A recent study conducted by University College in London discovered that listening to audiobooks provides a greater emotional response than watching movies.
Considering master horror writer H.P. Lovecraft suggested “the oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear,” then what better way is there to scare yourself than listening to a bunch of creepy podcasts?
To assist you in your masochistic pursuits this October, here’s a list of 10 scary podcasts to enjoy in time for Halloween:
This highly popular podcast hosted by Ilana Masad features quick episodes ranging around the 20-minute mark, which makes them perfect commute-length stories. The Other Stories is definitely packed with dark themes, but the podcast is more reminiscent of The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits.
Each episode is scored with original music that lends itself to the haunting elements of each narration, and the stories typically leave you feeling disoriented and uneasy, rather than terrified or grossed-out. The Other Stories is perfect for those who like the unexplained and eerie, rather than the downright horrific. Plus, it’s a great way for new writers to get their work heard by a larger audience, and for listeners to find new and talented storytellers. New episodes are released every week.
Noteworthy Episode: A more recent episode, “33.2 Daniel Johnson” did a great job of suspending disbelief and then coming back around in the end. Something about it felt like one of the (now defunct) episodes of The Twilight Zone radio dramas.
Part fact, part fiction, Lore is arguably the most referenced podcast in all the “best of” lists across the internet…and for good reason. These compact, roughly 30-40 minute episodes draw you into a historical yarn based upon facts and folklore. The podcast was created by Aaron Mahnke—who also writes and hosts each of the now nearly 100 episodes—and each story offers its own unique history and mystery.
Mahnke’s narration style is such that you will often find yourself feeling as though you are gathered around a campfire listening to a skilled storyteller doing his work. Voted best podcast of 2015 and 2016 by iTunes, Lore was recently turned into a featured anthology series on Amazon Prime Video by the Executive Producer of The Walking Dead. There’s no doubt that Aaron Mahnke has many more terrifying stories to tell, so there is plenty more content to come. New episodes are released every other week.
Noteworthy Episode: “Episode 8: The Castle”. If Devil in the White City by Erik Larson feels a bit dense, but you want to learn more about America’s most prolific serial killer, make sure to listen to this episode. If anything, it will prepare you for the day when Martin Scorsese finally makes the movie, and Leonardo DiCaprio stars as H. H. Holmes…
This podcast is great if you want to hear some stories written by big name authors like Jonathan Maberry and Ramsey Campbell. Produced by Skyboat Media and pulled from the (digital) pages of the ever-popular Nightmare Magazine, the stories are edited and collected by award-winning anthologist John Joseph Adams.
Since each of the stories initially appeared in written form, listening to the podcast is similar to listening to an audiobook, but under the direction of narrator Stefan Rudnicki, each episode is alive with horror. Episodes can range from under 15-minutes all the way to over an hour, so each listening experience is unique to each story. The podcast releases four episodes a month, so new episodes are available roughly every week.
Noteworthy Episode: “Robert Kirkman – Alone, Together”. Written by the creator of The Walking Dead, this story is a quick, intimate vignette that works like an add-on to the most popular zombie-franchise of all time.
The Most Notorious! podcast is a gritty, true-crime series that features host Erik Rivenes interviewing authors that specialize in specific crimes and killers. A crime writer and history enthusiast, Rivenes has plenty of knowledge about the subjects in discussion but he facilitates fascinating, in-depth discussions with all the specialists he brings on the show.
The best part about listening to Most Notorious! is how often the authors challenge many mainstream facts and theories regarding some of the most famous criminal cases. For instance, the episode about Chicago murderer H. H. Holmes featuring Adam Selzer attempts to debunk many theories regarding Holmes’s crimes and his “murder castle” (it would be interesting to listen to this episode back-to-back against the Lore episode “The Castle”). With fresh insights and a new case covered every episode, Most Notorious! is a great place to discover the true horror in humanity’s history. Episodes are often 1-hour in length and new 12-13 episode seasons are uploaded between August-October and February-April.
Noteworthy Episode: “The Murdering Harpe Brothers of 1790’s Tennessee w/E. Don Harp” Discover a twisted story about two brothers who may be the first serial killers in American history.
Just to be clear, The Horror Show with Brian Keene is not a particularly “scary” podcast, but if you’re addicted to horror in all its forms—books, movies, television, and comics—then Brian Keene is the source and supplier to keep the horror pumping through your veins. With over forty books published, plus numerous awards and credits with popular franchises, Keene is on a first name basis with just about everybody who makes a living from scaring people—including Steve.
Together with hosts Dave Thomas and Mary SanGiovanni (and a revolving door of friends who are more like an extended family), Brian Keene has amassed nearly 200 interviews with horror writers and other creative minds that cover just about everything that can be said about the genre. Although listening to the podcast may not frighten you (unless much alcohol has been consumed and/or Mary has left the room), The Horror Show with Brian Keene is where you can find whatever you want to know about industry news, special events, new book and movie releases, and a host of other information interesting to horror lovers. Who knows? You might just find your next favorite book…and it might be The Rising. Episodes vary in length up to 3-hour specials, and new episodes are released every week.
