In American Horror Story, everything from the music to the camera angles will give you that creepy-crawly feeling and the sort of dread that springs up from the pit of your stomach. Yet AHS isn’t all psychological torture. It strikes a particular balance between horror and humor, making it basically the perfect show.
But if you're anything like us, you're always on the hunt for more dark and disturbing, fiendishly funny television. That's why we rounded up eight shows like American Horror Story for your creepy streaming pleasure. From a sinister hotel and slasher on the prowl to bewitching narratives of monstrous magic, these scary shows like American Horror Story are sure to satisfy your craving.
Based loosely on both the film Psycho and the novel that inspired the film, Bates Motel is a modern-day retelling of the events that made Norman Bates a killer. A great deal of the show focuses on Norman’s relationship with his mother, with whom he is ... unusually close. As the show progresses, Norman finds himself unintentionally tied to a handful of murders and begins to struggle with mental illness. Bates Motel has all the creepiness of AHS, and its final season, which premiered this past year, presents Hitchcock’s terrifying classic in a whole new way. All five seasons are now available on Netflix.
Sir Malcolm’s daughter has been taken by the dark creatures of Victorian London. As he scours the city attempting to find her and somehow mend the past, Sir Malcolm encounters well-known characters from classic British literature who are portrayed with an eerie and modern twist. You’ll recognize Dorian Gray from Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, Count Dracula and others from Bram Stoker's Dracula, Victor Frankenstein and his monster from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and Dr. Henry Jekyll from Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Penny Dreadful details the familiar characters’ origin stories in a new way. With endless twist and dark undertones, Penny Dreadful is bound to thrill AHS fans. You can watch all three seasons of Penny Dreadful on Netflix.
Despite a fairly short three season run, Hannibal is held in high regard by critics and horror fanatics alike. Based loosely on Thomas Harris's Red Dragon and Hannibal, the series follows FBI investigator Will Graham and forensic psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lecter as they work together to catch a serial killer. Unbeknownst to Graham, Lecter is a cannibalistic serial killer who has been using his position within the FBI to avoid being caught. Soon, Lecter grows too close to Graham to continue his deception and in turn manipulates Graham into joining him in his murderous tendencies. Hannibal has all of the disturbing psychological elements and visual style for fans of American Horror Story.
Masters of Horror
An anthology show like American Horror Story, Masters of Horror is a compilation of hour-long horror films written and directed by horror film greats who nicknamed themselves the “masters of horror”. Each of the two seasons includes 13 standalone entries. Some are based on short stories, including H.P. Lovecraft's “The Dreams in the Witch-House”. Others are originals created solely for the series. Although each film is different from the one before it, each and every one is truly chilling. Masters of Horror is a can’t miss for anyone fond of the treacherous and the terrifying. And with creators like John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper, Dario Argento, and John Landis, you can be sure that you’ll be terrified.
Based on Brian McGreevy’s novel of the same name, this Netflix original follows Roman Godfrey, the heir to a massive family fortune, and Peter Rumancek, a teenage werewolf who just happens to be new in town, as they investigate the horrific murders plaguing Hemlock Grove, Pennsylvania. The primary employers in the former steel town, which is characterized by a combination of both great wealth and great poverty, are the Godfrey Institute for Biomedical Technologies and Hemlock Acres Hospital, both of which are under the control of the extremely wealthy Godfrey family. With each episode you’ll uncover more secrets of this sinister town, reminiscent of the setting and plot progression of each AHS season.
Another anthology style show, each season of Slasher stands alone. Aaron Martin, the creator and producer, said that he derived inspiration from AHS as he created a show he calls a combination of the contemporary murder mystery, the works of Agatha Christie, and the classic slasher film.
In the first season, The Executioner, Sarah Bennett returns to the town where she was born and where her parents were murdered, only to be greeted by a series of copycat murders inspired by the very one that left her an orphan. Sarah discovers that each of the original murders, as well as the present-day murders, correlates with one of the seven deadly sins.
In the second season, Guilty Party, a group of camp counselors must return to the camp in the middle of winter to dig up the body of the boy they murdered five years earlier, but they are unable to find the body. Not long after, a mysterious figure begins killing the counselors one by one. The two captivating seasons of Slasher will thrill any fan of American Horror Story. You can currently binge Slasher on Netflix.
A very quick watch, Dead Set’s five episodes are positively chilling. Set on the actual Big Brother set, Dead Set is the story of a zombie takeover of London in which the famous house is the only safe haven. Initially, the cast and crew are oblivious to the destruction outside, but their ignorant bliss is temporary. The undead quickly invade on eviction night; the living must use whatever they can find to defend themselves. Just like AHS, Dead Set uses the premise of a bizarre horror story to make strong statements about the state of society and the strengths and weaknesses of humanity. Likewise, it strikes the perfect balance between apocalyptic disaster and comedy. Binge all five episodes on Netflix now.
A twisted and humorous horror show, Crazyhead has six wildly entertaining episodes. Amy, a bored bowling alley worker, is suddenly attacked by a demon that only she can see but is rescued by Raquel, a demon hunter with whom she forges a fast friendship. Together, the two friends must fight a series of demons and an evil mastermind with plans for the end of the world. Unfortunately, the show was not renewed for another season, but the small handful of episodes is more than worth the watch. Strikingly funny yet wonderfully frightening, Crazyhead pulls its viewers in, just like American Horror Story.
Featured still from "Penny Dreadful" via Showtime