Well it is one of my favorite times of the year once again: Halloween! What is it that makes Halloween such as magical time of the year? Sure, candy is always a bonus with these kind of things, but for me what makes it special is how you can walk down the street and see everything decked out with ghosts, vampires, skeletons, jack-o-lanterns, werewolves and all those other great stock monsters. Plus it doesn’t have nearly the amount of saturation that Christmas does, so it feels a bit briefer, and as a result perhaps a bit more special.
I could rant and rave about all the ways Halloween is being ruined, such as trunk-or-treating and excessive paranoia, but I think it would better to do something positive. As such I’ve decided to make a special Halloween themed edition of The Audio File. There’s a lot of ground we could potentially cover, but I figured it would be best to stick with the classics. As such we’re going to look at a podcast I’ve stuck with since I was a kid. I’m talking, of course, about The Moonlit Road.
Named after the Ambrose Birce short story of the same name, The Moonlit Road has been going since 1997 and bringing some of the best ghost stories and folk tales from across the American South. It is produced in Stone Mountain, Georgia and is headed by Craig Dominey. Since many of these stories are based on folklore and urban legends chances are that you may have encountered them in one form or another at some point. However, that certainly does not take away from how chilling and entertaining they can be. It certainly helps that The Moonlit Road features a wide variety of narrates who know how to bring these stories to life. It’s not about the basic plot, but rather, how well you tell the story that matters.
Next to R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series and Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark trilogy, The Moonlit Road was always my go to place for chills and thrills. Also, if you’re going to checkout their website you might want to make sure you have flash so you can see the site in its full glory. Though I’ve gotten older I, and listeners of all ages, still find so much to enjoy from this podcast. There are also plenty of great text-only stories, but since this is The Audio File we’ll focus on those with an audio adaptation. Also, because of the short and uncomplicated nature of these stories, expect the reviews for this post to be a tad shorter than usual.
Without further ado, let’s take a walk down The Moonlit Road…
The Boo Hag by Veronica Byrd and Craig Dominey
Narrated by Veronica Byrd
This story comes to us from Georgia and tells of a man named Emmet Fisher. He has married the woman of his dreams, but he’s not quite happy. His wife tends to disappear late in the night. Is she really all she seems, or is she a Boo Hag in disguise?
This was one of the very first stories from the Moonlit Road that I ever listened to, and it remains one of my favorites. I’d never heard of Boo Hags before listening to this story. If you keep up with my reviews you ought to know how excited I am to learn about new legendary creatures. Specifically, Boo Hags come from the Gullah people of South Carolina and Georgia. What really sold me on this story was Veronica’s great narration. Veronica remains one of my absolute favorite narrators because of the passion and emotion she brings to the stories. The ending always stuck with me as particularly memorable, and there’s some really nice illustrations on the story’s page.
It’s one of my favorites and I’m sure you’ll like it too.
Taily-Po by Veronica Byrd
Narrated by Veronica Byrd
This story follows a man named Smitty who has given up modern life to live in the remote Georgia wilderness. On a cold winters night he chops the tail off of a strange catlike creature that has broken in it his house. He uses the tail for desperately needed food, but soon the creature returns for the tail.
This is one of those stories you’ve probably heard before in some form or another. This was the first time I’d ever come across this story, not counting “The Big Toe” from Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Still, it’s not about how many times you’ve heard the story, but rather, how’s it’s told. Veronica gives a particularly chilling performance. I can well recall lying awake in bed at night and worrying about strange noises thanks to this story. Granted, I’ve never eaten any tails (that I’m aware of), but you never know.
A tale of tail that’s sure to keep you up at night.
The Coughing Dog by Craig Dominey
Narrated by Thomas E. Fuller
This story follows a young woman named Kristin who has moved into an old mill in a rough part of Atlanta. It’s just down the street from a prison, but her neighbors are nice enough people. All the same, her dad has insisted that she adopt a dog to help keep her safe. One day the dog begins choking and, well, you’ll have to find out for yourself.
