Month: May 2022

Be open to all to all possibilities

Dark Air with Terry Carnation review

Production company – Imperial Mammoth, Audioboom and Kelly&Kelly

Rating –

Dark Air logo

As you will have no doubt read in last week’s review. I’m a huge fan of Rainn Wilson’s curmudgeonly radio host Terry Carnation. When I discovered that he had his own show, I immediately subscribed. I wasn’t disappointed, and I don’t think you will be either (unless you don’t like the guy, but then I can’t help that).

So what’s it about?

Terry Carnation is a haunted man. An “expert” on the paranormal and the occult, he had his own late night radio talkshow that offered him some success. After the death of his wife, he had a breakdown and lost the only other thing he loved. The radio show. Now however, he’s back. He has a new intern, the puppy dog like uberfan Jeet, and he’s ready to answer any mysteries the callers can throw at him.

During his first show, he receives a strange call from someone who he believes is his dead wife. This sets him off on a mission to solve the mystery. Is she dead and calling from beyond the grave, or is she alive and being held hostage somewhere? He travels all over the country (within reason) desperately looking for clues.

Is it any good?

Absolutely. As I said in the Radio Rental review, Terry Carnation is a genius character. This show really expands on it though. In Radio Rental, he was just introducing each “tape” and passing judgement on some of the stories, my comparison to Crypt Keeper in Tales From The Crypt was justified I think. Here, he is a fully fleshed-out eccentric. The characters are brilliantly realised too, from the strange callers and the even stranger employees at the radio station. His nemesis (and ex-intern) Wes Popovitz now has his own radio show too. Wes is best described as Alex Jones turned up to 11 (if your brain could even fathom that). It’s a spot-on parody of right wing conspiracy shows so beloved of a certain section of society.

You will happily follow Terry as he upsets everyone he meets, tests the patience of his long suffering therapist, makes illegal adverts in exchange for out of date food, and generally acts like a tornado of profanity and bad habits. Despite this, there is (occasionally) a genuine pathos to him. He is a man adrift. He’s lost the only person he ever loved, and he’s lashing out at the world trying to stay relevant (and sane), despite the efforts of the world to knock him down continually.

Final thoughts

This is a show that I can’t recommend highly enough. It is laugh out loud funny (if you have a reasonably dark sense of humour) and it’s very well produced. As I said, the voice acting is top notch, as is the sound design.

As I had mentioned in my review of A Voice From Darkness, this is the opposite (and yet equally perfect) mix of darkness and humour. That is 90% humour, 10% darkness. It’s really a mirror image of that show, and also of Radio Rental. Very few podcasts have that ability to warrant more than one playthrough. This is one of those.

Just do yourself a favour and subscribe to this right now.

When I was looking for the logo image and some production company info, I visitied his website. I only mention it because it is such a perfect design for a man like Terry Carnation that it really deserves a mention (and a visit too). You can find it here.

You can get Dark Air With Terry Carnation here:

https://audioboom.com/channels/5046661

Or wherever you get your podcasts

Stranger than fiction

Radio Rental review

Production company: Tenderfoot TV

Rating:

radio rental logo

This podcast was recommended to me by a work mate, so thanks Sam! To be honest it had been languishing in my “unplayed” list for a while now (as so many shows ultimately do). A few weeks ago I needed a change though. I decided to take the plunge into the strange and spooky tapes of the Radio Rental video store.

So what’s it about?

Radio Rental is a series of true stories sent in by listeners. Now don’t for one moment think that these are the same tired old ghost stories that get trotted out elsewhere. These are some very strange stories indeed. I think I had to get halfway through season 3 before I actually heard a “proper” ghost story. That said, there are stories that would be decidedly less scary if it was an actual ghost responsible! There are tales of odd timeslips, deja vu, close calls with murderers, and a few stories of a very particular fear of mine (but I’m not telling you what they are!)

