With Halloween approaching, it’s worth looking at some of TV’s best horror offerings — and no, “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” isn’t among them. As hard as it is to believe, there isn’t anything as relentlessly unsettling as watching “American Horror Story” week by week, possibly because Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s show is basically a catalogue of horror fetishism. The second season, set in a 1960s mental institution rife with corruption and malpractice has thus far included aliens, torturous nuns, an exorcism, and a killer who wears the face of his female victims. But that doesn’t even cover most of it, and we’re only two episodes in. “American Horror Story” is an absolutely insane show that pushes the boundaries of what genre television can do. It leaves images in its viewers’ minds that will stick with them long after the episodes are over.
But there are plenty of other scary shows available on DVD and online. For example, there is David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks,” a show that matches the nuttiness of “American Horror Story” but replaces its penchant for objectionable content with atmospheric effects. “Twin Peaks,” which centers on the murder of a teenage girl in the most bizarre slice of small-town America ever, is entirely based upon mood and tone. Lynch’s love of terrifying auditory effects and surreal imagery fits the show perfectly. While “Twin Peaks” lost its stride somewhere in the convoluted second season, the first eight episodes at least make for great, darkly humorous and seriously twisted Halloween viewing.
For something more traditional, check out “The X-Files.” It’s not necessary to explain why Chris Carter’s show is terrifying — anyone alive during the ’90s remembers either accidentally or purposefully watching at least one episode of this show that scarred them forever. “The X-Files” has some of the most amazing and genuinely disturbing imagery to ever hit television — the Jersey Devil episode is still unsettling. In a way, it’s hard to believe it even aired on a network channel like FOX. Now, nearly 20 years after its premiere, “The X-Files” retains its grossness, goriness and creepiness, and all nine seasons are on Netflix Instant.
One final scary show comes from the 1960s, proving that even black-and-white can be scary. “The Twilight Zone,” Rod Serling’s fantastic anthology series of mindbenders and creepy episodes, still holds up today. “To Serve Man,” “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” and “The Eye of the Beholder,” are all still culturally relevant, 50 years later, and people still admit to being afraid of them. “The Twilight Zone” always unsettles viewers in a cerebral way that modern horror shows can’t. That in itself is admirable, and even though “American Horror Story” is great for its over-the-top theatrics, genre television needs to reclaim the imagination featured in “The Twilight Zone.”
Alex Greenberger is a staff writer. Contact him at email@example.com
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