Welcome to this week’s Five by Friday! Since we’re only a few days away from Halloween we decided to get in the spirit by talking about our favorite supernatural stories. Vampires, werewolves, ghosts, goblins, witches… tales that include things that go bump in the night or can transport you into other worlds.
The show that takes top honors for being our collective favorite is (to absolutely no one’s surprise) Buffy the Vampire Slayer. We have therefore excluded it from the lists below, where we’ve tried to avoid overlapping yet again.
Join us in the comments or on your own blog–we’ve even provided a graphic for you, which you can either save to your own space or link from tinypic using the following HTML code: <a href=”http://avengingforce.com”><img src=”http://i59.tinypic.com/2d9318w.jpg”><*/a> Just remove the asterisks, and you’re all set!
I went from not being able to think of any shows or movies for my list to having way too many. Some really pained me to cut (I am sorry, Teen Wolf, Practical Magic, and Interview with the Vampire), but ultimately my picks boiled down to which shows have the characters that I feel the strongest emotional connection to. Because the bottom line is, while I love all the parallel worlds and monstrous creatures and mysterious beings and supernatural powers, I don’t watch for any of those things. I watch for characters I can connect with and stories that tug at my heart. All the other stuff is just a bonus.
5. Stranger Things
The only reason Stranger Things is not higher on this list is because it’s only had one season so far — but what a season it was. Stranger Things is something I never knew I wanted: a show that calls back to the movies and nostalgia of my childhood while still remaining its own unique thing. It perfectly balances its spooky other-worldly mystery with the real-life struggles and insecurities of the group of kids at the center of the story. The first season of Stranger Things is, quite simply, one of the best seasons of television I’ve ever watched, full of surprising twists, spectacular thrills, genuine laughs, and heartfelt emotion. I loved it with my whole heart, and fully expect it to sit higher on this list once it has a few seasons under its belt.
4. The Vampire Diaries
I am the first to admit that The Vampire Diaries has been so uneven it will give you vertigo, but at this point, I love these characters so much that it barely even matters. While the first few seasons are pretty universally accepted to be the best, I still love tuning in each week to see what sorts of shenanigans my favorites (Caroline, Alaric, and Damon, for the record) will get involved in. While I know a lot of fans watch this show for the romance storylines, it’s the platonic ones — Caroline and Bonnie, Damon and Ric, Damon and Bonnie, Damon and… anyone, basically — that keep me hooked. Now that we’re on the last season, I’m so invested in how all the long-simmering storylines will wind up, and you can bet money I’ll be watching the finale with a smile on my face and a box of tissues by my side.
I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve plugged iZombie on this site, but I’m pretty sure I’m in the double digits now. I recommend this show to people more than any other currently airing show, hands down, and for good reason. Maybe it shouldn’t have been surprising to me that I love iZombie so much — after all, its creator gave us Veronica Mars, and one of the main characters is Sark from Alias — but for whatever reason, I wasn’t super excited about this show when it was first announced, and it actually took until the first season hit Netflix for me to get around to watching it. Once I did, though, holy cow. There was no stopping this train. I’m completely obsessed with this show’s humor, its twists, its ridiculous yet riveting storylines, and of course the relationships between its characters. There is not a single main cast member on this show that I don’t love with my whole heart, and I am counting the days until season 3 starts and they can grace me with their presence once again.
Ghostbusters has earned the honor of sitting near the top of this list by being one of my favorite movies since I was old enough to watch movies that weren’t animated. I still watch it at least once a year (along with its sequel, which I unashamedly love despite most of the internet telling me I shouldn’t), and although, yes, some parts are a bit dated, overall I still think it’s one of the funniest movies of all time. While I really enjoyed 2016’s Ghostbusters remake, the original version will always hold a special place in my heart.
Since we’ve already established that Buffy is, in our estimation, the crowning achievement of supernatural storytelling, the top spot on my list goes to its spinoff series, Angel. Angel was a surprise to me, because I didn’t actually care for the character of Angel, the vampire with a soul, while he was on Buffy. But I wound up watching a few seasons of reruns while working the graveyard shift at a motel (do not recommend) because it was the only thing on TV at that time of night, and I wound up falling in love with it. While I will fully admit that season 4 is utterly terrible, overall I still think Angel is an incredibly strong show with a stellar cast of characters. It made me fall head over heels for characters I didn’t even really like on Buffy, and introduced me to new ones that I wound up adoring just as much. And while it it did have its missteps here and there (still never forgiving you for what you did to Fred, Whedon), Angel remains one of my most frequently rewatched shows with some of my favorite characters of all time.
Okay, so: it turns out that I really love a lot of “supernatural” things that are objectively terrible, and I feel no shame about this at all. There are a lot of (objectively) great movies that I adore, but didn’t manage to make this list (so sorry, Practical Magic, The Addams Family, Teen Wolf, and Vampire Diaries). This time around, I decided to go with some of my standards: movies, shows, and books that I return to repeatedly at all times of the year, but especially right around Halloween.
5. The Covenant
This one is a “guilty pleasure,” plain and simple. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an absolutely terrible movie, and the reviews back that up. But how could I not love a movie featuring four teenage boys, collectively known as the “Sons of Ipswich,” who are descendants of colonial witch families and possess magical powers? It’s like Sabrina the Teenage Witch meets Vampire Diaries, and then crashes head first into Supernatural. Honestly, I’m totally here for that level of ridiculous. This is one of my favorite movies to watch on movie nights with my best friends where we drink a lot of wine and snark at the TV.
