In the latest instalment of From the Mouth of Madness, Felix takes a look at the small screen and names his Top 5 horror shows of the year.
5. The Walking Dead
Frank Darabont’s apocalyptic zombie adventure show adapted from Robert Kirkman’s comic series is now in its fourth season and the familiar bunch of characters are slowly depleting. The group still shelter in the prison block seen in the third season with walkers at the fences at all times, but now an unknown virus has begun to spread, killing several survivors and infecting others. Individual episode plots can become a bit ropey and formulaic at times and the characters aren’t exactly well-developed, but the visual effects and zombie make-up give you something to be excited about.
4. American Horror Story: Coven
The third series of FX’s anthology horror show is now underway and a strong injection of Salem witch history is just what it needed to stay afloat. Taissa Farmiga is back, this time playing a teenage girl who discovers she’s a witch after accidentally killing her boyfriend during sex and is sent to a school that will teach her how to survive in the modern world. Gruesome, mean-spirited and guest starring Kathy Bates as a 19th century racist socialite, the third series has the potential to be brilliant, but its fast pace is actually sort of limiting.
3. Bates Motel
You’d think the world couldn’t take any more of Norman Bates and his mother, but Robert Bloch’s original novel just keeps on giving. Cute little Freddie Highmore from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory now plays an adolescent Norman, years before the events of Psycho ever take place (yet the show is set, strangely enough, in the modern day – Norman’s iPod and chinos are noticeable accessories) and the story follows him and single mother Norma (played by The Conjuring’s Vera Farmiga) as they try to set up a family motel just outside Phoenix. Surprisingly entertaining for what just looks like a re-hash of old material, we get to experience Norman’s slow transformation from virginal schoolboy to the oedipal serial killer we all know and love.
Set before The Silence of the Lambs, and acting as a sort of ‘paraquel’ to Red Dragon, Hannibal is a horror/crime drama from writer David Fuller and executive producer David Slade, director of 30 Days of Night. The untouchable Mads Mikkelson plays the cannibalistic psychiatrist Dr Lecter, observing from the sideline as Special Agent Will Graham attempts to track down the killer behind several carefully arranged butcherings. Not a show to have on in the background (or while eating dinner – seriously), Hannibal’s indecipherable plot is the reason for the show’s continued success, as well some unnerving performances and morbid set designs.
1. The Returned
Beautiful in almost every way, from the dreamy bleakness of the rural French setting to that haunting and subtle soundtrack from Scottish post-rockers Mogwai, The Returned (Les Revenants) seems to have been projected from another world entirely. It tells the story of a small town buried among the mountains in which the dead begin to reappear alive and well, apparently unaffected by the passing of time and unaware of having died in the first place. It’s been labelled a French zombie drama by many, but as the series develops it becomes more about how friends and family cope with these mysterious resurrections. If you missed it, find a way to catch up – series 2 is already scheduled for next year.