It’s that time of year again! Halloween Month (or October, as some call it) is upon us, and with it comes all the joys of autumn, like pumpkin pie, costume parties and ghouls. Lots of ghouls. To hype yourself up for the best October yet, here are some spooky, scary podcasts for Halloween.
“Spooked” started out as a recurring special episode on storytelling podcast “Snap Judgement.” It was so popular that “Snap Judgement’s” host, Glynn Washington, spun “Spooked” off into its very own show. Guests tell stories about their experiences with the paranormal and their encounters with the unexplainable. They’re ostensibly true, but they sound like campfire stories come to life – the perfect Halloween podcasts. “Spooked” was recently acquired by the pay-to-listen podcatcher Luminary, but you can still listen to many of the episodes for free.
Childhood friends Amanda McLoughlin and Julia Schifini get together over cocktails to talk about the history of myths and legends from around the world (get it? Spirits?). The myths and legends can get pretty creepy at times, as myths and legends tend to be. Schifini’s meticulous research and McLoughlin’s wide-eyed fascination make “Spirits” a great listen any time of year. I highly recommend their Your Urban Legends series, in which they read real-life spooky stories sent in by their listeners.
Recommended episodes: Episode 142: The Unquiet Dead, Episode 138: Your Urban Legends XXIV – Capstone in Exorcism, Episode 116: La Llorona (with Elena Fernández-Collins), Episode 97: Clowns, Episode 62: Ouija Boards, Episode 48: College Ghost Stories (with Jeffrey Gardner)
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“Criminal” is unlike other true crime podcasts, because it’s not really interested in gore. Still, that doesn’t mean it’s not terrifying at times. Nothing is more bone-chilling than listening to host Phoebe Judge calmly tell you a story about a stranger living in a woman’s attic. “Criminal” is one of the best podcasts out there, with magnificent audio production and reporting. Judge also has the perfect voice for a podcast like this – cool and collected, but also occasionally spine-tingling.
Host Aaron Mahnke explores the historic origins of humanity’s creepiest folktales and ghost stories. It’s a history podcast and a horror podcast all in one – and Mahnke’s calm, dulcet tones make it seem almost like a campfire story. Tune in for stories of people burying themselves alive, staging pictures with ghosts, accusing one another of being vampires and so much more.
Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark love murder – but not in that way. “My Favorite Murder” is a true crime podcast about the joy of telling horror stories to your friends. Every week, Kilgariff and Hardstark trade (lightly-researched) stories about murderers. Like “Criminal,” I’ve recommended this show before, but nothing captures the spirit of Halloween quite like joking about serial killers and real-life monsters.
In some ways, “RedHanded” can be similar “My Favorite Murder.” Friends Suruthi Bala and Hannah Maguire get together to tell a true crime story together, but since they’re telling the same story, they can often do more research and go deeper into detail. Although they’re not afraid of making jokes sometimes, “RedHanded” can get pretty serious and gruesome. A lot of the episodes have a charming DIY feel, with Bala and Maguire making references to being “under the blanket,” AKA sitting under their duvet covers to record. Even though the show has gotten more successful over the years, it’s still obvious that Bala and Maguire are doing this because they love to do it. Be warned: “RedHanded” gets dark.
Recommended episodes: Episode 109 – Andrea Yates & The Devil, Episode 100 – Gilberto Valle: Cannibal Cop, Episode 88 – The Mysterious Death of Elisa Lam, Episode 52 – Cruise Crime: The Disappearance of Amy Bradley
“Dr. Death” is the terrifying true story of Dr. Christopher Duntsch, a Dallas neurosurgeon. Bad back? Chronic pain? Don’t go under this doctor’s knife. Dr. Duntsch had a nasty habit of turning spine surgeries into grisly hack jobs (that only some of his patients survived). “Dr. Death” is the story of a dangerous doctor – and the whistleblowers who took him down.
Listen from beginning to end.
Podcaster Justin McElroy and Dr. Sydnee McElroy take listeners on a tour of the messed-up things people have been doing to their bodies for centuries. “Sawbones” is a podcast about medical history – particularly about the strangest parts of medical history. Due to its proximity to sheer body horror, some of the episodes get especially ghoulish – though the McElroys endeavor to make it as light-hearted as possible.
“Stuff You Missed in History Class” is a venerable old podcast with a huge back catalog of episodes for new listeners to trawl through. For most of the year, “Stuff You Missed in History Class” is a calm, well-researched podcast about the forgotten corners of history. But every October, they deliver a series of new Halloween podcasts. Hosts Tracy V. Wilson and Holly Frey tell spooky stories about historical ghosts, haunted houses, colonial vampires and the history of Halloween pop culture.
Recommended episodes: The Allegedly Haunted Island of Poveglia, New England Vampire Panic, Edward Gorey, Building Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion, A Cruise Through History’s Ghost Ships, Ghosts of History: Versailles (This episode is over ten years old!)
Spooky Audio Dramas
Sometimes there’s nothing better than a good old-fashioned ghost story. The following fiction podcasts are sure to deliver spooks and scares (or at least some creepy-crawlies). They’re a great addition to your list of Halloween podcasts.
Do you have any spooky stories that have happened to you? Let us know in the comments below!