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My Top Ten Picks for
Must See Horror TV Shows

10. Charmed

Charmed is the story of the three Halliwell sisters, Prudence, Piper and Phoebe, discovering that they are the world's most powerful good witches, The Charmed Ones; each gifted with innate magical powers they must collectively use to defend the "innocents" of San Francisco from demons, warlocks and other evil beings. During their fight against the forces of evil, eldest sister Prue is killed, breaking the united Power of Three. However, the Charmed triple-destiny is restored with the introduction of a long-lost fourth half-sister, Paige Matthews, who is half-witch and half-whitelighter. During Seasons One to Four, the sisters' combined destiny was to vanquish the Source of All Evil, the ruler of the Underworld, and his demonic minions. Upon fulfilling their primary destiny, the Charmed Ones were fated to destroy the Nexus; engage in the Ultimate Battle; and usher in the next generation of good witches. On top of their supernatural lives, the four sisters must also contend with serious issues in the real world (such as relationships, careers, marriage, childbirth, illness and death), as well as preventing the exposure of magic, the subject of several, serious police investigations.

9. Angel

The series focuses around Angel (David Boreanaz), a vampire over two hundred years old. Angel was known as Angelus during his rampages across Europe. He was cursed with a soul, which gave him a conscience and guilt for centuries of murder and torture. He left Buffy the Vampire Slayer at the end of the third season to move to Los Angeles in search of redemption.

He soon finds himself assisted by Allen Francis Doyle (Glenn Quinn), an Irish half-human, half-demon. Although he comes across as a ne'er-do-well hustler, he has a heroic side. He serves to pass along the cryptic visions from The Powers That Be to Angel. They are joined by Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter), also an old cast member of Buffy. Formerly a popular high school cheerleader, Cordelia starts her tenure on the show as a vapid and shallow personality, but grows over the course of the series into a hero.

With the death of Doyle in the early episodes of the show's first season, another character from the Buffy series makes the jump to its spin-off. Wesley Wyndam-Pryce (Alexis Denisof) joins the team under the brave guise of "rogue demon hunter", acting as comic relief, and is initially not well-accepted. Over the course of the series Wesley grows into a leader.

In the show's second season they are joined by Charles Gunn (J. August Richards), a young demon hunter who must initially adjust to working with and for a vampire. At the end of the second season they travel to the world Pylea, where they save Winifred "Fred" Burkle (Amy Acker), a young Texan physicist whose social skills have become stunted due to her captivity. She later grows to become more outspoken.

The third season saw the introduction of Connor (Vincent Kartheiser), the "miracle" human child of two vampires, Angel and Darla. Thrown into a Hell dimension as a baby, he is raised by Angel's enemy Daniel Holtz, and only a couple weeks after he left comes back as a teenager. Connor reluctantly comes to accept his lineage. Although introduced during the show's second season, Lorne (Andy Hallett) joins the team during its fourth season. An outgoing and pacifistic demon, Lorne's role is predominantly to support the team.

The show's fifth and final season introduces several new cast members, chief amongst them Spike (James Marsters), an old vampire companion of Angel's who also starred in Buffy. In that series, Spike reluctantly fights beside Angel as their rivalry continues, now tinged with Spike existing as another vampire with a soul. One of the legendary Old Ones, Illyria (Amy Acker) starts off as an adversary of the team after taking over the body of Fred but comes to join the team as she must learn to cope with the changed world and the new emotions she feels as a result of her taking over Fred.

Finally, there is Harmony Kendall (Mercedes McNab), also a Buffy alumna, and former friend of Cordelia who was turned into a vampire. Resembling the old personality of Cordelia, Harmony is grudgingly accepted by Angel as his secretary when he takes over the Los Angeles branch of Wolfram & Hart. Harmony is also the only character (other than Angel) to appear in the first episode of Buffy and the last episode of Angel.

8. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

The first season exemplifies the "high school as hell" concept. Buffy Summers has just moved to Sunnydale after burning her old school's gym and hopes to escape her Slayer duties. Her plans are complicated by Rupert Giles, her new Watcher, who reminds her of the inescapable presence of evil. Sunnydale High is built atop a Hellmouth, a portal to demon dimensions that attracts supernatural phenomena to the area. Buffy meets two schoolmates, Xander and Willow, who will help fight evil through the series, but they must first prevent an ancient and especially threatening vampire from opening the Hellmouth and unleashing Hell on Earth.

