Entertainment TV Spooky shows to stream while waiting for Penny Dreadful: City of Angels
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Spooky shows to stream while waiting for Penny Dreadful: City of Angels

Natalie Dormer stars in the forthcoming Penny Dreadful: City of Angels. Photo: Showtime
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Surely there were dark arts at play when the axe swung on cult hit gothic horror series Penny Dreadful in 2016?

The dark, beating heart of the show, Bond star Eva Green, held us spellbound across three seasons as Victorian era medium Vanessa Ives. Torn between the living and the dead, her magnetic performance resulted in one of television’s finest hours in asylum-set episode ‘A Blade of Grass’, cruelly overlooked at awards season.

With ample back-up in Timothy Dalton’s snappy waistcoated gent Sir Malcolm Murray and Josh Hartnett’s American werewolf in London, we were also transfixed by the tragedy Frankenstein (Star Trek: Picard star Harry Treadaway) and his monsters (Years and Years’ Rory Kinnear and Doctor Who star Billie Piper).

While creator John Logan says the short run was planned, we’re assuming he was possessed. Left crying out for more, our prayers have finally been answered. Sort of.

In one month’s time, Stan will bring us an all-new battle of good versus evil, and all that falls in-between, in sorta sequel Penny Dreadful: City of Angels.

Debuting on April 26 and set in Los Angeles, 1938, it stars Game of Thrones’ Natalie Dormer as a demonic force battling Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’s Lorenza Izzo as Santa Muerte, with Nathan Lane and Daniel Zovatto as the detectives caught between them.

Promising hellfire, heated race relations and Nazis, no less, we can’t wait. In the meantime, binge the original on Stan, and here’s a further 13 spooky series you can sink your fangs into while you wait.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Stan

Joss Whedon’s seminal show revived the dead movie featuring Kristy Swanson and the late Luke Perry and turned it into a post-modern masterpiece, propelling Sarah Michelle Gellar’s ‘Final Girl’ into living rooms worldwide. Facing down vampires, witches and other monsters alongside Scooby Gang buddies Alyson Hannigan, Charisma Carpenter and Nicholas Brendon, above all else they tackled growing pains together and stole our adoring souls forever.

Stream it here.

The X-Files, SBS on Demand

While we’re talking classic series that will live longer than Dracula, get your freak on with the world’s most smoking ‘will they/won’t they’ paranormal investigators Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson). Chris Carter’s unexplained phenomenon of a show bridged the divide between supernatural spooks and extra-terrestrial kooks, but it’s the leads’ undeniable chemistry that still gives us the shivers.

Stream it here.

Good Omens, Prime Video

Adapting the 1990 novel team-up by celebrated weird and wonderful British authors Neil Gaiman and the late, great Terry Pratchett, The Queen’s Michael Sheen stars as an angel in denial about his BFF status with Doctor Who star David Tennant’s demon Crowley. Forced to contend with the small matter of averting the end of days, technically against the wishes of both their bosses, theirs is one hell of bad day.

Stream it here.

Castle Rock, Foxtel Now

Stephen King fans will scream for this unnerving anthology show drawing deep on his macabre tales. With nods to everything from Misery to Pet Sematary, Salem’s Lot to The Shining, it also draws on the alternate dimensions of The Dark Tower. Smart casting further freaks you out by tapping several actors from other King adaptations in new guises, including Carrie’s Sissy Spacek and Bill Skarsgård, who played Pennywise in the recent It reboot.

Stream it here.

Dark Place, ABC iView

Not strictly a TV series, but this creepy compendium of five sharp horror shorts created by and starring Indigenous Australians is well worth checking out. Invoking the spirit of Tracey Moffatt’s Bedevil and Warwick Thornton’s The Darkside, like Get Out, they channel the horror of our colonial past and ongoing problems with racism in Australia to wreak hell.

Stream it here.

The Haunting of Hill House, Netflix

Home is where the horror is in this contemporary take on Shirley Jackson’s classic haunted house novel. From the director of Stephen King adaptations Doctor Sleep and Gerald’s Game, the psychological fright fest confronting five siblings attempting to leave their dark history behind proves that sometimes family can just be as horrific as anything that goes bump in the dark.

Stream it here.

Twin Peaks, Stan

Kyle McLachlan’s coffee and pie-loving FBI Agent Dale Cooper had no idea the trouble he was wading into when he rolled into the world’s spookiest small town to investigate the murder of homecoming queen Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee). Over the course of two game-changing seasons in the ‘90s and last year’s epic, 18-part return, he faced off against the elemental forces of evil in this mind-bending masterpiece.

Stream it here.

Lambs of God, Foxtel Now

Fans of The Exorcist (and who isn’t?) know religion and revulsion make great bedfellows in disturbing horror stories, with pea soup-spews and potty mouthed profanity optional. This local gem recruits The Babadook star Essie Davis, The Handmaids Tale’s Ann Dowd and The End of the F**** World’s Jessica Barden as a trio of nuns locked in spiritual battle with Bloom lead Sam Reid’s hot priest.

Stream it here.

Lucifer, Netflix

If you like your unholy hell all hot and steamy, sacrifice yourself at the altar of Tom Ellis’ fallen angel. Borrowed from Vertigo comic book hit series The Sandman, created by Neil Gaiman, the devil with a mischievous sense of humour runs a racy club and makes the perfect foil for Lauren German’s good cop Chloe, solving crimes and setting hearts racing together.

Stream it here.

Tokyo Vampire Hotel, Prime Video

Combining dystopian fiction with age-old vampire mythos, Japanese filmmaker Sion Sono’s action-packed series sees blood-sucking clans go to war, with us mortals as collateral damage. Packing the sort of extreme violence, high octane action and absurd comedy favoured by Quentin Tarantino, if you can get past the bloodbath there’s a lot to love about this insanity.

Stream it here.

Van Helsing, Netflix

Not the Hugh Jackman movie (we shall not speak of it), this Syfy channel show features True Blood alumnus Kelly Overton as Vanessa Van Helsing, a distant relative of Dracula’s most annoying stalker. Splicing Underworld with 28 Days Later, she wakes up from a three-year coma only to find the fang gang has overrun the world and promptly sets about putting it back together again.

Stream it here.

Ash vs Evil Dead, Netflix, Stan

Bruce Campbell has been carving up the rotting undead with a roaring chainsaw and his unique brand of irreverent comedy since well-worn 1981 VHS classic The Evil Dead. Now armed with his very own Starz series, gore-fans will not be disappointed by the demonic dispatching, with bonus Xena Warrior Princess in Kiwi co-star Lucy Lawless.

Stream it here or here.

Wellington Paranormal, SBS on Demand

Speaking of Kiwis, if all this nightly pandemic news has you too on edge for anything seriously spooky or outrageously bloodthirsty, indulge in this cute cops-versus-the-gormless-undead comedy from What We Do in the Shadows creators Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement. Featuring their classic deadpan humour, it’ll set you snort-laughing like you’re demonically possessed.

Stream it here.

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