Horror podcasts have been enjoying a groundswell in popularity over the past few years, and the field is widening to include just about every topic under the genre’s umbrella. So much variety is a wonderful thing, of course, but it also poses a challenge: if your schedule is bogged down with work, school, family, social life, or a pushy parole officer, how does the average horror fan find time to weed out the boring shit and find some choice listening material?
Well, boys and girls, that’s why I’m here. Taste in all things horror is totally subjective, so there’s no definitive listing for the best of the best; oh sure, the casts with the most awards or highest numbers are probably worth your time, but I don’t always swim in the same streams (so to speak) as the average listener, so my playlist is a broad mix of popular shows and more eccentric offerings.
While there are dozens of well-made and fun podcasts dedicated solely to reviewing new and classic horror movies — and I’ve featured a few of my faves below — I also wanted to shine a spotlight on a few that expand their scope to include reviews of horror fiction, creepy urban legends and paranormal mysteries, and original radio dramas with a decidedly spooky theme.
I’ve also narrowed the list down to include free-of-charge podcasts only (otherwise I’d definitely include on-demand productions like Glass Eye Pix’s brilliant TALES FROM BEYOND THE PALE, which is worth every penny), but if you enjoy any of these programs, I recommend donating to their creators to help cover the expense of web hosting and other costs so they can stay on the air as long as possible.
Click each show’s title to visit their official site (where applicable – some will take you to their iTunes page) and add them to your lights-out listening library!
Regardless of your view on first-person-POV or mockumentary horror, I think everyone agrees it’s a highly polarizing genre: most folks either love it or despise it. But even if you’re afraid to speak of your found-footage fandom above a whisper without risking the wrath of judgemental genre purists, you can find safe haven at this thoughtful and informative podcast dedicated to all films shot in the found-footage format. Host Boss Butcher delves into any and all found-footage media, regardless of genre (one episode covered Vietnam War mockumentary 84 CHARLIE MOPIC) or runtime (he regularly provides episodic coverage of short-form web series like MARBLE HORNETS), and he invites filmmakers to submit their own projects for review. Co-host Michael Steinberg also maintains Found Footage Critic, the most comprehensive online database on this vast subgenre, and a valuable resource for fans.
In this age of retro-meta-reboots and ‘80s horror revivals, it’s hard to imagine there was once a time when the slasher film was reviled by critics as the bastard child of horror. But the gents behind The Hysteria Continues podcast were, to paraphrase Barbara Mandrell, “slasher when slasher wasn’t cool.” Hosted by Justin A. Kerswell (author of The Slasher Movie Book, a.k.a. Teenage Wasteland), writer-director Joseph Henson (THE NIGHT BEFORE EASTER) and fellow filmmakers Erik Threlfall & Nathan Johnson, this is a hilarious trans-Atlantic free-for-all (Justin hails from England, Erik from Ireland and their US counterparts from the deep south). No obscure backyard flick is off-limits — provided the team can find a copy — and they occasionally attempt to squeeze titles like PREDATOR through a slasher-shaped filter. Recurring segments, including the hosts’ “recently viewed” horror films, keep things fresh amid the horrendous puns and saucy double entendres.
If you haven’t already noticed that Blumhouse.com Editor-in-Chief Rebekah McKendry and Managing Editor Rob Galuzzo are two-thirds of this podcast (Elric Kane, formerly of the late, lamented Jumpcut Café, rounds out the roster), then you need to catch up pronto… which is easy enough, since they recap their episodes right here on Blumhouse.com. But despite the fact that one of them is probably looking over my shoulder as I write this, I still consider Killer POV to be one of the best genre-themed casts on the web, and they manage to get the most legendary names in the genre to join them in the studio (Stuart Gordon, Neil Marshall, Dick Miller, Larry Fessenden, Richard Stanley, Tom Holland, Ti West, Mick Garris, Lance Henriksen… not enough room to list them all). Their fannish enthusiasm is infectious, and their insights are pretty damn scholarly to boot. But, as the saying goes, don’t take my word for it…
If you’ve been following my weekly Creepypasta column… well, first of all, thanks! Second, you might want to know that I’m just scratching the surface of the deep, dark underworld that is Reddit’s NoSleep community — birthplace of the most nightmarish tales and legends on the web. Thanks to an award-winning creative team of dedicated NoSleep members — including current host and showrunner David Cummings and a full complement of voice actors and composers — there is now a home for audio dramatizations of the scariest entries in the world of internet horror lore, and you better believe it’s just as bone-chilling as it sounds. All the terrors that haunt the web come to life here, and the team’s top-notch production, narration and music lend these terrifying tales dramatic weight and an uncanny realism. Their site even compiles a sampling of episodes to bring newcomers up to speed with a “greatest hits” of NoSleep lore… complete with a warning that this content gets pretty heavy. Not for wussies!