The emotional stakes are raised in the second season. New vampires, Spike and a weakened Drusilla, come to town along with the new Slayer, who was activated as a result of Buffy's brief death in the first season finale. Xander becomes involved with Cordelia, while Willow becomes involved with witchcraft and a young werewolf named Oz, both of which make her more confident. Buffy sleeps with her vampire lover Angel. Consequentially, she unwittingly removes his cursed soul as a result. He once more becomes Angelus, a sadistic killer. Buffy is forced to kill him, and leaves Sunnydale, emotionally shattered.

After attempting to start a new life in Los Angeles, Buffy returns to town in the third season. Angel is resurrected, but leaves Sunnydale (at the end of the season) so Buffy will have a normal life. She is soon confronted with an unstable Slayer, and an often affable but definitely evil mayor's plans for Graduation Day.

The fourth season sees Buffy and Willow enroll at UC Sunnydale while Xander joins the workforce and begins dating Anya, a former vengeance demon. Spike returns as a series regular and is abducted by a covert military force; they implant a microchip in his head which prevents him from harming humans. Oz leaves town after deciding he's too dangerous and Willow falls in love with Tara Maclay, another witch, while Buffy begins dating a grad student who is a member of The Initiative, a top-secret military installation based beneath the UC Sunnydale campus. It appears to be a well-meaning anti-demon operation, but its secret project goes horribly wrong. The season also marked the first year in which Joss Whedon oversaw other TV series.

During the fifth season, a younger sister suddenly yet seamlessly appears in Buffy's life and an exiled Hell-God searches for a "key" that will allow her to return to her home dimension. The "key" has been turned into human form as Buffy's younger sister Dawn. The Hell-God eventually discovers the truth and kidnaps Dawn; Buffy sacrifices herself to save Dawn and prevent Hell from spreading on Earth. During the season, Xander and Anya become engaged, and Spike realizes he is in love with Buffy.

Buffy's friends resurrect her through a powerful spell in the sixth season. Buffy returns from Heaven deeply depressed and finds a job at a fast food restaurant while conducting a secret, mutually abusive affair with Spike that later leads to him attempting to rape her. Plagued with remorse, he undergoes a series of trials and is awarded with a soul so he can "give her what she deserves". Her friends are unaware of her inner turmoils as they face their own troubles: Xander leaves Anya at the altar, and Willow becomes addicted to magic. When Tara is killed by an unhinged Warren Mears, Willow descends into darkness and begins a rampage that nearly causes the end of the world. In the end it is Xander who reaches through her pain and stops her from destroying the world.

The instability caused by Buffy's revival enables the First Evil and a sinister preacher to amass an army of powerful vampires against humankind during the seventh season, while simultaneously seeking out and killing every currently-unactivated Potential Slayer. Willow invokes a spell that activates all the "Potentials" in the world. After an epic battle, an amulet worn by Spike channels solar energy through the battlefield, killing all of the vampires

7. Forever Knight

The protagonist of the series, Nicholas de Brabant, has a life of profound struggle. He is at constant odds with the nature of who he is (a monster, a natural predator), and his unending quest to be human again. His desires (both carnal and humanitarian) seem to equally get the best of him. Helping him achieve his mortality is Dr. Natalie Lambert (Catherine Disher), a medical examiner who accidentally discovers the truth about Nick and vows to help him. Through the series there evolves a budding (albeit "forbidden") romance between Nick and Natalie, constantly complicated by the presence of Nick's vampire family who are never far from him.

The beautiful vampire Janette du Charme (Deborah Duchêne) is a very powerful influence over Nick, for they are not only bound by their very natures but by their master and their quite literal eternal love for one another. While Nick might love Natalie for her mortality and her tireless devotion to his cause, Nick loves Janette for their deep abiding history and almost preternatural bond. Janette is also a "safe" way for Nick to indulge his vampire urges.