Noteworthy Episode: Though there’s truly too many to choose from, a somewhat recent episode, “MATT HAYWARD – EP 180” became a new favorite. The friendship between hosts and guest is palpable, and Matt Hayward’s story is inspiring to anyone who’s worked hard to achieve their creative dreams.
If you decide to listen to The Black Tapes, be ready to get sucked in. Part “found footage” (or perhaps “found-audio” would be more apt) and part paranormal documentary, The Black Tapes is expertly crafted storytelling. Without giving anything away, the first season of 12 episodes follows Alex Reagan as she seeks the truth about the mysterious Dr. Richard Strand and the ghostly activity surrounding him.
With episodes averaging 40-minutes, the story moves along quickly. However, it is a serialized story, so you’ve got to commit some time to see it through to the end. There are now three seasons of The Black Tapes available from Pacific Northwest Stories, who are behind other hit podcasts Tanis and The Last Movie.
Noteworthy Episode: Since the series is serialized, it’d be had to pin down a particular episode, so try it from the start – “Episode 101: A Tale of Two Tapes Part 1”.
A spinoff of the popular NoSleep forum on Reddit, The NoSleep Podcast hosted by David Cummings delivers a consistent output of scary short stories. Collected from the best submissions on the Reddit forum, the stories are narrated with both dialogue and exposition.
With the help of voice actors, the listening experience is similar to an audiobook but with a little extra umpf! Episodes average 1-hour, but there are also special holiday episodes and finales that can span 2-3 hours with multiple stories. Some stories have gone on to be published by their authors, including the popular “Penpal” series by Dathan Auerbach. New episodes are released every other week.
Noteworthy Episode: Check out NoSleep Podcast Halloween 2017 for a taste of things of come in 2018. There is also a collection of “recommended episodes” listed on the website for those who are new to the podcast.
Around for more than ten years, Pseudopod is a fantastic place to find horror stories that are all over the spectrum of terror. Under the umbrella of the Escape Artists network of shows, Pseudopod features many female contributors, and includes stories that vary from science fiction to dark fantasy.
And not only does the podcast support many unknown and developing writers, they pay contributors at the professional rate! Pseudopod is a great resource for aspiring authors to make money and gain professional credits, but it’s also a place where the pros go to publish their work. Episodes lengths vary from 30-minutes to an hour, and new episodes are posted every week.
Noteworthy Episode: Like The NoSleep Podcast, Pseudopod offers a list of 13 episodes to sample if you’re new to the podcast, featuring stories by horror greats like Joe R. Lansdale and Grady Hendrix. But we’re partial to a beautiful dark fantasy episode: “PseudoPod 587: ARTEMIS RISING 4: When the Slipling Comes to Call” by N.R. Lambert.
New to the podcast world, host Be. Busta has been posting “true” ghost and horror stories of all sorts on YouTube for years. Be. Scared is the culmination of much of that work, plus some new material, all packaged within a more centralized narration. Be. Busta’s rich, dark voice really pulls you into the narrative and genuinely leaves you with that fireside ghost story feeling, similar to Lore.
Since many of the stories are contributed by amateur writers, the narrative sometimes sounds a bit unpolished, but that only serves to further the authentic campfire charm. None of the stories are credited to any writers in the audio of the podcast, which helps meld the unknown and well-known voices who contribute to Be. Scared. Whether or not the stories are true is entirely up to you…New episodes are uploaded every week and range between 30-40 minutes.
Noteworthy Episode: The podcast is relatively new, so there aren’t a ton of episodes uploaded yet. But the series featuring a Search and Rescue Officer’s encounters with the unknown is addictive. Try: “Search and Rescue (Part 1)”.
Like The Black Tapes, The Magnus Archives works as equal parts “found footage” and paranormal documentary. Featuring real locations and fabricated testimonials, the podcast follows Johnathan Sims, a pseudo-fictional character who’s assigned to study countless files archived in the Magnus Institute, an organization that specializes in studying the weird and unknown.
Sims is a skeptic, and as such attempts to debunk many of the testimonials contained in the files. But as he digs deeper into the archives, a darker truth slowly begins to reveal itself. Storylines and mysteries weave within and without the archives, and Sims is carried along for the ride.
Noteworthy Episode: Like The Black Tapes, it’s best if you start with the first episode, and honestly, it’s pretty awesome: “MAG 1 Angler Fish”. Plus, it takes place in Edinburgh and Edinburgh is simply amazing.
That concludes our list of creepy podcasts to check out this Halloween. Don’t forget to Let Your Geek SideShow!