7th: The Walking Dead (2010 – present, AMC)
The horror drama The Walking Dead, developed by Frank Darabont and based on Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard’ s comic bookseries, tells the story of Sheriff’s deputy Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln). After a long coma, Grimes awakens to find an apocalyptic world full of zombies.
He then goes to find his wife Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) and son Carl (Chandler Riggs) who were hiding in Atlanta. On his way, he encounters more apocalypse survivor such as Shane Walsh (Jon Bernthal), Andrea (Laurie Holden), Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun), and Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus). At the same, the search for a cure is going on as the zombie disease continues spreading.
The Walking Horror Drama
With 5 seasons as possibly 5 more to come, The Walking Dead has surprised its audience with a large number of creepy gory gut-wrenching but dramatic moments. One of these moments is the death of Andrea’s sister Amy (Emma Bell). Her death was out of the blue and so tragic that it affected her sister quite badly; even the fans shed some tears, too.
A similar scene is the one in which Daryl discovers his brother Merle (Michael Rooker) turned into a zombie – he has no choice but to eliminate him, despite his heart breaking – and also the one with Rick killing Shane – no man gets over his best friends sleeping with his wife – and then Carl killing the reanimated Shane.
Another moment is the death of Lori as she gave birth to her daughter Judith. While the moment was tragic for the Grimes family and Maggie (Lauren Cohan), it was for a greater good – fans just could not stand the whiny Lori and Rick crying gave the internet a great meme.
But, probably the best moment is when the psychotic child Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino) becomes so deranged and dangerous that she kills her own sister Mika (Kyla Kenedy). Her actions leads to Carol (Melissa McBride) putting her life to an end in a tearjerker scene.
What made unusual The Walking Dead more than just a random horror TV series is its realistic and humanistic approach about the depressing side of the world we are living in, combined with great thrilling cinematic features, opposite to the many current soap-opera-like shows.
Fans adore the growing tension existing in each episode. Even the usually despised angst and jump-scared that leave one breathless are really loved by the audience of The Walking Dead. With each season, another ruthless antagonist is introduced and the gore is increased with each episode.
6th: Hannibal (2013 – present, NBC)
The narrative of this psychological thriller horror show is centred on the famous character from Red Dragon, Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal and Hannibal Rising novels by Thomas Harris and the following movie franchise. In this adaptation, Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) is a forensic psychiatrist hired by the FBI agent Jack Crawford (Lawrence Fishburne) to supervise the FBI consultant Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) as his physical and mental health is weakening. But what Will, Jack and their entire team do not suspect is that Hannibal is a vicious serial killer and the author of some crimes they are investigating.
The Art of Murder
The TV series depicts an impressing number of unique murders – coma patients turned into fertilizer for mushrooms, anybody? – and murderers. One outstanding murderer is Tobias who turned fresh human corpses into his own musical instruments and performed on his original handmade man-cellos. Though, he is no competition the man suffering from a brain tumour who killed people and gave them wings from their own back skin. Also, in the first season there is an actual totem made out of dead bodies.
Some of Hannibal’s most out of this world crimes include slicing up Beverly Katz (Hettienne Park), this way killing off Will’s only left moral support, and exposing her as a museum exhibit; yet, Hannibal drugging Mason Verger (Michael Pitt) and making him slice and eat his own face was gory-fabulous, because for once, people were fine with Hannibal’s cruelty. After all, Mason killed the unborn baby of Will Graham.
Bon appétit, horror freaks
With so many disgusting things going on in this show and with its incredible popularity, one may question the sanity and morality of the show’s fan-base. But it is not only the gore and originality that fans love.
The sick and twisted mind games that Hannibal and Will play with each other – more Hannibal than Will – as well as the emphasis put on Hugh Dancy’s character – despite the show’s name, Hannibal is more Will Graham’s dark passenger and constant frenemy than the actual villain – made the audience and the critics praise this well-constructed and well-written show and the engaging performances of Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen and Lawrence Fishburne, along with strong complex female characters of Gillian Anderson, Caroline Dhavernas and Hettienne Park.