The most powerful force in Nick’s life, however, is Lucien LaCroix (Nigel Bennett), the vampire master who brought both Nicholas and Jeanette across. There seems to be a more than coincidental irony here in that his name translates into English as "LIGHT OF THE CROSS". Nick both hates and loves LaCroix, despising him for bringing him into a life of darkness but also bound by an unshakable loyalty to him. While Jeanette might be mildly amused by Nick’s desire to be human, LaCroix fosters no such tolerance. LaCroix harbors a deeply-felt and oft-obsessive fatherly love for Nicholas, and their relationship is very much one of unholy father and son. LaCroix not only thwarts every attempt Nick makes to achieve his goal, he mocks his quest with cold derision. LaCroix wants nothing more than for Nick to leave the world of the living and unite with his “family” and especially him once more. This seems to be all the more apparent when Nick learns about who brought LaCroix across. LaCroix was a general in the Roman army, known as Lucius, and he lived in Pompeii. He returned from the war(?) a hero and had a bust created in his honour. Lucius was in love with a woman named Selene who had a young, pre-teen daughter named Divia (Kathryn Long) whom he embraced as his own daughter. While he was away, Divia became ill, and when he returned she was better again. When Vesuvius had the temerity to erupt during the General's victory/homecoming celebration, Divia asked Lucius if he wanted to live and, upon receiving an answer in the affirmative, she brought him across.

Later on, the two traveled to Egypt where they found the tomb of her maker, Qa’Ra, an ancient vampire who lived before the pyramids were built. Lucius is told that Divia destroyed him because he thought that he controlled her. She tells Lucius that the only reasons for her becoming a vampire were because she was purely evil and because she was so young. She wanted to forge her own path and killed him. When she tries to induce her former mortal father to make love to her, he recoils in fear and disgust and so decapitates her. In the third season, Divia returns with the intention of killing LaCroix for his betrayal. Instead, she decides it would be more painful to LaCroix if she first kills his friends Vachon and Urs. In a final act of cruelty, she attempts to kill Nick, knowing LaCroix loves him like a son. Believing she has succeeded, she confronts LaCroix, taunts him with Nick's death, and tries to kill him. Nick arrives in time to save LaCroix.

Adding comic relief and counterpoint to Wyn Davies’ Knight, Nick’s police partner for seasons one and two is Don Schanke (John Kapelos), an outrageous, crude, yet charming character. Much of the success of Nick’s mortal development can be attributed to him. Schanke’s happy-go-lucky, no-nonsense approach to life often shadows Nick’s permanent melancholy. Kapelos was the only supporting actor from the pilot to carry over into the series.

In the third and final season, the character of Schanke was killed off and replaced with a female partner by the name of Tracy Vetter (Lisa Ryder). Ryder’s character was multifaceted, for during the course of the season, she discovers the truth about vampires and falls in love with a young vampire (Javier Vachon) played by Ben Bass. However, Tracy did not discover that Nick was a vampire until moments before her own violent death at the end of the series. Her final, slightly reproachful words to him were "You could’ve trusted me."

In the last episode, The Last Knight, Natalie requests that Nick turn her into a vampire so they can live their lives together. He tells her that he is afraid he'll drink too much. She tells him to have faith. Although reluctant at first, he finally agrees to turn Natalie. He bites her and a flash of memories go through him of all his past experiences; he is unable to stop drinking her blood. Nick lays an unconsciouss and dying Natalie on the floor. LaCroix arrives and Nick tells him he drank too much, that he could not stop. LaCroix tells him that she is lying "in the brink of death" and can either turn her or be done with her. Nick asks LaCroix whether he has ever had faith in anything but himself. La Croix answers that he has seen too much, to which Nick responds that maybe he has seen too little. He says that Natalie believed in them and that they could live their lives together. He says that he will not submit her to a life of darkness. He grabs a wooden staff and hands it to LaCroix. La Croix questions him about his faith and says that life is a gift, whether his faith makes him believe there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that this is something Nick cannot answer. He will only know once the deed is done. La Croix then questions Nick what he is to him, whether he sees him as the devil. Nick replies that he is his closest friend. Nick kneels next to Natalie and La Croix, behind Nick, raises the wooden staff and yells "Damn you Nicholas", clearly resenting Nick's decision to die. The series ends, implying that La Croix kills Nick and Natalie dies (from loss of blood).

