Here Be Monsters
Host Jeff Emtman — just 24 when he started Here Be Monsters — takes an almost absurdly broad mandate and runs with it. A podcast “about fear and the unknown,” HBM tackles the strange, occult, and frightening case by case, resulting in a podcast that qualifies as both horror and what Emtman has called “atypical, unconventional therapy.” Subjects include ayahuasca, Juggalos, cadaver paintings, and “slug death orgies.” Listen to the complete archives here.
The Internet’s premier, and longest-running, horror fiction podcast, Pseudopod has been broadcasting weekly dispatches of short fiction, written by an enormous and diverse roster of authors, then performed by editors and professional voice actors, since 2006. At nearly 500 episodes, its archives may be intimidating, but every episode is self-contained, making Pseudopod a particularly newbie-friendly podcast — as long as said newbies don’t scare easily. Listen to the complete archives here.
Podcasting’s most recent breakout hit, Limetown has earned comparisons to The X-Files, Serial, and Welcome to Night Vale (which co-creators Zack Akers and Skip Bronkie cite as an inspiration) in just three episodes — out of a planned seven. The fictional investigation by “host” Lia Haddock into the decade-old disappearance of 300 people from the podcast’s namesake town is as entrancing and slickly produced as the public radio it purports to be. Listen to the complete archives here.
Welcome to Night Vale
We’ve already endorsed Night Vale and interviewed its creators about their new novel, but no list of strange, creepy podcasts would be complete without it, so consider this yet another reminder to listen to Cecil’s biweekly community radio broadcasts from the desert if you aren’t already. Listen to the complete archives here.
While many horror podcasts are fiction-based, True Murder proves there’s no need to make anything up when it comes to scaring listeners. An interview series hosted by Dan Zupansky, now more than 200 episodes deep, with true crime writers, True Murder covers real-life murders and what it’s like to research them. It’s like a Law & Order marathon you can download to your phone — and it’s real. Listen to the complete archives here.
Anyone who saw what last night’s (potential) major character death on The Walking Dead did to Twitter knows that zombies are very in right now. Boasting a full cast and even sound effects, We’re Alive tells the story of a zombie apocalypse through audio alone without losing any of the intensity of a film, comic, or TV series. (Creator KC Wayland originally pitched the concept as a show, before The Walking Dead came along.) While the original narrative wrapped up in 2014, a standalone miniseries on the Nerdist Network, called Lockdown, is in the works. Listen to the complete archives here.
The NoSleep Podcast
David Cummings brings to life the scariest place in the world: a Reddit forum! Since 2010, Cummings has adapted stories from the NoSleep subreddit into biweekly episodes, resulting in a crowdsourced horror show that unites the Internet (and the 21st-century urban legends it generates) with old-school narrative radio. Listen to the complete archives here; additionally, here are 10 episodes Cummings suggests as a starter pack.
Fireside Mystery Theatre
Speaking of old-school radio! Like Thrilling Adventure Hour, Fireside Mystery Theatre proudly bills itself as “old-fashioned,” recording monthly with a full-fledged cast in front of a live audience. Unlike Thrilling Adventure Hour, Fireside, headed up by Queens-based theater performer Ali Silva, aims for scares instead of laughs with themed episodes on everything from childhood fears to — shudder — travel stories. (Bonus: there’s only eleven to date, so it’s easy to catch up!) Listen to the complete archives here.
Host and veteran thriller writer Aaron Mahnke guides listeners through real-life scary stories (hence the tagline above). Part historical research, part expert storytelling, Lore covers strange happenings from the Middle Ages to the present, with new episodes uploaded every week. Listen to the complete archives here.
The Last Podcast on the Left
Those averse to the extra creep factor of true crime and IRL horror, however, might find a more accessible entry point in The Last Podcast on the Left, which filters its subject matter through the comic sensibility of its three hosts. Ben Kissel, Marcus Parks and Henry Zebrowski riff on their cases of the week, from conspiracy theories to fairy tales, in an ideal example of horror comedy—which, thanks to one Ryan Murphy, is also having a bit of a cultural moment right now. Listen to the complete archives here.