11 Podcasts That Will Get You in the Mood for Halloween

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Happy October! 'Tis the season to get spooky, and there's no better way to do it than with these podcasts, which run the gamut from spine-tingling fiction to bone-chilling true crime—making them the perfect listening in the run up to Halloween.

1. HAUNTED PLACES

The premise of this podcast is self-explanatory: In each episode, host Greg Polcyn takes listeners to a new haunted location around the world. So far, it's featured infamous tourist destinations—think the Winchester Mystery House and Paris's Catacombs—alongside places like Vermont's Bennington County Courthouse and Austin's Driskill Hotel. Each episode's storytelling is a blend of real history and creepy legends supplemented with spooky sound effects and Polcyn's narration. New episodes are released every Thursday. (If you can’t get enough of Polcyn, he co-hosts two other podcasts worth checking out: Serial Killers and Cults.)

2. THE NOSLEEP PODCAST

Fans of scary movies might enjoy NoSleep, a horror fiction podcast that comes with a warning: "[NoSleep] is intended for mature adults, not the faint of heart. Join us at your own risk…" NoSleep started as a subreddit devoted to original horror; in 2011, member Matt Hansen proposed a podcast, and David Cummings signed on to host and produce. The stories are brought to life by voice actors, sound effects, and spooky scores. "We're bringing the old-time radio show back into the modern culture," Cummings told the Chicago Tribune in 2017. "The audience members bring their own imaginations and fears. That really heightens their sense of connection."

NoSleep is currently in its 11th season, which it promised "has 16 candles we hope you can handle, with five tales about nasty nature, terrifying transformations, and malicious malls. This one might sting." If you're not sure where to start, the team has assembled a handy list of sample episodes you can check out.

3. PRETTY SCARY

Listeners who love My Favorite Murder will likely enjoy Pretty Scary. While the overall vibe of this podcast isn't exactly spooky—it's hosted by comics Adam Tod Brown, Caitlin Cutt, and Kari Martin, who bring humor to the proceedings—the subject matter is. Pretty Scary covers everything from true crime cases to conspiracy theories to the unexplained. Past episodes have explored the chupacabra, the ghost ship Mary Celeste, the effects of nuclear explosions, and murders that happened on Halloween.

4. INTO THE DARK

This podcast, just 23 episodes long, is hosted by Cooper B. Wilhelm, and it's the perfect pre-Halloween listening: It features "friendly interviews with practitioners and scholars of witchcraft and the occult arts, as well as answers to listener questions on occult subjects." Wilhelm is excellent at getting the witches and wizards he interviews to open up. Check out this episode, which features a discussion about Satanism versus Devil Worship.

5. UNEXPLAINED

This podcast, which drops bi-weekly, takes on events that defy explanation, "the space between what we think of as real and what is not. Where the unknown and paranormal meets the most radical ideas in science today…" Host Richard MacLean Smith explained to TVOvermind that he has three criteria for selecting stories to feature: "One, that it has a human element at the heart of it; two, that it is actually a story and not just an event (for example, like just saying, "this person was abducted on this day, and that's all they can remember"); and [third], that the unexplained mystery has never been sufficiently debunked."

Past episodes have covered the Stocksbridge Bypass (thought to be the most haunted road in the UK), Operation Cone of Power, and the disappearance of the Eilean Mòr Lighthouse Keepers.

6. HERE BE MONSTERS

Started by Jeff Emtman in 2012, Here Be Monsters—which is named after the cartography convention—describes itself as "a podcast created by and for people interested in pursuing their fears and facing the unknown." Emtman told The Guardian in 2015 that "What I do—and encourage the people who produce for the show to do—is take our fears and those moments of discomfort and pursue them. You poke around until you feel repulsion and then break it down into its constituent parts and chase each of those. Every time I've done that, I've found that the fears are relatively unfounded." Here Be Monsters has covered everything from a Satanic prayer line and a three-legged arctic fox to crow funerals and ASMR; each episode features an unsettling soundscape and is accompanied on the website by eerie art. The team—which also includes Bethany Denton and Nick White—recommends starting with new episodes and working your way backwards.