While the first two seasons offered dramatic stories, but also moments of humor and levity, the third season took a darker turn with less levity, more fatalism, and less hope for redemption.

6. Carnivale

Carnivàle (2003–2005), is an American dramatic TV series, set in the mid-1930s Depression era. In Milfay, Oklahoma, young Ben Hawkins, on the run from the law and having just buried his mother, joins a travelling circus, whose members have mysterious agendas, and whose circuit seems to include some unknown purpose involving Ben himself. Half a continent away in Mintern, California, Brother Justin Crowe, fighting to do the Lord's work, discovers dark secrets about his past and his own dramatic destiny. Why do these two unrelated men dream of each other? What conflicts await them? And who is running the grand show?

5. The Night Gallery

Serling appeared in an art gallery setting and introduced the macabre tales that made up each episode by unveiling paintings (by artist Tom Wright) depicting the stories.

Night Gallery regularly presented adaptations of classic fantasy tales by authors such as H. P. Lovecraft as well as original works, many by Serling himself.

The series was introduced with a pilot TV movie that aired November 8, 1969, featuring the directorial debut of Steven Spielberg and one of the last acting performances by Joan Crawford. Unlike the series, where the paintings merely accompanied an introduction to the upcoming story, the paintings themselves actually appeared in the three segments, serving major or minor plot functions.

Night Gallery was nominated for an Emmy Award for its first-season episode "They're Tearing Down Tim Riley's Bar" as the Outstanding Single Program on U.S. television in 1971. In 1972, the series received another nomination (Outstanding Achievement in Makeup) for the second season episode "Pickman’s Model."

The series attracted criticism for its use of comedic blackout sketches between the longer story segments in some episodes, and for its splintered, multiple-story format, which contributed to its uneven tone. Despite these distractions, Serling produced many distinguished teleplays, including "Camera Obscura", "The Caterpillar" (based on a short story by Oscar Cook), "Class of '99", "Cool Air", "The Doll", "Green Fingers", "Lindemann's Catch", and "The Messiah on Mott Street". Notable non-Serling efforts include "The Dead Man", "I'll Never Leave You--Ever", "Pickman's Model", "A Question of Fear", "Silent Snow, Secret Snow", and "The Sins of the Fathers".

By the final season, Serling, stung by criticism and ignored by the show’s executives, all but disowned the series.

In order to pump up the number of episodes available for syndication, the 60-minute episodes were reedited into a 30-minute time slot, with many segments either severely cut or extended using newly shot scenes and stock footage to fill up the time. Meanwhile, episodes of a short-lived supernatural series from 1972, The Sixth Sense, were also incorporated into the syndicated version of the series with Serling providing newly filmed introductions to those episodes.

4. Tales From The Darkside

The moderate success of George Romero's horror anthology film Creepshow led to initial inquiries about the possibilities of a Creepshow series. Because Warner Brothers owned certain aspects of Creepshow, Laurel Productions (which produced the film) opted to take their potential series into a similar, yet separate, direction, including changing the name to Tales From The Darkside. The new name reflected Creepshow's focus, that of a live-action EC-based horror comic book of the 1950s like Tales from the Crypt or The Vault of Horror, though the series would not carry the trappings of a comic as Creepshow did.

Some episodes of the series were written by or adapted from the works of famous authors. Stephen King's short stories Word Processor of the Gods and Sorry, Right Number were amongst them. Works by Frederik Pohl, Harlan Ellison, and Clive Barker were also featured.

After wrapping, Tales from the Darkside was succeeded by Monsters in 1988, a similarly styled syndicated weekly horror anthology also produced by Laurel and longtime Romero associate Richard P. Rubenstein.

The series was followed by Tales from the Darkside: The Movie in 1990. Stephen King also contributed a short story to this film, The Cat From Hell. The film starred Deborah Harry, Christian Slater, William Hickey, Steve Buscemi, and Julianne Moore (the first three previously appeared in episodes of the TV series). Tom Savini has called this film 'The real "Creepshow 3"'.

