As we come up to Halloween at the end of October it seems like a good time to look back, at some of our favorite TV Horror or Supernatural Shows. Your parents may remember the amusing show “The Munsters” from the mid 1960s. But we have come along way from this light hearted look at a monster family to the latest “Scream Queens” which airs on Fox.
Maybe the first to get wide appeal in this TV Horror genre was “Alfred Hitchcock presents” in which the hero of Hollywood suspense, think Pyscho or The Birds, presents a series of short, dark stories. This was followed at the beginning of the 1960s by the original “The Twilight zone”. Each episode would start with the narrator telling us, “There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity……. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.” There would then be a story in which extraordinary things happen to ordinary people. At the end of the 1960s we had “Dark Shadows”, in which a governess comes to work in an isolated mansion in coastal Maine. She is soon drawn into the family’s strange, dark Gothic world of vampires, ghosts and a family curse that dates back centuries. For the origin of Gothic fiction we have to thank English author Horace Walpole, son of British prime minister Robert Walpole. Horace wrote a novel in 1764 with the title “The Castle of Otranto” but it was subtitled (in its second edition) “A Gothic Story.”
As far as TV Horror is concerned the 1970s was a quiet period, may be because Sci-Fi was becoming more popular. At the end of the 1980s we were introduced to “Tales from the Crypt” based on the Comic Book series of the same name. The host, a skeletal creature called the Crypt Keeper, introduces a series of horrific stories some of which featured notable actors or directors like Dan Aykroyd, Malcolm McDowell, Tom Hanks, and Robert Zemeckis. The 1990s also brought us the X files which originally focused on aliens but also included more typical TV Horror stories. The X Files were supposed to be government files for which there was no explanation and FBI agents Mulder and Scully tried to investigate the facts.
At the end of the 1990s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” became a huge hit. It’s a sort of High School drama in which our heroine Buffy happens to be a chosen vampire slayer. She is both hunted and hunter as a series of different ghouls trouble mid-town America. And this show is supposed to be the inspiration for “Scream Queens” which continues the theme of Horror violence in a college setting and with a touch of humor. Got a favorite TV Horror we’ve not mentioned then please let us know.