October is the perfect season for horror marathons.
The two are almost synonymous. Not even Christmas, that twinkling 800-pound gorilla, can boast such round-the-clock programming. Of course, wintertime itself is a constant reminder of the year-end holidays, and there is truly no escaping all of the Christmas music, commercials, office parties, decorations, rampaging Krampi, etc.
Horror marathons are important because they set a mood, or what I like to call ‘Halloween Spirit’. Even if you can’t enjoy cascades of brilliant leaves and cozy hayrides, you can always open a portal to the moon-kissed realms on your television.
Here are 13 TV mini-series or single seasons for you to freshen up this year’s marathon.
Ultraviolet – BBC
This stylish techno-thriller is only six episodes long. It stars Idris Elba (!), with an appearance by Stephen Moyer as a vampire (!)
Hemlock Grove – Season 1
The first season of this show has werewolves, vampires, monsters, and mad-science. The cast is great (Famke Janssen, Bill Skarsgard, Dougray Scott, Lili Taylor) and so is their chemistry. And it’s DARK.
This sleeper hit from the late 80’s was the most elusive thrill of my childhood. Every rare once in a while I’d manage to catch an episode and watch transfixed as colossal werewolves battled for dominance.
This low-key BBC series is about a werewolf, a ghost and a vampire who share a flat. The show runs for several seasons and was adapted in America, but Season One is a strong mix of character and horror.
This Israeli production is a horror-comedy about a small time criminal who returns from a trip in Romania with new problems, powers and a terrible thirst. It’s suffers from a lower budget but makes up for it with mad-cap performances.
The Frankenstein Chronicles
Also from BBC, this mystery set in the grimdark Victorian era follows Sean Bean(!) as he tracks down the one responsible for a rash of mutilated bodies. Season One is phenomenal – fortunately it is a complete story, so you can avoid Season Two.
This vampire thriller only lasted one season on Fox, but the relationship between leads Mark-Paul Gosselaar and child actress Saniyya Sidney was fantastic. The secret power struggle with the psychic vampire master Jamie McShane is also great – the entire cast kills it in this one. Don’t worry about the show being cancelled – it wraps up at the end.
This NBC adaptation starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers is bonkers in a wonderful way. It functions almost like a prequel to the story we know, re-mixing and re-contextualizing the relationships and motivations between all the classic characters.
The last vampire show on this list is a 90’s gem about a vampire cop. One of the vampires from Forever Knight even made a blink-and-you’ll-miss it cameo on Buffy.
The first season of this show was more brutal, clever and fun than I expected it to be. If you like the ‘Scream’ franchise, you’ll like season one of Slasher.
I’d also recommend MTV’s first season of Scream! A worthy addition to the franchise.
The animated adaptation of Death Note floored me, even though I’d already read the manga. This twisty supernatural saga about dueling geniuses and death gods has a global body count.
MTV made a COPS style mockumentary show about an LAPD task force that handled the werewolves, vampires and zombies in the San Fernando Valley. Bizarre, gory, silly, fun.
A twisted faerie finds a lost child, a teenage werewolf sneaks out during a full moon, and a legion of monsters begins the downfall of man. Explore Halloween from Appalachia to the Arctic Circle and journey from the Old West to Mars.
This spooktacular goody bag harvests all the joys and terrors of the best night of the year. If you love air crisp as cider and scented with burning leaves, if you greet the darkness with a jack o’lantern grin, and if you yearn for the veil between worlds to grow thin, then you bleed orange & black.
Anyone who’s ever seen a spooky scary skeleton rattle its bones or turn a friend into a xylophone knows that they are a jazzy bunch. After 10 years I’m thrilled to get some Jazz into the mix, but it’s not all dooting horns and startling shrilly screams – you’ll find many genres in this bone-nanza.
Here are 13 spine-tingling tracks to get your guests shaking their hip bones.
The Skeleton in the Closet – Louis Armstrong
Who better to strike up the band than Satchmo?
Rattlin’ Bones – The Preservation Hall Jazz Band
I heard these guys play while packed like a crawdad in a po’boy between the sweltering ramshackle walls of Preservation Hall in New Orleans.
Spooky, Scary Skeletons – Andrew Gold
The foundation stone of the Triple S tradition.
Skeleton Fight – Mack Allen Smith
Things escalate quickly in this odd-ball 60’s jam.
Graveyard Boogie – King Flamingo
You take your chances when you bring a date to the cemetery.
Nobody Likes You (When You’re Dead) – Zombina & The Skeletones
Don’t cremate, appreciate.
I’ve Got A Bone – Dan Bull
Apparently this is a Minecraft thing, I’m probably the last one to hear it, but I’m glad I did. I love the manic energy, brilliant word play, hilarious performance, driving synth and pitch-perfect theremin.
Do the Skeleton Scat! – The Wiggles
Do the Wiggles always kick this much ass? I think I’m a Wiggles fan now.
Cumbia de los Muertos – Ozomotli
If I get a chance to show some love for LA’s hometown heroes ‘Ozomotli’ I’m taking it.
Dead Man’s Bones – Dead Man’s Bones
Did you know that Ryan Gosling had a band? Did you know they’re spooky as hell?
Graveyard’s Full – The Growlers
This band’s sound is called ‘Beach Goth’. I don’t know if that’s an oxymoron, but I like it.
‘Taint No Sin – Lee Morse
This song may seem corny, but it gives me ‘Hellraiser’ flashbacks.
Skeleton Sam – LVCRFT
And finally, a little more saxo-bone and scare-emin to close this year’s list.
Click here to get my book ‘We Bleed Orange & Black: 31 Fun-sized Tales for Halloween’, including my Top Ten Tips for Becoming a Spooky Scary Skeleton.