Horror movies? How dull. A scary book? What, paper and glue? You can’t read a jump scare! Get with the 21st century, kids. Why not indulge in some new media this Halloween? In this list, you will get a handy guide to the darkest, most thought-provoking, terrifying channels on YouTube.
Gather up your loved ones, turn off the lights, open up the trash bag of sweet things you’ve extorted from your neighbors and watch these creators as they take you on a dark and twisted journey.
Related: 10 Spooky Supernatural Stories From 19th-Century England
10 Scary Mysteries—Delivering as Promised…
If you are a fan of things “doing what they say on the label,” you’re in for a treat. This channel covers mysteries. Scary mysteries, one could say. These binge-worthy 10–20 minute videos cover UFOs, ghosts, serial killers, and all manner of shocking, unsolved, and unexplained phenomena.
Starting Point: “5 Frightening Forests You Should Never Visit”—There’s something naturally unnerving about a forest. From being the setting for horror stories and films in pop culture to the fact that countless ancestors met their end in the world’s ancient forests, there seems to be more than lions, tigers, and bears to fear in the woods. Covering subjects as varied as folk cryptids like the Jersey Devil, serial killers, and a mysterious fifteen-foot-wide circle where no plant life can grow, this video will start your deep dive into the world’s mysteries.
“Twisted 2’s”—Videos that cover two prominent mysteries.
“Every Town Has a Dark Side”—Podcast episodes covering crimes and mysteries in small-town USA.
“Strange and Scary Mysteries of the Month”—A monthly roundup of the weirdest news reports and stories
9 Nexpo—ARGs and “Aaaaarghs”!
This popular channel provides long-form, deep dives into some of the strangest things found online. From ARGs (augmented reality games, usually with a horror theme) and creepy viral videos to genuine research into online pedophile rings, this channel is more than just a place for compiling disturbing online crap—he really aims to do good. This intrepid explorer of the darker fringes of the internet has invited you to see what he has found. Will you join him?
Starting Point: “Strange Flyers Around Portland, Oregon”—A weird prank, ARG gone too far, or evidence of a cult in the Pacific Northwest? This amazing look into this fringe phenomenon will leave you wondering what every flyer, poster, or graffitied tag you see in your town actually means.
“Disturbing Things from around the Internet”
8 Nick Crowley—Aleister Would Be Proud
Very much the same stylistic vein as the previous entry, Nick Crowley likes to cover the darker things found around the internet. One of the key differences is that Nick tends to focus more on the real horror found online—terrible animal cruelty scams, self-destructive cancer-chasing fetish communities, and emergent cults. Where Nexpo likes to leave you with a sense of mystery, a creeping dread that surrounds the question “I wonder if that’s real?” Crowley rarely allows for that question to enter the viewer’s mind. These things did happen. And here they are.
Starting point: “The Khamar Daban Incident”—You may very well have read about the Dyatlov Pass incident, the strange event that led to the deaths of a clutch of young Russian researchers in a remote part of Siberia (in fact, Crowley has a great couple of videos exploring the incident), but have you heard about the Khamar Daban incident? This (arguably) more shocking event is covered ably by Mr. Crowley. The perfect real-life tale for Halloween night.
“YouTube’s Darkest Channels”
7 Bedtime Stories—Creepy Mysteries, Creepier Artwork
When you get a channel description that begins with “WARNING—These stories are NOT suitable for younger audiences. Turn off the lights, get into bed, and plug in your earphones. It’s time for a creepy bedtime story,” you know you’re in for a good time. This channel certainly doesn’t disappoint.
Covering well-known paranormal stories, some more obscure ones from beyond the anglosphere, and even a couple of viewer-submitted experiences, the team behind Bedtime Stories are among the best in the biz at new media paranormal content generation. The wonderfully drawn artwork accompanying the matter of fact, northern-English-accented narration draws you in as though watching a particularly good lecture. And then the subject matter hits you. Then you’re afraid.
Starting point: “The Flannan Isles Lighthouse Mystery”—Best to start from the very first video and go from there. This spooky event from the eerily atmospheric isles west of Scotland is a classic story that remains an exemplar of this channel’s aptitude at expressing the uncanny.
6 Atrocity Guide—Weird Internet Tales
For a less horror-oriented (but no less unnerving) channel, check out Atrocity Guide. Although given the nature of her uploads, you may end up seeking out more hokey ghost or Bigfoot videos…
Covering weird stories about strange individuals and groups may not be as bed-wetting or terror-inducing an experience as some of the other channels listed here. Still, one thing is for certain—the subjects covered here are well-documented, meticulously covered, and 100% real/weird/unnerving.
