Month: November 2022

Agent of chaos

Hoaxed review

Production company – Tortoise Media

Rating –

Hoaxed logo

When it comes to factual podcasts, there are a few big players. Pushkin Industries is the one that immediately springs to mind, but one I was unaware of until relatively recently was Tortoise Media. I first heard of them when the presenter of the excellent Londongrad podcast was interviewed on the radio. That particular series blew my mind, so when I saw this podcast advertised, I dutifully subscribed.

So what’s it about?

Two children spoke out and told a story about how they were abused by satanists. These otherwise normal children recounted horrific crimes including cannibalism, sexual abuse and murder. The perpetrators of these despicable acts included local clergy, parents and school teachers. This may sound like something from 17th century New England, but this happened in 2014. In London.

As news of this spread all over the world, tempers flared in those who look to get angry about such things. People came to Britain to try and get “justice” for the children, and uncover the high-level conspiracy of silence. Could this be final proof of the global cabal of the reptilian overlords child trafficking?

Well no. The problem is that it was all a hoax. And this is where the real story starts. What possessed (pun slightly intended) two children to accuse innocent people of such awful crimes? And more to the point, how did this outlandish tale get so much traction? This is the point of the podcast.

As the series progresses, the truth comes to light, and the real people pulling the strings are exposed, as is the long lasting damage they caused to innocent people.

Is it any good?

In cases like this, I’m almost hesitant to say that it’s good. The facts behind the story are awful, and the emotions of (almost) everyone involved is apparent. For this reason, I would put it in the same league as Hunting Warhead. Hoax or not, this isn’t really a series to listen to if you’re triggered by such things. 

However, what is good is everything else. The research and journalism is faultless. The real need to try and get the reasons for the whole debacle, whether a fool’s errand or not, is absolutely necessary, and it is quickly becoming a Tortoise Media trademark.

Final thoughts

There seems to be a glut of “satanic panic” podcasts recently, and I will be carrying on this thread soon enough. I find it fascinating how otherwise rational people can get so fixated on what is nothing more than medieval grade religious hysteria. Not only that, but the actions of a few can convince so many into believing such things.

Another thing that is apparent in these cases is the real disregard for the very real harm done to people who get caught up in the furore. Mud sticks, and to be wrongly accused of anything, let alone such hideous crimes is not something I can fathom dealing with.

Tortoise Media is really producing some amazing content at the moment, and I can’t wait for the next story. 

You can get Hoaxed here:

https://www.tortoisemedia.com/listen/hoaxed/

Or wherever you get your podcasts.

Compact and bijou Mostyn

Tiny Terrors review

Production company – Rusty Quill

Rating –

tiny terrors logo

Almost a year go now, my very first review was of The Magnus Archives. This is still possibly my all time favourite podcast. At the time, I bemoaned the fact that it had spawned a multitude of imitators of varying quality. I stand by that opinion (mainly because it’s still true). But, you may ask, what does that have to do with this? Are these terrors of which you speak tiny by name and nature, or are they genuinely the stuff of nightmares? Well, read on and I’ll tell you.

So what’s it about?

The Tiny Terrors exchange is an swap shop for scary stories rather similar in tone to the Creepypasta website. Its origins hark back to the pre-internet days when writers would swap short stories by post. This was a sort of secret club. You could only join by being recommended by a writer already in the club, and every so often you would receive a story through the post to enjoy and review. In the digital age, and with the dawn of search engines, this secrecy was lost somewhat, although the exclusivity, and therefore quality was retained.

In each episode of the podcast, the employees of the exchange read a story and record it on tape. Running parallel to these recordings of weird fiction are stirrings of more sinister machinations just out of sight of the main plot, and soon the reality of the characters starts getting very strange indeed.

Is it any good?

I really like this one. It’s my favourite Magnus-alike series, and the side plot is reminiscent of The Storage Papers. Although, comparing it to either of these podcasts directly is a bit of a cop out, it’s more than capable of standing up on its own two feet.

Cole Weavers (I can spell his name, even if the Rusty Quill website can’t!) has done a stirling job with the writing. The characters are very likable and thanks to the voice cast, very believable. Regarding the acting, for the most part, it is great, and I love to hear familiar voices in there too. The individual stories are also very well written indeed. There are some incredibly strange nuggets of weird fiction to enjoy, so much so that I would rate this a five even if it was a straight anthology horror series.

Final thoughts

As I said, there are many, many podcasts out there now with a very similar premise. Tiny Terrors however, wears its Magnus Archives badge with pride. Not only is it by Rusty Quill, and as I said, there are a few familiar voices, even Jonathan Sims makes an appearance doing a very good Garth Marenghi impression, intentional or not.

I’ll be honest, despite me praising Rusty Quill to everyone, not all their podcasts appeal to me. In fact I’ve heard trailers to some that I have deliberately avoided. I guess this is only to be expected. Despite having a high success rate entertaining this podcast addict, I suppose 100% is too much to expect. You really should check this one out as soon as you can.

You can get Tiny Terrors here:

https://rustyquill.com/show/tiny-terrors/

Or wherever you get your podcasts 

Where have you been all my life?

Curious Matter Anthology

Rating –

curious matter anthology logo

As any collector will tell you, the joy of collecting is the accumulation of your chosen items rather than getting any use from them. This is certainly true of my podcast list, which despite growing almost exponentially, never seems to get any shorter.

