Halloween may be over for another year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy being scared. As the dark nights roll in, fall is the perfect time for Gothic novels, spooky horror movies, and, of course, hauntingly good podcasts — mug of pumpkin-spiced chai optional. There are plenty of scary podcasts to choose from, whether you’re looking for fictional dramas or strange-but-true tales of things going bump in the night. Whatever you’re h(a)unting for, you’ll find something in our list of the best scary podcasts. And if you’re looking for something that won’t leave you cowering under the covers, check out our roundup of the best podcasts.
This award-winning anthology of short original horror stories is now in its 15th season. Each episode has a haunting, atmospheric soundtrack that ensures you’re truly immersed in the tale. Be warned, though — as the name suggests, this is definitely not a podcast to listen to in bed, unless you plan on staying awake all night.
It may only have seven episodes, but Blackwood is the type of spooky audio drama that you’ll want to listen to during daylight hours. It follows the story of a trio of podcasters investigating the legend of a local monster, The Blackwood Bugman. It’s a sort of found-footage drama, with listeners stumbling across the podcasters’ tapes and discovering that the legend might be only too real — and that there may be a reason the creature has remained a secret for so long.
Another found footage podcast here — but this one’s about “horror, cities, and the subconscious.” The first season started back in 2016 and tells the story of Dan Powell, an archivist working at the Housing Historical Committee of New York State. The season kicks off with recordings made by Dan — and then we find out that Dan himself is missing and the show is actually being hosted by Mark, Dan’s friend, who’s hunting for him. From there, things just continue to get stranger and stranger. This is one of the most unnerving podcasts on our list — its sense of unpredictability is what makes it so spooky. Season three wrapped last year, and there’s a fourth on its way soon…
In this gothic tale, Lily returns to Mt. Absalom, Ohio to care for her estranged mother, Dot. The town’s vibe is a bit Twin Peaks-y — don’t dine in at the only late-night restaurant — and the boarding house where Dot lives has an unsettling atmosphere, and it’s not just the tension between mother and daughter. Luckily, there’s a lot of humor to get you through those moments as well.
This is one of those podcasts that will have you wondering what’s real and what isn’t. You’ll want to start at the beginning to get the full arc, though each episode is its own discrete tale. Here’s the premise: Liz Sower, a former librarian, meets different Wellesley, Massachusettes residents, who tell her their ghostly encounters. Consider it frights for suburbanites.
If you’ve ever seen The Thing, then you know that scientists plus isolated research station equals horror. In The White Vault, a team treks to Svalbard, Norway to make repairs at a remote monitoring station. The story is told in a found-footage format, with a cast of characters trying to figure out what’s going on — especially after they figure out they have bigger problems than a malfunctioning transmitter.
If you’re in the mood for eerie stories that don’t require a lot of time commitment, this podcast’s episodes are usually under 15 minutes long. They have a range of storytellers recounting ghost stories, folklore, and legends from the South, and they are separated by category on the website.
Soon to be a TV show on Amazon, The Horror of Dolores Roach actually started as a one-woman play starring Daphne Rubin-Vega. Over the course of eight episodes, Rubin-Vega’s character, the titular Dolores, goes from former inmate to masseuse to a modern-day Sweeney Todd. Macabre morsels, coming up.
This podcast has been around since 2016, so there’s plenty of material to keep you entertained. Jonathan Sims works for the Magnus Institute, an organization that researches the weird and wonderful. He’s recording different creepy occurrences from the archives, but as the episodes continue, you’ll start to realize these stories might somehow be connected …
A truck driver is recording an audio diary as she escorts her cargo around America, narrating the factories and road sides she’s passing. But her trip isn’t about the travel-sized deodorant in her 16-wheeler. She’s looking for her wife, Alice. Quickly, though, someone — no, something — starts following her, too. If you enjoy the podcast, you can now pick up the novel, too.
Eyewitness accounts are notoriously unreliable, but they shouldn’t differ this much. When Ella McCray disappears in front of her fiance, family, and friends, they all see — or perhaps hallucinate — something very different. The police are at a bit of a loss — did Ella wander off into a mirage or was she murdered? — and ask the six witnesses to carry around tape recorders as they try to find the missing woman.
Mixing interviews, news reports, and a public radio-esque voiceover, Limetown almost sounds like it could be real. Reporter Lia Haddock investigates the unexplained disappearance of all 326 residents of a mysterious town. How could so many people simply vanish, and why was the town’s research facility so secretive in the first place?
Eerie (true?) tales
With over 450 episodes and counting, Last Podcast on the Left is one of the most popular horror podcasts out there. Since fall 2019, it’s been a Spotify exclusive. Each episode tackles real and imagined horrors, from the latest true crime news and serial killers to tales of haunted houses and witch trials.
If you like your creepy tales with a side of history, Aaron Mahnke’s Cabinet of Curiosities ticks both boxes. Tune in twice a week for two bite-sized stories that are as bizarre as they are unsettling — like the seemingly innocuous board game with suspected ties to Nazi Germany.
Gather round the campfire for tales of impossible creatures in North America’s wildest regions. Camp Monsters reminds you of that time you thought you saw something scurry into the woods, just beyond the beam of your flashlight, or heard a twig crack behind you and knew it was a creature too large to be a raccoon. Turn out the lights, make some s’mores, and find a friend to cozy up with for this spooky podcast.
