The Best Horror and Sci-Fi TV Series You’ve Forgotten
This year has been good for genre television. The Magicians’ final season, Manifest season two, Devs, Picard, Evil, and Emergence all proved there is still a rabid audience and great writers for sci-fi and horror. Television series allows more depth of characterization and backstory than feature films. That’s not to say movies aren’t great too, just that with an extended run time there is more room to navigate the intricacies of motivations, memories, and mysteries. There are so many forgotten series that are perfect for a good binge. These aren’t the obvious Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Star Trek TNG, or Battlestar Galactica’s but the mothballed series gone before their time. Here are the top horror and sci-fi TV series to revisit and where you can stream them.
Seven years after a series of murders claimed the lives of her mother and five others, Abby Mills returns to her hometown of Harper’s Island to attend the wedding of her best friend, heiress Trish Willington, to boy-next-door Henry Dunn. There’s no happily ever after, though, as a serial killer begins picking off family members and friends one by one in this serialized horror-drama series some have described as “Scream meets Ten Little Indians “.
The series was intended to only last thirteen episodes and as a result, is nicely paced and complete. Do not take this show seriously just enjoy it for the fluffy Twin Peaks knock-off that it is. Pretty people, likable villains, and creepy small town suspects all converge into a good way to waste a few hours. Chris Gauthier who also starred in Eureka later in this list does a great job as Malcolm Ross. Watch it on Amazon Prime and search for Harper’s Globe the companion series detailing the life of Robin Matthews a reporter who comes to town to work for the local paper.
Six months after wildlife expert and TV personality Emmet Cole (Bruce Greenwood) disappears while searching for magic deep in the uncharted Amazon, his emergency beacon starts blinking. Emmet’s wife, Tess (Leslie Hope), rounds up a team consisting of their son, Lincoln, and a crew of old friends to head into the jungle in search of Emmet, agreeing to let the former producer of Cole’s show film the expedition in order to fund the expedition. The truth about his disappearance is out there somewhere, waiting to be discovered.
The River was a fun found footage romp with everything but evil clowns included. It lasted only one season but it packed a ton into that one season. It has a great cast and a few surprisingly scary moments. There are more than enough plot points to keep you on your toes. It’s a great place to get a quick binge on. You can find it free on the ABC app. For a more in-depth retrospective of what makes it great and what to expect click here.
The Lost Room
Pittsburgh detective Joe Miller embarks on a desperate search for his young daughter, Anna, who disappeared from an eerie room in an abandoned New Mexico motel. That room now exists outside of normal time and space, and Joe must find a series of occult objects to use as tools to locate the key to opening the `lost room’. His quest is complicated by others who seek to find the objects for their own hidden motives.
Peter Krause of Parenthood and Juliana Margulies of ER star in this three-episode miniseries from Syfy. Elle Fanning(Neon Demon), Kevin Pollack(End of Days), and Peter Jacobson(Fear the Walking Dead) round out the well-cast show. Kevin Pollack, in particular, plays one quietly evil foe and by the end, the suspense has been so effectively cultivated you are on the edge of your seat. Get this quick binge on Tubi or Amazon Prime. Tell others about this Best Horror and Sci-Fi TV series long forgotten.
Everything is not what it seems in Trinity, South Carolina. Sheriff Lucas Buck develops a sinister interest in Caleb. Caleb’s cousin Gail tries to protect him, but that’s complicated since she has feelings for Sheriff Buck. And Caleb’s dead sister, Merlyn, returns as an angel, warning him that Buck is an incarnation of evil – and may not be human.
Most of the cinematography feels as dated as you would expect from something from the ’90s but the performances save this series. Lucas Black(NCIS New Orleans) showcases some early acting chops. Gary Cole is an unmitigated evil force to be reckoned with, and a very young Sarah Paulson(American Horror Story) and Paige Turco(The 100) keep the scares coming. Couple that with Brenda Bakke’s slinky sexuality and Nick Searcy’s grounded energy and the horror series becomes as much a creepy gothic tale as a character-driven master class. Click here for all the reasons it should be given a second chance. What it on the NBC app.
Fifteen years after an unknown event caused all electricity to stop working, plunging the world back into the dark ages, people have adjusted to life without planes and communication and electric lights. In small farming communities, life seems sweeter at this slower pace, but danger and mystery lurk beyond the shadows. After the militia kills a man who supposedly had something to do with the blackout, his daughter teams up with two unlikely allies. She sets out to find the truth about the past, in order to reclaim the future.
In an era that has brought an unprecedented dependence on the internet and mobile business, the idea of complete destruction of our electronic infrastructure is terrifying. There is a mind-boggling huge cast including Elizabeth Mitchell(Lost) Billy Burke(Zoo), Zak Orth(Falling Water), and Giancarlo Esposito(Breaking Bad) to name just a few. This series only lasted two episodes. Luckily each season was over twenty episodes so there is more than enough there to keep you busy. Stream it on Amazon Prime.
It’s the mid-1930s, and we’re in the middle of the Dust Bowl. A time when sandstorms and disease were running rampant across the Great Plains. After his mother’s death, teenage fugitive Ben Hawkins is picked up by a mysterious traveling carnival run by an unseen force known only as “Management.” Surrounded by magic, Ben reconnects with his long-dormant supernatural powers. Meanwhile, hundreds of miles away, an evangelical preacher is plagued with apocalyptic visions. What the two of them don’t know is that they’re set to become players in the great battle between Darkness and Light.
