It’s Halloween month, and that means it’s time to get in the mood for mayhem. While reading scary novels and watching horror movies are obviously encouraged, there are some activities — sewing your costume, carving a pumpkin, driving to a haunted house — that lend themselves to podcasts. There are heaps to choose from, whether you’re looking for fictional dramas, strange-but-true tales, or something that will still let you fall asleep at night. Whatever you’re h(a)unting for, you’ll find something in our list of some of the best podcasts for the Halloween season.
In this gothic tale, Lily returns to Mt. Absalom, Ohio to care for her estranged mother, Dot. The town’s vibe is a bit Twin Peaks-y — don’t dine in at the only late-night restaurant — and the boarding house where Dot lives has an unsettling atmosphere, and it’s not just the tension between mother and daughter. Luckily, there’s a lot of humor to get you through those moments as well.
This is one of those podcasts that will have you wondering what’s real and what isn’t. You’ll want to start at the beginning to get the full arc, though each episode is its own discrete tale. Here’s the premise: Liz Sower, a former librarian, meets different Wellesley, Massachucettes residents, who tell her their ghostly encounters. Consider it frights for suburbanites.
If you’ve ever seen The Thing, then you know that scientists plus isolated research station equals horror. In White Vault, a team treks to Svalbard, Norway to make repairs at a remote monitoring station. The story is told in a found-footage format, with a cast of characters trying to figure out what’s going on — especially after they figure out they have bigger problems than a malfunctioning transmitter.
If you’re in the mood for eerie stories that don’t require a lot of time commitment, this podcast’s episodes are usually between 10 and 20 minutes. They have a range of storytellers recounting ghost stories, folklore, and legends from the South, and they are separated by category on the website.
Soon to be one of the many podcasts-turned-TV-shows, The Horror of Dolores Roach actually started as a one-woman play starring Daphne Rubin-Vega. Over the course of eight episodes, Rubin-Vega’s character, the titular Dolores, goes from former inmate to masseuse to a modern-day Sweeney Todd. Macabre morsels, coming up.
This podcast has been around since 2016, so there’s plenty of material to keep you going through October. Jonathan Sims works for the Magnus Institute and is recording different creepy occurrences from the archives. As the episodes continue, you’ll start to realize these stories might somehow be connected…
A truck driver is recording an audio diary as she escorts her cargo around America, narrating the factories and road sides she’s passing. But her trip isn’t about the travel-sized deodorant in her 16-wheeler. She’s looking for her wife, Alice. Quickly, though, someone — no, something — starts following her, too.
Eyewitness accounts are notoriously unreliable, but they shouldn’t differ this much. When Ella McCray disappears in front of her fiance, family, and friends, they all see — or perhaps hallucinate — something very different. The police are at a bit of a loss — did Ella wander off into a mirage or was she murdered? — and ask the six witnesses to carry around tape recorders as they try to find the missing woman.
Mixing interviews, news reports, and a public radio-esque voiceover, Limetown almost sounds like it could be real. Reporter Lia Haddock investigates the unexplained disappearance of all 326 residents of a mysterious town. How could so many people simply vanish, and why was the town’s research facility so secretive in the first place?
Two English professors and a librarian at the fictional Briar University start getting unusual submissions to the school’s literary journal, Academicasaurus, and that’s only the start of their troubles. This charming podcast is a mix of comedy and horror, so the trio handles the supernatural experiences with deadpan wit and the weariness of put-upon academics.
Eerie (true?) tales
Spooked started as Halloween episode of Snap Judgment, but now it’s a separate series. Host Glynn Washington admits there are some things that defy explanation, and the collected stories from real people will have even skeptics wondering, “What if…” The first two seasons are available on Spooked’s website, but the third is only available on Luminary, which costs $8 a month.
