Any seasoned horror movie consumer knows that the moments of true terror have as much to do with sound as they do with sight. Who could imagine the “Psycho” shower scene without the mounting instrumentals, or — spoiler alert — the ending of “The Blair Witch Project” without the screams of the camerawoman?
That’s why we’ve cut out the middleman altogether and rounded up a list of 15 podcasts to give your ears a spooky soundtrack as Halloween approaches. Into true crime? Local history? Fictional tales? We’ve got you covered, and we included a link to listen to each pod so you can get hooked long after Oct. 31 passes. Listen at your own risk.
For true crime lovers, try...
Real life can be creepier than fiction. Listen to the macabre moments of real-life people, like the son watching a demon torment his father in his dreams or the nurse haunted by the specters of patients past. The narrators? The people who made it out alive. Listen on Spotify.
This serialized, real-life whodunit is based on the 2008 unsolved murder of 24-year-old Arpana Jinaga after a Halloween party. As the story unfurls, as told by the partygoers, cops, and lawyers themselves, the horror becomes the systematic injustices at every turn. Listen on Spotify.
Admit it: We’ve all fallen down Internet rabbit holes. This includes hosts Ali Segel and Melissa Stetten, who spend each episode of “Web Crawlers” diving into a different mystery that has entranced the Internet. Not all of them are meant to raise your heart rate — like the episodes on the downfall of LuLaRoe or McDonald’s perennially broken ice cream machines — but others are, like the recent recount of Gabby Petito’s homicide. Listen on Spotify.
For history buffs, try...
Spending Halloween with your parents? Let this soundtrack of antique audio entertain the whole family. This library of archival stories aired on the radio decades ago, and the story lines read like “The Twilight Zone” plots. OK, boo-mer. Listen on Google Podcasts.
How much do you really know about the spookiest day of the year? This podcast sheds a light on the history behind Oct. 31, like the origin of the holiday, trick-or-treating, and the reaper’s image. No need to thank us when you crush your next Halloween-themed trivia night. Listen on Spotify.
They say art is subjective — but museums featured in “Things in Jars,” which preserve everything from demented dolls to a biscuit that’s survived since World War I, take it to an entirely different level. There’s also a full episode devoted to the Salem Witch Museum if you don’t feel like making the trek there yourself. Listen on Spotify.
For local lore, try...
This podcast is a hair-raising road trip waiting to happen. Explore some of New England’s most paranormal spots, including ghost-filled colleges, hotels, and libraries, all within driving distance. It also features interviews with some of New England’s foremost experts in the supernatural, like Timothy Reagan, who cofounded the Salem witchcraft shop Pentagram. Listen on Spotify.
Ready to get wigged out in Wellesley? Liz Sower, a local with a penchant for scary stories, started spinning the yarns of the ghostly encounters of other Wellesley residents in 2016, and hasn’t stopped since. Be forewarned: Her blood-curdling suburban tales may make the highway exit to Wellesley seem a little more formidable. Listen on Spotify.
This local history lesson is perfect for when you have only 15 minutes for some frights. Hosts Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger offer bite-size looks into New England’s petrifying past, like the lesser-known witch trial that took place in Pownal, Vt., and the apparitions lurking around the harborside town of Hull. Listen on Spotify.
For fictional frights, try...
Though the last episode of this WGBH-produced podcast aired in 2019, your kids don’t have to know that. Avoid nightmares by playing these kid-friendly scary stories for your little ones — campfire not included. Listen on Spotify.
The premise of “My Neighbors Are Dead” is simple: Host Adam Peacock improvises conversations with guests who play invented characters from beloved horror films. In one episode, “Nickelsmart,” a fictional clown from the “It” movie canon is none too pleased about Pennywise giving clowns a bad rap. Listen on Spotify.
Spine-chilling fiction stories full of vampires, prehistoric ooze, and enchanted trees? All episodes performed exclusively by Black actors and written by Black authors, including writers like Samantha Frye and Lamar Giles? Dozens of episodes (including interviews with the authors) to keep you frightened all year long? Yes, yes, and yes. Listen on Spotify.
For general ghoulishness, try...
Travel around the globe to learn the stories behind the world’s most haunted hallows, from a deadly elevator mishap at Central Michigan University to a fatal train collision in Gloucestershire, England. The locale of many of October’s nightmarish episodes? Salem, of course. Listen on Spotify.
“Last Podcast on the Left” has been around for a decade, but the wide range of ground covered — true crime, extraterrestrial sightings, cults — ensures the series will never run out of material. In addition to the main episodes, there’s also breakdowns of ripped-from-the-headlines scary news of the week. If you want to listen to the three hosts live, the show is coming to the Chevalier Theatre in March. Listen on Spotify.
This just-launched Spotify Original takes a look at the psychic mediums of yore, and the spiritualist history of the 1800s that gave rise to these clairvoyants. The first episode profiles Leonora Piper, a medium who resided on Beacon Hill. Listen on Spotify.
Did we miss one of your favorite spooky podcasts? Let us know in the comments.
Dana Gerber can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org