Each episode is introduced by the brilliant Rainn Wilson as his character Terry Carnation. He is a delightful blend of Al Ridenour from Bone and Sickle (who isn’t a fictional character), and Dr. Malcolm Rider from Voice from Darkness (who is). His dulcet tones and curmudgeonly manner add some comic relief to the rather dark content of the episodes themselves.

Unlike other similar (albeit fictional) series out there, there is no main story arc or even a Terry Carnation meta plot here. I mean, all the stories are from different people, and Carnation is simply a host. It’s a grab bag of stories, some that beggar belief.

Is it any good?

Absolutely. I LOVE THIS SHOW! Terry Carnation is a brilliant host, and has some real laugh out loud moments. So much so that as soon as I’d finished this series, I immediately subscribed to his other podcast Dark Air. This will also be getting reviewed here very soon indeed. Next week in fact.

The stories are all very diverse and it seems that the producers try not to have lots of similar stories cropping up in each episode, so they always feel fresh. The production quality is also high, and each tale gives the impression of one of those spotlit talking head type interviews so beloved of paranormal TV shows.

Having Terry Carnation present each story, and adding his own little skits between really helps too. He’s like a less cadaverous (though no less humourous) version of the Cryptkeeper from Tales From The Crypt.

A (very minor) criticism is that the concept of a video rental store is a weird one. Each story is a “video tape” played by Carnation, and these tapes are the “under the counter” type illicit tapes not shown the the general public. I wonder if there would have been a better way of doing it, especially as Terry Carnation is a radio host. I suspect that the only reason is to use the cockney rhyming slang of the title (radio rental = mental). I’m not even sure if there were “radio rental” stores in America like there were here in the UK.

Final thoughts

My only problem with this show is whether some of these stories are actually true or not. These people either get in touch with the podcast directly or are found on Reddit. Now I can believe that someone had a close call with a murderer, or met some creepy person, but my Skeptic-O-Meter® starts to beep when people have the stranger, matrix like glitches in reality. None of these particular stories can be proved one way or the other and so have to be taken on face value.

Don’t let this put you off though. I don’t think there’s a single story that hasn’t totally gripped me, and now I’m caught up I really can’t wait for the next episode to launch.

You can get Radio Rental here:

https://radiorentalusa.com

Or wherever you get your podcasts.

Bleeding saints and forest witches

Bone And Sickle review

Rating –

Bone And Sickle logo

Honestly, I’ve been a fan of this show for years now. Therefore I feel it’s high time I got my lazy ass round to waxing lyrical about it. Originally, it had crossed my mind to write these reviews in some kind of chronological order from when I first heard them. Discovering so many great series though, meant that the inevitable queue jumpers soon put paid to that.

So without further ado, join me in the dusty yet cosy library in Al Ridenour’s ancient manor house, and lets delve into the weird and wonderful world of folklore.

So what’s it about?

Bone And Sickle (as mentioned in the previous paragraph) is primarily a folklore podcast. Now don’t roll your eyes and expect some boring academic banging on about corn dollies and morris dancing. This is a very entertaining show indeed.

The host, Al Ridenour is something of a recluse, holed up in a sprawling mansion. His only companions are his books and his long suffering servants (originally his butler Wilkinson, and more recently his housekeeper Mrs. Karswell).

Originally started as a companion to his book “The Krampus And The Old, Dark Christmas”, it has grown to encompass not just Germanic folklore, but all manner of global traditions and tales. I haven’t read this book, but if it is half as good as this podcast it’ll be a really great piece of work.

Each episode he looks at a different subject, and using some (quite frankly amazing) research, he uncovers little known facts and alternate versions of well known (and not so well known) folk tales and celebrations. There’s lots of debunking too, as some well known “facts” get dispelled. It’s interesting how stories change over time, sometimes centuries. What we think of now as “well known” is often completely different from the original tales.

Is it any good?