7. LIMETOWN

This expertly produced radio drama—which at first is almost indistinguishable from non-fiction—has drawn comparisons to both Serial and the television series The X-Files. It covers a fictional event, 10 years in the past, in which hundreds of people disappeared from a gated community in Tennessee without a trace. Its fictional host, Lia Haddock—whose uncle who vanished in the event—tries to unravel the mystery of what happened in Limetown. Creators Zack Akers and Skip Bronkie looked to NPR radio shows like Radiolab and This American Life "for direction and structure for how a radio documentary sounds," Akers told Vox, and real-life disappearances like that of the Roanoke Colony also served as inspiration. After you finish it, buy the prequel—a book that hits stores in November.

8. STUFF YOU MISSED IN HISTORY CLASS

This painstakingly researched podcast (hosts Tracy V. Wilson and Holly Frey spend between eight and 20 hours researching each episode) has covered plenty of horrifying historical events, and its Halloween episodes—of which there are several every year—are no exception. In the past, Wilson and Frey have covered the Villisca Axe Murders, the mysterious disappearance of Aaron Burr's only daughter, and Disneyland's Haunted Mansion.

9. DR. DEATH

Doctors are supposed to make sick people better, and in fact, they all must take an oath to do no harm. In the event they ignore that oath, the medical system is supposed to protect patients—but that doesn't always happen. Dr. Death follows the crimes of neurosurgeon Dr. Christopher Duntsch, who cut a path of destruction through the spines of his patients. It was preventable destruction that his various employers, and the medical system, simply did not do enough to stop. "One of the shocking things for me is that there were several gatekeepers along the way, there were several places where the entity involved could have stopped him—starting with his medical school—and nobody did," host Laura Beil said at a listening event for the podcast. "At every juncture something that should have happened to stop him didn't happen. And I don't know that that's even that unusual." What could be scarier than that?

10. SAWBONES

This is technically a comedy podcast, but if you don't find medical history scary, you might be dead. Hosted by Dr. Sydnee McElroy and her husband, Justin, the podcast—which takes its name from what surgeons used to be called—debuted in 2013. In the seasons since, it's covered topics from insomnia and asbestos to sleepwalking and spontaneous combustion and everything in between.

11. SNAP JUDGMENT PRESENTS: SPOOKED

Featuring true stories straight from people who say they've experienced paranormal phenomena, SPOOKED—which launched its second season in August—is hosted by Glynn Washington. The grandson of a seer, Washington saw his first exorcism as a teen. "There's nothing scarier or more mesmerizing than a real-life ghost story," he said. "The encounters in SPOOKED will stay with you beyond each episode and leave you questioning your understanding of reality." With its scary stories and spine-tingling sound design, SPOOKED is one you won't want to miss. Check out season one, episode six, "The Shadow Men," which features two tales: one about a house haunted by a malevolent spirit, and one about the things that went bump in the night for one border patrol agent.

8 Facts About Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Bloomsbury Children's Books via Amazon
Bloomsbury Children's Books via Amazon

Longtime Harry Potter fans who feel like first-years at heart may find it hard to believe, but the books have been around for decades. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the release of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the third installment in J.K. Rowling’s fantasy series, which follows Harry as he faces Dementors, investigates the mysterious Sirius Black, and gets through his third year at Hogwarts.

From Rowling’s writing process to how it changed The New York Times Best Sellers list, here are some facts you should know about the wildly popular book.

1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was J.K. Rowling’s "best writing experience."

In a 2004 interview with USA Today, Rowling described the creation of Prisoner of Azkaban as “the best writing experience I ever had.” This had more to do with where Rowling was at in her professional life than the content of the actual story. By book three, she was successful enough where she didn’t have to worry about finances, but not yet so famous that the she felt the stress of being in the public eye.

2. The Dementors represent depression.

Readers who live with depression may see something familiar in Prisoner of Azkaban’s soul-sucking Dementors. According to the book, “Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself ... soulless and evil. You will be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life."

Rowling has stated that she based the Dementor’s effects on her own experiences with depression. "[Depression] is that absence of being able to envisage that you will ever be cheerful again," she told The Times in 2000. "The absence of hope. That very deadened feeling, which is so very different from feeling sad. Sad hurts but it's a healthy feeling. It's a necessary thing to feel. Depression is very different."

