For many Americans, the excitement of Halloween begins in September. Oh yes, it’s true. Despite only recently emerging from record-breaking heat waves across the country, people cannot wait to break out the pumpkins, sweaters, and Halloween decorations as early as possible. And on television, networks and streaming platforms readied their horror-themed offerings for October release. Not that horror is the exclusive purview of late summer or the autumn months. Horror programs — or shows with traditionally horror elements — can debut just about anytime. And often scare up solid ratings whenever they do.
A number of horror series will debut in October this year. Let’s take a look at what they have to offer and look further ahead to a number of television shows in development which may end up becoming your next horror TV obsession.
TV Release Date: Debuted September 4 on USA, airs Tuesdays.
Based on: The Purge film franchise.
Everything we know so far: Using the premise of The Purge films, a group of unrelated characters in a small city confront their pasts as the annual Purge — a 12-hour period in which all crime is legal — begins. Familiar TV faces like Lee Tergesen (Oz) and Amanda Warren (The Leftovers) star. Tergesen plays a man willing to intervene in Purge-related crimes, while Warren plays Jane, an employee at a financial firm who hires a Purge-assassin to kill executives above her at the company. William Baldwin will appear as her boss. Gabriel Chavarria and Jessica Garza also star as a brother and sister attempting to reunite on Purge Night and Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency’s Fiona Dourif will also recur as a cult leader.
It’s most like: Well, The Purge, but with 10 hours of television to fill, the series may offer a deeper experience than the shocks and satire of film series.
Chances it will be a Certified Fresh hit: The original film was not exactly loved by critics (38% on the Tomatometer) with the most recent Purge film, The First Purge faring better at 54%. The previous two films, The Purge: Anarchy and The Purge: Election Year were both similarly received, with 56% and 53%, respectively. The series so far has earned reviews that put it somewhere between the first film and its better follow-ups, sitting on a Tomatometer score of 46%. Even critics with quibbles acknowledge the show has entertainment value.
TV Release Date: October 5 on Hulu
Based on: Nothing.
Everything we know so far: The episodic horror anthology series is something of an experiment for Hulu and production company Blumhouse. Each episode will be released a month apart and, presumably, take place within that context. As an example, the first episode, “The Body,” takes place on a Halloween night in Los Angeles while the second, “Flesh & Blood,” takes place during Thanksgiving weekend. Tom Bateman (Da Vinci’s Demons) stars in “The Body” as an overconfident hitman, with Rebecca Rittenhouse (Unfriended: Dark Web) as a woman who becomes fascinated by his occupation, and Aurora Perrineau (Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare) appearing as his mark. In “Flesh & Blood,” Dana Silver plays a teenager with agoraphobia who suspects she is not safe in her home one year after her mother’s unsolved murder. Dermot Mulroney (LA to Vegas) plays her father while Tembi Locke (Eureka) appears as her therapist.
Chances it will be a Certified Fresh hit: Episodic anthology series have been a hard sell since the ’70s on broadcast television – aside from the syndicated Tales From the Darkside – with cable channel takes on the format faring better. HBO’s Tales from the Crypt ran for seven seasons and is 82% Fresh on the Tomatometer. But we’re assuming Into the Dark will be far less tongue-in-cheek than Tales from the Crypt. Without regular characters or even a host to usher in a new story, the format asks more of its audience in order to stay invested – particularly in this case, as episodes will debut on a monthly schedule. The rules on streaming services are different and it may prove as successful as Amazon’s Lore, which is also returning this October.
TV Release Date: October 12 on Hulu
Based on: Zoe Aarsen’s story “Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board,” published on the social networking site Wattpad.
Everything we know so far: The series, created by Lee Fleming Jr. from Aarsen’s story, centers on five teenage girls whose innocent slumber party game of Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board contains a deadly, supernatural dimension. As the girls start to die in the ways predicted during the game, the survivors must figure out if a malevolent force is after them or if the killer is one of their own. The 10-episode series stars Liana Liberato, Haley Ramm, Ajiona Alexus, Brianne Tju, and Peyton List.