I’ve listened to this for so long, I can’t remember how I discovered it. I suspect that Mr Ridenour was interviewed on one of the other folklore podcasts I listen to. As soon as I’d finished the first episode I was hooked. There is an awful lot of information crammed into every episode. It never feels “academic” though, and it’s certainly never boring.

The inclusion of the butler Wilkinson, and then the apiarist MrsKarswell add both some comic relief, and some of the creepier meta stories that occur as the series progresses (from possessed mummified cats to the disappearance of the gardner). Interestingly, Sarah Chavez who plays Mrs Karswell also has her own very good podcast series all about the perception of death around the world. This isn’t her review though, so that’s all I’m saying for now!

The content here is similar to a series like Hypnogoria, where a great deal of knowledge is presented in an entertaining (and occasionally very funny) manner. There is also some inevitable overlap of the subject matter occasionally, but that’s ok, I don’t get bored of listening to this stuff. I’m loath to keep the comparisons going here, but I can’t help it. Both this and Hypnogoria deserve your time for the same reason.

Final thoughts

Al Ridenour is a brilliant host. A mix of eccentric weirdo* and folklore academic, he really makes these subjects interesting and easy to digest. Also, Sarah Chavez is great as Mrs. Karswell. A long suffering servant, who I suspect has some very creepy backstory and is usually in no mood to put up with Ridenour’s strange behaviour. She does her best to keep this ship on course, although her own eccentricity is hardly up to the task. Somehow though, the two of them manage.

The butler Wilkinson was also a great foil, and I was rather sad when he left, but Mrs. Karswell has been perfect at filling the gap. My mother was also rather enamoured with Wilkinson, although I don’t think she ever went so far as to join the Patron to get the signed photo of him, but I digress.

This is my favourite folklore podcast, in admittedly a rather short list. Better to be at the top of a short list than the bottom of a long list though eh? And one that is well worth your time. The subjects are diverse and I have to say that whilst pretty much every podcast uses show notes, they don’t always work in my podcatcher. It’s usually just a link to the website version. Bone And Sickle though has the full show notes right there to scroll through. I think this is a really nice touch that shows the effort put in to give everyone the best experience.

*I’m sure he’s not an eccentric weirdo in real life.

You can find Bone And Sickle here:

http://boneandsickle.com/

Or wherever you get your podcasts.

Speak up caller, you’re through

A Voice from darkness review

Rating –

A Voice From Darkness Logo

A Voice From Darkness was a bit of a new new discovery for me. It had been languishing in my podcast list for a while now, actually a long while. However, I’ve managed to blast through all the released episodes in about two days. So in the effort of striking while the iron’s hot, here is my review.

So what’s it about?

A Voice From Darkness is another horror anthology podcast that sits somewhere between The Storage Papers and The Magnus Archives. It’s told in the form of a radio phone-in, hosted by Dr. Malcolm Ryder. Ryder is a paranormal expert who listens to the caller’s stories and offers advice on how to cure all manner of ethereal problems.

It builds its own mythology almost from episode 1, although you won’t realise for a while. There are recurring characters that get mentioned, much like the characters in The Magnus Archives although without the cool names (you’ll see what I mean). When I heard the name of the main antagonist in this series I almost laughed out loud. It’s never going to be a spooky name, no matter how hard Dr. Ryder tries!

On top of the individual calls to the show that act as standalone stories, there is a larger story arc that comes into play too. One that concerns Ryder’s family history, and the skeletons that reside in the Ryder family closet. A lot of these are released piecemeal in separate episodes that take the form of answerphone messages and other correspondence outside of the radio station.

Is it any good?

It is. It’s a decent mix of darkness and humour (as in 90% darkness 10% humour), and I’m not counting the unintentional naming of the antagonists here. Ryder’s voice is perfect for the late night radio format of the series. Despite his occasional firmness, you get the impression that he really does care about the people who ring in.

