Scare yourself to sleep with 12 free spooky audio shows

I listed twelve of my favorite horror stories for fall & winter, but if you need something in your headphones to scare you to sleep instead, try my favorite audio versions of some terrifying tales.

two jack o lantern lamps
You might have to sleep with the lights on tonight.
  1. Hands Off, a Nightfall show about a lab-grown serum that makes animals aggressive. Very aggressive. Not to be confused with the popular new radio series Nightvale, Nightfall was a Canadian public broadcasting show from the 1980s and the best horror audio show I know of. Try out several and I’m sure you’ll hit at least one that gives you chills. All of them are excellently produced, scripted, and acted. They often contain adult themes and occasional profanity, so they’re not for children!
  2. The Darkness from WKBW’s 1973 Halloween show. The entire show is excellent and includes several great takes on some classic horror tales like the Monkey’s Paw.
  3. The Dunwich Horror. An H.P. Lovecraft tale adapted for radio by the famous Suspense Old Time Radio (OTR) show.
  4. The Thing on the Fourble Board. A very creepy tale about a thing deep down on a drilling platform. It’s from the OTR program Quiet, Please!
  5. If you have Spotify, Nelson Olmsted does an excellent reading of several Tales of Terror by Edgar Allen Poe including the evil murder story The Cask of Amontillado.
  6. Dark Benediction, a play about a disease outbreak with a twist– adapted by Sci-Fi Radio— an excellent collection of sci fi story radio adaptations.
  7. Chicken Heart from stella OTR program Light’s Out by radio virtuoso Arch Oboler is under 8 minutes long and unusually chilling for the bizarre plot line. Many other Light’s Out programs are excellent as well.
  8. Sorry Wrong Number is another famous Suspense OTR show starring Agnes Morehead as the (very) hysterical protagonist trying to prevent a murder being plotted.
  9. Dracula. Bram Stoker’s tale adapted by Orson Welles’ Mercury Theatre in 1938. Welles– who plays Count Dracula here– often tried very ambitious productions on his Mercury Theatre. This version of Dracula works very well. Welles’ classic War of the Worlds is a chilling tale in itself too, but about an alien invasion.
  10. Speaking of Dracula, what if Sherlock Holmes tried to catch him? Well, it would be this 85-minute 1981 BBC radio play– Sherlock Holmes v. Dracula— which actually works quite well despite the ‘what-if-Superman-fought-Batman’-style premise. The voice acting is excellent with superstar BBC radio voice actor John Moffat (of Hercule Poirot fame.)
  11. Speaking of Poirot, this 90 minute Agatha Christie detective caper–Halloween Party— takes place at a children’s party. There is murder afoot, and only Belgium’s most famous detective can crack the case! All the Poirot radio plays on this album are very good.
  12. The Ghost Train— a 90-minute BBC 4 adaption of a 1923 play– is a light, comedic spooky story for those who don’t want to have to sleep with the lights on. Many shorter BBC 4 Ghost stories are found in the same collection as well.