You’d think doing an entire month of just lists would’ve put me off that format for a while, and at first, I’d have agreed with you. Turns out that one of the things it did was give me even more ideas for even more lists, including this one. I guess posting that Thriller set this past Thursday also put me in even more in mind of television horror.
But because Castle Blogferatu is the kinda place it is, this isn’t a list of your well-known standards, so there’s no Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Twilight Zone, or Tales From The Crypt on this list. Moving down in popularity a bit, there’s also no Outer Limits, Tales From The Darkside or Tales Of The Unexpected either.
No, this list is for some shows that may have fallen off lotsa folkses’s radar. Here then are 9 Neglected Network Horror Shows.
#9 Way Out
I gotta be honest, I really don’t know much about this 1961 show other than the fact that, like Tales Of The Unexpected almost 20 years later, it was hosted by Roald Dahl. It lasted but a single season. Personal fave: Roald Dahl as host
#8 One Step Beyond
Another show I don’t know a whole helluva lot about, but it sure seems like my kinda thang. It’s a Twilight Zone-esque show that actually predated Twilight Zone by almost a year but had come in 1959 and gone by1961. It was kinda revived in 1978 as The Next Step Beyond but came and went about as quickly. Personal fave: uh, haven’t seen it yet
#7 Play For Today
This isn’t really episodic horror, so why is it here? Because some of the most bizarro folk horror stuff I’ve ever seen was on here, specifically Robin Redbreast, Penda’s Fen, and A Photograph. Personal fave: Robin Redbreast
If you blinked at the end of 1981, you missed this one. Seriously. Faring worse than Way Out, it only ran from November 27, 1981 to January 15, 1982. Ouch. I dunno. I enjoyed it. Darkroom was hosted by James Coburn which is already sinister enough. Highlights include David Carradine, Billy Crystal, June Lockhart, Rue McClanahan, and a teenage Helen Hunt. Personal fave: “Catnip,” cuz black cats.
#5 Night Gallery
This probably isn’t quite as obscure or forgotten as others on this list, but it’s worth mentioning just in case. This was Serling’s full-color 1970 follow-up to The Twilight Zone. Not nearly as good, and in truth probably not as good as most of these others. For one thing, it had a number of recurring episodes featuring Gary Collins as a “psychic detective,” and those suuucked. Still, it had its moments, and the opening music/credits weird me out to this day. Personal fave: the 2½-minute “Professor Peabody’s Last Lecture”
#4 Amazing Stories
I guess this is more along the lines of SF/fantasy than horror, but I dug it, and it could fly the creepy flag from time to time. When I was in college, a bunch of my nerdy TV crew friends and I would hang out at the English department secretary’s house to eat pizza and watch this. And probably drink. Personal fave: “The Mission” despite Kevin Costner and its (spoiler) nauseatingly happy ending
#3 Friday The 13th: The Series
Okay this isn’t 100% episodic, but man I loved this show. Way back before the Conjureverse elevated Ed and Lorraine Warren from abject frauds to folk heroes, there was already a shop that housed a bunch of cursed shit. Despite what sounds like a great idea, the show was, if I’m honest, gloriously bad. It does have ongoing character and story arcs, but each program deals with a specific object. That’s episodic enough for me. Personal fave: homicidal cursed wood chipper.
#2 The Hitchhiker
I mentioned this one recently. I liked this show. Its themes tended to run a bit more to the adult end of the spectrum like Tales From The Crypt did. By far my favorite episode was “O.D. Feelin,” about a bunch of people who come across a curious and highly sought after bag of blow. Everyone who possesses it meets with a bad end. Kind of a coke-fueled take on The One Ring (which automatically makes “O.D. Feelin” waaayyy more interesting). Personal fave: well duh
Eerie Indiana, Freddy’s Nightmares, Nightmare Cafe (all 6 episodes)
I posted the boxed set a couple days ago, but the show deserves a spot here as well. Stephen King in Danse Macabre calls it “the best horror series ever put on TV.” I don’t know that I’m willing to go quite that far. But it was quite good, boasted a number of writers and directors who worked on more recognizable shows like Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Twilight Zone, and it had, y’know, Boris Karloff. Personal fave: “Guillotine” (which I woulda called “Hand Of Justice” or “Hand Of The Executioner” for reasons obvious to anyone who’s seen it)
That’s it. Them thar’s all I kin recommember. What televised horrors scarred you as child? Let me know in the Comments.