Right now we're in somewhat of a golden age of horror TV shows. Not only are some of TV's best dramas stemming from the horror genre, but many of them are among the most popular on TV. One of the biggest shows in the world is The Walking Dead, which last week saw its seventh season return with 17 million viewers watching in the US alone. But then you also have other recent and current horror shows like American Horror Story, Les Revenants, Scream, Bates Motel, From Dusk Till Dawn, Supernatural, and The Exorcist all generating considerable enthusiasm among viewers.
Horror on TV isn't a new genre by any means, with classic shows like The Twilight Zone, The X-Files, Tales From The Crypt, Dark Shadows, and Kolchak The Night Stalker among the best remembered. But what of the forgotten horror shows? The one season wonders - the shows consigned to the dustbin of history.
And what could be scarier than horror villains who are no longer remembered by the world at large...lurking...waiting to be discovered once more...
We all know Freddy Kruger from the Nightmare on Elm Street movies. A thoroughly unpleasant character with a penchant for murdering teenagers during their dreams and nightmares. What is often forgotten was his two-season 1988-1990 TV series in which Robert Englund reprised the role of Freddy, taking on a role not dissimilar from Alfred Hitchcock, introducing a new story each week as part of a weekly anthology series. Freddy would bookend stories about people meeting all sorts of terrible, horrific fates.
Lars von Triers The Kingdom
Just a handful of years before the premium TV boom kicked off with The Sopranos, film maestro Lars von Trier created and co-directed this series, which comprised of two 4-episode mini-series. A third mini-series was actually written by von Trier, but so many of the cast members had died in the 6 years between the first series and planned third installment that plans were shelved.
The show itself was set in the neurological ward of the main hospital in Copenhagen and followed both patients and staff as they encountered strange human and paranormal occurrences.
A US version was produced in 2004, developed by Stephen King. Just 13 episodes were produced.
This show was absolutely wild. When people think of a supernatural soap opera, they immediately consider Dark Shadows or Passions. Neither have anything on Dante's Cove. This LGBT-themed soap opera was about as explicit as TV could get, but was widely congratulated for its positive mix of gay, lesbian and heterosexual relationships and pairings. Plus a whole lot of melodramatic witchcraft and other supernatural beings.
What's it actually about? Feel free to make sense of this synopsis: "Young couple Kevin and Toby arrive in Dante's Cove, home to a sect dedicated to the supernatural religion Tresum. By freeing the charismatic Ambrosius from his magical imprisonment, Kevin reignites a rivalry between Ambrosius and the Tresum Avatar Grace that has simmered for over 150 years. Ambrosius's obsession with claiming Kevin and Grace's own obsession with revenging herself on Ambrosius threaten to tear Kevin and Toby apart forever, with unforeseen collateral damage."
A work of fiction, but based on the infamous 17th century Salem witch trials, the show stars Shane West and Janet Montgomery amid a romance, while a puritan witch hunt engulfs the town in hysteria and horror. The catch with this show is that witches are real and there's some downright crazy business that needs to be seen to be believed.
The first episode is a slow burn that takes considerable endurance to make it through, but by the time you see the events of the final minutes of the episode, it's nothing but pure memory burn.
What makes this show an astounding forgotten horror is that it's actually still being made. Its third season starts later this week in the US, to the surprise of pretty much everybody not involved in its production. Who even knew this show saw a second season?
This 1998 TV series has one of TV's greatest concepts. An otherwise good police detective is killed two months after murdering a man responsible for raping his wife. Because he took pleasure in the murder, he is sent to hell. After an evil priestess breaks out 113 souls from hell, the devil sends the cop back to earth to capture them all. If successful, he will earn a second go , thereby also giving him the chance of earning his way to heaven.
What makes the premise so great for TV is it gives the show a conceptual end point, keeping viewers invested in seeing all 113 souls captured, while also offering a framework in which a hero can track down a bad guy of the week who, having spent time in hell, is certified as being a truly evil force to deal with.
Obviously the idea wasn't so great for TV that audiences took to it, with the show gone after just half of its intended first season.
New French horror drama Beyond The Walls airs Monday 31 October at 9pm.