Whether it’s during your daily commute, or stuck in your daily cubicle; during errands or chores or whiling away lazy hours in the evening, radio programs and podcasts are a constant and welcome companion, for the discerning Horror, Fantasy & Sci-Fi fanatic.
Listening to the voices driftly slowly and languidly on the breeze seems to inherently throw you back to yesteryear, where children, freshly scrubbed and homework finished, would lie by a fireplace by an old wooden Crosley, waiting for Father Knows Best, struggling to covertly stay awake long enough to hear the first few, forbidden moments of Dimension X, even though it would give them nightmares.
Radio shows and podcasts provide a number of services, in an oversaturated world. First of all, and probably most importantly, dedicated enthusiasts take the time to share their thoughts, information and findings on their topics of choice. As I’ve said many times, in these pages: it can be difficult to both know what it is out there, let alone knowing what it is decent or abysmal.
Secondly, the radio format provides an interesting and sometimes essential link between visual media and text. I love movies and TV as much as the rest, but they tell you what to think, what to see, where words and music take place INSIDE your head, and activates the imagination. Radio and podcasts are doing a great service in the keeping the printed word alive, as it can sometimes be hard to find the time to read a novel.
Lastly, the experience of someone talking to you can be a unique, hypnagogic experience, poised directly between relaxation and alertness. You sit back and let the words flow like waves around your ears, as your mind struggles to keep up, to grasp their meaning and supply the imagery. For me, and for a lot of you, I’d imagine, it’s a relief, when you spend so much of your day concentrating and staring at screens and letters, to unfocus the eyes, the unknit the brow, to relax and let imagination take hold.
There’s a tremendous amount of wickedly good Horror radio and podcasts out there, so this will probably end up being a recurring series.
To start though, I’ve gathered a handful of worthy horror transmissions, from music to ghost stories to Academia. There is a whole dark continent of resources out there, meaning for the devoted (and thanks to these lovely broadcasters), the coffers of bloody thrills to lose (and find) ourselves.
“Ted and Tony approach the subject of what it is that attracts horror film makers and ghost story enthusiasts to the crumbling structures of forgotten asylums.”
Thought this would be a good introduction, as I discovered this episode when I was writing up the anthology film Sanitarium a few weeks ago. Ep. 336 is a ridiculously in-depth look at mental asylums, the role they play in horror, and what they suggest about our society (one of my main areas of study).
Horror Etc. is a talk-show style podcast out of Kingston, Ontario, hosted by King’s Town Ted and Anthony D.P. Mann, two exquisite Horror Nerds who put this humble narrator to shame with the breadth of their wit and knowledge, that is published roughly weekly. These guys are walking splatter encyclopedias, and deliver their knowledge from on high (from Canada), in a funny, natural, conversational way. Seriously, you can learn a ton from these dudes.
Each episode is centered around a theme (even if the theme is that there is no theme), with the pair cherrypicking examples, samples and dialogues from the movies they are discussing. Towards the end, they discuss horror news, movies they’ve been watching, general ranting and much hilarity.
‘Fit For Bedlam’ is a dense analysis of Asylum Horror, with probably 25 – 30 movies and TV shows mentioned, interspersed with real life abandoned hospital stories and a ton of history. They brought up some of my personal faves, like Don’t Look In The Basement and the Belgian TV show Riget, which would be remade for American TV as Stephen King’s Kingdom Hospital, and a whole slew of flicks I’ve never seen. I ended up discovering a British TV show called Bedlam that is rather good, so you can expect to hear more about that, at some point.
So if you think you’ve seen it all, Tony and Ted are here to tell you otherwise.
These episodes are on the longer side, somewhere @ 1:30 to 2 hours, so buckle in and get comfy! But you might want to keep a paper and pen handy, because you’re bound to hear something you’ve never heard of before, and will want to check out!
These episodes are all free, and there’s hundreds of them, plus there’s some Premium Content that I’m highly looking forward to checking out. People looking for in-depth, entertaining and obscure analysis of horror themes would be advised to do likewise.
Faculty Of Horror
Podcasting from the horrored halls with Andrea Subissati and Alexandra West
synapsis: Tackling all things horror with a slash of analysis and research, horror journalists and occasional academics Andrea Subissati and Alexandra West are your hosts for brain plumping discussions. Produced independently in Toronto Ontario The Faculty of Horror is your best source for classic and contemporary horror film discussions that will haunt the libraries of your mind.
Another Canadian podcast? What are they doing up there, in the Great White North? Making masterful, informative and disturbing Podcasts, apparently.
