The 10 Most Influential Made-for-Television Horror Shows & Films

Salem's LotHorror on television is a staple now. It seems that every season we see at least two new shows to add to our horror fix at home and there's much more to come.

With so many coming at us from all sides, it’s easy to forget the ones that carved out a special place in history – the shows or telefilms that dared to go beyond the status quo and push the limits of what was considered possible on the small screen. Today, we are going to look at the most influential made-for-TV horror. Shows and movies that changed how we look at TV horror from the time they aired. As always, let us know what you think and if we missed one that’s on your list.

  • RyanCreepshow

    Great list, Chris. Pretty much nailed it.

    • Sinful Celluloid

      Thank you sir. I appreciate that.

      • RyanCreepshow

        One show I always loved and thought tapped into the Twilight Zone vibe a little was Are You Afraid of the Dark.

        • Sinful Celluloid

          I never watched it because it seemed like it was for kids. Is it on Netflix? I will have a go at it. Thanks bud.

          • Mumm-Ra

            The show was geared toward kids and teens, but the show had some pretty good stories and creepy moments.

  • Damn Heathen

    Yeah, there’s no denying the popular influence of anything on your list. I miss anthology horror, which didn’t require drawn-out characterization and insipid subplots.
    Is there a list somewhere around here detailing the BEST overall made-for-tv movies? I’d be surprised were Dark Night of the Scarecrow not on it.

    • Sinful Celluloid

      Not that I’m aware of but that would be an interesting list to compile. Dark Night of the Scarecrow would definitely be on it along with Don’t be afraid of the Dark and Don’t Go to Sleep.

      • J Jett

        god, i love DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW! it’s one of the creepiest, most atmospheric movies/tv movies i’ve ever seen.

  • Alex


  • Str33tJustus

    How can you hate The Walking Dead comic series? Way better then the show and this is coming from one of the few who loves the show and doesn’t nitpick it every week.

    With that said, I may have to give ‘Werewolf’ a go if I can find it, never heard of it before.

    PS: The Haunting is still the best made for TV horror move.

    • gogutz

      His list is pretty much invalidated by the fact that TWD is more influential than Twilight Zone, The X-Files or Twin Peaks. Guess what moron? If those shows hadn’t pushed the boundaries (in terms of suspense, gore, whatever) in the FIRST PLACE there wouldn’t be no TWD. And yeah, the guy hates the comic but considers the show the pinnacle of TV series? Yep he’s a retard.

      • Sinful Celluloid

        If I considered TWD the pinnacle, it would be number one. TWD has influenced not just all the horror on TV, but how networks create programing. TWD gave birth to A&E’s Bates Motel, for example. Yes the X -Files and even Millennium opened doors (two shows I love WAY more that TWD) but what I’m saying is that TWD has influenced not just many other shows but what is deemed acceptable on TV and has created the current state of horror on TV. Before TWD all we had for the most part were Twilight style vampires and safe teen oriented horror. After TWD proved a success, we got several networks changing standards and practices or creating original programing for the first time.I do welcome your opinion but nobody’s opinion is invalid just because it’s different that yours.

    • Sinful Celluloid

      I just think TWD is a boring book. I was raised on a book called DEADWORLD. I could relate to that. TWD just had nothing for me so I never latched on. Werewolf is fun. You may find some of it on Youtube.

  • Dr_Eric_Vornoff

    I don’t know why I should have suspected otherwise but this is a very U.S. centric list. Nigel Kneale’s Quatermass and the BBC’s Ghostwatch definitely deserve a mention. And no Trilogy of Terror?

    • Sinful Celluloid

      Noted. But to be fair, this is about shows that changed and influenced horror on TV. Neither of those shows had that kind of impact. That isn’t to say that they aren’t good. As for Trilogy of Terror, the same thing applies. There were many shows and movies that didn’t fit the bill that I truly love. That being said,I would love to hear your thoughts on some UK shows that changed TV.

  • J Jett

    pretty good list! not sure if DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS would qualify for the list but i’ve enjoyed each incarnation of that story/show. and SALEM’S LOT is easily (IMO) one of the best vampire projects (movies or tv shows) ever. it has THE scariest vampires ever created. even today SL holds up incredibly well.

    loved the X-FILES too (am loving Gillian Anderson’s role on awesome, criminally underrated show HANNIBAL).

    i’ve never even heard of WEREWOLF. i’ll have to track that down and check it out!

  • Mumm-Ra

    Salem’s Lot is still a pretty good vampire movie. Sometimes I watch Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and Thriller on METV.