Okay perhaps I’ve misnamed Horror Movie Month as my first topic is TV series. For non-anthology horror TV series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is easily the best on instant Netflix.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2002) – Rated TV-PG
Despite her deep desire to live a normal life, tough-as-nails teenager Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) fulfills her mystical calling to protect humankind from all sorts of supernatural creatures, including vampires, demons and werewolves. Blending fantasy, drama and comedy, Joss Wheadon’s cult favorite surrounds its brave heroine with trusted allies like Willow (Alyson Hannigan), Xander (Nicholas Brendon) and Giles (Anthony Head).
This show, while an obvious pick, is quite a rarity. It is a TV show based on a movie where the TV series is awesome and the movie wasn’t very good. The ensemble cast is excellent and almost all of the episodes are quite good with a few amazing ones such as the musical Once More with Feeling from Season 6.
In fact the only problem with the show was that apparently the network insisted that monster deaths occur in every episode which undercut a few of the more “serious” episodes. Witty and inventive from the first episode, Buffy only deepens in emotional intensity with each season.
All of the Buffy episodes are available on instant Netflix as are all the episodes of the spinoff series Angel. Angel is enjoyable but is not the classic that Buffy is. All the season ending episodes of Buffy are epic conflicts but Angel’s episodes are often indistinguishable from each other. Angel’s ensemble cast is good but not nearly as good the Buffy ensemble.
Set in an old mansion off the coast of Maine, this cult classic television series follows the bizarre exploits of the Collins family, who cross paths with ghosts, werewolves, witches and other supernatural beings over the course of several centuries. Originally conceived as a moody melodrama, this groundbreaking gothic soap found success following the introduction of tormented vampire Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid).
Dark Shadows (1966-1971) – The original Dark Shadows has 160 episodes available on instant play. The series ran for far longer than that but this will give you a sampling of the show. Jonathan Frid is a lot of fun as the vampire Barnabas Collins but the show itself does not hold up very well and, being a soap opera, moves at a glacial pace.
The 1991 remake, Dark Shadows: The Revival Series is also available on instant Netflix. It only runs 12 episodes and I haven’t had the opportunity to watch it but as I’d never heard of it until now, I’m pretty doubtful of its quality. Tim Burton’s movie version should be out next year with the quirky Johnny Depp as Barnabas and Burton’s films are always visually stunning.
My oft-recommended Kolchak the Night Stalker is also still available (and still campy as ever).