It’s most like: The Craft, which also features the Light as a Feather game and supernatural forces.
Chances it will be a Certified Fresh hit: Fleming previously worked as a producer and writer on The Lying Game and One Tree Hill. He also worked on two seminal (for some) teen comedies of the late 1990s early 2000s, She’s All That and Get Over It. While their respective Tomatometer scores of 39% and 44% do not exactly inspire confidence, She’s All That has become something of a cult classic in the decades since its release and proves Fleming has experience with teen-focused stories. Nonetheless, this one is definitely a wild card.
TV Release Date: October 19 on Amazon
Based on: The Lore podcast created by Aaron Mahnke.
Everything we know so far: Utilizing what executive producer Gale Anne Hurd calls a larger scope, the second season of the series will continue telling stories of true-to-life horror. Former Exorcist showrunner Sean Crouch joined the production staff for this season, suggesting the show will be creepier than ever.
It’s most like: Unsolved Mysteries or Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction.
Chances it will be a Certified Fresh hit: Earning 65% on the Tomatometer in its first season, Lore certainly has some fans; in fact, anthologies using the “based on actual events” premise seem to last longer and attain larger cult followings than anthologies based entirely on fiction. The addition of Crouch, who helped win the criminally under-watched Exorcist its 89% Tomatometer score, should help the series grow in popularity and acclaim. But as previously mentioned, anthologies are hard sells, even in a streaming environment.
TV Release Date: October 26 on Netflix
Based on: Archie Comics’ Sabrina the Teenage Witch and the more recent The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comic-book series.
Everything we know so far: Initially developed as a companion series to The CW’s Riverdale, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina recasts Sabrina Spellman with Kiernan Shipka (Mad Men) and in a much darker world than the mid-’90s ABC television series Sabrina, the Teenage Witch starring Melissa Joan Hart. Caught between her witch and human sides, Sabrina hopes to reconcile her dual nature while facing off against supernatural threats against her town, family, and life. Miranda Otto (The Lord of the Rings franchise) and Lucy Davis (Wonder Woman) play Sabrina’s aunts Zelda and Hilda, Doctor Who‘s Michelle Gomez will appear as Sabrina’s mentor, Mary Wardell, and Bronson Pinchot (Beverly Hills Cop) portrays nefarious Baxter High principal George Hawthorn. But don’t expect to see any Riverdale characters on the show as the programs are, for the moment, set in completely different realities.
It’s most like: Slow-burn horror movies of the ’60s and ’70s like Rosemary’s Baby. Creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, who also wrote the comic book and developed Riverdale, was inspired by moody films like The Haunting and Hammer horror productions imported from the U.K. Curiously enough, the mood and atmosphere of those films fits well with Sabrina’s background and the teen romance roots of the Archie gang.
Chances it will be a Certified Fresh hit: Aguirre-Sacasa’s instincts with the Archie characters produced not only smash comics like Chilling Adventures and its horror predecessor Afterlife with Archie, but the sensation of Riverdale itself. Both seasons of that show sit at 88% on the Tomatometer. Given the resources and greater creative latitude Netflix provides, it could prove to be even more of a transformative hit for Aguirre-Sacasa and Warner Brothers Television.
TV Release Date: October 31 on CBS All Access
Based on: The Mexican television series Érase una vez, created by Marcos Osorio Vidal.
Everything we know so far: The Vampire Diaries’ Kevin Williamson localizes Vidal’s 2017 series, in which classic fairy tales are retold as “dark and twisted psychological thrillers.” The first season sees “The Three Little Pigs,” “Little Red Riding Hood,” and “Hansel and Gretel” set against one another in a modern New York filled with greed and murder. Billy Magnussen (American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson), Kim Cattrall (Sex and the City), Dania Ramirez (Once Upon a Time), and The Vampire Diaries’ Paul Wesley are among the cast.