The series was originally syndicated weekly by Tribune Broadcasting, with most stations airing it after midnight. After ending production, it was picked up by LBS Communications for barter-based syndication, in the episode The Apprentice, Lorimar-Telepictures syndicated the show instead.

After a considerable absence from television, the series currently airs on The Sci Fi Channel as of October 2nd, 2006. It also airs on Chiller.

3. Dark Shadows

A Gothic soap opera that originally aired weekdays on the television network,ABC, from June 27, 1966 to April 2, 1971. The show was created by Dan Curtis, who tells of a dream he had in which a girl takes a long train ride to visit a large mansion. The story "bible," which was written by Art Wallace, does not mention any supernatural elements. It was considered daring (and unprecedented in daytime television) when ghosts were introduced about six months after it began. The series became hugely popular when, a year into its run, vampire Barnabas Collins, played by Jonathan Frid, appeared. In addition to vampires, Dark Shadows featured werewolves, ghosts, zombies, man-made monsters, witches, warlocks, time travel, both into the past and into the future, and a parallel universe. A small company of actors each played many roles and, as actors came and went, some characters were played by several actors. Major writers in addition to Art Wallace included Sam Hall, Gordon Russell, and Violet Welles.

Dark Shadows was distinguished by its vividly melodramatic performances, atmospheric interiors, memorable story lines and an unusually adventurous music score. Now regarded as somewhat of a camp classic, it continues to enjoy intense cult status among its followers. Director Tim Burton and pop icon Madonna have both gone on record as fans of the series. As a child Johnny Depp was so obsessed with Barnabas Collins that he wanted to be him.

2. Tales From The Crypt

Each episode began with a title sequence that was a tracking shot scored by a Danny Elfman theme that led from the front door of the Cryptkeeper's home down hallways and stairways to the basement, where the show's host, the Crypt Keeper, would pop out from a coffin, cackling wildly. Then the wisecracking, decomposing corpse (voiced by John Kassir), would introduce the episode with intentionally corny puns ("Hello, Boils and Ghouls" as a classic example). Each episode was a single story, and was bookended by a sequence involving the Crypt Keeper.

The episode "You, Murderer" (1995) is particularly of note because it was one of the first shows ever filmed that used computer effects to digitally insert actors into an episode. The episode was directed by series producer Robert Zemeckis, who had recently directed Forrest Gump which utilized these effects. Alfred Hitchcock appeared in a cameo at the beginning of the episode, and Humphrey Bogart played the starring role for this story. Because both men had been dead for decades, their appearances made the episode very well known amongst fans. This episode was also notable for Isabella Rossellini's guest appearance in which she parodies her lookalike mother, Ingrid Bergman for the first (and only) time.

Very few of the episodes, especially in the early seasons, were based on actual stories from Tales From The Crypt. Many were instead from other EC Comics series. For instance, season one was predominantly from The Haunt of Fear, while season two was mostly from Shock Suspenstories. Tales from The Vault of Horror appeared sporadically throughout the series run.

Tales from the Crypt is an American horror anthology TV series that ran from 1989 to 1996 on the premium cable channel HBO. It was based on the 1950s EC Comics series of the same name and was produced by HBO with uncredited association by The Geffen Film Company and Warner Bros. Television (all part of a production consortium officially called Tales From The Crypt Holdings). The series is not to be confused with Tales from the Darkside, another similarly themed horror anthology series.

It was one of the few anthology series to be allowed to have full freedom from censorship by the FCC, because it was on HBO, a premium cable television station. Given that HBO often allows its shows to have more graphic material than most shows on American television, the station allowed the series to contain graphic violence as well as other content that had not appeared in most television series up to that time, such as profanity, nudity, and sexual situations.

The series began as an American series. In the final season, filming continued in England and many episodes filmed during that time revolved around British characters.

It is currently being shown on Zone Horror in the UK, and in the U.S. on NBC Universal's horror-themed cable channel Chiller, which launched on March 1, 2007.

1. Masters of Horror

Anchor Bay has amassed some of the greatest horror film writers and directors to bring to you the anthology series, "Masters of Horror". For the first time the foremost names in the horror film genre have joined forces for the series consisting of 13 one-hour films each season.

Their wildest dreams are your worst nightmares!!

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