Pumpkins are popping up everywhere, you’ve gotten caught in at least one fake spiderweb and you have a sudden desire to watch “Hocus Pocus” — it’s almost Halloween! Get into the spirit and spook up your HalloWeek with Radiotopia’s creepiest episodes. We recommend listening with the lights on.
Everything is Alive, “Annie, Jack O’Lantern”
Annie is a jack o’ lantern, but she doesn’t want to scare you.
The Memory Palace, “The Dress in the Closet”
This here is a Halloween episode. They get creepy.
Song Exploder, “John Carpenter — Halloween (Theme)”
In 2018, a new Halloween film was released, and for the first time since the first film, John Carpenter composed the score. That included remaking his theme song for the new film, this time with the help of his son Cody Carpenter and his godson Daniel Davies. In this episode, the three of them break down how they did it.
Criminal, “Secrets and Séances”
The story of Helen Duncan, a famous medium who travelled around Britain in the 1940s performing séances and claiming to speak to the dead. But in 1944, after she seemingly knew military secrets, a few months before D-day, she was convicted under a 200-year-old “Witchcraft Act”.
Mortified, “Puberty Transformed Me Into A Monster”
A menacing force is ravaging middle school and… You. Are. Next. Celebrate Halloween with terrifying tales of puberty and how it transforms innocent kids into heinous monstrosities. With special guest Andrew Goldberg, co-creator of Big Mouth on Netflix.
Criminal, “Unexpected Guests”
Hear three mysteries the Criminal team can’t stop thinking about.
Showcase, “The Polybius Conspiracy #1 — The Player”
The Polybius Conspiracy investigates a mysterious 80’s arcade game, whose alleged existence may have factored in the abduction of two boys. This episode interviews Bobby, who claims the game was responsible for his abduction as a teenager.
The Truth, “A Drop in the Ocean”
A submarine crew goes deeper than they thought possible. Written by Louis Kornfeld and Chris Kipiniak.
The Mortified Podcast, “I Was a Teenage Horror Writer”
Some not-so-scary stories written by kids who thought they were the next R.L. Stine or Stephen King. From a deadly roller coaster ride to lunatic, murderous teachers, laugh — and groan — along with kids’ horror stories.
The Truth, “Silvia’s Blood”
Based on Philip K. Dick’s short story, “Upon the Dull Earth,” originally published in 1954, about a young couple named Rick and Silvia, and a strange blood ritual they perform that invokes angels.
Criminal, “A Bump in the Night”
Amber Dawn was 20 when she moved into a one-bedroom apartment in Enumclaw, Washington. On her very first night, she began to notice strange sounds. And they didn’t stop.
The Truth, “The Death of Poe”
Edgar Allen Poe’s death has always been shrouded in mystery. The Truth imagines what may have happened.
The Mortified Podcast, “Mortified’s Monsters of Halloween”
This special Mortified Mixtape dedicated to Halloween features three tales of kids obsessed with demons, vampires and ghosts.
Criminal, “The Portrait”
More than 80 years ago, a North Carolina family of nine posed for a Christmas portrait. Two weeks later, all but one of them had been shot dead.
The Truth, “The Devil You Know”
A collection of horror stories that take place in the world of electoral politics.
Song Exploder, “Julia Holter — Horns Surrounding Me”
Julia Holter deconstructs her song “Horns Surrounding Me.” She talks about what she did to evoke a feeling of fear in both the music and the way she sang, changing her voice on different parts of the song to create character and texture.
The Allusionist, “Step Away”
“Step” — as in stepparents or stepchildren — originated in grief. Though family structures have evolved, this episode explores whether, with stepmothers now so tainted by fairytale associations with the word “wicked”, we need new terminology.
99% Invisible, “O-U-I-J-A”
The Ouija board is so simple and iconic that it looks like it comes from another time, or maybe another realm. The game is not as ancient as it was designed to look, but those two arched rows of letters have been spooking people for over 125 years.
The Mortified Podcast, “My Worst Fear”
Mortifying tales about the kinds of fears kids actually have, from deathly fears of growing up to deathly fears of … death.
The Truth, “Sleep Some More”
Dan’s college roommate won’t stop talking. Even when he’s asleep. This episode is performed by Brian Miskell and Mark Gessner, with Lusia Strus and Hannah Chase.
The Truth, “The Dark End of the Mall”
Shopping can make you work up a thirst. A post-apocalyptic story.
Criminal, “Pearl Bryan”
In February of 1896, a little boy discovered a woman’s headless body in a farmer’s field in Fort Thomas, Kentucky. No one knew who she was, or what had happened.
99% Invisible, “All In Your Head”
People who make horror movies know: If you want to scare someone, use scary music. In this episode, Hrishikesh Hirway of Song Exploder speaks with evolutionary biologist Dan Blumstein; Hannibal executive producer David Slade; and composer Brian Reitzell, to learn more about how to evoke fear and anxiety through sound.
The Truth, “Third Party”
Mike Coleman is an independent candidate running for Congress, and he’s finally getting some attention … from a serial killer.
The Memory Palace, “A Gas, Gas, Gas”
The scary story of mass hysteria and the Mad Gasser of Mattoon.