10 Of The Best Horror Television TV Shows from the Past – Part 1

The small screen has evolved plenty throughout the past century, and so have the shows that have graced its screen. In this modern age of social media, there are many different ways to view and watch television shows. And, because we love horror as much as you do, it’s the horror television series that tend to haunt our minds. Some of our favorites have run for many years, while others have only lasted a couple of seasons. The length of a show’s run didn’t take away from its originality and ability to entertain and scare viewers. Just in time for Halloween, here is Part 1 of my list of favorite horror television series, complete with a mix of shows for both children and adult audiences. However, I did not include Netflix originals, so don’t me mad if you don’t see Stranger Things on here.

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1. Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955 – 1965)

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With one of the most memorable sequences in television history, Alfred Hitchcock Presents focused around dramas and thrillers, all written by the man himself. The show ran for a full decade from 1955 to 1965 and never failed to disappoint thrillseekers. For many, it was Hitchcock’s somber, echoing, memorable monologues on empty sets that they can’t seem to forget. Every episode told a different story ranging through many different subgenres of drama, thriller, mystery and horror, and every tale was a horrific delight for admirers of horror. Some say Hitchcock was more than just a writer – he was also a artist who could take a simple story and turn it into something macabre and dense. We at PopHorror tend to agree.


2. The Twilight Zone (1958-1964)

In this twisted yet sometimes confusing anthology horror television series, multiple genres were used to make each and every episode completely different. The Twilight Zone catered to many many different subgenres of horror, including science fiction, fantasy, suspense and psychological thriller, and never failed to surprise audiences with a unexpected twist at the end. The Twilight Zone was a huge success and led to a film version, a radio show, a magazine series, and a theme park, as well as other TV series spin offs. This show is one of the greatest dramas of all time and is quite extraordinary. It also was the start for many famed actors and actresses, such as Ron Howard, Carol Burnett, Dennis Hopper, Burt Reynolds, Leonard Nimoy and many more. The Twilight Zone was a major step forward in the television horror series, as it gave room for many little known subgenres to become more mainstream.


3. The Outer Limits (1963 – 1965)

The Outer Limits was a crazy, cantankerous ride through space and time and ran successfully for two years, entertaining millions. Although sometimes compared to The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits focused more on science fiction rather than the psychological, supernatural or fantastical. Just like The Twilight Zone, there was always some kind of entertaining twist at the end of each episode of this anthology horror television series. It is another show known for launching the careers of some well known actors and was also imperative in bringing an array of horror television subgenres such as sci-fi thriller and sci-fi horror.


4. Dark Shadows (1966 – 1971)

With a slight comedic view, this gothic soap opera centered around the Collins family and their vampire family member, Barnabas Collins. Each episode was amusing and delightful yet dark, somber and twisted, and they offered up a plethora of interesting characters and plot twists of every kind. Dark Shadows featured many different supernatural characters such as witches, vampires, ghosts and zombies. It also dealt with time travel and one episode was even about a parallel universe. Dark Shadows lasted for five years airing a total of 1,225 episodes. To this day, it has a large, successful cult following and even a movie which is just as darkly amusing as the TV show was.

5. Tales From the Darkside (1983 – 1988)

“Man lives in the sunlit world of what he believes to be reality. But, there is, unseen by most, an underworld, a place that is just as real, but not as brightly lit… a dark side.”

Debuting in October 1983 and created by George A. Romero, American horror television series Tales from the Darkside shocked audiences from the get go. Tales from the Darkside was yet another series dedicated to bringing to light more than a few of the differing subgenres of horror. Many of the episodes were adapted from tales originally written by Stephen King, Clive Barker, John Cheever and Fredric Brown. Each ended with the same chilling voiceover giving the episode a spine tingling closing point.

“The dark side is always there, waiting for us to enter… waiting to enter us. Until next time, try to enjoy the daylight.”


6. Tales From the Crypt (1989 – 1996)

Established from the comic series of the same name, this horror television anthology series ran for seven seasons with a total of 93 episodes. Every episode included horror fiction, black comedy and even dark fantasy. With a unforgettable opening theme by musical genius Danny Elfman – who would go on to compose music for Tim Burton – Tales From the Crypt was yet another series with a intoxicating opening sequence, with a distinguished tour guide taking you on a chilling, winding expedition of what appears to be a haunted abandoned mansion. Finally after witnessing a creepy creaking gate, dead flowers, spider webs and dirty mirrors, the viewer descends into the dungeon, where the cackling Cryptkeeper pops out out his coffin. It is one of the most visually amusing albeit spooky sequences to date.

