The Best TV Shows on Shudder

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The Best TV Shows on Shudder

For the horror, sci-fi and thriller-minded among us, AMC’s Shudder has become an increasingly valuable resource. As one of the first nichey streaming services to go big, it pioneered the idea that genre fans would be willing to pay a monthly fee just to gain access to a specific library of horror and thriller titles, and has since supplemented that library (which has grown and shrunk at various points in the last few years, like all streaming services) with a fair among of original content—none receiving more attention than the well-received reboot of George Romero’s Creepshow.

The nature of that reboot, however, highlights something people tend to overlook with Shudder: The service isn’t just stuffed with feature films, although we do have a list of the best movies on the service as well. At the same time, there’s a good number of TV series and “specials” floating around Shudder. Unsurprisingly, that includes several series from parent company AMC (no Walking Dead, though), as well as a few interesting Shudder originals.

If you’re looking for some new, long-form horror to discover, then, check out a few of these series streaming on Shudder.


9. Door Into Darkness

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Created by: Dario Argento
Stars: Enzo Cerusico, Paola Tedesco, Pierluigi Apra, Gildo Di Marco
Original network: Italian TV

This obscure little series is a miniseries event that originally aired on Italian TV in 1973, shepherded by none other than the master of Italian supernatural horror/giallo, Dario Argento. Falling chronologically right between some of Argento’s key giallo works, including Bird With the Crystal Plumage and Deep Red, Door Into Darkness primarily embraces the popular giallo motifs of the day, rather than the supernatural horror style Argento would begin crafting in 1977 with Suspiria. He only personally directs one of the four episodes, The Tram, which is a classic whodunit with the director’s trademark sense of suspense, if not much of his visual flair—the television aspect ratio clearly held him back. Other Door Into Darkness episodes come from Argento proteges, meanwhile, such as Luigi Cozzi and Mario Foglietti. These are inessential slices of the Italian horror era, but to Argento die-hards, they’re classic bits of footage you may never have known existed. —Jim Vorel


8. NOS4A2

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Created by: Jami O’Brien
Stars: Ashleigh Cumming, Zachary Quinto, Jahkara J. Smith, Virginia Kull, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Ashley Romans
Original network: AMC

With a plot that includes mediums, supernatural happenings and a place called “Christmasland,” I was surprised NOS4A2 was even adapted from Joe Hill’s novel of the same name. The book felt almost too weird to make into a TV show, where you can’t leave a world to the imagination and it must be shown on screen. But summertime is the perfect time to premiere a genre show with a slightly complex mythology that reminds people to be grateful for warmth instead of a lifetime of winter. And NOS4A2 is a solid TV show that’s ripe to watch when you need a day inside to take a break from the heat. It’s refreshing in a TV landscape full of complicated antiheroes that the characters with the most interiority in NOS4A2 are the good guys. The hero of this story is Vic McQueen (Ashleigh Cummings), and she has a big heart, and big sad eyes. She has complicated relationships with her family and friends, and her choices and relationships are treated with surprising nuance. In her personal life, there is no one who is all good or all bad, and yet she loves them anyway. —Rae Nudson


7. Cursed Films

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Created by: Jay Cheel
Original network: Shudder

Shudder’s Cursed Films is an immediately enticing docuseries that plumbs the depths of one frequent horror geek topic of discussion—the macabre histories of horror films themselves. Each episode of the five-part series “explores the myths and legends behind some of Hollywood’s notoriously ‘cursed’ horror film productions,” although it thankfully never truly veers too far into the realm of actual supernatural speculation. Rather, it’s more a tribute to troubled productions and films whose legacies have been forever associated with tragedies, be it the young death of Poltergeist actresses Dominique Dunne and Heather O’Rourke, or the real-life serial killer who managed to make it into a few minutes of footage in The Exorcist. The macabre trivia aspect, combined with some exploration of the tendency of horror fans to dwell on the disturbing, calls to mind the documentaries of Room 237 director Rodney Ascher, as horror fans ultimately are asked to turn their perception upon themselves and question why these stories of “cursed films” are so memorable. —Jim Vorel


6. Elvira’s 40th Anniversary, Very Scary, Very Special, Special

Created by: Cassandra Peterson
Stars: Cassandra Peterson
Original network: Shudder

Coinciding with the release of her memoir, Yours Cruelly, Elvira—in which Peterson has revealed she’s been in a same-sex relationship for the past 20 years (to the giddy delight of much of the internet)—Shudder celebrated Elvira’s 40th anniversary with Elvira’s 40th Anniversary, Very Scary, Very Special Special, streamable after the fact on the Shudder app for those who couldn’t stay up late. Elvira emcees the event herself, with humor and production values that would not be out of place on any of the Movie Macabre episodes or specials she’s done over the years. For those looking to get a few vaccinated friends together for a curated horror movie night that doesn’t take itself seriously at all, it’s a good time with a solid selection of horror movies, and also, you know, Elvira’s movie.

