The moon is bright and we’re all looking for a fright; Halloween is upon us once again. Halloween night marks the official peak for all things horror as thirty-one days of thrills and chills reaches its close. Before you start missing the season too much, however, here are three television series that will help you keep the spirit of Halloween all year long.
|Mother knows best|
Bates Motel: After a series of lackluster sequels and an unsuccessful remake, common sense would suggest that Psycho is a franchise best left undisturbed. In a surprising twist, however, the success of the television series Bates Motel proves that common sense doesn’t apply in the warped world of Norman Bates. The series pays apt homage to the 1960 film while telling its own unique tale of the origins of cinema’s original slasher, Norman Bates. The series owes its success largely to its complex approach to its two leads, Norman and his mother, Norma, and their codependent relationship. Rather than the nagging harpy portrayed in Psycho, Norma is a strong-willed woman who will do whatever is necessary to provide a better life for herself and her son. Similarly, Norman wins audiences’ hearts as he struggles with typical teenage growing pains, even as he continues to battle mental illness. In the series’ earliest seasons, the pair seem relatively normal when compared to the drug dealers, sex traffickers, child abusers, and crime lords that they are constantly pitted against in the Twin Peaks-esque town of White Pine Bay. As a result, audiences can’t help rooting for the series’ off kilter leads even as they begin their descent into inevitable tragedy. While the series’ earliest seasons did suffer whenever the focus shifted from the powerhouse performances of Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga, the series hit its full stride midway as the story became more centralized, allowing viewers a front-row seat to the fall of Norman and the rise of his infamous ‘Mother’. Even in the midst of its bloody mayhem, the series challenges viewers with questions concerning the state of such institutions as public education, mental healthcare, and the criminal justice system in modern America. Despite its cutting edge story, the series holds the greatest resonance through its exploration of such timeless themes as family and identity. Equal parts character study and psychological drama Bates Motel is never less than a horror show in the truest sense of the word.
|The Dead Poets' Society for goths|
Are you Afraid of the Dark?: Running from 1990 to 1996 and later revived for one season from 1999 to 2000, Are You Afraid of the Dark was something entirely unique to 1990s viewers; a horror series designed specifically for children. While the age of its target audience kept the gore to a minimum, the series ruined many a night’s sleep through its unsettling atmosphere and implied dangers. Much like early horror films, which were limited by a lack of special effects and censors, the series managed to create scares through psychological thrills that would haunt its young viewers long after more graphic images faded. Along with introducing young viewers to the horror genre, the series also utilized its terrifying tales to instill moral lessons as bullies and misbehaving children and teens were often punished by supernatural forces and shown the error of their ways. For a fright fest that will have the whole family keeping the lights on, look no further than Are You Afraid of the Dark?.
|A bonafide classic|
The Twilight Zone: The Twilight Zone’s debut in 1959 launched American viewers into a dimension “between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge”. Running from 1959 to 1964, the series captured the imagination of a generation with its twisting narratives that explored Cold War America’s deepest fears. Although the series utilized many classic suspense elements, it marked a new chapter in the thriller genre through its ability to find horror in the most seemingly mundane places. Despite the fact that the series was written with 1960’s audiences in mind, the issues that it highlighted ranging from overreliance upon technology, to beauty standards, to the threat of nuclear conflict remain startlingly relevant. While the series remains an iconic example of the thriller at its finest, it owes its enduring popularity to its use of horror elements to warn and inform rather than merely scare viewers. In its thirty to sixty minute episodes the series consistently provided audiences with intelligent entertainment that kept viewers guessing until the final credits rolled. With its thought-provoking thrills it is little wonder that the series on to inspire not one but two revival series as well as a feature film. Take a journey that you won’t forget into “a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity”….take a trip to The Twilight Zone.