USA TODAY’s Carly Mallenbaum takes us inside several pandemic-friendly Halloween drive-thrus in Los Angeles, California.
It’s officially spooky season on TV.
If you’re a fan of horror stories and Halloween hijinks, there has never been a better time for you to enjoy TV. Horror (and horror comedy) is booming, with a series for every kind of fan out there. Want something spiritual, supernatural and intriguingly confusing? Try CBS drama “Evil” (now on Netflix). Want that, but with some Marvel flavor? There’s “Helstrom” on Hulu. Want something for serious horror fans? Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House” and “The Haunting of Bly Manor” series are for you.
As we head into a Halloween season unlike any other, it’s comforting to know that while we may not be able to trick-or-treat or go to parties, we can still curl up on the couch and be terrified by episode after episode of good TV. Well, as comforting as screaming can ever be.
Katja Herbers as Kristen Bouchard, Mike Colter as David Acosta and Aasif Mandvi as Ben Shakir on “Evil.” (Photo: Jeff Neumann/CBS)
Netflix and CBS All Access
This brilliant, gripping drama from the creators of “The Good Wife” and “The Good Fight” marries the spiritual and supernatural with a mystery-of-the-week formula, a bit as if “The X-Files” investigated religious phenomena instead of aliens. Starring the immensely appealing trio of Katja Herbers (“Westworld”), Mike Colter (“Luke Cage”) and Aasif Mandvi (“The Daily Show”), you might not always know what’s real and what’s not in the series, but you’ll always be glued to the screen.
Victoria Pedretti stars as a nanny to two children who sees some ghostly goings-on at her new job in Netflix’s “The Haunting of Bly Manor.” (Photo: EIKE SCHROTER/NETFLIX,)
“The Haunting of Bly Manor”/”The Haunting of Hill House”
If you want to be properly scared by smart, gripping horror, there’s no better show than Netflix’s “The Haunting of” series. “Hill House,” based on the book by Shirley Jackson, was a surprise hit in 2018. In the new “Bly,” much of the same cast takes on different roles for a new literary tale of horror: a take on Henry James’ “The Turn of the Screw.” Although Season 2 is more eerie than outright terrifying, it’s the kind of stoic, grown-up horror you don’t often find on TV, and a contrast to the decidedly campy “American Horror Story.”
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Ana Helstrom (Sydney Lemmon) and Daimon Helstrom (Tom Austen), shown in “Helstrom.” (Photo: Bettina Strauss/Hulu)
Like “Evil,” “Helstrom” mixes the spiritual and the supernatural in stories of demons, exorcisms and religious evil. Based on Marvel Comics characters, the series follows siblings Daimon (Tom Austen) and Ana Helstrom (Sydney Lemmon), the children of a notorious serial killer who have special powers that help them fight monsters and demons. A little bit action, a little bit scary, “Helstrom” is a solid entry in the Marvel TV canon.
Renaldo (Bernardo Velasco, left) recruits dental assistant Ursula (Cassandra Ciangherotti) and chocolate company heir Andres (Julio Torres) to help him scare people in HBO’s “Los Espookys.” (Photo: HBO)
HBO and HBO Max
HBO’s Spanish-language comedy isn’t all that spooky, but it is a riotously funny series, produced by “Saturday Night Live” producer Lorne Michaels and Fred Armisen, who also occasionally co-stars. The series follows an eclectic group of friends who create a horror-for-hire business, helping stage a fake exorcism to boost a priest’s profile and creating a haunted mansion for an eccentric millionaire.
Courtney B. Vance, Jonathan Majors and Jurnee Smollett in HBO’s “Lovecraft Country.” (Photo: Eli Joshua Ade/HBO)
HBO and HBO Max
HBO’s summer thriller riffs on horror tropes from celebrated writer H.P. Lovecraft (and reacts to his open and vicious racism) to craft a unique and gripping story about what it was like to live as a Black person in 1950s America. Produced by Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams, the series follows Atticus “Tic” Freeman (Jonathan Majors) and Letitia “Leti” Lewis (Jurnee Smollett) as their lives intersect with a secret supernatural society that aims to exploit them.
Kelly Marie Tran stars in one of the episodes of Hulu’s “Monsterland” (Photo: Barbara Nitke/Hulu)
For fans of short stories and, well, monsters, this Hulu anthology series is both scary and profound. Its episodes feature Kaitlyn Dever, Kelly Marie Tran, Mike Colter and Taylor Schilling, as characters confronting a kind of monster, whether it is supernatural, human or both.
Breeda Wool, Harry Treadaway, Kelly Lynch, Mary-Louise Parker, Brendan Gleeson, Holland Taylor, Jharrel Jerome and Justine Lupe in the series “Mr. Mercedes,” based on a Stephen King trilogy. The first two seasons of “Mr. Mercedes” are streaming on Peacock. (Photo: Sonar Entertainment, AP)
For those who like their horror Stephen King-flavored, Peacock is streaming this canceled AT&T Audience Network drama based on the author’s recent book series. “Mercedes” is more detective mystery than straight-up horror, but it has King’s signature thrills, plus a superb cast including Brendan Gleeson, Holland Taylor and Jharrel Jerome (“When They See Us”). Gleeson plays retired detective Bill Hodges, who hunts for a sociopath who drove a stolen Mercedes through a crowd, killing 16 people.
Daniel Zovatto as Tiago Vega and Natalie Dormer as Magda in the Los Angeles-set “Penny Dreadful” spin-off, “City of Angels.” (Photo: Warrick Page/Showtime)
“Penny Dreadful: City of Angels”
“Game of Thrones” star Natalie Dormer anchors this spinoff of Showtime’s 2014-16 gothic horror-fest, “Penny Dreadful.” Set Stateside in 1930s Los Angeles amid the Golden Age of Hollywood, the series takes its inspiration from Mexican-American folklore. The deity Santa Muerte (Lorenza Izzo) is fighting her considerably more demonic sister, Magda (Dormer), while a pair of detectives (Daniel Zovatto and Nathan Lane) investigate a murder case amid the city’s racial tensions and the rise of the Nazis in Europe.
Nick Frost as Gus Roberts, Samson Kayo as Elton in “Truth Seekers” on Amazon. (Photo: Colin Hutton/Amazon)
Amazon (streaming Friday)
For fans of “Shaun of the Dead,” Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have reunited for their first TV series, another horror comedy about a cable guy (Frost) who hunts the paranormal in his free time. And while there are jokes, this isn’t a silly romp in the British countryside. There are real scares, creepy ambience and a frightening dog whose image you may never get out of your head.
“Twilight Zone” executive producer Jordan Peele also takes on Rod Serling’s iconic role as narrator. (Photo: ROBERT FALCONER/CBS)
CBS All Access
This remake of the Rod Serling classic, which returned for a second season in June, isn’t as transcendent as the original, but it’s still home to solid, unsettling science fiction. Narrated by Jordan Peele, who is a fitting stand-in for Serling as host, the new season’s disquieting episodes feature guest appearances from Jimmi Simpson, Tony Hale, Billy Porter, Joel McHale and Chris Meloni.
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