Another expertly-produced and multiple-award-winning horror fiction podcast, Pseudopod runs the full gamut of short-form horror tales, from Lovecraftian lore to bizarro gore, and all shades in between. Showrunners Shawn M. Garrett & Alex Hofelich have assembled an elite team of voice artists to narrate and enact audio versions of short stories from an award-winning roster of writers as well as user-submitted short stories from around the world (they’re always looking for new material, so be sure to check out their submission guidelines). Dulcet-voiced host Alasdair Stuart gives each story an elegant prologue with details about the author, which helps capture the feel of hearing passages from a forbidden occult tome in an antique study before a crackling fire… but don’t be misled by the classy presentation; like NoSleep, these stories are designed to disturb, and are for adults only.
Not many podcasts cover the horror genre from a distinctly LGBT-friendly perspective, but even if there were dozens of them, Patrick Walsh’s hilariously snarky site would still claim the crown. His knowledge of horror esoterica alone is vast enough to warrant a listen, and his topics bounce freely from the sublime (PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK) to the godawful (NIGHT OF THE LEPUS). But that’s not what makes this show unique: it’s Patrick’s larger-than-life personality and wit that makes this one of the most entertaining and hilarious movie podcasts in any genre. Plus, he’s expert at grouping films by unusual themes and leaves no stone unturned, mining everything from ‘70s TV movies to vintage gialli to the latest direct-to-VOD fodder. He also frequently flips the spotlight onto LGBT horror filmmakers, including Sean Abley (Out in the Dark: Interviews with Gay Horror Filmmakers, Actors and Authors) and NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET II star Mark Patton.
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to explore the depths of horror film history from a Satanic perspective, then look no further: learned film critic Jason Andreasson and his co-host, the Church of Satan’s Matt G. Paradise, pull no punches in their politically incorrect (and damn proud of it) examination of horror cinema – from classics like ROSEMARY’S BABY to not-so-classics like SATAN’S CHEERLEADERS (which, by the way, they claim as their all-time favorite). They also choose to focus on horror titles released prior to the late ‘80s, and their discussions are often imbued with nostalgia for a lifetime spent at the movies, including a fair share of dirty stories from their reckless youth. Jason’s well-researched details on each month’s selection balance nicely with Matt’s scathing and frequently salacious commentary, much like a fine cigar with your favorite whiskey… and speaking of which, the two also like to indulge in their beverages of choice as they review the film in (more or less) real-time, which leads to some interesting observations as the alcohol takes hold. While not for the faint of heart or delicate of sensibilities, Terror Transmission definitely delivers a potent kick.
Hosted primarily by members of electro-shock-rock band and self-professed “Monster Hunters” The Deadites (a damn fine group of musicians, I might add – check out their record The Big Scary Monster Hunts at Midnight), this show is every bit as insane as you’d imagine, but these guys also know their shit when it comes to horror culture. Marz, Tiny, MonsterZero, Wolfenstein and Ravenshadow all bring forth eccentric and entertaining points-of-view through a genre lens, with topics ranging from movie and TV reviews to discussions of music, comics, games, wrestling and more. It’s also one of the lengthiest horror podcasts out there (as far as I know), often clocking in at three hours or more per weekly episode… but rest assured, it never drags; in fact, it’s so jam-packed with content and party atmosphere you may find yourself pausing to come up for air. They’ve also been recording the show live on camera, so you can watch them on YouTube.
If you’re ready to make a long-term commitment to a serialized horror radio show, then you need to start here. Creator Kc Wayland originally conceived We’re Alive as a survival-horror TV series (before WALKING DEAD mania had taken hold) set in Los Angeles in the midst of a zombie apocalypse… but in the realm of audio drama, Wayland realized he could greatly expand the scope of the story without the limitations imposed by physical sets. A large complement of talented voice actors (including AMERICAN HORROR STORY’s Jim Gleason), elaborate sound design and tight pacing come together to make each one-hour episode (usually subdivided into three 20-minute segments) a fully immersive and intense experience. The complete We’re Alive serial ended last summer at the conclusion of its fourth season, but all episodes are still available to stream or download.
While the previously listed horror fiction/drama podcasts were designed to shock, disturb and terrify, Night Vale takes a distinctly different approach. Imagine if TWIN PEAKS and THE X-FILES had a baby, raised it on a steady diet of ANCIENT ALIENS, then sent it to broadcasting school; it’s way weirder — and funnier — than that sounds. It’s also pretty damn addictive, especially on the night-time stretch of a long road trip (which is how I first got hooked). Created by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor and narrated in authoritative but easygoing style by Cecil Baldwin as “Cecil Gershwin Palmer,” Night Vale takes the form of an NPR-style newscast from the title town, wherein paranormal occurrences are so frequent that regular bulletins have to be issued to residents, similar to weather or traffic reports. The show’s popularity has soared since its inception in 2012, it’s recently been adapted into a novel, and the team is currently touring a live version of the show.