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5 offerings (that aren’t horror films) to get you in the October spirit

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The TV episodes to watch

X-Files, “Home” 

“Home” starts off with an infant being buried alive, and finds a handful more terrifying places to go from there. The episode has images you can’t believe they ever got on network television, and, indeed, it’s been pulled from syndicated streamings. But find it again (it’s widely available to stream), or even for the first time, and the episode strikes you more for its dark humor, the way its galling provocations comment on small-town Americana. And even if you aren’t a dyed-in-the-wool X-phile, the low-key romantic rapport between Mulder and Scully is in prime form throughout. [Clayton Purdom]

Doctor Who, “Midnight”

A Doctor Who episode that’s more of a psychological thriller than outright horror, “Midnight” follows David Tennant’s Doctor and seven strangers who, while stranded in a shuttle bus on an alien planet, are haunted by a voiceless, bodiless entity that possesses people and steals their voices. The episode is 45 minutes of emotional terror, pitting the passengers against one another and reducing them to their basest instincts. As with any successful bottle episode, the strengths of “Midnight” are its brilliant performances, led by Lesley Sharp, who shifts effortlessly from the sweet, unassuming Sky Silvestry to the possessed, dead-eyed “Midnight Entity.” It is among the most unnerving Doctor Who serials of the revival era. [Baraka Kaseko]


The podcast to listen to

The Magnus Archives


At first, it’s just a man talking into a microphone—an outdated microphone, at that. New archivist Jonathan Sims’ (series writer Jonny Sims) scorn should undermine the terrors recorded in The Magnus Institute’s archives, but it doesn’t. Dip into season one like an anthology or binge from “Angler Fish” to the recent third-season finale for the larger story. With its vast catalog of horrors and excellent production values, The Magnus Archives has something for everyone—and the creators’ commitment to avoiding sexual violence as the source of horror means this inventory of dread spares us one real-life nightmare. [Emily L. Stephens]

The video games to play

Inside and Limbo

Inside and Limbo are two of the greatest and most genuinely terrifying games ever made, but they are, moreover, extraordinarily accessible. If you have pretty much any video game console, you can download either, but they also run fine on any old phone or tablet and even streaming devices like Apple TV. They only use a couple of buttons—think NES-level complexity—and prefer instead to tax you with a series of macabre puzzles, scaling up gently in difficulty. But within this framework they pack bigger ideas, more startling visuals, and more terrifying sounds than infinitely more expansive games (or films, for that matter). For an eerie, Lynchian fairy tale, start with Limbo; for a Cronenbergian dystopia, head Inside. You can’t go wrong with either. [Clayton Purdom]

The book to read

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury


Ray Bradbury mastered the art of atmospheric and fantastical horror in his short stories, ones that trade on intense foreboding and creeping calamity before bursting into outright dread. Something Wicked This Way Comes expanded his signature horror-fantasy into a novel-length narrative, following the ill effects of a sinister carnival on a small Midwestern town. Set in October, dealing with themes of fear and growing older (and growing up), and featuring some terrifically frightening scenes—like a merry-go-round that ages children when they ride it—Something Wicked This Way Comes is the perfect novel to read in the Halloween season. [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]