Andrea and Alexandra give some much-appreciated critical dissertation on the genre, in this monthly Podcast. One of the things that haunts not just Horror, but every genre, is its difficulty in being taken seriously, and being given the hardcore academic analysis it deserves. Horror is dealing with people’s fears, and is a highly useful insight into the collective psyche, and its shadow. This level of critical discourse is surprisingly rare, and much appreciated, so hopefully this marks a trend that will catch on, and brilliant minds will begin to penetrate the darkness.
Like Horror, Etc. Faculty Of Horror is organized around themes, spanning the entirety of the cinematic Horror genre. I’ve only listened to 3 of these, so far, but the themes range from dissecting The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and what it said about the world of the early ’70s, to Brides Of Monsters, to (a personal favorite) the role of menstruating women in Horror films (ep. 10. Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon).
Andrea and Alexandra are both highly knowledgeable, not just in Horror, but also in psychology and sociology, and do a fantastic job at giving context to understanding the world these films were made in, and why they matter. Not only are they brilliant, they are also downright hilarious, which makes this show go down like honey! Also like Faculty Of Horror, the themes they discuss are interspersed with timely quotes and samples taken from the movies, and I give them bonus skulls for being talented diggers.
Lastly, and I’ll mention it only in passing, it is great to hear two ladies discussing the genre, and getting their take on it. Its a voice that’s lacking, not only in genre criticism, but in criticism of any kind. Horror, above all other genres, gets slammed as being misogynistic, (mostly because IT IS rather misogynistic), so its interesting to hear two females who adore the genre, their thoughts on the matter, and what they like about it.
Cannot recommend this one highly enough! Essential listening. Lets take this genre seriously (but not TOO seriously). I’m counting the days until the next episode.
OH/EX/OH – V/H/S Horror Themes Vol. I & 2
If you’ve spent any time reading these articles (you have? what did you think?), you’ll know there’s two things I love: old, grimey VHS Horror tapes and Horror soundtracks, particularly from the era from the ’60s to the ’80s. And like anyone passionate about old things, there is a danger of running out of those things.
Thankfully, the Manchester-based musician OH/EX/OH is remedying this situation by creating modern antiquities, music done in the style of late ’70s, early ’80s horror/thriller/suspense soundtracks.
For these new mixes, Oh/Ex/Oh has created a unique blend of original music and classic horror movie samples. If there’s one thing that’s common across all of these broadcasters I’m mentioning today, is they are excellent sample diggers, and masterful collagists. I am endlessly inspired by their knowledge, their attention to detail, and their psychotropic bricolage.
V/H/S Themes 1 & 2 are a smorgasbord for the horror cognoscenti. They work on a number of levels. The music, alone, is masterful, mostly created with antiquated electronic equipment. It ranges in style from Vangelis-style Floating Cloud City synthscapes to gnarly warehouse abstract techno, to pulsing, plodding slasher-cam John Carpenter worship.
Trainspotting the samples is equally entertaining, and rewarding. So far, I’ve spotted quotes from Nightmare On Elm Street, The Fly, and possibly The Hitcher, and I look forward to listening to these mixes again and again, and identifying the movies I haven’t seen.
Bonus skulls for outstanding graphic design, with authentic smudged and gritty VHS art.
OH/EX/OH, and everybody on this list, make me proud to be a part of this community, to take part in such thorough and enlightening art and analysis.
It’s a little ridiculous that he’s giving these mixes away for free. So take a moment, and give him a bit of your attention. Check out his albums on bandcamp, as well, as they are essential listening, particularly The House In The Woods.
<a href="http://www.mixcloud.com/ohexoh/vhs-horror-themes-vol-ii/”>volume II
Wyrd Daze #5
Wyrd Daze is a monthly, subscription-based internet publication, that comes with a podcast, original music, video and a PDF ‘zine of writing and artwork, coagulated by Englishman-in-Quebec (another Canadian) Leigh Wright, who also makes music under the name The Ephemeral Man.
Wyrd Daze is one of my favorite publications on the internet, arriving on your virtual doorstep once a month, with a fresh blast of music criticism, beautiful photography, and short stories. Full disclosure: I frequently write for Wyrd Daze, and have become friends with many of its inhabitants, but that has been through the process of writing and making music on the internet, and I legitimately love their artwork, in a critical capacity as well as a heartfelt one.
Like the rest of the denizens of this list, Leigh Wright is one of the most talented collagists I know, with a keen ear, and a deft touch on the razor. He creates uncanny valleys to get lost in and explore, out of other people’s artwork.