It’s most like: Williamson’s Vampire Diaries and The Following.
Chances it will be a Certified Fresh hit: Williamson’s early involvement with The Vampire Diaries led to a 100% Fresh second season (even if the first season eked by with a Tomatometer of 69%). The Following, with strong performances by Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy, managed a 64% in its first season, but fell to 47% in its second. The premise is strong enough, and Williamson seems to have a knack for TV thrillers, but it may not be enough to become a Certified Hit.
TV Release Date: October 12 on Netflix
Based on: Shirley Jackson’s novel of the same name.
Everything we know so far: Starring Michiel Huisman, Carla Gugino, and Timothy Hutton, this series is described by Netflix describes as a “modern re-imaging” of Jackson’s 1959 novel. The plot centers on five siblings who grew up in America’s most famous haunted house. When their youngest sister takes her own life, the remaining four — now adults — must confront the ghosts of their own pasts. But is it all in their minds or is something truly supernatural hiding within Hill House? Ouija: Origin of Evil’s Mike Flanagan serves as writer, director, and executive producer of the series, which was also produced by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin TV.
It’s most like: Hopefully it will be more like Robert Wise’s 1963 The Haunting (87% on the Tomatometer), also based on the novel, and less like Jan de Bont’s 1999 The Haunting (16%), which also claimed the novel as source material.
Chances it will be a Certified Fresh hit: As a director, Flanagan made a splash with Oculus (73%) and went on to make a surprise critical darling out of a sequel to Ouija, scoring a Certified Fresh 83% for Origin of Evil. He also directed the well-received Netflix film Gerald’s Game (Certified Fresh at 91%), which was based on the Stephen King novel. All of which suggests he may be the only person who could take on The Haunting of Hill House and make a potential hit out of it.
TV Release Date: Spring 2019 on FX
Everything we know so far: FX ordered a pilot episode for a television reboot of What We Do in the Shadows back in January. Clement wrote the pilot script, while Waititi was set to direct with both listed as executive producers. In May, the network picked up the series for a 10-episode first season, which revolves around three vampires dealing with each other’s quirks after centuries as roommates. Kayvan Novak (Paddington) stars as Nandor, the head vampire of a household which includes the wayward Lazlo (Matt Berry), tough Nadja (Natasia Demetriou), and Harvey Guillen as Nandor’s presumably human assistant.
Chances it will be a Certified Fresh hit: The film was a Certified Fresh hit with a score of 96%. Considering Clement and Waititi’s continued involvement, the series has the potential to start strong.
TV Release Date: 2019 on AMC
Based on: Like the first season, it will be based on actual historical events.
Everything we know so far: Despite the decisive conclusion of its first season, The Terror will pivot into an American Horror Story–style anthology series — one in which the whole season will tell one 10-part story. This time around, The Terror leaves the 19th century Arctic for World War II and centers on an “uncanny specter” menacing a Japanese-American community, even when its people are forced from their homes in Southern California and placed into internment camps or sent to fight in the Pacific Theater. Alexander Woo and Max Borenstein will serve as executive producers, with Woo serving as showrunner.
It’s most like: American Horror Story with less supernatural elements and more historical drama.
Chances it will be a Certified Fresh hit: As we mentioned above, episodic anthology series often find it difficult to find a following. Series with season-long stories and recurring casts fare much better, so don’t discount this one. The first season of The Terror, for example, was Certified Fresh with a 93% Tomatometer score. Woo previously worked on True Blood (68%) and wrote The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (66%), which means he knows something about history and horror. Bornstein, meanwhile, co-wrote the recent Godzilla and Kong: Skull Island (both Certified Fresh at 75%). Add the continuing presence of executive producer Ridley Scott and a genuinely compelling concept, The Terror’s second season should be as successful as the first.
TV Release Date: 2019 on DC Universe
Based on: The DC Comics Swamp Thing character created by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson.
