Horror and podcasting are like a match made in heaven (or rather hell), harkening back to times when we used to tell ghost stories around a campfire.
The connection between horror and podcasts arguably dates back to one of humanity’s oldest and most universal traditions. Listening to people tell scary stories was a staple of oral storytelling, and the technological evolution of podcasting has only heightened that spooky connection.
The inextricable link between horror and podcasting might even help explain why true crime is the genre that thrives most in the medium. At the end of the day, what is true crime if not a bunch of real-life horror stories about people’s gruesome murders and disappearances?
The horror podcast genre gets far too little attention, which means a lot of the people that’d love it aren’t even aware that horror and podcasting make perfect bedfellows. But we’re here to help by shining a light on this dark and twisted genre with recommendations for some of the greatest horror podcasts of all time. Whether you’re a fan of horror movies, scary stories (both fiction and non-fiction), or even real-world true crime, there’s a terrifying podcast for everyone on this list.
SEE ALSO: The best true crime podcasts of all time
Snap Judgment Presents: Spooked
What it is: Scare-filled oral storytelling at its absolute finest.
Why it’s great: Host Glynn Washington is one of the best storytellers in podcasting, which is why the is also well worth a listen. Spooked originally ran as a limited series throughout October on Snap Judgment, with tales of the paranormal told by those who experienced it themselves. The limited-run horror podcast was so popular that it became its own full-blown spin-off, delighting horror and oral storytelling fans alike.
The Last Podcast on the Left
What it is: A rag-tag team of true crime podcasting legends take you on heavily researched deep dives into all things serial killers, cults, conspiracies, and the “spooky gooky.”
What it is: [From our Best True Crime Podcasts of All Time roundup] Listen, everyone has their problematic fav. The very popular Last Podcast on the Left covers true crime with cavalier and often flat out revolting gross-out humor, which either is or is not for you. Admittedly an acquired taste, there’s no denying that Last Podcast on the Left goes places few other true crime podcasts would touch with a 10-foot pole (maybe for good reason) — and they’ve been doing it for longer than really anyone else on this list. While you shouldn’t take anything hosts Henry Zebrowski, Ben Kissel, or Marcus Parks say too seriously, they take their jobs very seriously with their own brand of rigor. Always thoroughly entertaining and researched, every topic covered gets the full Last Podcast on the Left treatment, whether it’s L. Ron Hubbard, JonBenét Ramsey, or the cryptozoological search for bigfoot.
The Scaredy Cats Horror Show
What it is: The one podcast made for both horror fans and horror weenies.
Why it’s great: A new podcast from the Reply All guys, The Scaredy Cats Horror Show finds co-hosts Alex Goldman trying to share his love of horror movies with PJ Vogt, who absolutely hates them. The goal of the five-episode spinoff is to train Vogt to be less of a scaredy cat by feeding him a steady diet of horror films, from The Exorcist to Get Out. Horror fans will want to go elsewhere for more in-depth analysis, but there’s lots of hilarious schadenfreude to enjoy in Vogt’s distress. Meanwhile, scaredy cats can enjoy the show because it offers plot synopses of horror movies they’re also too scared to watch themselves.
What it is: A fictional true crime podcast that combines Serial and S-Town with classic horror entertainment like Silent Hill and Pontypool.
Why it’s great: Limetown nails the true crime investigative podcast vibe so thoroughly it’s easy to get so immersed that you actually start believing this audio drama is real. Fictional reporter Lia Haddock takes you on her perilous journey to get to the bottom of what happened in a small Tennessee town, after a mysterious incident years ago caused the sudden disappearance of all 300 of its residents. We won’t spoil any more of this horror podcast’s gripping plot. But trust us when we say this bit of horror fiction is perfect for those who love true crime but usually struggle to get into fictional podcasts.
Faculty of Horror
What it is: Horror movie analysis for film nerds and feminists in particular.
Why it’s great: If you love analyzing horror movies through the Freudian-feminist film criticism lens that gave us such terms as the Final Girl, then you’ll adore Faculty of Horror. Every episode, horror academics Andrea Subissati and Alexandra West choose a scholarly theme to explore deep dives on one or more horror films that exemplify it. Covering a range of topics and themes — from the gothic landscape to body horror to the monstrous-feminine — they reveal how the horror genre can give us insight into the darkest parts of the human mind.
What it is: Exactly what it sounds like.
Why it’s great: Each week Parcast’s Haunted Places takes you to the most cursed locations around the globe. From the White House to the Stanley Hotel, episodes begin with a cold-open narrative reenactment that grounds you in an experience of the haunting. After grabbing your attention, the host then steps back to explain the place’s history and the chilling tale of the notorious paranormal activity. Some weeks even additionally explore an urban legend, applying that same format for a deep dive into the scary stories we all grew up hearing.
What it is: A narrative podcast perfect for lovers of teen horror and urban legends.
What it’s about: [From our Best Podcasts of 2020 roundup] Even if you’re not usually a fan of fictional storytelling podcasts, you need to give Borrasca a try. This magical realism-like scary story revolves around a string of disappearances in a small Missouri town with dark secrets and traditions. You follow the journey of Sam Walker across two different timelines. After his sister Whitney goes missing, he and his teen friends try to solve the mystery of various disappearances and their potential connection to local legends. But that story is framed as a story he’s telling his parole officer after what he uncovered led to severe drug addiction and prison time.
What it is: Deep dives into the most inexplicable unsolved cases, from aliens to the paranormal.
What it’s about: [From our Best Podcasts of 2020 roundup] True crime fans will recognize host Ashley Flowers from her wildly popular podcast Crime Junkie. Supernatural mimics that format almost to a T, but allows Flowers to investigate the more surreal and out-of-this-world cases and events that don’t fit the Crime Junkie oeuvre. There are no neat answers here, but you’ll be enthralled by her storytelling on everything from the inexplicable deaths of nine young Russian teens on a hiking trail (aka the Dyatloz Pass case) and allegedly leaked documents from the U.S. government’s top-secret task force on the 1947 Roswell crash. The FBI has called out documents related to the so-called Majestic 12 task force as fake.
The NoSleep Podcast
What it is: A horror anthology bringing you the best of what the internet has to offer.
Why it’s great: Any horror fan worth their salt knows about the r/Nosleep subreddit, the popular home for internet creepypasta in the tradition of Slender Man. The NoSleep Podcast is just as much of a staple of that horror web economy, too, starting all the way back in 2011. Each week, the top stories on the subreddit are chosen and narrated by a variety of talents, with previous celebrity guests even including Elijah Wood. If you’re not sure where to start in its massive backlog, check out their curated “sampler” lists.
What it is: A fun yet insightful pop culture podcast exclusively for horror fans.
Why it’s great: Scream, Queen is like the evil dark twin sister to all your favorite standard pop culture podcasts like Pop Culture Happy Hour or The Read. Each week co-hosts Drea Washington and Tommy Pico cover a plethora of all things horror-related, celebrating and analyzing their favorite scary movies, shows, games, and books. Best of all, they bring unique Black, queer, and Indigenous perspectives to the horror discourse, all of which are sorely needed in a genre otherwise dominated by straight white men and women.