25 best horror TV shows ever
Chris Carter devised this series as an older brother to The X-Files and made much of star Lance Henriksen’s haunted expressions as Frank Black, an ex-FBI man who joins the shadowy Millennium group. They are investigating a series of supernatural happenings connected – would you believe it – with the coming of the year 2000. Intelligent horror, but its relentlessly dark, downbeat tone saw it curtailed before the actual millennium. Would a Robbie Williams theme song have helped? Probably not.
Dead Set (2008)
Acerbic TV critic Charlie Brooker put his money where his mouth was with this BAFTA-nominated zombie drama – and boy, did he deliver. Its central conceit – the inhabitants of the Big Brother house, in their splendid isolation, don’t realise that the zombie apocalypse has happened – harks back to the social satire of George Romero’s zombie films. And Brooker doesn’t skimp on the gore – by the end of the first episode, Jamie Winstone has bludgeoned a ghoul with a fire extinguisher. Her old man would be proud.
American Gothic (1995)
Twin Peaks–style horror was briefly resurrected in this show which crammed a lot into its single season, with Gary Cole as warped lawman Sheriff Buck who wreaks telepathic havoc in the South Carolina town of Trinity. Young hero Caleb (Lucas Black) fights his sinister birthright – he’s the Sheriff’s son – but he is protected by the ghost of his murdered sister. Created by Shaun Cassidy (one of the Hardy Boys on ’70s TV) and Evil Dead guru Sam Raimi.
Ghost Story for Christmas (1971)
In the glorious 1970s, the BBC delivered a bone-freezing Christmas present to its viewers every year. Adapted from classic stories by MR James and Charles Dickens, the Ghost Stories for Christmas were gorgeously photographed to suggest things made of slime and shadows, with deft use of sound effects to jangle the nerves. Rightly acclaimed as masterpieces of clammy suspense, the films have been newly re-released on DVD.
Brothers Sam and Dean Winchester (Jared Padelecki and Jensen Ackles) are sent on a monster-hunting road trip by their father – a Van Helsing-type, who soon falls prey to the very horrors he’s supposed to be dealing with. The boys carry on the family business, but their steps are dogged by the demon Azazel and his lovely daughter. Currently, at 8 seasons, one of the longest-running genre series.