Spooky podcasts to binge for Halloween

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By: Cavan McGinsie

Since we have our own podcast we try and do our best to listen to and support as many podcasts as possible. Most of the time we listen to the podcasts that leave us feeling informed and entertained -- there are a few we listen to just to laugh. 

But once October rolls around, we find our taste in podcasts, and books, and movies, songs and beers begins to gravitate towards the weird, the twisted, and the otherworldly. And we know we're not alone ... you just finished re-watching Stranger Things and now Screamin' Jay Hawkins is on repeat. Isn't he?

So here are seven creepy, weird and all around spooky podcasts to binge-listen to while sipping spiked apple cider around a campfire.


The Black Tapes - We kick off this list with a relative newcomer to the podcasting game, just starting in May of 2015, and yet it has quickly become a benchmark in the world of fictional storytelling podcasts -- yes, it is fiction. We say this because much like Pacific Northwest Stories' other podcasts, it plays out in a Serial-style, with a seemingly real journalist interviewing people and doing work in the field.

The Black Tapes follows host and journalist Alex Reagan on assignment speaking with a Dr. Richard Strand. Strand studies the paranormal and does his best to debunk it, but, of course, there are a few cases he can't quite explain and those are all found in his Black Tapes.

Similar in style to The X-Files, this podcast is presented case-by-case (or tape-by-tape) even though many of the same characters and sinister beings come back into play like a Slenderman-like creature named the Shadow Man (aka Tall Paul).

With exorcisms, sounds created by the devil, and teens cutting off and wearing other people's faces, it is truly a haunting podcast that will send chills down your spine and pull you deeper in with every episode.

Jim Harold's Campfire - We first found this podcast after a one of its broadcasts was used in Snapped Judgement Presents: Spooked (another show on this list), and the tale, about a phantom bar in the middle of nowhere in Wisconsin, was absolutely the most unique ghost tale we've had the chance to hear.

Since then, we've been diving into Harold's vast collection of creepy, paranormal, true-life stories -- literally 12 years worth of stuff -- and it is an absolutely stunning and unnerving collection of stories.

Unlike many other podcasts, not every episode is available for free, but there are plenty to get you through the rest of fall and who knows, maybe you'll get so wrapped up in these stories that you'll become a subscriber, just like us.

Limetown - This podcast snuck on the scene about as quickly as it snuck out. Crafted by film school grads, it plays out like your favorite scary movies, and we have to admit, we thought it was true-life for, like, the first three episodes.

It follows a journalist named Lia Haddock as she looks into the dark past of a town (actually a neuroscience research station) in Tennessee named Limetown, where suddenly overnight a group of 300 people simply disappeared.

Haddock meets with weird, intriguing and sometimes scary people to try and figure out exactly what happened at Limetown and where those 300 people, including her estranged uncle disappeared to and even more importantly, why they vanished.

While it was still being released it was at the top of the charts for weeks and it left us sleeping with the lights on for multiple nights. It is only six full episodes long, which means it's really easy to binge-listen and then you can join the rest of us in waiting for the forthcoming novel that will stand-in for season two.

Lore - There are tons of real life mysteries in the world, and as the old saying goes, truth is stranger than fiction. This award-winning podcast dives into the world of folklore and presents many of the mysterious stories from our history.

Host Aaron Mahnke leads us through the stories behind many of our most well-known folkloric creatures like vampires, witches and werewolves. But he also sheds light on many stories that aren't so prevalent in popular culture like Wendigos, Spring-Heeled Jack and Changelings.

The best part of this podcast is the fact that Mahnke doesn't seem to buy into the supernatural aspects and is more interested in the history and facts of these folklores -- though he doesn't outwardly dismiss the otherworldliness either. And with over 70 episodes to listen to and a new tv series that just premiered on Amazon Prime, you have plenty of catching up to do.

Snap Judgement Presents: Spooked - Snap Judgement is an incredible storytelling podcast and in this special spin-off, Glynn Washington and team allow real people to share their absolutely terrifying stories. A new episode is coming out two times a week through Halloween and every single one has been spine-tingling.

From a teen who was saved from real-life harm by a spirit of the woods, to a woman and her dog confined to a single room in her home by a malignant being, to the ghost of a child trying to steal away a young, and very much alive, boy this podcast runs the gambit in stories but never seizes to scare.

Tanis - Crafted by the same team behind The Black Tapes, and playing out in a very similar style, Tanis carries us through the woods into a world of madness and mystery. Host Nic Silver (played by Terry Miles) starts off on a journey fueled by the esoteric writings of real-life occultists Aleister Crowley and Jack Parsons to answer one central question: What is Tanis?

Set in the woods of the Pacific Northwest in search of a mythical (insert noun) that lives there and is shrouded in mystery,  this podcast uses many bits and bites of reality like the strange case of Elisa Lam, The Markovian Parallax Denigrate and 9/11 conspiracies, to weave itself into something that feels like fact. But there are enough Lovecraftian bits to make sure we recognize the fictionality of the story.

At this point it's three seasons long and each season gets weirder and darker and pulls us closer to the mouth of madness, just like Tanis.

Welcome to Night Vale - If there were an end-all, be-all of spooky podcasts, it would be Welcome to Night Vale. At one point it was the most downloaded podcast, even higher than NPR shows like This American Life.

Why?

Because people fucking love this show, and though it is a little hard to get into, especially with the format of a monotone radio broadcaster telling the news and strange events of a town named Night Vale, if you stick with it you just may find that you can't stop listening.

Filled with oddities, conspiracy theories and bits of humor delivered in host Cecil Gershwin Palmer's deadpan delivery, Night Vale spreads out before you and you can't help but think "What the hell is going on here?" and also, "Why can't I approach the dog park?" "Who are the hooded figures?" "Fuck that barber for cutting Carlos' stunningly, beautiful hair." And the thoughts just get weirder from there.