10. Masters of Horror
“Masters of Horror” was a really interesting idea: take a number of horror movie legends and let them make short films. The execution was hit or miss, but usually more good than bad. Being on Showtime, the show ratcheted-up the gore quite a bit, but there was also plenty of humor for levity.
9. Tales From the Darkside
Watching this one today, I really can’t believe it actually aired on network TV. Sure, the gore and sex were turned down to a minimum, but these were still some pretty twisted tales. The thing that made Darkside so sinister, was that unlike “Tales From the Crypt” and “Masters of Horror,” there wasn’t much humor. Oh, and that theme song…
No, Michael Jackson was not involved in this one. Rather old Frankenstein himself (Boris Karloff) hosted this anthology based on literary works. The series is pretty under-the-radar today, but a real treat for horror fans.
7. Twin Peaks
“Twin Peaks” was so ahead of its time, that contemporary television still has not caught up. People ask me about this one all the time, and frankly, I cannot begin to accurately describe it…”Twin Peaks” is that original. Just when you think it’s merely a murder mystery with some dark comedy, you get the whole weird supernatural angle. Plus, the series had some amazingly scary moments, like when the lead singer from Metallica is lurking in the woods. Someday, they’ll make another show like “Twin Peaks”…when that will be, is anyone’s guess.
6. Night Gallery
How do you follow up the success of “The Twilight Zone?” Well, if you’re Rod Serling, you do it by hosting another really creepy show. Unlike Twilight Zone, “Night Gallery” was much darker and less hopeful. The whole painting thing too…goosebumps to this day.
5. The Outer Limits
No, not the Showtime reboot, although that one wasn’t terrible either. The original Outer Limits was usually a romp through science-fiction gone awry. Now it wasn’t always a horror show, but still there were enough chilling episodes of the series to make it pretty spooky.
4. Tales From the Crypt
The prospect of the morbid E.C. comics coming to the small screen seemed pretty ludicrous in the late-1980’s. When you heard that HBO and a number of brilliant producers were behind the project, horror fans salivated at the possibilities. What they got, was one of the most macabre, strangely-funny shows in the last few decades. The stories are pretty predictable, but the all-star cast, the Cryptkeeper (no, not Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones), and the amazing into sequence gain the series new fans each year.
3. Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Alfred Hitchcock has been and will always be “the master of suspense.” Others believe they can take that mantle, but they eventually prove that they can never make it. The reason is because of Hitchcock’s amazing longevity. There is no better example than “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.” While not horror, at least according to modern definitions, the show was perpetually unsettling and the yarns unravel masterfully.
2. The X-Files
In the early to mid-1990’s, mainstream culture was littered with UFO works. What initially set “The X-Files” apart, was that it didn’t just stick with aliens and flying saucers. In fact, the show boasted some of the most terrifying TV monsters viewers had ever seen. While the “monster of the week” formula drew in the casual viewer, it’s the series’ mythology and well-rounded characters that kept die-hards happy all the way till the end.
1. The Twilight Zone
Like a few others on this countdown, “The Twilight Zone” wasn’t always purely a horror show. Most of the time though, the stories were terrifying and thought-provoking. That’s what really makes the show stand apart from every other in the genre and every entry on this list, as the show had some serious brains behind it. At the end of the day, Twilight Zone is one of the great achievements in television.