If you haven’t yet heard this folklore podcast — which is also an Amazon Prime TV series — Halloween is the perfect season for it. The early episodes are especially good, with tales of creepy dolls, warlock cults, and curses. Creator Aaron Mahnke and his team deeply research the history behind vampire, werewolves, and other supernatural beings from around the world, as well as mortal murderers, like H.H. Holmes.
Another podcast from Lore’s Mahanke, each season is a deep dive into a particular subject. The first is the Salem witch trials, and the second (newly released) is spiritualism. If what you mostly remember about 17th-century Salem comes from The Crucible, the first season will give you far more detail, along with historians’ perspectives on the tragic events.
If you love ghost tours but don’t have the money to globetrott to a ton of scary spots, let Haunted Places take you there. From Denmark’s Dragsholm Castle to the Roman Colosseum to a Serbian town called Kisiljevo, these locations all have histories of paranormal presences.
Who starts a podcast about curses off by discussing the bubonic plague and Romeo and Juliet? That would be Alyson Horrocks, host of Strange and Unusual (not to be confused with Allison Horrocks, co-host of the American Girls podcast). A melange of otherworldly entities and unusual murders, each episode is well researched, fascinating, and freaky.
Storyteller Mike Brown is a tour guide in Charleston, South Carolina and puts his expertise to use recounting creepy stories of hauntings, history, and folklore. Like Alyson Horrocks, Brown likes to meld seemingly unrelated subjects in his stories, like The Wizard of Oz and the Black Dahlia murder.
Another podcast that skips between paranormal and true crime, Dark Histories brings some strange stories to light. It’s hosted by Ben Cutmore, a hair stylist who’s studied history. His lulling British accent might help you fall asleep, if the topics weren’t libel to give you nightmares.
For scaredy cats and kids
Luckily, the SYMHC is way ahead when it comes to the Halloween game and has helpfully created a page with all its spooky-adjacent episodes. You can learn about the marvelous Edward Gorey, the disappearance of Aaron Burr’s daughter, and the history of Halloween candy. Even when the topic is creepy, the way the hosts talk about it isn’t.
Andrea Subissati and Alexandra West don’t just love horror movies, they study them. Both have written books on the topic and bring academic, feminist perspectives to the dissection of films like The Faculty, Night of the Living Dead, and Candyman. It’s way less scary than actually watching the films themselves (yet still entertaining). But they do intersperse clips, so, be warned, you can’t escape the creepy voice of the Babadook.
If you want to eschew ghosts, goblins, and ghouls of all kinds but still like a bit of a scare, mysteries are a great way to go. Shedunnit is all about some of the best mysteries, those from the golden age of detective fiction. Caroline Crampton hosts the show, which looks at the authors behind the stories. Get ready to add a lot more books to your reading list.
This is the kind of podcast you’ll wish existed when you were a kid — if you were the kind who loved R.L. Stine books. Each episode revolves around phenomena like Bloody Mary or Slender Man, and host Elise Parisian explains what it is and its origins. It’s suggested for ages eight and up.
If you watch scary movies through your fingers, chances are you miss the characters in the background, like a clerk who sells the teens who are about to murdered their beer and snacks. In My Neighbors Are Dead, Adam Peacock has other comedians improv as these lesser known survivors who watched the horror go down.
The title of this podcast refers to both the subject matter covered and libations consumed. Hosts Julia Schifini and Amanda McLoughlin have a love of myths and legends and discuss mermaids, ouija boards, clowns, and urban legends over a glass or two. There’s lots of banter between the two, to help keep the tone light.
Another podcast for kids (eight and up), The Creeping Hour is a collection of horror stories told by three friends who recently became monsters. This one just debuted, with new episodes coming out every Thursday in October.
A Very Fatal Murder is kind of like Limetown’s funny cousin. It’s a parody of S-Town-style podcasts from The Onion. Reporter David Pascall is just trying to win a Pulitzer, and he manages to find a murder with an ideal victim, the perfect setting, and a milieu that incorporates everything from saturated fats to the golden age of television to factory farming.
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