, but boy, were we wrong. Joss Whedon – since raised to geek godhood by Cabin in the Woods and The Avengers – changed the face of television with his story arcs and series finales, also raising the bar for the genre as Buffy suffered all the agonies of High School, with vampires thrown in. Standout Buffy episodes featured a swim team of Fishmen, a vengeful goddess, the ghastly Gentlemen and a corrupt mayor who turned into a giant serpent.
Buffy’s boyfriend Angel (David Boreanaz), a vampire with a soul, turned out to be one of the most interesting characters in the show – so was set up with a series and a posse of his own in Los Angeles. Joss Whedon gave Angel a more grown-up spin, with Vincent Kartheiser (later in Mad Men) as Angel’s troubled teenage son, and Amy Acker as Fred, a kooky free spirit from another dimension. There was no shortage of chills either, especially when Angel’s long-suppressed dark side held sway.