3. Rowling regretted giving Harry the Marauder’s Map.

In Prisoner of Azkaban, the Marauder’s Map is introduced as a way for Harry to track Sirius Black and learn of the survival of Peter Pettigrew. But this plot device proved problematic for Rowling later on this series. In Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide, she wrote, “The Marauder’s Map subsequently became something of a bane to its true originator (me), because it allowed Harry a little too much freedom of information.” She went on to say that she sometimes wished she had made Harry lose the map for good in the later books.

4. Rowling was excited to introduce Remus Lupin.

One of the aspects Rowling most enjoyed about writing Prisoner of Azkaban was introducing Remus Lupin. The Defense Against the Dark Arts professor and secret werewolf is one of the author's favorite characters in the series, and as she told Barnes & Noble in 1999, “I was looking forward to writing the third book from the start of the first because that's when Professor Lupin appears.”

5. Crookshanks is based on a real cat.

Harry had Hedwig the owl, Ron had his pet rat Scabbers, and in book three, Hermione got a pet of her own: an intelligent half-Kneazle cat named Crookshanks. J.K. Rowling is allergic to cats, and she admits on her website that she prefers dogs, but she does have fond memories of a cat that roamed the London neighborhood where she worked in the 1980s. When writing Crookshanks, she gave him that cat’s haughty attitude and smushed-face appearance.

6. Prisoner of Azkaban was the last Harry Potter book Americans had to wait for.

Harry Potter fans based in America will no doubt remember waiting months after a book’s initial release in England to buy it from their local bookstore. Prisoner of Azkaban was the last Harry Potter book with a staggered publication date: Beginning with Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the rest of the books in the series were published in both markets on the same date.

7. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban broke sales records.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban sold 68,000 copies in the UK within three days of its release, making it the fastest-selling British book of all time in 1999. The book has since gone on to sell more than 65 million copies worldwide and helped make Harry Potter the bestselling book series ever.

8. It changed The New York Times Best Sellers List.

For part of 1999, the first three Harry Potter books—Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (which is known as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone pretty much everywhere besides America), Chamber of Secrets, and Prisoner of Azkaban—occupied the top three slots on The New York Times Best Sellers list. It didn’t stay that way for long, though: Prisoner of Azkaban was the book that pushed the paper to create a separate list just for children’s literature, leaving more room on the original list for books aimed at adults. That’s why Harry Potter is missing from the famous bestsellers roundup during the 2000s, despite dominating book sales at this time.

Game of Thrones Star Emilia Clarke Turned Down the Lead in 50 Shades of Grey

Dia Dipasupil, Getty Images
Dia Dipasupil, Getty Images

Though Emilia Clarke is undoubtedly best known for her starring role on Game of Thrones, she has landed some other plum parts over the past several years, including Sarah Connor in Terminator Genisys, the role of Qi'ra in Solo: A Star Wars Story, and the lead in Phillip Noyce's upcoming Above Suspicion opposite Jack Huston. But there's one major role Clarke passed on, and has no regrets about it: Anastasia Steele in the 50 Shades of Grey franchise.

The movies, based on E. L. James's erotic book series, trace the sadomasochistic/romantic relationship between college graduate Anastasia Steele and millionaire businessman Christian Grey. Both the books and the movies have garnered a lot of criticism for their graphic nudity and sex scenes. While Clarke is no stranger to appearing nude on film for her role as Daenerys Targaryen, she said that 50 Shades of Grey would have taken her too far out of her comfort zone.

“There is a huge amount of nudity in the film,” the British actress told The Sun of her reasons for not wanting to get involved with the film series. “I thought I might get stuck in a pigeonhole that I would have struggled to get out of.”

Even without 50 Shades of Grey on her resume, Clarke says she has dealt with a lot of negative backlash because of the nudity in Game of Thrones. “I get a lot of crap for nude and sex scenes,” the 32-year-old star said. “Women hating on women. It’s so anti-feminist.”

When we last left Daenerys, she seemed to be getting serious about Jon Snow—who, unbeknownst to the two of them, is her nephew. We'll see how that unpleasant discovery plays out when Game of Thrones returns on April 14, 2019.

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