Each standalone episode often involved big name celebrities either starring or directing. Because Tales From the Crypt included adult content such as nudity, profanity and graphic violence, it was not only a hit with kids but also with adults. Tales From the Crypt is definitely one of the best horror anthology series to grace television. Based on the original comic series, the stories told were often amusing yet dark. With one of the most notable hosts of a horror television show, nothing compares to the Cryptkeeper. especially his infamous opening line of, “Hello, boils and ghouls!”


7. Are You Afraid of the Dark? (1992 – 2000)

Another groundbreaking anthology series was Are You Afraid of the Dark? Everyone loves a good ghost story… it doesn’t matter how old you are. Are You Afraid of the Dark? was a horror television series based on a group of friends known as the Midnight Society. They would meet once a week around a campfire in the dead of night to listen to one member tell a ghost story, which seemed to be based on the experiences of that character. Although it was a Nickelodeon series, there were a couple of episodes that were quite dark. The show was a commercial success, and the further the series progressed, the more interesting it became. Each story told would begin by a character saying, “Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society, I call this story…” and a handful of dust would be tossed on the fire, making it blaze up, with the name of the night’s story appearing in the flames. Fun fact: Midnight Dust was actually powdered coffee creamer (Don’t try this at home!).

The stories always involved an array of supernatural characters, including vampires, werewolves, ghosts, haunted houses and even urban legends or myths. At the end of each episode, the main character and host of the gathering, Gary, would throw a bucket of water over the fire and say, “I declare this meeting of the Midnight Society closed,” and they would all disperse into the woods. In 2000, the TV series was revived for a short time, bringing some of those memorable characters back to our TV screens.

8. Goosebumps (1995 – 1998)

Goosebumps began as a book series by R.L Stine, and it captured the imaginations of readers and instilled a love of horror into many young minds. Goosebumps had another opening sequence that was not easily forgotten, and also held a catchy tune. A tall man in black walked up a hill and his suitcase opens, papers flying out everywhere. As the pages fly through the town, they turn average items into dark and disturbing things. Then the title, Goosebumps, would slowly show up on screen, dripping green ooze. At the very end, the line “Viewer beware, you’re in for a scare!” would appear.

Every single episode was different, and they all followed the plot of the book of the same name. Goosebumps introduced many different characters to young TV watchers, including vampires, werewolves, mummies, ghosts, a killer sponge, a dummy with a thrill for torture, a plant that takes over your dad and so many seemingly ridiculous hellions that only the twisted imagination of R.L. Stine could think of. In the end, the story was always left on an open yet somehow satisfying cliffhanger. Many episodes involved famous actresses and actors today, such as Katharine Isabelle, Ryan Gosling and Hayden Christensen.


9. Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1997 – 2003)

Based off of the movie of the same name, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a groundbreaking series that ran for seven seasons with a total of 144 episodes, including a unaired pilot episode. This horror television show follows the life of Buffy Summers, who moves to the small town of Sunnydale, California, which is coincidentally located on the Hell Mouth, a nexus for evil creatures and paranormal phenomena which Buffy encounters throughout the series. The show is a paranormal drama based on Buffy trying to juggle her school life with being one of The Chosen. She encounters many different characters throughout the series, including the watcher, Rupert Giles, Willow Rosenburg and Xander Harris, who form a group called the Scooby Gang. They are all determined to help Buffy solve mysteries and destroy the evil in the town of Sunnydale. The series was popular among teens and young adults and was given favorable reviews by critics.


10. A Haunting (2005 – ?)

A Haunting is an American television series that follows the true tales of victims of the paranormal. The stories include possession, exorcism, demons and ghostly encounters. Two previous movies kickstarted the series, and the show soon became popular among paranormal communities, which helped spawn more movies and four more seasons and probably even more to come. For many viewers, the terror comes from watching real, everyday people deal with something supernatural that could possibly exist.

So that about wraps up my list of favorite horror television series. Did yours make the list? Let us know in the comments!

About HorrorVision

I am a 35 old avid horror fan with a passion for writing and old movies. I love discussing and viewing movies old and new, everything horror fascinates me its a wonderful work of art that is underestimated by many.

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