You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘The Twilight Zone’ Rides TV Horror Anthology Wave

Horror fans now have the chance to binge their scares like never before.

CBS All Access’ new iteration of “The Twilight Zone, which premieres Monday, boasts modern horror maestro Jordan Peele as executive producer and narrator. It is one of many horror anthology shows to make it to air in recent years. In addition to the revival of the iconic Rod Serling-created franchise, viewers are already able to enjoy current horror anthologies such as: “Black Mirror” (Netflix); “Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams” (Amazon); “Into the Dark” (Hulu); “American Horror Story” (FX); “The Terror” (AMC); “The Haunting” (Netflix); “Folklore” (HBO)

And several more are on the way. There is Greg Nicotero’s “Creepshow” series coming to Shudder, Lena Waithe’s “Them” — which got a two-season pick up at Amazon — and Steven Spielberg’s reboot of “Amazing Stories” at Apple. Sources also say that a reboot of “Outer Limits” is in the works at a premium cable network.

The wealth of such shows comes despite the fact that anthologies in general are proving to be hard sells at networks and streaming services. According to multiple TV lit agents who spoke with Variety, networks are “not hungry” for anthology projects at present. The agents said they do not advise clients to do anthologies because they are “thankless” and writers stand to make very little money from them. Unless the project is a big piece of IP or has strong auspices, it generally will not get much traction.

Yet television horror projects are hot commodities right now. Several agents said that more of their clients are pursuing horror projects — both writers who want to write specs and original ideas and producers with significant IP who want to develop shows for both adults and YA audiences.

The success of Peele’s blockbuster film “Get Out” is cited as having revitalized interest in the genre.

Of course, horror anthologies are nothing new on television, going back to the days of the original “Twilight Zone” and “Outer Limits” in the 1950s and 60s. But with the incredible popularity of modern anthologies like “Black Mirror” and “American Horror Story” — both of which premiered in 2011  — the format has found new life in the era of streaming.

Jeremy Gold and Marci Wiseman, co-presidents of “Into the Dark” producer Blumhouse Television, told Variety what they think has spurred the renewed popularity of horror anthologies.

“‘Black Mirror’ certainly gets a lot of credit for hitting the reset button on the resurgence of anthological storytelling with a creepy, scary twist,” said Wiseman. “The innovation — and certainly something we played with on the feature side of the company — is what’s exciting about doing television anthologies is these kind of smuggled-in social commentaries or things that are in the zeitgeist that provoke your interest.”

“I think that in this world of so much endless bingeing, to be able to have something where you don’t need to make a commitment to every single episode is really refreshing,” Gold added. “You can jump in, take down one or a couple of them and not worry that your friends are going to spoil it or not worry that you’re behind is really freeing from an audience standpoint.”

But it is not all smooth sailing. TNT announced in 2016 with much fanfare that it was partnering with M. Night Shyamalan to reboot the 90s HBO horror anthology “Tales from the Crypt.” However, in 2017, network head Kevin Reilly said that the project was dead due to an issue with the rights to the series.

Then there are shows that evolved into anthologies post-premiere. When Netflix announced the renewal of the popular horror series “The Haunting of Hill House,” the streamer also revealed that the second season would feature an entirely new cast and a new story based on Henry James’ horror novella “The Turn of the Screw.”

“As there are more horror offerings in entertainment in general, more people have come to the idea that they are horror fans,” Wiseman said. “It’s like getting on an amusement park ride. It’s an opportunity to have that kind of thrilling experience you have when you experience this type of genre. It satisfies a little bit of an itch.”

More TV

  • Inside Taronga Zoo

    Nat Geo Wild and More 4 Snap Up Australian Doc Series 'Inside Taronga Zoo'

    Cineflix Rights has pre-sold Australian wildlife documentary series “Inside Taronga Zoo” to Nat Geo Wild for the U.S. and More 4 for the U.K. The 10 part series is produced by McAvoy Media for Nine Network Australia, where it will air as “Taronga: Who’s Who In The Zoo.” “Inside Taronga Zoo” follows the 240 keepers and vets caring for [...]

  • Watchmen HBO

    TV Review: 'Watchmen'

    “Watchmen,” the 1980s DC Comics series whose popularity demands adaptation and whose singular vision makes that near-impossible, might be too much itself to bring out the best in any artist. But it has brought out the most in Damon Lindelof. As a follow-up to HBO’s “The Leftovers,” Lindelof returns to the cabler to remix and [...]

  • Mary Higgins Clark

    Reel One, Element 8 and La Sabotière to Develop Mary Higgins Clark's Crime Novels

    Montreal-based producer and distributor Reel One Entertainment has partnered with U.S. producer Element 8 Entertainment and Paris-based La Sabotière to develop an anthology series based on the novels of American crime writer Mary Higgins Clark. U.S. screenwriter and author Ilene Rosenzweig, whose credits include “Station 19” and “Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce,” is attached as writer [...]

  • Informer

    Mipcom Roundup: All3Media and Blue Ant Sell in Asia, Lagardère Buys in Spain

    In Variety’s third Mipcom Roundup Alibaba’s streaming platform Youku gets BBC programs, Lagardère buys full ownership of Barcelona’s Veranda, Banijay rolls out Guinness World Records series, Blue Ant International sells and renews and All3Media Intl. extends into Japan and Taiwan. All3Media Strikes Deals in Japan, Taiwan All3Media has grown its footprint in Asia thanks to newly announced [...]

  • Help Wanted: Amazon Studios International Execs

    Help Wanted: Amazon Studios International Execs Talk European Expansion

    If there’s a perfect example of Amazon Studios’ strategy with its local-language international TV content, Japan’s “Documental” would be it. The series revolves around 10 comedians who battle to make one another laugh in an elimination-style competition. James Farrell, Amazon Studios’ head of international originals, said it was a good example of an unconventional idea [...]

  • vernon-subutex

    Studiocanal Closes North America SVOD on ‘Vernon Subutex’ with Topic (EXCLUSIVE)

    CANNES —  Forging what could well be a fertile relationship, Studiocanal has sold North American SVOD rights on Canal Plus Creation Original “Vernon Subutex,” and “Pros and Cons,” from Denmark’s SAM Productions, to First Look Media’s Topic. Targeting “culture cravers,” “an audience deeply involved in social, political and cultural issues of today,” general manger Ryan [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content