Okay, this is another story that you’ve probably heard before, but it is still told quite well. For me, the fact that this story lacks any supernatural elements makes it even scarier because it sounds like something that could actually happen. Though, I really doubt most actual burglars would stick around for long if they got their fingers bitten off. Still, burglars breaking in was one of those things that always kept me up at night. Hey, that could actually happen, unlike some of the other horrors on this list. Thomas Fuller, who passed away in 2002 at age 54, gives a great narration to this story.
A story that’s chilling in an all too real sense. Give it a shot.
Chancy Fox by Thomas E. Fuller
Narrated by Thomas E. Fuller
This story follows a Louisiana gambler named Chancy Fox who has run afoul with the law. While hiding out in the swamps he comes across a clan of hungry vampires. Could they hold the answer to his troubles?
It wouldn’t be Halloween unless we had so classic monsters on our list. Also, don’t worry, these are properly scary vampires and not sparkly in the least. Louisiana, especially New Orleans, has a rich history of vampire lore so it makes sense to have a story like this set in Louisiana. Thomas Fuller once again does a great job with the narration. Not really much more to add on this one.
A nice little vampire story to get you in a Halloween mood. Happily recommended.
The Town Without Death by Craig Dominey
Narrated by Lanny Gilbert
This story is set in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky and follows a widower named Sam who has recently moved to the town of Burning Creek. The townsfolk seem nice enough, and the restaurants serve delicious food, but something about the town troubles Sam. There are no cemeteries in Burning Creek, and there’s something just a tad familiar about the meat they serve for dinner.
Depending on how you look at it Kentucky is either the Northern most Southern state or the Southern most Northern state. In any event, if it’s good enough for The Moonlit Road it’s good enough for me. Small remote little towns are some of the best settings for horror. All sorts of things can go down in the remote wilderness. Also, besides the longpork pies, there are some supernatural elements to this story, but I wouldn’t want to spoil that for you. Though I will say, even with what the meat turns out to be, this story always make me feel hungry for some reason. Lanny really knows how to bring the story to life with his narration.
A delectable tale that’s sure to leave you hungry for more. Give it a taste.
Skull Lake by Craig Dominey and Lanny Gilbert
Narrated by Lanny Gilbert
This story takes place in Alabama and follows a group of boys who decide to play hooky on the last day of school. They were just looking for fun at the quarry swimming hole, but then one of them gets killed. They do their best to hide the body, but will they truly escape the consequences?
This is another one of those stories that has really stuck with me. I guess what made it so memorable was that, barring the supernatural elements, I could easily see this story playing out in real life. The other factor could be the way this story emphasis how actions have consequences, and sooner or later we must all face them. What really sealed it all together would definitely be Lanny’s chilling narration. This is certainly another story that has kept me awake at night.
A story about how we all must pay our dues. Very much recommended.
The White Dress by Richard and Judy Dockrey Young
Narrated by Richard and Judy Dockrey Young
This story tells of a girl from Florida who can’t afford a prom dress. While visiting a funeral parlor she decides steal a dress from a recently deceased girl. Needless to say, it doesn’t end well.
This is another of those stories you’ve probably heard before, but it’s still worth giving a listen. I liked that this rendition sets the story in the Haitian community in Southern Florida and that the dress is laced with voodoo dust rather than embalming fluid. For that matter, the fact that the dress caused paralysis rather than killing the girl made this story slightly scarier. Getting buried alive is another one of those fears that’s plagued me for years. The credits claim Richard and Judy narrated, but I only heard Richard, who did a decent job.
A familiar story with a new twist put on it. Worth checking out.
Wait Til Jessie Comes by Craig Dominey
Narrated by LaDoris Davis
This story follows a traveling salesman in rural Mississippi who has taken refuge in an old abandoned home during a storm. Each time he wakes up he sees a new cat, each bigger than the last, and they’re all waiting for someone named Jessie to come.
This story has appeared in a few other forms over the years. The one I remember the most is “Wait Til Martin Comes” from Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. On the whole I’d say this is a pretty good adaptation of the story. LaDoris does a pretty good job with the narration, but personally I’m still partial to George S. Irving’s narration from the Scary Stories audiobook. That’s just my view, though, if this is your first time with this story you might find you like it better.
A familiar story that I nonetheless recommend.