Spooked started as a Halloween episode of Snap Judgment, but now it’s a separate series. Host Glynn Washington admits there are some things that defy explanation, and the collected stories from real people will have even skeptics wondering, “What if…”. Our favorite episodes include Shadow Men, The Curse, and Lost in Time — all from season one.
If you haven’t yet heard this folklore podcast — which is also an Amazon Prime TV series — it’s the perfect season for it. The early episodes are especially good, with tales of creepy dolls, warlock cults, and curses. Creator Aaron Mahnke’s voice really draws you into each story, and his team deeply research the history behind vampires, werewolves, and other supernatural beings from around the world, as well as mortal murderers, like H.H. Holmes.
Another podcast from Lore’s Mahnke, each season is a deep dive into a particular subject. The first is the Salem witch trials, the second is spiritualism — and the third is Jack The Ripper. If what you mostly remember about 17th-century Salem comes from The Crucible, the first season will give you far more detail, along with historians’ perspectives on the tragic events.
If you love ghost tours but are stuck at home right now — like most of us — let Haunted Places take you there. From Denmark’s Dragsholm Castle to the Roman Colosseum to a Serbian town called Kisiljevo, these locations all have histories of paranormal presences. We’d recommend keeping the lights on for this one.
Who starts a podcast about curses off by discussing the bubonic plague and Romeo and Juliet? That would be Alyson Horrocks, host of Strange and Unusual (not to be confused with Allison Horrocks, co-host of the American Girls podcast). A melange of otherworldly entities and unusual murders, each episode is well researched, fascinating, and freaky.
Storyteller Mike Brown is a tour guide in Charleston, South Carolina, and puts his expertise to use recounting creepy stories of hauntings, history, and folklore. Like Alyson Horrocks, Brown likes to meld seemingly unrelated subjects in his stories, like The Wizard of Oz and the Black Dahlia murder.
Another podcast that skips between paranormal and true crime, Dark Histories brings some strange stories to light. Host Ben Cutmore’s lulling British accent might help you fall asleep, if the topics weren’t likely to give you nightmares.
For horror movie fans
Recommended by Dread Central and hosted by Matt Smith, Jorge Gonzalez, Chris Franco, and the occasional special guest, Who Goes There looks at a different horror movie each episode. An off-the-cuff take on movie discussion, there’s very little preparation, plenty of humor, and a healthy dose of cynicism, too. It’s been on the go since 2013, so there are over 130 episodes to listen to.
Each week, host Mike Muncer is joined by different guests to talk about horror movies old and new. From Hitchcock to Hammer Horror and the latest Netflix releases, it’s always an entertaining listen — but keep the lights on if you’re easily spooked.
If you’re the detail-oriented sort who gets caught up wondering exactly how you get to be The Final Girl or hunting down obscure details in every horror film you watch — this is the podcast for you. Each episode sees hosts Teri Gamble and Julia Marchese take a deep dive into horror, exploring alternative casting choices, picking out bizarre details, and filling you in on facts you never knew — or knew you needed to know — about your favorite horror movies.
Andrea Subissati and Alexandra West don’t just love horror movies, they study them. Both have written books on the topic and bring academic, feminist perspectives to the dissection of films like The Faculty, Night of the Living Dead, and Candyman. It’s way less scary than actually watching the films themselves — yet still entertaining. But they do intersperse clips, so be warned — you can’t escape the creepy voice of the Babadook.
For scaredy cats and kids
Listen to the SYMHC podcast and learn about the marvelous Edward Gorey, the disappearance of Aaron Burr’s daughter, and the history of Halloween candy. The topics aren’t always creepy, but even when they are, the way the hosts talk about them isn’t.
If you want to eschew ghosts, goblins, and ghouls of all kinds but still like a bit of a scare, mysteries are a great way to go. Shedunnit is all about some of the best mysteries, those from the golden age of detective fiction. Caroline Crampton hosts the show, which looks at the authors behind the stories. Get ready to add a lot more books to your reading list.
This is the kind of podcast you’ll wish existed when you were a kid — if you were the kind who loved R.L. Stine books. Each episode revolves around urban legends like Bloody Mary or Slender Man, with host Elise Parisian explaining each legend and its origins — or topics ranging from ouija boards to mummification. It’s suggested for ages eight and up.
If you watch scary movies through your fingers, chances are you miss the characters in the background, like a clerk who sells the teens who are about to be murdered their beer and snacks. In My Neighbors Are Dead, Adam Peacock has other comedians improv as these lesser-known survivors who watched the horror go down.
The title of this podcast refers to both the subject matter covered and libations consumed. Hosts Julia Schifini and Amanda McLoughlin have a love of myths and legends and discuss mermaids, ouija boards, clowns, and urban legends over a glass or two. There’s lots of banter between the two, to help keep the tone light.
Another podcast for kids — recommended for ages eight and up — The Creeping Hour is a collection of horror stories told by three friends who recently became monsters after listening to too many scary tales. There are only eight episodes, but it’s still well worth a listen.
A Very Fatal Murder is kind of like Limetown’s funny cousin. It’s a parody of S-Town-style podcasts from The Onion. Reporter David Pascall is just trying to win a Pulitzer, and he manages to find a murder with an ideal victim, the perfect setting, and a milieu that incorporates everything from saturated fats to the golden age of television to factory farming. It has a short run of just six episodes — so you can easily binge through it in one sitting.