Everything we know so far: The pilot script from Ash vs. Evil Dead’s Mark Verheiden and It’s Gary Dauberman reframes the story around Swamp Thing’s perennial love interest, Abby Arcane. Returning to her childhood home in Houma, Louisiana, Abby discovers a deadly swamp-borne virus. She also meets a scientist named Alec Holland, whose death sparks off a series of mystical happenings in Houma and leads to the arrival of the Swamp Thing, a creature with Alec’s memories who will presumably protect the swamp from the evil men do during the 13-episode first season.
It’s most like: Swamp Thing comic book stories by various writers and artists, including Alan Moore and Steve Bissette.
Chances it will be a Certified Fresh hit: Despite debuting in one of DC’s few horror comics — and inspiring a whole line of DC horror comics following Moore’s run on the title — Swamp Thing has never been treated with the right tone on screen. Wes Craven’s 1982 Swamp Thing (66%) tried to preserve some of the Wein/Wrightson sensibility, but still has a comedic edge. The sequel, The Return of Swamp Thing (38%) doubled down on the comedy thanks to the great schlock director Jim Wynorski. The three-season USA television series tried to strike more of a horror tone, but ended up softening that edge fairly quickly. If DC Universe and the production team leans into the horror elements and some of the literary aspirations Moore infused into the series, it could set itself apart from the other DC Universe shows and be a Certified Fresh hit.
TV Release Date: 2019 on Amazon Videon
Based on: A Killing on Carnival Row, an unproduced screenplay by Travis Beacham.
Everything we know so far: Starring Orlando Bloom (The Lord of the Rings franchise) and Cara Delevingne (Suicide Squad), the series will follow a group of mythical creatures fleeing from a war-ravaged homeland to a city nervous about the new immigrants. A string of unsolved murders threatens to blow the tensions between citizens and the new arrivals wide open. Beacham’s script has been in some form of development since 2005 with directors like Guillermo del Toro and Neil Jordan attached to direct at various points. Instead, Teen Wolf’s Rene Echevarria will serve as executive producer and showrunner on the eight-episode series. Curiously, del Toro was expected to be an executive producer on the series, but bowed out due to scheduling conflicts.
It’s most like: The DC/Vertigo comic book series Fable with the big secret of the mythical creatures out in the open.
Chances it will be a Certified Fresh hit: Teen Wolf finished up with a series score of 81% on the Tomatometer over the course of six seasons. He was also a key creative contributor to Star Trek: The Next Generation (89%) and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (86%). Beacham, meanwhile, wrote the original treatment for del Toro’s Pacific Rim (71%) and wrote the script for an unproduced remake of Disney’s The Black Hole. There’s definitely potential for a Certified Fresh hit here, provided the series strikes the right note with viewers.
TV Release Date: TBD on Hulu
Based on: The books of Interview with the Vampire author Anne Rice, featuring the charismatic vampire Lestat de Lioncourt and a wide range of characters across history.
Everything we know so far: Development began in 2017, with Hannibal’s Bryan Fuller set to develop and run the production. He later left (as he often does), hoping to avoid conflicts with Rice and her son Christopher Rice, who will executive produce the series. They also wrote the pilot script, which Hulu picked up last month with plans to continue development. Thanks to the Rices’ involvement, and a very clear contract, all original 11 Chronicles novels can be used as source material. Which means the series may not necessarily begin with the interview on that fateful night in San Francisco.
It’s most like: Dracula with a bit of Highlander for flavor. Thanks to many of the characters experiencing a form of immortality, they can find themselves in a historical drama as easily as they can become terrors of the night.
Chances it will be a Certified Fresh hit: The Neil Jordan–directed Interview with the Vampire, starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, is Fresh at 62% on the Tomatometer, but the sort-of-sequel, 2002’s Queen of the Damned, with Stuart Townsend and singer Aaliyah, was an infamous dud worthy of its 17% Tomatometer score. In both cases, Rice never had the creative control she will have on this project, which may be for the best, as her novels are still well-regarded by a cadre of loyal fans. Also, even when Fuller leaves a project, like Star Trek: Discovery or American Gods, he leaves some of his magic behind.