The Mistress of the Dark, I’m happy to say, is still up to the task. Peterson isn’t afraid to make light of her age (at one point joking that her audience is “either embryos who don’t know anything or senior citizens who can’t remember anything!”) and delivers trivia about the movies or occasionally inserts herself into them with all the hallmarks of the persona she’s created. —Ken Lowe


5. A Discovery of Witches

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Created by: Deborah Harkness
Stars: Teresa Palmer, Matthew Goode, Edward Bluemel, Louise Brealey, Malin Buska, Aiysha Hart, Owen Teale, Alex Kingston, Valarie Pettiford.
Original network: Sky One

Television may have fallen a bit out of love with vampires, but if you’re still drawn to supernatural romances full of forbidden love, A Discovery of Witches will be right up your alley. Based on the All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness, this romantic fantasy series stars Teresa Palmer as Diana Bishop, a historian and reluctant witch who discovers a long-lost manuscript during her research that is said to contain the origin stories of witches, vampires, and daemons. To protect herself from those who seek the book and wish to do her harm, Diana rethinks her stance on magic and begins to embrace her powers with the aid of a sexy and powerful vampire known as Matthew Clairmont (Matthew Goode). A steamy romance soon blossoms between the two, but because an ancient covenant meant to protect supernatural beings from humans states they cannot fraternize outside of their kind, Diana and Matthew’s desperate love is a forbidden affair, which only serves to make things hotter. Now is the perfect time to fall in love with this escapist fantasy.


4. Eli Roth’s History of Horror

Created by: Eli Roth
Original network: AMC

Part of the “AMC Visionaries” series, which also included James Cameron’s series on science fiction, Eli Roth’s History of Horror is more or less what the name implies—a guided tour from Roth, a founding member of the “splat pack” era of extreme American horror, as he leads the viewer through various subgenres, complete with a bunch of famous talking heads. Episodes dive into such themes as “zombies,” “slashers” or “the demons inside,” and are good primers for those who don’t know as much about the history or roots of the genre. More than anything, though, they’re entertaining for the guests, which range from the likes of Jamie Lee Curtis talking Halloween to Tony Todd swinging by to discuss Candyman. This is sort of horror comfort food in a way; an indication that the genre means something to others, as it does to you. Of note: History of Horror is also a Shudder podcast, which likewise features Roth interviewing some big names (Stephen King, Edgar Wright, Quentin Tarantino) alongside some unexpected ones (how did they get Tippi Hedren to do this?). Both the series and podcast are full of interesting nuggets. —Jim Vorel


3. Creepshow

Created by: Greg Nicotero
Starring: David Arquette, Adrienne Barbeau, Tobin Bell, Giancarlo Esposito, Tricia Helfer, Dana Gould, Cailey Fleming
Original network: Shudder

In this version of Creepshow, the original fans get their nostalgia, with the old masters well represented and throwback tones well mimicked, while the new inductees get enough modernity to Trojan Horse in the show’s addictive camp. Like all anthologies, it’s hard for one review to suffice for the whole series. There’s going to be a segment that’s just terrible. That’s just probability at work. So, in order to best judge their potential for the future, you have to look at who’s curating and what they’ve brought to the table. Nicotero lives for this stuff and his segment is great; he gets it. In fact, Creepshow’s first pair of ghoulish tales so solidly nail what made the original so beloved (an unabashed sense of look-what-we-can-get-away-with fun) that it’s easy to get swept up in its own appreciation for the dark material. It might not all be perfect in the coming episodes, but it’ll certainly be a good gamble. Creepshow’s a Halloween party thrown by your favorite goths and worth attending simply to see what will pop out of the closet next. —Jacob Oller


2. Channel Zero

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Created by: Nick Antosca
Starring: Various
Original network: Syfy

Drawing inspiration from the Internet urban legends known as “creepypastas,” the anthology series Channel Zero assembled a deeply unsettling locale, featured solid performances (especially from Paul Schneider) and wove a steadily mounting tapestry of dread. I can’t stress enough how refreshing the format is—an hourlong horror drama that is seriously attempting to frighten, one where each season is compressed into a mere six episodes, with the audience knowing in advance that they’ll get a real conclusion. The result, therefore, is almost like a prestige horror miniseries: It reminds one of nothing so much as Stephen King’s IT, with its simultaneous stories in different timelines and themes of horror built around the moments when childhood psyches are shattered. It’s a series that featured one of the year’s best, genuinely frightening pilot episodes, which pulls its protagonist back into a web of small-town secrets and supernatural mystery, full of nightmare-inducing imagery and a persistent feeling of uneasy familiarity. Watching Channel Zero: Candle Cove is a bit like walking past the abandoned house you were afraid of in your childhood, and then suddenly remembering the repressed story of the one time you ventured over the threshold and discovered the ghosts within. —Jim Vorel


1. The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs

Created by: Joe Bob Briggs
Starring: Joe Bob Briggs, Diana Prince
Original network: Shudder

The Last Drive-In isn’t really a true TV series, but at the same time, it’s a modern extension of several beloved TV shows: The Movie Channel’s Joe Bob’s Drive-In Theater and TNT’s MonsterVision, both of which were hosted by the one and only Joe Bob Briggs. The revival of that same format on Shudder (more or less) was a slam-dunk proposition that proved to be so popular in its initial execution that it repeatedly crashed the Shudder platform via live viewership, demonstrating that the passion for well-executed “horror host” shtick is still as strong as ever. With that kind of response, it was only natural that The Last Drive-In eventually became a semi-regular feature for Shudder, often aimed around holiday events, such as the recent shows for Halloween and Thanksgiving. As it was in the original TV broadcasts, the draw here is in watching Briggs (aka, film critic John Bloom) hold court on various vintage horror films like some kind of backyard philosopher king, punctuating the films with bizarre trivia and bits of context about the eras in which they were initially released. Few observers of the genre possess both such a deep well of information and a willingness to view the past through glasses that are anything but rose-colored. Indeed, watching Briggs is often an excellent antidote to the crippling aspects of nostalgia in the horror world, as he is more than willing to dissect and criticize films that other hosts would roundly praise. Ultimately, The Last Drive-In is a framing device that simply adds more value to some of the films in the Shudder library. —Jim Vorel