It's spooky season, the perfect excuse to fill your phone with the best horror podcasts. Fill your ears with fear and discover that you can be plenty scared with your eyes closed. As well so some classic best horror podcasts like The Black Tapes there a wealth of new contenders like The Case of Charles Dexter Ward and Video Palace.
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1. The Case of Charles Dexter Ward (The Whisperer in the Darkness)
Borrowing its format from investigative podcasts like Serial, this BBC podcast's first series attempts to untangle the disappearance of a young man from a locked room in a Rhode Island asylum. Matthew and Kennedy, two young journalists, are on the case, and soon find themselves caught up in a sticky web of murder, ancient cults, and necromancy. It's a brilliant modern-day twist on the HP Lovecraft inspiration, and even better, there's a second season called The Whisperer in the Darkness too.
Find it here. (opens in new tab)
2. Radio Rental
Video-store clerk Terry Carnation (played by Office star Rainn Wilson) is the host of a horror podcast that's especially unnerving because the stories it features are all true. Creators Tenderfoot TV reached out to people that had shared scary experiences online, and recorded them telling their tales for the podcast. Whether you believe them or not is up to you, but there's something especially chilling hearing them straight from the source.
Listen to it here. (opens in new tab)
3. The Black Tapes
A stalwart in the horror podcast genre, but still worthy of its spots. Alex Regan, a podcaster for a company called PNWS, is putting together a story on Richard Strand. The head of the Strand Institute and a legendary paranormal debunker, Strand is a haunted figure. As Alex gets closer to him, she finds out why – and her journey takes her deep within the Black Tapes and a decades-wide plan that she and Strand are caught right in the center of.
4. Welcome To Night Vale/ Night Vale Presents
Night Vale is an absolutely normal town. No, it is. Just ask Cecil Baldwin, Night Vale’s DJ. Or his boyfriend Carlos, who’s a scientist. Or the Glow Cloud – the sentient vapour which rains dead lizards. Just, under no circumstances, look at the Dog Park… Night Vale’s combination of comedy, horror and remarkable sweetness has made it a worldwide phenomenon. The show tells a densely plotted but enthralling story.
Start at the beginning and let Cecil guide you through the town’s many mysteries. Night Vale has proven so successful it has spawned two new shows, released under the same banner but standing alone. Alice Isn’t Dead, performed by Jasika Nicole (best known for playing Agent Farnsworth on Fringe), is the story of a trucker searching for her wife through a nightmarish tour of backroads America. The second, Within The Wires, has just started. It’s a series of “relaxation tapes” given to you by The Institute. Calm, sinister and slowly revealing a very personal story, Wires is the hardest of the shows to get into, but also the most audacious.
5. Uncanny County
A series of full cast audio plays all set in the same weird area of the US. Think American Gothic with more jokes. The production values are top notch and the stories are a neat combination of old school horror/SF and some playful and very new approaches to horror. You can start anywhere with the show, but “The Eleventh Hour” - an episode about just how much work goes into arriving in the nick of time - is especially good.
6. Small Town Horror
In 1998 Ryan Jennings recorded himself performing “The Sinner’s Game” - a ritual local to his hometown of Crayton, Indiana. He fled the town not long after. Now he’s back to try and find out what happened to him all those years ago. A great premise, a couple of killer twists and excellent hosting bring this podcast to life. A neat combination of personal recollection, small town homecoming and skin crawling horror, it’s a new show so now’s a great time to jump aboard.
Want a show that’s gripping, terrifying and finite? You need to visit Limetown. Years after the disappearance of the entire population of a privately owned town, journalist Lia Haddock begins investigating what really happened… Limetown is one of the best audio drama podcasts you’ll ever hear, with twists in every episode and a horrific central premise. Another show you should jump on at the beginning, listen to, get hooked on and join the queue for a second season.
8. The NoSleep Podcast
David Cummings’ epic anthology is five years old in 2016 and showing no signs of slowing down. David’s strong hosting skills and mic presence tie together a show with a whopping four or five stories in each episode. Even if you don’t like one story, the next will probably work for you. The anthology format means you can start anywhere, but be prepared to clear your schedule…
9. The Magnus Archives
The Magnus Institute is the premier paranormal research facility on the planet, and new Chief Archivist Jonathan Sims has taken on the mammoth task of recording audio transcriptions of every file. The Institute has been active for centuries and as Sims, whose charmingly grumpy mic presence is a highlight, digs deeper he finds out they’ve stumbled on something awful.
10. Video Palace
Straight to you from Shudder, the home of Host, the horror film of 2020. This takes the Black Tapes idea and sets up its own spin on the story, featuring white VHS tapes. Video collector Mark Cambria starts speaking a strange language in his sleep after watching one of these mysterious cassettes and becomes obsessed with finding out where it came from, and how and why it was made. The team behind the podcast includes The Blair Witch Project producer Michael Monello, and there's even a spin-off book Video Palace: In Search of the Eyeless Man: Collected Stories.
Listen to it here. (opens in new tab)
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