Brilliant and gorgeous, the vision brought to us by Daniel Knauf is spellbinding. Full of rich mythology, incredible acting, and surreal imagery it is a series that deserved better. If it was made today in the post-Westworld world it would be so much better received. HBO and Knauf were firing on all cylinders and you won’t find a better series to revisit. For a full explanation of all the mythology and madness click here. You can find Carnivale on Hulu, Amazon Prime, and the HBO app.
In the years since World War II, the U.S. government has been relocating the world’s geniuses (and their families) to the Pacific Northwest town of Eureka. Daily life there shifts between amazing innovation and total chaos. U.S. Marshal Jack Carter learns this first-hand when his car breaks down in Eureka, stranding him among the town’s eccentric citizens. When they unleash a scientific creation still unknown to the outside world, it’s up to Carter to restore order. Subsequently, he’s let in on one of America’s best-kept secrets.
Eureka lasted five glorious seasons and might very well be one of my favorite series from Syfy ever. It was funny and sweet and featured a ton of science fiction stars. Erica Cerra, The 100’s A.L.I.E, Colin Ferguson from Haven, Chris Gauthier from Watchmen, Felicia Day and Will Wheaton play pivotal roles for God’s sake. Eureka is a very character-driven sci-fi series that lives and dies by the actors and their stories. As such it becomes one of the Best Horror and Sci-fi TV Series ever. Get it on Amazon Prime.
What appears to be a comet slows, hovers and stops, then bursts forth to reveal 4,400 people who were presumed dead or missing over the past 50 years. They look exactly the same as the moment they disappeared, but some of the returnees now have special powers. After one of the 4,400 commits a murder, a special division of the Homeland Security Department is formed to monitor them.
This addictive series was good from beginning to end. Four seasons airing between 2004 and 2007 it never wavered from brilliance. It was an amazing mix of religious, supernatural, political, and dramatic. The 4400 was about so much more than science fiction effects. It was a deeply personal story more akin to some of the best X-Files. Similar in tone to Manifest but even better. You can find it on Netflix right now.
A shipping magnate hires four experts from various fields to investigate what happened to his ships that went missing in the Bermuda Triangle. The team discovers a threat that might unravel time itself and cause the world to end.
Oscar award winner Eric Stoltz, perpetually handsome Lou Diamond Phillips and Jag’s Catherine Bell, all star in this forgotten mini-series. Sam Neil(Event Horizon and In The Mouth Of Madness) even makes an appearance, upping the creep factor. After BSG, this was Syfy’s most-watched show of the Sci-Fi Channel days. Way above average for a TV production, the effects are sound, writing tight, and acting phenomenal. This easily makes the best Horror And Sci-Fi TV Series list. You can find this on Amazon Prime and Vudu for free.
A team of experts is assembled when the U.S. Navy makes a chilling discovery: An extraterrestrial craft has landed in the mid-Atlantic Ocean. Dr. Molly Anne Caffrey is a government contingency analyst whose job is to devise response plans for worst-case scenarios. When her plan (called THRESHOLD) is activated upon the news of the UFO, she and her handpicked team of eclectic specialists get to work deciphering the intention of the craft and preparing for the possibility of a crisis situation — an alien invasion.
Everyone’s favorite Lannister Peter Dinklage, Brent Spiner, Data from Star Trek TNG, and nerd crush Carla Gugino all star in this puzzle box thriller. It is a real shame it only got thirteen episodes but each one is really good. This is one of those series that should get a reboot. The upside of only one season is that you can binge the entire thing on Amazon Prime in one day.
What if natural disasters were alien smokescreens designed to mask something far more ominous? When a hurricane threatens a small town in Florida, park ranger Russell Poole’s young daughter is the only one to see small lights floating towards the water. She is seemingly unaffected by the vicious winds. At the time, he thinks nothing of her claim, but begins to suspect something may be amiss. When his missing ex-wife is found, with no memory of what happened during the storm he is forced to rethink what happened. In the aftermath, water-based creatures infiltrate the town and take over the bodies of the town’s residents through a cloning process.
For some reason, the network never got behind this show, and it suffered from a lack of publicity. It was well cast with Kari Matchett(Hyperbube), and Tyler Labine(Tucker & Dale vs. Evil) are standouts. There is even an appearance by a baby-faced Evan Peter(AHS). There was a rabid cult fan base for this show; it just wasn’t large enough to save it. Those who watched it almost universally loved it. It is allegorical, smart, heartfelt, and as intricate a puzzle box as you will find. Maybe someday it will be rebooted? We can only hope. Until then, stream it on Amazon Prime.
If you are willing to dig up DVD’s or VHS tapes (gasp) there are many great series only found on hard format. Millennium tops that list starring Lance Henriksen. The offshoot of the X-Files that also spawned the equally good Profiler aired for only three seasons regrettably. You can only find it in DVD form on Amazon. The Lars von Trier collaboration with Stephen King, Kingdom Hospital is also only available on DVD but the creepy, surreal atmospheric series is worth the extra effort to find it.
Guilty pleasure Dark Angel is the series that launched Jessica Alba’s career. Underappreciated Caprica the Battlestar Galactica prequel got junk heaped before it hardly had a chance. Don’t let that deter you it was just as smart and thoughtful as BSG. Sightings a documentary-style program was a creepy romp through UFO territory. This was the precursor to History Channel’s Ancient Aliens. It is another great Horror and Sci-Fi TV series you can only get on DVD. If you are willing to pay a little stream Sliders or Persons Unknown.
Many of us are just beginning to consider coming out of quarantine. For most, we still have several weeks left. This list ought to keep you busy for at least a good portion of that time. Happy watching!
As the Television Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre tv. I grew up with old school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. When I’m not watching and writing about my favorite movies and series, I’m introducing my family to the wonderful world of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. My only regret, there is not enough time in the day to watch everything.