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It's the Booze Talkin': Horror Television is at its Best

Writing for Arrow in the Head going on 8 years now, it’s apparent that I’m a horror movie fan at heart—always have, always will. But, due to the busyness of life, I don’t always have an easy 90-120 minutes to devote to an entire movie in one sitting, which has gotten me to look towards television as a form of quick entertainment, with most episodes coming in around the 50 minute mark. And lucky for me, there has been no time like right now that is as great for horror on television as it is right now, with two epically-awesome TV shows rolling and more and more coming along the way. Are we in the golden era of horror TV? It may be the High Life talkin’, but I’m thinking yes!

What shows am I popping a boner over here? THE WALKING DEAD and AMERICAN HORROR STORY ASYLUM, of course, These two television series, on AMC and FX respectively, do an epic job week after week of pushing the envelope in terms of horror, violence, sex, language, and just about everything else that I usually look for in movies, and now it’s coming fast and strong on the small screen each and every week. It’s a wonder its taken this long for producers to figure out that the horror market on the small screen is just as strong and worthwhile as it is on the big screen, but no matter… they've figured it out now and I’m all the happier for it!

THE WALKING DEAD, now in its third season, is pulling no punches when it comes to the horror right now. A few weeks back, before the season started, I had a wish list of all the things I wanted from the show this year, and so far, they haven’t let me down! The zombies are cooler, scarier, meaner, and grosser than ever before, the drama between characters is headed to an all-new high, and the introduction of a whole new group is providing some of the best television we’ve seen in years, horror or otherwise. But the fact that, at its center, is a zombie apocalypse, is makes the whole package that much sweeter. I’m f*cking loving THE WALKING DEAD right now!

But for those looking for horror that’s more than just zombies, the peeps have FX have hooked us up with one of the scariest, most disturbingly complex and utterly grotesque horror television shows in the history of TV with AMERICAN HORROR STORY ASYLUM. The first season was solid—great haunted house setting, really weird and f*cked up shit happening week to week, and that Connie Britton was one hot momma! The season led up to one helluva season finale, and goddamnit, I wanted more. But when the announcement came that the second season would be taking place at an insane asylum and would have nothing to do with the first season, I was concerned. Could they pull it off? And the answer is… yes.

So far, the show has given us alien abductions, creepy serial killers, mad doctors, killer forest creatures, an exorcism and devil possession, graphic sex, a plethora of foul language, dismemberments, and enough hatred of women to shake a stick at. And we’re only 3 episodes in! Like the previous season, they’re doing a damn fine job of throwing a bunch of shit at us all at once, and it’s a bit overwhelming, but goddamn does it provide the creeps each and every episode. From the setting to the musical score, to the fantastic performances by Jessica Lange (as the head mother nun this season) and James Cromwell (as the mad doctor), and all of the patients (those who are crazy and those who aren’t), I’m continually impressed by the size of the show’s balls, and how far they push the envelope week in and week out.

In some ways, I’m digging AMERICAN HORROR STORY ASYLUM more than THE WALKING DEAD right now, but for different reasons. AHSA is more straight-up horror, whereas TWD is powerful drama with zombies in it. But either way, holy f*ck. How rare is it that two shows of this caliber are on at the same time, both providing quality horror entertainment that’s up there, and in many ways surpasses, what’s coming out on the big screen? Absolutely fantastic.

These are the two I’m most currently into, but there’s a number of other shows that I haven’t even got into yet that I hear are worth checking out. GRIMM, HAVEN, ALPHAS, 666 PARK AVENUE, and even the most recent to the horror television family, MOCKINGBIRD LANE. Sure, that last one is a remake of THE MUNSTERS, but… I loved THE MUNSTERS! I don’t know if I can take the show seriously (it stars Jerry O’Connell for f*ck’s sake), but it’s still damn cool that horror seems to be taking TV by the balls. Yes, a few stinkers will be out there amongst the great ones (like THE RIVER), but overall we’re in a really awesome time for horror television and I couldn’t be happier.

Maybe it’s the booze talkin’, but with shows like THE WALKING DEAD and AMERICAN HORROR STORY ASYLUM, the horror television line-up is beyond epic right now. These great shows are able to push the horror envelope in terms of gore, violence, sex, and language, and consistently deliver the goods each and every week, which is more than a lot of big-screen horror projects can do these days. Are we in the golden age of epic horror television? Yes… I think we are. And with other shows like SUPERNATURAL, GRIMM, MOCKINGBIRD LANE, and HAVEN (among others), let’s hope the trend continues!

Extra Tidbit: What is YOUR favorite horror television show right now? Which ones did I miss?

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