For the most recent edition of Wyrd Daze, The Ephemeral Man has created an audio collage of the first season of Hannibal, chock full of incidental music and spoken dialogue. The dialogue may contain some spoilers, so be advised. I’ve not seen any of that series yet, but, judging by Leigh’s collage, it’s sounds truly terrifying and unnerving. Another mark on the checklist that we are about to enter a new Golden Age Of Horror.
Unearthing Forgotten Horrors
I couldn’t pick a favorite from this list (they’re all my favorites), but Unearthing Forgotten Horrors, a radio show by Englishman-in-England Darren Charles, is the one I probably look forward to the most. It’s a (roughly) weekly radio program that airs on Wednesdays on Basic.fm, at 10 pm UTC (which is English time. Roughly 1 pm Pacific Time), and host Darren Charles archives all the shows on his Mixcloud account.
I’ve written about Unearthing Forgotten Horrors once before, back in November, when they organized their live music and rare film screening event at the Star And Shadow Cinema, in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, England. Unearthing Forgotten Horror mines the rich, black seam of horror movie soundtracks, wyrd folk, archaic electronica and otherworldly drones. It is an unspeakable resource for discovering rare sounds you’ve never dreamed of, and transforming your otherwise bland Hump-Day into a retrofuturistic Giallo exorcism.
Some notable inclusions, from the first five episodes have been tracks by Rick Wakemen, Goblin, Forest, Comus, Les Baxter, Brian Eno and Angelo Badalamenti. Listening to this program will make you not only want to seek out the films they were sourced from, but to dig out the soundtracks, as well.
Unearthing Forgotten Horrors is one of the best examples of how an interest in a genre (or anything, really), splashes over into other genres and interests. Hardly anyone is interested in just one thing. For an intersection of magickal British folk and early computer sounds, suspense strings and archaic synths, look no further!
This radio program, and I’m not just saying this, can make your life a more magickal, interesting and imaginative experience. Re-inject cosmic awe into the middld of your week!
And last but not least, I leave you with…
As I mentioned at the top, it can be hard to find the time to read, in today’s busy world, but it is a rare and precious gift, that should not vanish entirely. Written horror (and in this case, read), is capable of doing things, as a medium, that cinematic horror just can’t. Writing can get inside a character’s head, and gets inside yours, in the process. It is able to be slower and more atmospheric than movies, which plunge along at a reckless pace, and as such can be creepier and more unsettling.
No Sleep started off as a reddit group, where readers submitted original fiction for peer review. Eventually, they decided to vote on the best, and produce a PodCast of the winners. Not only is it a testament to short horror in general, but in how DIY fan communities can truly create some exceptional art. And if you’ve ever spent any time on any of the horror reddits, you won’t be surprised to know that this can be some pretty strong stuff, some pretty bad medicine.
Each week, the No Sleep Podcast gives half of its stories away for free, with a full download available to subscribers. The narrators are picked from the Reddit community, and I can easily say, some of these folks have a future in reading audiobooks.
The free stories from the last episode were:
“It Wasn’t My Stop“ written by Juan Flores and read by Jessica McEvoy. Music by Brandon Boone. (Story starts at 00:03:30)
“What It Said“ written by Jon Patrick and read by Kyle Akers. (Story starts at 00:09:05)
“The Cecil Hotel“ written by Mateo Hellion and read by Lynne Darlington. Music by Brandon Boone. (Story starts at 00:21:15)
“It Wasn’t My Stop” tells the story of a creepy encounter on a late-night bus in a city.
“What It Said” deals with Voyager Probes, and what kind of response that Golden Record might receive. It crosses over into some paranoid Sci-Fi territory.
The last story, “The Cecil Hotel”, was my favorite. It tells the story of Jaclyn, a ghost hunter and true crime fanatic that visits famous haunted hotels. She stays in the same room that The Night Stalker was supposed to have stayed in, and otherworldly events begin almost immediately.
This story has every element I like in a short story: an art-deco hotel, a haunted history, tons of atmosphere, and lots of creepy details, like when Jaclyn’s clothes are laid out on the bed in the shape of an executed person, while she’s in the shower.
Its genuinely scary.
I’ll say no more, as you should hear it for yourself.
No Sleep is a great place to start, if you’re ever curious what’s out there, or feeling at a loss for inspired horror. There’s a ton of material to delve into! Its also cool that so much of this material is written by young authors, and it’s a great way to foster and inspire young talent.
That’s more than enough, for now. I hope you’ve enjoyed this trawl through the dark side of the air waves.
What are some horror radio programs and podcast y’all enjoy? Let us know in the comments.
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