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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
For Horrors Week, we present 6 scary podcasts for Halloween listening

For Horrors Week, we present 6 scary podcasts for Halloween listening

PodmassPodmassIn Podmass, The A.V. Club sifts through the ever-expanding world of podcasts and recommends the previous week’s best episodes. Have your own favorite? Let us know in the comments or at podmass@avclub.com.

Comedy Bang! Bang!
Crappy Howl-o-ween!

Illustration for article titled For Horrors Week, we present 6 scary podcasts for Halloween listening
Screenshot: Apple Podcasts

Comedy Bang! Bang! always slays with its Halloween specials, where the humor can best be described as Vincent Price pushed to perverted extremes. Heavily accented ghouls run amok amidst blue humor and awful puns, with host Scott Aukerman trying to hold it all together as the straight man. But despite the spooktacular glory of CBB’s later seasons, none of them beat 2010’s “Crappy Howl-o-ween!” where the open-door policy of the show—then still called Comedy Death-Ray Radio—welcomes a litany of macabre guests. And while we could devote an entire writeup to Jerry Minor’s charismatically aggressive Cyberthug, Brett Gelman and Jon Daly’s Igor-ish innkeepers, or Allan McLeod’s off-color studio ghost, the episode’s defining legacy will always be the introduction of Nick Wiger’s Leo Karpatze, composer of “Monster Fuck.” Essentially the original, uncensored version of “Monster Mash,” the “Fuck” is a novelty song of the filthiest order, where instead of having a G-rated party, the monsters engage in a depraved orgy that still manages to shock in 2020. Sample lyric: “Bigfoot gave the Headless Horseman head.” The tune’s catchy to boot—so much that the next time you hear Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s Halloween hit, you’re likely to sing the words of its dirtier counterpart instead. [Dan Caffrey]


Spooked
The Perfect Tenant

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Screenshot: Apple Podcasts

Host and executive producer Glynn Washington has the kind of vocal quality that makes the spooky tales he presents feel extremely grounded in reality and, as a result, all the more unsettling. Washington begins by informing listeners that some of the names in the first story have been changed to protect subjects’ privacy, definitely heightening the creep factor. In “The Perfect Tenant,” single father Steven LaChance moves his children into what seems at first to be the perfect home. (Of course it does.) It doesn’t take long for the family to start experiencing chilling and unexplainable events, presented effectively as an audio experience. But it’s the second story in the episode from which the title is derived: “Ghosty” is an equally chilling tale, this time from the perspective of a child who has an encounter with a spectral figure. Ghosty threatens to kill the child if she tells anyone that she’s seen him, and as the story unfolds, listeners learn that there’s more to Ghosty than a child’s overactive imagination or even a haunting. Augmented with amazing production and sound design, the episode is perfect to set the mood for a spooky Halloween. [Jose Nateras]


The Big Loop
The Studio

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Screenshot: Apple Podcasts

Audio drama creator Paul Bae is known for horror, especially after the success of his podcast The Black Tapes. But while The Black Tapes has the appeal of popcorn-worthy found footage horror flicks, his second podcast, The Big Loop, keys into a more arthouse horror ethos. The fiction anthology’s first episode, “The Studio,” toes the line between ghost story, love story, taboo, and tenderness, following the interview-style narration of a woman who watches dancers (a note: this episode is… fairly horny) in a building across the street from her apartment through the window. The sense of something supernatural is paired with a sense of lingering heartbreak; like every good ghost story, the real haunting here isn’t just a ghost, it’s a loss. This isn’t a scary ghost story. It’s solemn, and it’s lonely, and it’s cathartic, and it’s sometimes sweet. It’s a Halloween episode in the way that The Witch is a Halloween movie: It doesn’t just tap into the thinning veil between worlds in times of shift, but also the loneliness of autumn, the constant reminder of how fleeting things are. [Wil Williams]


The Magnus Archives
Tucked In

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Screenshot: Apple Podcasts

Now in its fifth and final season, The Magnus Archives is a journey into the disaffected and disorganized storage of the fictional Magnus Institute in London as told by the latest Head Archivist, who has discovered a mess of paranormal statements left behind by the previous boss. Each episode of the series is one of said statements being committed to tape, the narrative slowly sprawling outward to form a web of interconnected events. “Tucked In” is an exemplary episode of the show’s signature application of horror, twisting the near-universal fear of the “monster under the bed” by depicting an adult character who starts hearing his dead childhood friend’s voice coming from below. It’s not only a great introduction to the world of The Magnus Archives, it’s a terrifying standalone short horror story, beckoning listeners to head deeper into the stacks of an archive overflowing with whole seasons of creepiness to explore. [Alma Roda-Gil]


The Truth 
The Dark End Of The Mall 

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Screenshot: Apple Podcasts

The podcast that proudly makes “movies for your ears” never misses an opportunity to impress listeners with comprehensive listening experiences, but 2017’s “The Dark End Of The Mall” pushed the medium to new heights of exhilaration with a pitch-perfect blend of dread, dark comedy, and a third-act reveal, all within the span of 20 minutes. Written by Casper Kelly of Too Many Cooks fame, the episode stars Peter Grosz as a mysterious traveler, Steve, visiting a bridal boutique in a shopping mall, sounding every bit like a fish out of water as he makes halting small talk with the endlessly chipper sales associate Lucy (sympathetically portrayed by Lauren Adams). It’s a frustrating few minutes as we listen to Steve stumble through his interactions with Lucy—he wants a wedding dress for his daughter, no, wait, actually he wants a wedding dress for himself, no, wait—but by the time we find out what he’s really doing in the bridal shop, the sonic landscape shifts to accommodate our understanding of this new and far more apocalyptic reality. It’s best to listen with no spoilers, but suffice it to say that the performances of Grosz and Adams set a high bar for audio horror. [Marnie Shure]


Unexplained
Time Out Of Joint

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Screenshot: Apple Podcasts

Time travel as a concept or plot device isn’t inherently scary, but there’s nothing more frightening than time travel you didn’t sign up for and that transports you to, say, a medieval town ravaged by plague. Unexplained, always good for atmospheric haunts, offers firsthand accounts of “time-slips” in 1950s Britain. Creator and host Richard MacLean Smith delivers one of the most factually chilling podcast episodes in “Time Out of Joint,” investigating the science of time travel and the growing acceptance of space-time. Once he establishes the strong likelihood of temporal corruptions, or time-slips, we are dropped into the snowy dark of the Scottish countryside on New Year’s Eve. A young woman, driving home from a cocktail party with her terrier, gets into a crash, decides to walk home, and sees something she can’t unsee. Even more unnerving is an account from a group of Navy Cadets, who stumble through time and witness a small village transform into a ghost town, riddled with rot. A perfect spooky season episode that will convince you to fear intersecting timelines. [Morgan McNaught]

Marnie Shure is editor in chief of The Takeout.

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