The thing with the horror show genre is that when it's done well, it is so mesmerising you can barely tear your eyes away from the screen even as you can barely keep your eyes on the screen. But if all you get to see are gory critters flitting about deserted graveyards on misty nights (yes, it's always misty, regardless of geography or climate), it's tough to muster up much enthusiasm for the genre.
Vampire shows (a full-blown, pale-skinned, ruby-lipped genre of its own now and dumped under 'horror' only for want of any other category under which it can be dumped) hit the jackpot by introducing passionate love and simmering sensuality into the equation.
But the current show in the horror genre which is worth a dekho is Supernatural. It began airing on Star World late last year and is currently in its first and second season here (in the US it's Season 7). It's a strange and unsentimental series about two brothers, Sam and Dean, who drive all over the country in an old Impala car, down dusty country roads and past nondescript small towns, hunting and annihilating evil demons. The series begins with the two of them, along with their father, looking for the demon that killed their mother. But then they lose their father too, and are left to fend for themselves. It doesn't help that their own relationship is tense and troubled. Or that the evil beings they hunt often get the better of them. But here's where it gets interesting. The demons they battle have their origins in urban legend and myth - for example, there's a shape-shifting demon always dressed as a clown, who (according to lore) can kill people only when it gains friendly entry into a house. In another episode, Sam and Dean are up against a serial killer who murdered young blonde women (if it's American television, you can never escape serial killers who prey on young blonde women). This killer's spirit haunts an apartment building built on the site where a prison once stood, obviously the very same prison where the killer was incarcerated.
No, none of this is particularly pleasant, but well, it's a horror show. What actually makes it work is the fine-drawn relationship web: between the father and his two sons (complicated), between the two brothers (also complicated). It should be interesting to see how the latter plays out in the following episodes and seasons.
And yes, Supernatural does manage to spiral into white-knuckled tension: for instance, just the sight of the clown standing next to a lamp post at night looking up at the window of a house where his prey lives, is enough to induce a fearful sense of Something Bad About To Happen.
At the other end of the spectrum, in the world of Hindi entertainment channels, there's a new serial, a love story with a difference, Sajda Tere Pyaar Mein (Star Plus). Different because it is about a young Muslim girl, Aliyah, who, it seems, will fall in love with a man who is either a terrorist or has some sort of connection to terrorism. And so she will be faced with the predictable dilemma - her love or her duty? At the moment, we're on a fam trip of Aliyah's world - her family and her friends. While Aliyah herself seems like your regular happy-go-lucky girl, her sister is a severe, humourless cop. There is also a missing brother somewhere in the background. Sajda Tere Pyaar Mein could be interesting.