The Plat Eye by Veronica Byrd
Narrated by Veronica Byrd
This story follows two sisters from Georgia named Nellie-Belle and Jean LaRue who are looking to going swimming on a hot summer day. Their Gra’ma Matilda warns them to keep away from the Gongetcha Woods and watch out for plat-eyes. The girls, however, decide to throw cation to the wind with predictable results.
Another great creature feature courtesy of the Gullah people, and another great narration from Veronica. There’s some nice illustrations to go alone on the story’s page. This is a fun little story with a humorous twist at the end. It’s also a story that can be shared with younger listeners as well. Not much more to add on this one.
A fun little creature feature perfect for listeners of all ages. I happily recommend it.
The Click-Bok Tree by Lester Thomas
Narrated by Lester Thomas
This story follows the children of an African king who have been sold into slavery. Before the king was killed by slavers he gave his oldest son a seed from a click-bok tree. The click-bok trees are magical and have protected their family in the past, and it will continue to do so in the strange land of Alabama.
Okay, I suppose this is more of a Black History Month story, but it’s got a man eating tree in it, so that’s got to count for something. This story really felt like it came straight out of folklore. It’s really nice to see a story where slaves get revenge on their masters. The page for this story includes some really cute little drawings to go along with it. This is another story that can be enjoyed by all ages. As for narration, Lester does a really great job bringing the story to life.
A tale about slavery and freedom with a magical twist. I happily recommend it.
Patin’s Pumpkin Patch by Tom Coleman
Narrated by Tom Coleman
This story follows two Cajun boys looking for a little Halloween mischief. They’ve been told to stay out of Patin’s pumpkin patch because of the tati, the Cajun boogeyman, but they’re not too worried. Let’s just say they get a bit more than they bargained for.
First of all, Tom absolutely nailed it with his Cajun accent in the narration of this story. It was a happy coincidence that this story had a bit of a Halloween theme to it. As always, it’s great to meet a new creature from folklore and legend. I shouldn’t say more without give the story away.
A short and spicy Cajun Halloween tale for you enjoyment. Well worth a listen.
Mississippi Rose: A Mississippi Ghost Story by LaDoris Davis and Craig Dominey
Narrated by LaDoris Davis
This story follows a young man named Joshua who has moved to rural Mississippi to help his grandfather on the farm. While driving a load of hay to a neighbor late at night he comes across a pretty girl named Rose. As you may have guessed, there’s more to her than meets the eye.
As you might have figured out, this story is a variant on the Vanishing Hitchhiker legend. Like I’ve said before, it’s not how many times the story has been told, but rather how it’s told. In this case, LaDoris provides a great narration to really make the story memorable. The story also has a slightly more humorous take on the legend than most retellings.
A humorous take on a familiar legend. Well worth your time.
Graveyard Dogs by Wendy Webb
Narrated by Wendy Webb.
We’ll end our list with the story of a boy named Joseph Blakely who loves nothing more than messing with old widow Morris and her goat Emerson. When the widow passes away Joseph decided to see for himself if she’s really dead. He decides to visit her grave at night, despite the legends of the demon dogs that haunt the cemetery at night.
When I listened to this story I was very much reminded of Tom Sawyer. This story does have a very Mark Twain feel to it. The twist at the end is exactly the sort of thing you’d expect from a story written by the man himself. As for the narration, I thought that Wendy did an excellent job.
By this point you know I’m gonna give a hearty recommendation.
Well we’ve reached the end of the list and I hope you had a good time. I tried to give a good cross section of what The Moonlit Road has to offer by including as many states and cultures as I could on the list. That and I figured thirteen was an appropriate number for a Halloween post. When I was making this post I discovered that many of my favorite stories have disappeared or exist as text only. I can’t say exactly why that this, but what I am saying is get them while they’re hot. And hey, these are just a few of the many great stories, both text and audio, The Moonlit Road has to offer.
I had such a good time I might just do this again next year, or at least something similar. I also earmarked a few of the more historical stories for the version of The Audio File that I run over at Alternate History Weekly Update, so stay tuned for that. And don’t worry, this won’t be our last trip down The Moonlit Road. I’ve already got a couple stories lined up for The Audio File’s Christmas special. In the meantime, there still many more great stories to come.
Happy Halloween everyone, and I will see you next time.