Aside from Ryder, the voice acting is pretty good, and the drama is engaging and builds nicely as the series progresses. The episodes are well-written too. There doesn’t seem to be any sign of the writers losing steam or forgetting the motivations of the characters.

In much the same way as The Magnus Archives, the seemingly disparate calls build the mythology to a terrifying whole, where even the less extreme encounters hint at some real threat to life and sanity. Thankfully, Dr. Ryder is on hand to help of he can (although you’ll ignore his words at your peril).

Final thoughts 

When I first started this series, I was very close to giving up on it befire the first episode had even finished. I felt Ryder’s voice was cheesy and trying to be deliberately spooky. A few episodes later and I loved it though. I’m so glad I stuck at it (unlike certain other podcasts I’ve reviewed here).

I would recommend this series to fans of The Magnus Archives, SCP Archives, if you actually liked The Storage Papers, or indeed any other podcast with archives/papers/files in the title. This is how you do it right, and in a world where there is a dearth of similar themes, this one really stands out.

There are certainly worse shows out there to listen to. This is a solid four brain podcast that is well worth your time.

You can get A Voice From Darkness here:

https://vfdarkness.com

Or wherever you get your podcasts.

Is anybody there?

In Another Room review

Production company – Violet Hour Media

Rating –

In Another Room logo

A quick review of a quick series this time. I actually listened to the whole thing in a day, and had time for a few episodes of other shows too. Something that a few podcasts out there would do well to try. Violet Hour Media are a production comapny that I’m very familiar with, having been behind such series as The Elmwood Strain, The Gloom and Between The Devil. So how does this series shape up? We shall see.

So without further ado, join me as I tread the empty hallways and deserted rooms of a notoriously haunted house.

So what’s it about?

In Another Room follows the experience of paranormal investigator Wendy Morrow. She manages to gain access to “The House”, a building of some reputation, and despite the warnings of people who have worked and lived there, she spends the night alone (as they always do).

Things start off fairly quietly, but as the night progresses, things get serious and Wendy realises she should have listened to the warnings. But of course, by then it is too late (as it always is).

Each episode in the series investigates the ghosts that reside in each different room of the house. As the series progresses and more of the terrible backstory of the house gets uncovered, you realise that things are more connected than they seemed at first. The ghosts are from all time periods since the construction of the house, and their stories are diverse, but all tragic in their own way. 

There is more than one side to this story though, and I really don’t want to tell you about it because it will definitely affect the plot twists early on, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. The main arc is rather well done as the historical threads weave themselves into the story of the present.

Is it any good?

Yes and no. You’ll find nothing new or surprising with this story. There are well trodden horror tropes galore, and some elements border on the cliché. Toward the end of the series, there are so many plot threads at some points that it can get quite confusing. The secrets of the house get uncovered and as Wendy realises what she must do, the pace picks up.

Having said all that, it is quite good and if you have the time to set aside, it does make for a rather entertaining day’s listening. Just don’t expect top notch voice acting or “keep you up at night” horror. This review may sound like I can’t make my mind up whether I like it or not, and that’s because I really can’t. It’s like a rehash of the first series of American Horror Story, but not as good.

The one thing that really did creep me out was the poem at the end of the last episode. I keep meaning to see if that’s a “real” poem, or one that was written for the show. Either way, it was the standout part of the whole thing for me.

Final thoughts

I rediscovered this in my podcast list and honestly couldn’t remember it. So I went through it all again and still hardly remembered it. That tells you all you need to know really. If you go back through my reviews you’ll find podcasts way more worthy of your time. I’m going to say something now that may upset some people. There are some podcast production companies that are immediate guarantees of quality. Rusty Quill, Bafflegab and PRA to name a few. Violet hour media is not one of those companies. Don’t get me wrong, their podcasts are not terrible, but they aren’t brilliant either. Make of that what you will.

You can get Another Room here:

https://www.violethourmedia.com/in-another-room

Or wherever you get your podcasts

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