October 31, 2014

Scary TV: Big Screams On the Small Screen

This Zuni fetish doll has a major attitude problem.
Last Halloween, we unearthed a special three part series that revealed our picks for the “Scariest Movie Moments.” If you’re still looking for the perfect fright film to watch during the witching hour, it’s a can’t miss guide. From well-known classics to gore obscure, there’s something for horror fans of every stripe.
While big screen titles are still the lifeblood of the genre, TV series and made for television movies have a long tradition of bringing tales of terror into our living rooms. To that end, we’ve narrowed down hours of network programming into a short list that includes some of our all-time favorite television specials and series episodes. Each of these thirteen selections is also a stand-out example of small screen scary. Turn the lights on and enjoy.
NOTE: Titles available for streaming on Netflix, Hulu Plus and/or Amazon Instant Video are noted as such. Clicking on any image below will take you to the Amazon product page for the DVD and/or Blu-ray release of that title.
CLICK to buy on DVD or Blu-ray from Amazon.

“Hush” (S4, E10) is one of the best episodes of the series. It’s also the scariest, thanks to a quartet of truly evil baddies known as “The Gentleman.” They steal the voices of their victims to prevent them from screaming. Adding to the creep factor, The bulk of the episode has no spoken dialogue. Stream: Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant.

CLICK to buy on DVD or Blu-ray from Amazon.

“Sanctuary” and “Death and All His Friends” (S6, E23 & E24). The sixth season of the sudsy ABC drama wrapped with a dark and shocking finale. A shooter turns Seattle Grace into a bloodbath over two excruciatingly tense hours. It’s a dead-serious outing that trades the usual melodrama for uncompromising brutality. Stream: Amazon Instant.
CLICK to buy on DVD from Amazon.

This CBS summer series is a gory whodunit. At least one character is offed in every episode, often in brutally creative ways. Adding to the tension, the identity of the killer isn’t revealed until the finale. Though the entire run is grim and scary, a harrowing battle to the death makes “Gasp” (E12) the episode that sticks with you. Stream: Netflix and Amazon Instant.

CLICK to buy on DVD from Amazon.

This creepy, well crafted ABC series (cancelled after one season) is equal parts family drama, sci-fi thriller and gothic horror. It’s a slow burn storyline draws you in and keeps you guessing. Things get full-tilt disturbing in “Round Up” (E21), a series highlight. You can pick up the complete series on DVD for under $10 on Amazon. Stream: Amazon Instant.
CLICK to buy on DVD from Amazon.

Darren McGavin is spot-on as Carl Kolchak, a tabloid reporter with a knack for working a crime beat populated by vampires, ghosts, demons and ghouls. Two stand-alone movies and the first batch of weekly episodes are standouts. The series aired for a single season. “The Zombie” (E2) gets the nod for scariest installment. Stream: Netflix and Amazon Instant.
CLICK to buy on DVD from Amazon.

“Sylvia” (S7, E17 & E18) was a jarring departure from the norm for this long-running hit. This heavy two-parter had it all: body image crisis, gender politics, the rape of a young girl, her subsequent pregnancy and the fallout from all of that. You want more? The attacker stalks his victim wearing a freaky porcelain mask. Yikes! Stream: Amazon Instant.
CLICK to buy on DVD from Amazon.

This 1979 mini-series is still one of the best adaptations of a Stephen King novel. It’s an atmospheric and genuinely chilling tale of a small town on the verge of being taken over by a nasty looking vampire. James Mason, oozing sinister evil, heads a first rate cast. Be sure to get your hands on the full-length cut. A heavily edited version was also released but it’s a mess.
CLICK to buy on DVD from Amazon.

This 1975 ABC horror anthology would have faded into obscurity were it not for “Amelia,” the third and final segment of an otherwise forgettable movie. 70’s B-movie queen Karen Black is trapped with a Zuni fetish doll that has suddenly come to life. The little bastard is pissed and he’s out for blood. It’s a balls-to-the wall battle royale that ends with a nifty little twist.
CLICK to buy on DVD or Blu-ray from Amazon.