4. Vampire Academy
This series came out during the wave of vampire books that hit the market post-Twilight, and I initially had no interest in reading them. But then a friend sat me down, shoved the first one in my hand, and didn’t let me go until I’d started reading. And I was hooked. The series incorporates a lot of different aspects of vampire lore: the Dhampirs (half-vampire, half-human); the Moroi, good vampires who possess elemental magic and co-exist peacefully among the humans, only taking blood from willing (and often enthusiastic) donors; and the Strigoi, the evil, blood-sucking vampires that drink to kill.
It’s important to note that I am referring to the books and not the terrible, terrible movie that came out a few years ago. Seriously, I can’t get those two hours of my life back.
3. The Young Frankenstein
Is there anyone out there who doesn’t love The Young Frankenstein? If there is, I don’t want to hear about them. Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle are practically perfect as Dr. Frankenstein and his Monster. The incredible cast of supporting characters (Igor! Frau Blücher! Inga! Elizabeth!) provide continuous amusement. In my opinion, The Young Frankenstein is some of Mel Brook’s best work, and it deserves its close-to-the-top spot in my rotation of Halloween movies.
2. Hocus Pocus
Over the 23 (!!!) years since Hocus Pocus was released, this movie has become a Halloween staple for me. Every year, I watch it on tv multiple times (maybe I shouldn’t admit just how many) in the weeks leading up to Halloween. I even occasionally find myself pulling out the DVD in the dead of winter while looking for some entertainment to chase away the dreary weather. The movie has nearly everything I love: complicated yet loving sibling relationships, awkward teen romance, supernatural elements, crazy shenanigans, and a great group dance scene.
1. Warehouse 13
While I unfortunately only discovered this series as it was ending, it did mean that I was able to binge the entire show on Netflix in a relatively short span of time. This series basically answers the question, “what the heck is in that warehouse at the end of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark?” Turns out it’s a lot of strange artifacts, mysterious relics, out-of-this-world objects, and even some supernatural souvenirs… most of which could probably kill you. Or at the very least, just maim you for a while. But don’t worry: Secret Service Agents Pete and Myka, with lots of help from Claudia and Artie, are on the case.
There isn’t really a faster way to make me want to watch something than to add vampires or werewolves to it. I’m a huge fan of a lot of the things Sarah and Lauren have on their lists as well, but I still had no trouble coming up with five of my own. I was even having some trouble dropping Blood and Chocolate off my list, and had decided that if I found a good image for it, it’d go in slot 5 instead of Moonlight… but pictures from that godawful adaptation completely soured my mood about it, and my #5 choice got a lot easier to make. That said, I’m really glad to have Sarah and Lauren here to cover things like Ghostbusters, Stranger Things, and The Covenant or I’d have had the worst time narrowing down to five.
This was a short-lived show, but I adored it. Featuring Alex O’Loughlin as the main character, the story revolves around a vampire private investigator who falls in love with a human woman (Sophia Myles) as he tries to keep his vampire identity secret while using his supernatural abilities to solve crimes. With Angel so prominent in the cultural zeitgeist it’s no wonder a show like this one, which looked an awful lot like its creators pitched it as “Angel season 1, basically,” didn’t last very long, but I thought it was charming, and the chemistry between O’Loughlin and Myles was fantastic. It was worth it just for the ‘ship. Also, it featured Jason Dohring as a main cast member. Of course I tuned in.
This series is a spinoff of the one on Sarah’s list, Vampire Academy, and is just as charming. Continuing the story of one of the Alchemists, Sydney Sage, this series covers Richelle Mead’s world of vampires from the perspective of someone who was raised to keep tabs on them. Sydney comes from the world of humans who keep the existence of vampires quiet, and follows her journey through a very specific job she’s been tasked to carry out. Also reappearing from the first series is the (delightful) vampire, Adrian, who was a bright point in the first series and continues through this series as probably my favorite character in the entirety of Richelle Mead’s universe.
3. Let the Right One In
What? Is that… a horror film? On my list!? Sacre bleu! But seriously, I may not often go seeking out horror films, but as I have come to realize, my declarations that I’m “not really into horror” are actually up for major questioning. Evidently, films that feature horror themes but also feature vampires and werewolves have always classified themselves in my head separately from the things I think about when I say I don’t like horror, and this movie is a prime example. Officially classified as a “romantic horror,” this movie tells the story of a 12-year-old boy, bullied by his classmates, who meets his new neighbor Eli and strikes up a friendship. But it turns out, Eli’s not quite like other people. It’s a beautiful movie, even at its bloodiest.
Ahhhh, Underworld. I will fully admit to coming to this series for one, singular reason: Scott Speedman’s in it. As someone who watched Felicity as it aired, I am exactly the person that followed Ben
to New York for college to Budapest, where he discovers that he’s actually the confluence of an incredibly old bloodline: one that traces back to the origin of both vampires and Lycans. This plants him right at the center of the action, and the vampire Selene (Kate Beckinsale) seems to be the only one that can see beyond her hatred for the Lycans to the bigger picture, making her Scott Speedman’s unlikely savior. The first of these movies is by far the best in quality and the sequels tend to get not just incrementally worse, but exponentially so–but I’m still really thrilled there’s another one coming, and you can bet I’ll see that thing in theaters.
1. Women of the Otherworld
This series! This series is one of my all-time favorites. Written by Kelley Armstrong, it begins with Bitten. Introducing this world of supernatural beings from the point of view of Elena, a woman in a world where only men could be werewolves until she came along, this series is still ongoing. Each book in the series is from the point of view of a different woman in this world, and they’re not all werewolves–some are vampires, some are witches, and some are even rarer things than these. While I’m partial to the werewolves of Elena’s pack, the series gives voice to many women, all of whom are compelling and powerful. As Elena’s story is one of the strongest in the series, as well as the first, Bitten was adapted into a TV series, and has gone on for a few seasons–though I will admit, I found season 1 (which I watched) to be pretty lackluster, and haven’t yet seen the rest.