TV Release Date: TBD On Netflix
Based on: The comic-book series of the same name by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez.
Everything we know so far: After two failed pilots eight years apart, a television adaptation of the IDW comic book series will finally become a reality via Netflix. The story centers on the widowed Nina Locke (Frances O’Connor in the 2018 pilot), who moves her two sons and daughter to her husband’s ancestral home in Lovecraft, Massachusetts. There, younger son Bode discovers the house gives him powers when he unlocks certain doors with very special keys. Those special powers both help and hinder the Locke kids’ acclimation to the new town. They also attract the attention of a demon stuck in a nearby well. Originally developed by Fox in 2010 and by Hulu this past year, Netflix picked up the series with a 10-episode commitment, but chose to recast every part —meaning the series will start from scratch again in the next few months.
Chances it will be a Certified Fresh hit: The comic-book series is one of the best of the early 21st century and it shouldn’t be difficult to adapt into a successful television series — nonetheless, it has eluded a network and a streaming platform so far. The Netflix version will feature The Good Wife‘s (96%) Meredith Averill and Lost’s (91%) Carlton Cuse as showrunners, and their combined Tomatometer scores suggest they will be the team to not only get Locke & Key on the air, but make it a worthy adaptation and a Certified Fresh hit.
TV Release Date: TBD on Netflix
Based on: A collection of stories curated by The Shape of Water director Guillermo del Toro.
Everything we know so far: Announced in May, the 10-episode series will be Netflix’s first attempt at an original episodic horror anthology — maybe Lore really did break the episodic anthology curse — with del Toro bringing together a team of what the streaming platform calls “the genre’s best writers and exciting new filmmakers” to realize his collection of stories. Del Toro will also write and direct a handful of episodes. The Shape of Water producer J. Miles Dale will executive produce alongside del Toro.
It’s most like: Masters of Horror or Amazing Stories.
Chances it will be a Certified Fresh hit: It all depends on del Toro’s ultimate involvement. While The Shape of Water took home Best Picture at the Academy Awards and earned a Certified Fresh 92% on the Tomatometer, projects he produced or wrote but did not direct can lead to something like Pacific Rim: Uprising (43%) or The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies (59%). Not that his relative lack of engagement spells certain disaster. He served as an executive producer on J.A. Bayona’s breakout film The Orphanage, a Certified Fresh hit at 87%. If he directs some of the episodes, and finds people like Bayona to helm others, 10 After Midnight could prove episodic anthology shows really do work.
TV Release Date: TBD on HBO
Based on: The novel by Matt Ruff.
Everything we know so far: Confronting the racist themes of famed horror novelist H.P. Lovecraft, Jonathan Majors stars as Atticus Black, a man looking for his missing father in 1950s Jim Crow America. But the racism of the day is only one of his problems as Atticus, his friend Letitia (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), and his uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) face monsters with an unsettling similarity to creatures from Lovecraft’s stories. Jordan Peele, Misha Green, J. J. Abrams, and Ben Stephenson serve as executive producers.
It’s most like: Oddly enough, itself. Lovecraft Country was written in an episodic format with a unique mix of the all-too-true horrors of racism and monsters Atticus, Letitia, and George recognize from their own reading of Lovecraft and other horror works. The characters’ knowledge of the genre also gives it a bit of a Scream vibe.
Chances it will be a Certified Fresh hit: Showrunner Misha Green created Underground (96%), and the premise itself is a truly tantalizing calling card. Match that up with HBO’s prestige pedigree, and it would seem to be a natural hit. Of course, it remains to be sceen how audiences will respond to the mixture of bigotry and eldritch horror, but the program definitely has the potential to be groundbreaking.