To me, summer means beach days, barbeques and long nights spent hanging around a campfire. And aside from s’mores, any lover of camping knows that the best part is telling late-night ghost stories around the bonfire. Bonus points if you can scare even the toughest camper with tales of hitchhikers and newly murdered brides.
Full disclosure: I’m a horror wimp. The first mention of ghosts and blood has me running for the safety of my sleeping bag. But that doesn’t mean I don’t love the thrill of being scared, that deep hollow feeling in your stomach that just maybe these creepy stories are real. While I haven’t quite mustered the nerve to read many horror novels, lately I have been dipping my toes into horror television. So here are three binge-worthy horror shows (and one book!) to terrify you for hours on end:
OK, so maybe the most recent seasons have been a bit disappointing, but remember how good this show was in the beginning? Season 1, starring Connie Britton, Dylan McDermott and the amazing Jessica Lange, was creepy, smart and just the right amount of campy. With horror usually regulated to movies or novels, American Horror Story brought it back into the spotlight in a way that paid tribute to horror tropes and yet felt original. Definitely binge on Season 1, and maybe even Season 2, where the show tackles an insane asylum in the 1960s.
Most children of the ‘90s fondly remember this Nickelodeon show about a group of friends who tell terrifying stories around a campfire. Seriously, this show was the best. From the moment they threw out that purple powder and the flames grew higher, you knew you were about to get freaked out. And sure, some of the episodes could get pretty campy. But when Are You Afraid of the Dark? nailed it, they nailed it. Like “The Tale of the Angry Ghost” episode, where the spirit of a child tries to trap a girl forever in a mirror. The black “help me” scratched across the wall still haunts my dreams.
I have never met a casual viewer of The X-Files: everyone is always obsessed with it, can’t stop talking about the chemistry between the leads, and maybe even has a Mulder tattoo somewhere on their body. Since I started watching it for the first time this year, I finally get it. The episodic monsters achieve the perfect horror balance: creepy, but never totally outside the realm of possibility. Mulder and Scully provide the perfect balance between skepticism and enthusiasm, and, yes, their chemistry is pretty awesome. This show is a classic for a reason, which is probably why it’s coming back on the air in 2016.
X-Files: Trust No One, edited by Jonathan Maberry (IDW Publishing; August 13, 2015)
Speaking of The X-Files – any fan of the show or horror in general should check out this new anthology coming out August 13. New York Times bestselling author Maberry has brought together some of the biggest names in horror to add their fictional take on The X-Files universe. It’s like your favorite authors writing fan fiction just for you. And, bonus, the anthology has been officially authorized by X-Files series creator Chris Carter, so you know these stories are going to be awesome.