‘Walking Dead,’ ‘American Horror Story’ lead deep cast of horror TV shows

By Cory J. Willey

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

From “The Twilight Zone” to “The Walking Dead,” horror has always had a major foothold in television. While the quality of the genre has arguably declined over the years in the film industry, it seems to be headed in the right direction on the small screen. A renewed focus on story and character development paired an array of different shows providing fans of varying tastes options within the genre makes TV one of the best options for any horror fan.

For viewers wanting something a little less intense as far as scares and gore are concerned, “Sleepy Hollow” is worth a watch. In this retelling of the Headless Horseman’s tale, Ichabod Crane is resurrected in our modern age and tasked with defeating The Horseman once again. The show is as ridiculous as it sounds, but surprisingly well-executed in its blend of drama and sporadic humor. Such a far-fetched story allows for some imaginative plot lines that deliver interesting enough episodes to keep fans returning week to week. “Sleepy Hollow” airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on Fox.

If you’re looking for a nice blend of horror and science fiction, the now long-running Supernatural series should be on your radar, if it isn’t already. The series follows Sam and Dean Winchester as they hunt various monsters and demons across America. It has a great campy feel to it and has developed some strong central characters over its many seasons. This commitment to characters has kept fans invested even through some of its weaker periods. It is now in its ninth season, so you might have some catching up to do – but that’s what Netflix is for, right? New episodes air on the CW on Tuesdays at 9.

The television phenomenon that is “The Walking Dead” is proof that horror has a home on TV. While the post-apocalyptic zombie drama has had its ups and downs in the past, it has always garnered huge ratings for AMC. The show inarguably has some of the best special effects on TV, due almost entirely to legendary special effects artist/expert Greg Nicotero. Season 4, which is now underway, so far has shown that the creators are listening to fans, righting the wrongs of seasons past. “The Walking Dead” is all-new on Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.

“American Horror Story,” in its three seasons on FX, has already established itself as a mainstay of modern horror. This anthology series plays on the major tropes of the genre while providing its own fresh twist. As an anthology series, every character is subject to mortality. Each season, the characters may change but many of the actors return.

Most notable of the recurring cast are Jessica Lang and Evan Peters, who have delivered incredible performances season after season. Even when the show strays into the self-indulgent and starts to feel like it’s being strange just for the sake of it, these two have kept the show on-point and interesting. Pushing the boundaries of cable television with its grotesque violence and intense sexual themes, “American Horror Story” is a great option for fans that are drawn more toward psychological and torture horror. It is in the midst of its third season, which airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FX.

Bringing together the horror and crime-drama genres, “Hannibal” has been a rip-roaring success for NBC. What could easily have been a lazy retelling of the story of the infamous cannibal-therapist Hannibal Lecter has become one of the best-written and well-produced dramas on air. Creator Bryan Fuller, along with this series’ Dr. Lecter, Mads Mikkelsen, have expertly captured the essence of this character, who is simultaneously brilliant, charming and dangerous.
As the show unravels through the eyes of FBI criminal profiler Will Graham, Hannibal remains shrouded in mystery. The audience knows what he truly is and what he’s fully capable of and yet his actions continue to surprise and horrify each episode. This, coupled with an incredible ensemble cast and production values comparable to many big budget films, makes “Hannibal” one of the best horror shows on TV today. “Hannibal” will return to NBC for its second season in early 2014.


Cory Willey can be reached at [email protected]