Topic: List of the Creepiest Television Episodes (Updated 6-13)
I was watching an episode of The Haunting Hour with my daughter when it occurred to me that every now and again TV is able to produce some interesting horror episodes. I started to recall some of the episodes that I really liked and then got to thinking that it might be a good idea to have a list where people can post the absolute best horror episodes they've ever seen. Of course, 'best' is a subjective term, so I figure we'll need two ground rules. First, we should only select one episode from an entire series (this list is for the best horror episodes, not just the pretty good ones). Second, where possible, try to name a horror film or genre that's similar to the episode. After all, just because you might enjoy films about man-eating plants doesn't mean everyone else does.
1- The Mikado (Millennium, Season 2, Episode 13)
Millennium was a show created by Chris Carter (of X-Files fame) about an ex-FBI profiler who joins a shadowy private consulting firm. The show only ran for three seasons and it was never considered to be a big hit, so this series might not have hit your radar.
This episode focuses on a killer who broadcasts his murders over the internet. The premise seems simple enough and this episode would likely be just another “Where's the killer?” type of story were it not for the excellent writing. The cat-and-mouse between the killer and his pursuers reminds me in some small way of both Se7en and the original Saw.
2- Incident On and Off a Mountain Road (Masters of Horror, Season 1, Episode 1)
I enjoyed most of the Masters of Horror series, but Incident On and Off a Mountain Road stands out due to its interpretation of the standard maniacal killer vs. 'Final Girl'. It would have been easy to make a standard slasher and call it a day, but there is a depth here that makes the whole thing not only entertaining, but it resolves itself in a very satisfying conclusion. If you enjoy...well...any slasher film, you'll probably get a kick out of this episode directed by Don Coscarelli (Phantasm).
3- Long Distance Call (The Twilight Zone, Season 2, Episode 22)
A toy telephone has a strange influence on a young boy (played by Bill Mumy who is best known to the aged among us as Will Robinson from Lost in Space, while the younger set probably recognizes him as the guy who played Lennier on Babylon 5). What's really interesting here is both the identity of the person suggesting the thing to the kid, as well as how far the kid will go to fulfill the request. Although a dead person is talking to a kid, it's nothing like The Sixth Sense. White Noise might be closer, but I can't really think of a movie to which this episode is similar.
4- Scarecrow (Friday the 13th: The Series , Season 1, Episode 11)
The Friday the 13th TV series was a show that had nothing to do with the films. The series was about a trio of people who inherit an antique store full of cursed objects that they sell (unaware that the objects are cursed) and then must track down and recover.
The magic of Scarecrow is all in the execution. Everything about the episode is creepy. The sets, the scarecrow, the townsfolk...everything. Sleepy Hollow is vaguely similar in feel (although Scarecrow isn't a period piece).
5- A View Through the Window (Night Visions, Season 1, Episode 3)
The Army goes to investigate a farm that appears in the middle of the desert, but the farm is enclosed in a sort of force-field. The people on the farm can't see soldiers, but the soldiers can see them.
This is one of those things where you'll be watching and think, “This is okay, but not exactly what I'd call horror”, right up until the end. It's at that point when you realize the episode has played all the right strings to make it pack some serious punch. I can think of a film or two that is somewhat similar to this, but to list those films would ruin some of the surprise.
6- Inside the Closet (Tales From The Darkside, Season 1, Episode 7)
A college student rents a room and is told that the closet won't open. As you might imagine, the closet isn't exactly empty.
The whole episode is disturbing. The house where she rents the room, the closet door being only about 3 feet high and the fact that Tom Savini was behind this episode should really tell you all you need to know. Much like A View Through the Window, there are films with a somewhat similar premise, but it would ruin the episode to list them. If you like Savini, just go for it.
7- Hush (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 4, Episode 10)
Written and directed by Joss Whedon himself, Hush is a superior episode in an excellent series. In a show that was praised for its clever banter, Joss decided to craft an episode that was largely without spoken conversation. While you might think that an episode of a show wherein hardly anyone speaks would be boring, slow and stupid, you'd be absolutely, positively, 100% wrong. I'm not even going to attempt to name a film that's similar, I'm just going to suggest that you check it out.
8- The Shadow Man (New Twilight Zone, Season 1, Episode 10a)
A kid allies himself with a shadow-form that lives under his bed. The shadow helps him out with troublesome classmates, but the kid underestimates just how big the world really is.
The whole Shadow Man thing is really just another 'deal with the devil' type scenario, but what sells the episode is how satisfied the kid is with himself. He begins to really enjoy having a Shadow Man and you can see his slide toward ruthlessness. If you're a fan of any of those films where someone makes a pact with a demon/monster/etc., to get revenge, you'll probably get a kick out of this.
9- The Circle (Fear Itself, Episode 13)
A horror novelist receives a copy of his new book, which is odd considering that he hasn't written it yet. The entire episode is just one horrifying thing happening after another. This is an episode where the story just keeps grinding its characters down until the bitter conclusion. It has shades of The Evil Dead, so if you liked that you might enjoy this.
10- Home (The X-Files, Season 4, Episode 2)
A tale about the Peacock family and the weird stuff they do. It's essentially an hour-long version of The Hills Have Eyes or maybe Wrong Turn. I'll be honest with you; I have a soft spot in my heart for movies about inbred hillbillies on a rampage. The thing about this episode is that it's not anywhere near as 'TV friendly' as you might expect. It's actually sort of hardcore and gruesome. There weren't too many X-Files episodes that I'd classify as horror, but Home definitely qualifies.
11- Shrink Wrap (Dexter, Season 1, Episode 8)
Submitted by DirtyGirl
When DirtyGirl posted about this episode, I was pretty excited to watch it, but was sort of disappointed when I actually checked it out. It seemed okay, but not exactly extraordinary. Turns out Dexter is a show best watched in a series format. When I watched the episodes that preceded it, I got what she was saying. Indeed this is disturbing stuff but, unfortunately, difficult to describe. To describe the episode itself would only sell short what's actually happening. If you've never seen Dexter, I'd recommend watching all the episodes up to Shrink Wrap (and beyond, really). It's worth it.
12- The Doll (Night Gallery, Season 1, Episode 5)
Submitted by wolfman1959
An army officer returns from an assignment in India to discover that his niece was shipped a doll from India. The niece's caretaker (her parents are dead) assumes that the doll was sent by the officer, but something more sinister is at work.
Despite that I'm pretty familiar with Night Gallery, I couldn't remember this episode. Even as I watched it I didn't recall it. I'm beginning to think my mind was trying to block it out for my own protection. The doll is freaky enough, but the way the officer just takes everything at face value makes me wonder just what exactly he was up to in India (the ending suggests that he was involved in more than just military business). I'm definitely willing to put this one as the creepiest episode of Night Gallery - easily.
As always, I'm interested in whatever quality horror episodes you guys know about that are floating around out there that I've never seen that can be added to the list.
Last edited by TeeSeeBee (2011-06-13 16:09:51)