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'Tis the Season for Way-Paving Horror Shows
Kolchak: The Night Stalker
by Candi Bartlett
It’s pull out a blanket and watch so very many scary things season! With hundreds of channels and streaming services offering a seemingly endless number of shows and movies, everything is available. Before all the media surfing options we had network-only television (Four channels? Gasp!). The spunky Fox network joined the bunch and then, baby cable – the itty bitty beginning of today’s broad cable universe with new networks pulling content from anywhere they could in order to provide 24 straight hours of entertainment! (Pearl clutch.)
Here is a small look at the horror shows of budding modern television. Five shows proving that there was and always will be a horror audience at home. If one was cancelled, another popped up in its place. The demand for fun, thrilling, gory monsters and growing shadows supported baby cable through its early years and niche networks gave the horror geek somewhere to go to get the creeps.
Kolchak: The Night Stalker, 1974-1975
The early days of the Sci Fi Channel brought science fiction and horror from all over the airwaves to bring non-stop thrills and chills and just plain weird to cable viewers. In 1998, Kolchak: The Nightstalker was picked up and a new generation was introduced to Carl Kolchak, newspaper reporter and accidental vampire hunter. Kolchak is rumpled, snarky, and ready to let the police know when they’re wrong. Famously influential in the development of The X-Files, Kolchak: The Night Stalker can be credited with perfecting the formula of the supernatural detective. Not quite Kojak, not quite Columbo, all charming sass.
Available on iTunes and Amazon Prime Video
Poltergeist: The Legacy, 1996-1999
There is a lot of wind in this show and every gust is spectacular. The opening theme music leads you right into a serious, spooky journey ending in a portal of some kind or a psychic child communicating with another world, often on the side of a romantic, dreary cliff. There’s fog. The members of the San Francisco Legacy House are protecting the world from evil.
And the wind plays in your hair. And you’re Dr. Derek Rayne. And you’re amazing.
Kindred: The Embraced, 1996
Two years before Blade, one before BTVS, and many before True Blood, Fox aired the show giving us a peek into the vampire mafia. It was like Dallas, Goodfellas, and Dracula had a perfectly moody, sexy baby. Kindred was everything a dangerously romantic vampire story should be – dramatic, fun, and just ridiculous enough. Not only did they hit all of the marks, they pretty much perfected the sensual blood lick.
Bonus: Kindred: The Embraced came with Jeff Kober and Brian Thompson, two of televisions’ scariest fan favorites.
Friday the 13th: The Series, 1987-1990
This show has nothing to do with Jason Voohrees, and everything to do with Louise Robey’s hair. In the shadows - seriously, this show is DARK- Micki Foster and Ryan Dallion chase down cursed objects they accidentally sold from Micki’s late Uncle’s antique shop. There’s an evil spirit trying to thwart their every move, a wise elder guiding their journey, and more rad skirts and bitchin’ hair than one could ever dream for. Inspiration for Warehouse 13? Maybe. A fun night in this October? You bet your spooky butt.
Tales from the Crypt, 1989-1996
The Cryptkeeper is everyone’s favorite emcee, even if we always flipped the channel just before he popped out of the coffin. Just for a second. Just so we didn’t yelp in the dark. Tales from the Crypt turned a generation of kids into true horror fans. Like Star Trek unleashed a wave of scientists, doctors, and astronauts onto the world, Tales from the Crypt gave birth to make-up artists and special effects wizards, composers, and writers.
Start an entire series now, or flip through episode descriptions and pick the one that's just right. Make some popcorn, turn off all the lights, and settle in with Tim Curry. Or three.
- modified from"'Tis the Season for Way-Paving Horror Shows" written for LegionofLeia.com October 2018