Blood on the box
With an abundance of horror shows to choose from on the small screen, Guy Davis gives us a rundown of best ( and the bloodiest).
Television is quite horrifying at the moment. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Of course, there have been shocks and scares on the small screen since television first flickered to life – you could go back to The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits if you wanted to find some old- school chills ( and I recommend you do if that’s your thing) – but cast an eye over what’s broadcasting lately and you you’ll ll find plenty to give you the creeps.
What’s more, recent examples of the horror genre have ramped up the nastiness as well.
Take the recent Hannibal, quite possibly my favourite new show of the year so far. There were fears among fans that when the exploits of murderous psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter made their way to TV that they’d be a bit tame compared to his bigscreen rampages in movies such as The Silence of the Lambs.
Not the case. Hannibal pushed the envelope in terms of graphic gore, although its twisted psychology proved just as unsettling – and fascinating – as any of the grotesque crimescene tableaux the show presented.
But anyone who’s caught, say, The Walking Dead over its past three seasons would probably be used to that … because that show seems bent on keeping manufacturers of stage blood and fake body parts in business for years to come.
And audiences seem to love it. The return of the apocalyptic zombie drama, airing in Australia on payTV station FX, indicates its popularity is as strong as ever.
Zombies are popular the world over, it seems, with the French putting their own spin on the undead phenomenon with The Returned, now airing on pay- TV station Studio.
It’s not quite as gruesome as The Walking Dead – few things are – but this tale of a small town rattled by the return of residents dead for years has an understated quality that is quietly disturbing. It’s well worth checking out if you feel like killing the lights and getting a little spooked.
One of the year’s new success stories is Ten’s Sleepy Hollow, which at first glance certainly seems to have its share of horrific elements – what else are you going to say about a series where the main villain is a headless horseman who goes about removing heads from shoulders with a broadsword?
But the key to Sleepy Hollow’s success may not be its supernatural elements, although its bonkers mythology is shaping up as an awful lot of fun, but the crackling chemistry between its two leads, Tom Mison as time- travelling crusader Ichabod Crane and Nicole Beharie as modern- day cop Abby Mills.
But if pure, undiluted horror is what you’re after, the latest season of American Horror Story – fast- tracked from the US and airing on Ten’s digital channel Eleven – well and truly fits the bill.
Titled Coven, it’s a story of witchcraft, voodoo and various other shenanigans with the crazy- meter cranked up to 11. The previous two seasons of American Horror Story weren’t exactly subtle, but Coven – once again starring the great Jessica Lange, goes above and beyond in the best possible way.
The Walking Dead, Mondays, FX ( Foxtel), 8.30pm
The Returned, Wednesdays, STUDIO ( Foxtel), 8pm
American Horror Story, Mondays, Eleven, 9.30pm