I am taking a quick break from the Halloween moviefest to bring you some alternate media I have found for your scary entertainment. It's the sad truth that not everybody has the endurance to watch 31 movies in October, not when you consider the ~60 hour time commitment. And that's if you invest only the minimum effort and stop at 31 moves, which I never do. It seems downright ... slothful. "Who has that much time to watch movies?" I didn't make that up, people ask me that all the time. It's a fair question and I really have no good answer, so I use words like "endurance" and "activity" and "minimum effort" to justify my addiction. I do promise to get back on a workout routine after Halloween. Really. So if spending an obscene amount of time watching movies isn't your bag, but you still want that scary story fix, here are some alternatives.
I came by my podcast habit quite honestly. My early mornings thrive on routine; I'm really not safe to be on the road for at least an hour after the alarm sounds even if I could be dressed, groomed and ready for work in under 20 minutes. And for years the Bob & Tom podcast has been part of this routine with news, sports, and the kind of snark that people like me get. And while Bob&Tom is a staple of my morning routine, I am always looking for an entertaining podcast to keep me company during long commutes after work. I'll share with you a few that go along with the Halloween horror theme for those times when you find yourself in the car with nothing better to do but drive and let your imagination run wild.
The Black Tapes Podcast. I discovered this podcast while doing some research on the science of scare. It was referenced in a really good article that was annoyingly littered with ads - something I promise not to do to you. The podcast has a byline on their FaceBook page that says, "It's Serial Meets the X-Files." Now I really liked Serial, and I loved the X-files, so a free podcast in the spirit of the two? It took me about a minute to subscribe. The podcast researches cases of paranormal activity and features a Dr. Strand who specializes in debunking such cases. The title is a reference to a series of unsolved cases documented on VHS tapes that are kept in black cases. I am maybe half way through the first season and really enjoying it, especially during the evening commute now that the days are growing shorter. My daughter thought the delivery seemed a little over-acted, but I like to think about old time radio that rely on the dramatic because there are no special effects or visuals. I hope you give it a listen.
The No Sleep Podcast. Podcasters and bloggers (like myself) often rely on their peers to help build their audience. Visiting other blogs and podcasts and commenting on them draws sponsors which helps fund the resources necessary to refresh the content. Audiences (including myself) like free media so sponsorship is necessary if you want to take, say, a geeky engineer, and have them devote more time to their blog. I learned about the No Sleep Podcast from the Black Tapes. This podcast really is old time radio brought to the digital era. Each episode includes a collection of scary stories told by dramatic readers and as the link will tell you, it is intended for mature audiences. So maybe it's a little different than old time radio. The podcast is in its 8th season. Early seasons are available at no charge, but there is a fee to subscribe to more recent content. If this is for you, and I hope it is, help support some starving artists by kicking in a few bucks to keep the chills going during those dark drives when all you have for company is your iPhone.
Lore. Because sometimes the truth is more frightening than fiction. This is an award winning podcast of true-life scary stories that was recommended by the host of The Black Tapes. I listened to an interview she had with Lore's producer and immediately subscribed. I have not started this podcast yet, it's just one too many right now, so take a listen and let me know what you think. I'll catch up in a few weeks.
If you have somewhere between two and 20 minutes, you can choose from these scary shorts offered by YouTube. In about the time it takes to watch one moviefest selection, you can indulge in all 16 short films. Can't get enough? Go to YouTube and enter "short horror movies" and you can feed your newly found short flick addition. I'll bet you didn't even know this was a thing.
When all else fails, there's television. And this fall, Fox network is running a new series entitled "The Exorcist." I've seen the first three episodes and I can say that this series honors the classic 1971 novel and movie, updated as you might expect. Because nothing screams contemporary quite like the Catholic church. I am a little surprised this series is running on network television because it is scary from the opening scene. I mean, look at the poster. So in that sense we are definitely updated to post millennium television standards. If you haven't seen any of the episodes and you need to catch up, spend $8 on a hulu subscription and binge a little.
This summer Netflix released their original series, Stranger Things. Eight episodes of paranormal adventure that reminds me of Stand By Me and Dungeons & Dragons and Minority Report and It. Probably some others that I missed but you can let me know what you think. I watched the entire series in a weekend but you can pace yourself if you have a subscription. Good news for fans of the show, Season 2 is in production.
American Horror Story. All five seasons of this FX original series are now available on Netflix. Season 6 premiered on FX this month and the show was just renewed for a 7th season. Each season of AHS is independent, so if somebody spilled the beans and mentioned that Lady Gaga stars in Season 5, go ahead and start there, we'll be waiting. The actors are the common thread that run through the series. Season 1 is still my favorite though Season 5 is looking pretty good so far. I wasn't able to finish Season 4, which probably had something to do with the Clown but my fellow AHS fans loved it. If you're in the mood for some serious binge into the paranormal, the unholy, witchcraft or the just plain weird, AHS is for you.
I hope some of all of these alternate selections enhance the scary season for you. Truth? I cover 31 days of Halloween movies plus podcasts and YouTube shorts and television episodes. Yeah, I'm addicted.