Top 5 scariest TV shows

From Ryan Murphy, the creator of Glee and Nip/Tuck, the hit new US series American Horror Story begins at 10pm on Monday 7th November on FX.

The show introduces the Harmons, who at first glance appear to be the perfect family – but looks can be deceiving.

Having suffered a brutal miscarriage and an episode of marital infidelity, mother Vivien, father Ben and teenage daughter Violet relocate from Boston to LA in an attempt to put the memories of their past behind them. However, while their new property initially seems to be the ideal home, it harbours a number of dark secrets that will change the Harmons’ lives forever.

To celebrate the show’s UK launch next week, CultBox asked you to vote for the scariest TV show ever. Here are the results…

#5: Twin Peaks (11.5%)

There’s a trick, as writer/director David Lynch has consistently proved, to creating a successfully nonsensical narrative: as long as everyone behind the camera knows what’s going on, and, more importantly, believes in it, it doesn’t really matter if the audience is always playing catch up.

And this is the upsetting elegance of early-90s head-fuck Twin Peaks – when studio heads insisted that the murderer of Laura Palmer be revealed mid-way through Season 2, the series began to haemorrhage viewers.

Since the programme had already suited itself in a distinctly off-kilter, disturbing narrative (sometimes due to actors’ genuine mistakes), it must have seemed appropriate to throw logic out of the window as Dale Cooper faced his own demons, and making Twin Peaks a hell on earth – for one FBI agent, at least – that he’ll never leave.

#4: The Twilight Zone (13.3%)

The grand-daddy of all televisual horror (just ten years earlier, you’d have been getting your scares from the radio), Rod Serling’s anthology series had it all, not least the haunting theme music, now playing as a constant somewhere in eternity’s living room.

The original 156 episodes themselves ran the whole gamut of horror and sci-fi, even stopping off at comedy and romance occasionally. But by far the creepiest stories are the ones that the genre of the series is used merely as a platform to make some larger point.

In 1960’s The Monsters are Due on Maple Street, for instance, a community of apple-pie eating all-Americans turn on each other in a coldly plausible half hour, indicating that the monsters are not invading aliens or even, you know, foreigners, but quite possibly our friends and neighbours.

Moralistic? Yes. Preachy? Most certainly. But terrifyingly true? Of course. But that’s how it is in The… well, you know the rest.

#3: The Walking Dead (15.4%)

Based on the ongoing comic book series, Frank Darabont’s post-apocalyptic drama doesn’t play fair. TV shows with zombies are meant to be low-grade, badly acted fare with effects designed more for gore than for menace. Throw in an actor relatively little known outside his native shores sticking on a law-keeper’s hat and accent, and The Walking Dead should, by rights, be a noble failure.

But there’s real life in these corpses, and the show has consistently been breaking records for rising audiences throughout its first two seasons.

Mainly, it’s due to the lean, mean and sparse story-telling. Wisely spotting that the most unsettling part of a zombie attack isn’t the over-used and tedious bite and snap, but rather the encroaching sense of panic and menace before teeth are bared, this is the show that has created more waking nightmares than any other recent show on our list.

#2: Supernatural (18.3%)

A show that’s a good deal more clever and bold than its cable-TV dialogue and the not-always shiny Chevy that the two Winchester boys drive around in, the scares in Supernatural lie, appropriately enough, in its title.

Obviously, with genre shows, it’s easy to take for granted that something quite impossible is occurring. But with Supernatural, there’s a very clear indication that a horrifying and Lucifer-ruled world is existing alongside our own, normal world.

Out of our list, it’s the series most inclined to the jump-cut shock rather than slowly encroaching terror, but with its seventh season underway, Supernatural has arguably remained fresh longer than our winner managed to.

#1: The X Files (19.4%)

Those meddlin’ kids. Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully have a lot to answer for, because it’s arguably they who cemented the winning formula that we now find in a lot of horror TV: scares and sexual chemistry.

Between Scully’s face expressing desire and Mulder’s face expressing, well, something (neatly quipped about in the opening minutes of the first movie) the real water-cooler moments were the ones of inexplicable horror somehow rammed into a relatable world like a slimy, bendy man forcing himself up a narrow pipe.

A reliable draw for the faithful x-philes was Mark Snow’s music and a soundtrack that permeated every episode like damp attacking a haunted house, managing to keep the tension up even during average episodes.

True, the series disappeared up its own arc shortly after 1998’s movie outing, but amongst the 202 episodes there are far more successes than duds, not to mention an unbeaten supply of scares.

You can find the latest DVD releases including TV boxsets of the above titles online from Tesco Entertainment.

Watch the trailer for American Horror Story

Which TV show do you think is the scariest ever? Let us know below…