If you prefer your horror on the go, you’re in luck, because there are tons of great creepy podcasts out there. They were a lifesaver back when I was a housecleaner, and let me tell you, a horror podcast playing while cleaning an empty house in the Minnesota winter definitely creates a hell of an atmosphere. I spooked myself pretty good a few times (and not even in the house with the ghost birds).
Below are my top recommendations for your commute, cleaning, and any time you want to tune in to some creepy audio drama.
The beauty of this podcast, earning it the top slot, is its complete lack of frills. Each episode is a standalone frightening story. Invariably, the titles are lower-case nouns that give little away about the story, and often, they begin simply with “My name is…”. They deal with various themes, some supernatural and some not. All are somewhat subtle and understated. They are the kind of stories that will make the hairs on the back of your neck gently rise, without resorting to gimmicks and gore.
The stories are written by Soren Narnia and exist under a Creative Commons license. According to the author: “Just have fun pushing your imagination to its limits; you may find, as I have, that it always beats thinking about intellectual property rights, trademarks, and royalties.”
I’m currently in the process of listening to this one, as attested by my housemates, who constantly walk in on me listening to its chilling anecdotes in the kitchen, and my boyfriend, who goes to sleep earlier than me, thus leaving me to imbibe terror through my earbuds and eventually burrow under the covers and rouse him to demand protection from circuses, spiders, transit police, worms, pigs, antiques, and everything else (hint: it’s a lot) that TMA has made me afraid of.
I’m on episode 126, so some of you probably know more than me, but basically, the podcast is about Jonathan Sims, a pleasantly skeptical and surly archivist at a London institute that takes people’s stories about their paranormal experiences. The stories begin to weave together, and the archivist realizes he may be in very real danger…and just what happened to his predecessor, anyway?
Pretty classic premise here: Alex Reagan interviews celebrated but cynical researcher Robert Strand, a skeptic who does paranormal investigating and has found a mundane explanation for nearly every story…except his “black tapes,” which he can’t explain, and which all seem somehow related. Alex and Strand are inexorably pulled into a dangerous world where they work against forces trying to discover the Unsound, a mysterious composition that might bring about the end of all things and try to find Strand’s missing wife.
Originally, the series was supposed to end on a cliffhanger, but we’re now being told the show will return—though when that will happen remains unclear.
I like recommending this one to people because it’s finished. I recently decimated a friend by telling him to watch Marianne, and only when he was halfway through and invested, did I break the news that it had been cancelled. (@Netflix, c’mon out, I just wanna talk…). So I feel a little guilty.
But Limetown is one of those things that wrapped itself up neatly, didn’t bother with unnecessary sequels, and genuinely is just perfect for what it is. Clocking in at two seasons, five episodes each, it tells the story of reporter Lia Jacobson as she investigates Limetown, a small Tennessee town where one day, every single human being disappeared. Some rather hush-hush science experiments were in progress there, but tracking down anyone who knows anything—and is willing to talk—proves challenging, and sometimes dangerous, for Lia.
The SCP Archives is a sprawling project, one of the ones that shows why Creative Commons is such a good thing. The hub lives at scpwiki.com and is full of user-created stories about other-worldly entities, in the form of procedural entries with instructions to Secure, Contain, Protect them. The entries belong to the database of the fictional SCP Foundation, which is basically a Monster-Wrangling NGO that tries to keep the public in blissful ignorance of the supernatural all around them.
The podcast dramatizes these accounts. They’re great for binge-listening or just cherry-picking one depending on your mood.
Some of my favorites include “The Hanged King,” “Perfectly Normal Ikea,” and “The Coffee Machine” (which is the least scary of the three, so the timid should start there).
In the style of 911 calls and police radio chatter, Uncanny County details the weird stuff
happening within county lines on the daily (every day, by the way, is Deputy Dillard’s first day…and he rarely gets a break). A domesticated tornado, a clown-themed motel that’s exactly as scary as you think it is, a bathtub of youth, and some Rainbow Magic Kittens are just the beginning of the adventures.
This podcast—while it does get pretty spooky—is genuinely good-natured, even optimistic. It’s one of the few mediums that manages to mix horror and humor together without simply getting parodic. And I should have included it on my list of regional recs, because it’s got some serious Southwestern gothic vibes.
That concludes my round-up of the best scary podcasts around—drop any other gems in the comments!