5th: Constantine (2014 – present, NBC)
Based on DC Comics’ Hellblazer comic series, Constantine is a horror drama show developed by Daniel Cerone and David S. Goyer, starring Matt Ryan as John Constantine. This is the second adaptation after the 2005 eponymous movie starring Keanu Reeves as Constantine, Rachel Weisz, Shia LaBeouf and Tilda Swinton.
In this version, Constantine the skilled demon hunter and master of the occult, goes back to fighting the supernatural threats and sending them back to where they belong to, while struggling to save his soul and balancing upon the line of bad and good.
The New Constantine
Unlike Keanu Reeves’ deep gloomy interpretation, Matt Ryan’s Constantine is a crazy witty bastard. The heavy smoker supernatural detective is enigmatic, haunted, he fights with both underworld demons and his own inner demons and he is the only one who manages to characterize himself perfectly “My name is John Constantine. I am the one who steps on the shadows, all trench coat and arrogance. I’ll drive your demons away, kick’em in the bollocks, and spit on them when they’re down, leaving only nod and a wink and a wisecrack. I walk my path alone because, let’s be honest… who would be crazy enough to walk it with me?”
Truer to the comics
One thing is sure: the comic books fans love it! While it is original and not a carbon copy of the comics, the writers and designers planted all sorts of details from Hellblazer and from DC World in the script, set and even costumes. The pilot itself was full of cameos and references. Also, the dark creepy vibes and the special effects are wonderful. Another thing the fans love is the exquisite chemistry between John and Zed (Angelica Celaya).
While the sexual tension is or at least seems real, their relationship is also snarky and fun. However, rumor has it that Constantine risks getting canceled or moved to SyFy. And when facing cancelation, transferring the series to another channel sounds great. Let’s hope that the rumors are false.
4th: True Blood (2008 – 2014, HBO)
True Blood is a vampire TV series produced by Alan Ball, based on Charlaine Harris’ The Southern Vampire Mysteries novels. Set in the fictional town Bon Temps from Louisiana, the series follows the adventures and complicated life of Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) a young waitress with telepathic powers, as she slowly gets drawn into the world of supernatural and finds out that she is actually part of it.
A protector of the vampires, part fairy, the lover of a werewolf, the friend of a shape shifter and a drug dealer cook medium, Sookie is anything but your average beautiful blonde waitress and True Blood is more than a show about beautiful vampires and love triangles.
Back to its Horror Roots
There is no doubt that True Blood is a true horror TV series, but with all the vampires, werewolves and crazy humans, showing blood and people dying horrible deaths, in 7 full seasons, became something normal and the audience was already used to such things. But, from time to time, there were moments that made one’s hair stand on end.
Some of the best terrifying moments belong to the totally insane Russell Edgington (Denis O’Hare) who carried around his deceased lover’s remains in a crystal bowl and talked to them. He also knew how to make an impression on the public by ripping of the spine of a news anchorman.
Also Bill Compton’s (Stephen Moyer) adventures as Billith were spine-tingling; him melting into a pool of blood, then regretting and flying away naked and covered in blood was not for the weak hearted. Similar to this scene was the one with Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell), the shape shifter, transforming into a fly, going in the head of a vampire, literally, then transforming back into a human. You can imagine how this moment ended.
Graphically sexy and scary
Alan Ball and his team did a great job and managed to turn Mrs. Harris’ novels into a great series acclaimed by the critics and fans. True Blood has mystery, suspense, fantasy, comedy, realism and of course, horror. The characters are diverse, interesting and well-played.
Also, a thing that won the hearts of some fans was the presumed vampire-homosexuals allegory. Just as the LGBT community is struggling for equal rights and has to deal with the negativity and hate of certain religious groups. However, the creator Alan Ball denied such comparison.