One of the casualties of this accumulation is the aforementioned podcast series. I have only just got around to listening to this one, and it has given me a sore leg from kicking myself for not getting into earlier. Hopefully my introductory ramblings have whet your appetites somewhat, so without further ado, here is my Curious Matter Anthology review.

So what’s it about?

Curious Matter Anthology really does what it says on the tin. Each episode (or in some cases series of episodes), is a dramatisation of a classic weird fiction or sci-fi story. Adapted by Jonathan Pezza and with a cast of talented voice actors, each story really comes to life in a way rarely experienced in podcastland.

The first two stories in the series followed the travails of Mr. Robert Blake, in stories by Robert Bloch and H.P. Lovecraft, then it was a deep dive into an epic tale by Phillip K Dick. With the remainder of episodes featuring stories by Kurt Vonnegut, Henry Kuttner and Andre Norton.

The adaptations (particularly the Lovecraftian ones) sit nicely between the readings by the HPLHS, and the recent BBC releases of The Lovecraft Investigations. In the introduction to the first episode, Mr. Pezza says that was enamored by the BBC radio play of Star Wars. This really comes across in episode 1, with the orchestral background music very reminiscent of the John Williams Star Wars score.

Is it any good?

It’s outstanding. It has deceptively high production values and (for the most part) the voice acting is top notch. It is a very immersive experience, and each adaptation is very well written. The sound effects are also very well produced and really add to the immersion. This is nice for a change. Some series add superfluous noises that can either distract the listener, or worse add a kind of aural “matte line” that shows the joins between the sound effects and the recorded actors.

This is a relatively short series of stories (so far). I appreciate that they started this show right around the time that COVID ground the world to a halt, but hopefully there will be many more episodes in the pipeline.

I should also say that on the whole, I havent really been a fan of podcasts by Realm. I’m glad that this one is an exception. I’m also glad I didn’t dismiss it out of hand either!

Final thoughts

I’m sorry that it’s taken so long to get to this series. For the most part I’m really enjoying it. I’ll be honest, Phillip K Dick isn’t really my cup of tea. I can appreciate his influence though, and thanks to the high quality of both the writing and recording, it’s not too much of a slog to get through.

It will be interesting to see which stories get the Curious Matter treatment next. Personally, I’d like more Lovecraftian ones, but I trust the CMA gang to produce brilliant audio drama whatever they choose.

You can get Curious Matter Anthology here:

https://curiousmatterpodcast.com/

Or wherever you get your podcasts.

Are you sitting comfortably?

Shadows At The Door review

Rating –

Shadows At The Door logo

As I’m sure you’re all aware by now, I’m a massive fan of David Ault. He’s a great voice talent who has the uncanny knack of cropping up in a diverse range of podcasts, but whose appearance is always a guarantee of quality. His deadpan delivery is instantly recognisable, and I’m not ashamed that whenever he crops up in a show, there’s a little part of me that goes “yes”. Apart from raising the standard of other people’s work (there is one podcast that springs to mind that got a whole extra “brain” in my ratings just because he was in it), he also has this series. Now that I’ve finished with the fawning, read on and I promise I’ll try to keep the hyperbole to a minimum.

So what’s it about?

Shadows At The Door is an anthology podcast of ghost stories and creepy fiction by David Ault and Mark Nixon. In fact, the first episode is a very Jamesian, and deliciously chilling ghost story written by Mark Nixon himself. This isn’t the only episode penned my Mr. Nixon, but it was a brilliant way to start proceedings.

Whilst I have already given Mr. Ault a good deal of wordcount already, I don’t want to leave Mark Nixon out. He has quite a body of work as a writer for the (now legendary) NoSleep podcast, and even appeared as M.R. James on The Writers Mythos. This is a podcast I must admit I hadn’t heard of before, but I’ve duly subscribed and will be checking out asap.

After the actual reading, Mark and David go back over the story and discuss the themes and influences. This places it in a rather similar vein to A Podcast To The Curious (although that particular show doesn’t feature a full reading of James’ stories). It’s also slightly more light-hearted than the more scholarly Podcast To The Curious. This is a chance to lighten the mood here, as the darkness of the stories gives way to wordplay and humour.

Talking of humour, most of the recent (albeit sparse) episodes have been “drunk stories” told at Halloween and Christmas etc. Hearing David Ault trying to tell a story after drinking an inordinate number of shots is surprisingly funny, and way more entertaining than the similar TV shows. I suspect his is because David and Mark are genuinely wittier than the panel show fodder who usually lend their names to such light entertainment dross.

Is it any good?

I like this show a lot. Recently it does seem to have gone rather quiet over there though, which is a shame. Although I’m sure that this podcast is far from the main source of income for these two, so I’ll just await each new episode like a child hoping to get a full size snickers in his trick or treat bucket.

The stories, while very much genre specific are varied enough to be engaging, and even though some of these are tales you will no doubt have heard many times, you really can’t beat a good storyteller to breathe new life into a well known yarn.

Final thoughts

If you’re a fan of classic ghost stories, or indeed modern stories written in a classic style then this is for you. David Ault is second to none as a voice actor, and Mark Nixon is a very talented writer. They make a great team, and apart from the lack of output by these two, there isn’t anything I can fault here.

You really need to check this podcast out as soon as you can.

You can get Shadows At The Door here:

https://shadowsatthedoor.com/

Or wherever you get your podcasts 

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