“Living Doll” (S5, E6). There are dozens of episodes from this classic series that make your blood run cold. What separates our scary pick from all the rest?  Meet Talky Tina, the toy from hell. In reality, this is a rather sad story about a family in crisis. The addition of an increasingly hostile doll adds a delightfully freaky twist. Stream: Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant.
CLICK to buy on DVD or Blu-ray from Amazon.

“Lonely Souls” (S2, E7). This was the episode that finally revealed “who killed Laura Palmer” while also treating us to some of the most frightening images ever seen in primetime. Take, for example, that handsome guy to the left. He’s Killer Bob, an unforgettable villain and the stuff of nightmares. Stream: Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant.
CLICK to buy on DVD or Blu-ray from Amazon.

“Days Gone Bye” (S1, E1) kicked off the exceptional first season of this AMC hit. It’s a bone-chilling exercise in visceral horror that offers us a front row seat to a world gone mad. When a show zombifies a little kid, you know it’s not going to pull any punches. Full of iconic, unforgettable moments. One of the best drama pilots in TV history. Stream: Netflix and Amazon Instant.

CLICK to buy on DVD or Blu-ray from Amazon.

“Squeeze” (S1, E3) introduced us to genetic mutant Eugene Victor Tooms, a frightening fellow with a taste for fresh human livers and the ability to squeeze into the narrowest of spaces. Doug Hutchison plays Tooms to terrifying perfection. He makes a return visit later in the season (EP 21, “Tooms”) but this first outing is vintage X-FILES. Stream: Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant.
CLICK to buy on DVD or Blu-ray from Amazon.

“Home” (S4, E2) is easily the most disturbing and controversial episode of the entire series. It’s also scary as hell. Though the plot is heavy on perversion and inbreeding, snappy dialogue and flourishes of gallows humor elevate the proceedings. Extra points for turning a Johnny Mathis song into a harbinger of death. Stream: Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant.
So, what do you think? Did we hit most of the highlights or is one of your scary TV favorites missing from the list? Let us know. If you’re reading this on the post page, you should see the new Facebook comments area below. If not, CLICK HERE to go to the actual post page and scroll to the bottom of the article.

October 24, 2014

THE ARCHIVE: A Trilogy Of Halloween Terror!

Welcome to the new RONTHINK.

While we put the final touches on our redesign, we thought it would be the perfect time to launch a new feature: The Archive. Well, technically, it’s the concept that’s new. As the name implies, at least some of the content will indeed come from deep in our back pages. That doesn’t mean we’re going spray digital Febreze on a parade of old clunkers and send them back out to whore for more clicks.

The Archive will re-imagine content in creative, compelling and entertaining ways. That could mean themed packages, “what were we thinking?” moments, follow-up pieces inspired by fan favorites or curated collections of reviews and opinion pieces enhanced with new material and fresh perspective. Rather than generating content that lives and dies in an online moment, we’re hoping to build something that keeps good conversations alive, celebrates those “best of” moments and, frankly, holds our feet to the fire when we screw up.

As part of our re-design, you can also expect to see a major infusion of new reader services, multi-media integrations, presentation enhancements and consumer-focused content that could save you time and money. In fact, this debut run of The Archive also features our first-ever interactive photoplay. Fear not! We hate annoying online slide shows and click-bait stunts as much as you do. We’ll leave shameless content rehashing and cheap PPC ploys to BuzzFeed and Upworthy.

Now, take a break from real world horrors and dust off your Halloween spirit. Click on any image in the preview slide show below to jump to that full installment of “Scariest Movie Moments” or use the scare-cons at the bottom of the post. Don't know what you are looking at? Just click on the i in the navigation bar to pull up more information about each image.