Starting Point: “The Strange World of Breatharianism”—The title could just have easily swapped the word “strange” with horrific, deluded, or mystifyingly still going. This 50-minute long mini-doc on this dangerous cult is among the best found online. Sad, worrying, and sobering.
Uploads every few months
5 Being Scared—Rain, Wind, and Horror Stories
Every once in a while, it is good for us to remember that tradition matters. Before all these new media guys bombarded us with mini-docs, deep dives, and compilation vids and before the word “meme” was used on a daily basis, people gathered ’round and told scary stories. Quite often, this was done on dark, stormy nights, the world outside setting the scene for some wickedly frightening tales to be told.
Many of us have memories of sharing urban legends around campfires, in abandoned houses we were dared to enter, or at a friend’s sleepover. This channel re-captures this like no other. Scary stories told with suitably atmospheric SFX—wind, rain, and thunder.
You’ll listen to one. Hear the rain in your earhole. You notice that your bedroom window’s blind is open. Didn’t you close it?
Ok, just a few more tales…
Starting Point: Anywhere. Press play, sit back, pee your pants.
“Scary Stories for a Rainy Night”
4 In Praise of Shadows—Peek Behind the Curtain of Horror Media
If you don’t fancy a night of direct terror, why not learn about the movies, comic books, and other media that have provided us with terror over the years? This channel offers a wonderful overview of horror fiction in all its forms. The deepest of deep dives into the history of horror comics throughout the twentieth century is a real highlight. But don’t get too comfy—the measured critique on offer here may make you say, “Hm, very interesting,” but the artwork that accompanies the commentary is often chilling enough to make you go check under the bed.
Starting Point: “Homunculus: What Does It Mean to Be Human?”—A retrospective of one of the most mind-bending shocking Manga ever. Thought-provoking and vomit-inducing.
3 Rusty West—Missing in the Wilderness
Anyone who is aware of the “Missing 411” phenomenon will love this channel. But even if you aren’t aware of the theories surrounding the comparatively high number of people who go missing in U.S. national parks, Rusty West’s soothing drawl will win you over—it seems to have been carved from prime mahogany and dipped in molasses. Despite the vocal attraction, these stories may make you think twice about venturing into the wilderness anytime soon.
These tragic, perplexing, and often creepy tales of hikers disappearing off the face of the earth, alongside a good selection of viewer-submitted stories of strange encounters, weird occurrences, and brushes with the preternatural, provide hours of material ready for your perusal.
Starting Point: “3½ Hours of Strange National Park Disappearances”—Don’t be daunted by this feature-length video of narrated accounts; you can dip in and out, settle in with some cocoa and a bowl of popcorn or lie back and fall asleep to Rusty’s voice recounting some cases that remain unsolved.
2 The Paranormal Scholar—A Fortean Look at Freaky Phenomena
Finally, an expert! Well, sort of. Outside the channel, it does seem that husband and wife duo Laura and Erik Rowton seek to bridge the gap between underground fans, paranormal researchers, and the traditionally stuffy academic domain (their feature-length documentary “In Search of the Dead” includes many interviews with academics).
Their YouTube channel is more about charting and listing paranormal events and anecdotes. Laura Rowton’s pleasant voiceover takes us through various “Top X-number” lists of a diverse range of Fortean phenomena—from historical instances of meetings with the devil to creepy “men in black” encounters that will freak you out more than the prospect of a continental greeting from Tommy Lee Jones.
Starting Point: “5 Terrifying Wartime Monster Sightings”—This list of monster sightings introduces an interesting angle that many viewers may not consider: soldiers who have witnessed cryptids. Are these accounts more credible given the trusted position fighting men hold in society? Or does the fact that these people are in high-stress, frenetic environments facing the constant threat of death breathing down their necks render their testimony even more unreliable? Whatever you think, these stories are awesome.
1 Lazy Masquerade—The Online All-Rounder of the Macabre and Unsettling
Finally, we have a channel that combines all the best points of the previous entries without losing any of the overall quality. If you’re going to binge, go hard and go…Lazy. Focused mini-docs on gory murders, unexplained events, and all manner of strange and singular phenomena, list vids, and scary story reads—this channel does the lot.
There is also a periodic focus on Southeast Asia, an area where news rarely permeates Western media. And, boy oh boy, there are some fascinating, terrifying tales to tell from that part of the globe.
Cuddle up on your couch and start watching. Make sure the lights are off, though. After all, “Lazy” always signs off with, “The best things happen in the dark…”
Starting Point: “3 Creepy ‘Region Locked’ Mysteries, FINALLY UNLOCKED”—Lazy covers three crazy stories from the Far East that you’ve probably not heard.
Here’s to scary binging!