Month: April 2023

Now you see me, now you dont

The Evaporated review

Production company – Campside Media

Rating –

The evaporated logo

When I first heard about this podcast the premise sounded very dramatic, and quite possibly very spooky. Two things I’m sure you’ll know by now that get me salivating with anticipation.

Nobody is immune to social conditioning, including me, so when I saw that this took place in Japan, my mind immediately jumped to some very dark places indeed. Seemingly in spite of my predictable trope guessing, the story completely went in the opposite direction.

So what’s it about?

The Evaporated follows the story of mild mannered Japanese accountant Morimoto. As the day approaches to submit his clients tax returns, he seems to vanish into thin air. This is something of a problem for the people who are relying on him, and so begins the hunt to establish exactly what happened to him.

The podcast is presented by Jake Adelstein, an American reporter who has lived in Japan for years. Specialising in researching criminal activities in Japan, he seems perfectly placed to investigate this strange event.  As the plot thickens, a whole new world is exposed. A world where it is possible to just vanish. And as it turns out it’s easier than you’d think.

With the hunt for Morimoto underway, the question is whether they’ll find him alive or not. Or indeed, whether they’ll find him at all.

Is it any good?

I wouldn’t say it was good per se, but it is very interesting. The whole culture of vanishing without a trace, particularly in Japan, is fascinating. It doesn’t always end up the way you expect.

The story is like a cat and mouse, but without the mouse. Morimoto has disappeared, and has left no trace whatsoever. There’s no real drama, and whilst the investigations into the technical aspects of making yourself vanish are interesting, it’s hard to pad them out into a compelling series.

Final thoughts

Everyday’s a school day as they say, and I certainly learned a thing or two here. Despite not being what I expected, it’s an ok series. Unfortunately it doesn’t hold up with other, similar series.

I appreciate that this is a slightly shorter review than normal, but this is quite a hard series to expand upon. If you’re a diehard fan of true crime podcasts, then I guess you’ll like it. It just doesn’t have the drama of series like Deep Cover, True Spies or Hunting Warhead.

You can get The Evaporated here:

Or wherever you get your podcasts

To Hellier and back

The Haunted Objects Podcast

Rating –

The Haunted Objects Podcast logo

Another queue jumper this week. I have just finished watching the season one of the brilliant series Hellier. This particular nugget of high strange came to my attention after hearing a discussion about it on Some Other Sphere. I duly dug it out, and couldn’t stop watching (apart from writing podcast reviews of course). Since then I started following Greg Newkirk on twitter and I saw that he had a podcast with his wife Dana and their researcher friend Connor. Obviously I subbed immediately and downloaded the entire series. 

So what’s it about?

Apart from making outstanding documentaries and investigating the paranormal, Greg and Dana run the Newkirk Museum Of The Paranormal, and it is artefacts from their collection that make up the main part of each episode.

The oddities in question (as far as the podcast goes so far) range from a plank of wood from the Amityville house, to some 1930s goggles to help you see auras. These items are just a jumping off point for discussion though. As the episodes progress, there are deep dives into the histories of the objects and the people connected to them, and plenty of digressions too. Of particular interest to me was the episode on the “Dybbuk box”, a story that I found terrifying when I first read it. I won’t spoil it here, but it’s a very good tale and full of the mystery and misdirection that categorises the Newkirk’s output.

Is it any good?

Absolutely. This series is (like Mary Poppins) practically perfect in every way. The episodes are brilliantly researched and expertly presented. They are spooky in all the right places, and light hearted enough so that you don’t get that brain fog so typical of serious paranormal podcast binges. I say “light hearted”, I mean this show is absolutely hilarious. There have been many laugh out loud moments, especially Dana commenting on how thicc the mothman statue is. Actually, Dana commenting on anything is usually good for a laugh.

The team, (now recently joined by Keelin Mathews) have such a great connection with each other. I think this helps with the telling of the stories, and you really have the feeling that you are sitting in with a group of friends as they happen to be talking about cursed black mirrors and painting that will burn your house down.

I guess all those sigils that Dana has charged over the years are working, because I honestly love everything the the Newkirks are putting out. Maybe that’s because their sense of humour is the same as mine. I think that must be it really, because there are many paranromal podcasts out there that fall short of my complete admiration and fanboy drooling like this one recieves.

Final thoughts

I first heard of the Newkirks quite a while back after reading about their “most terrifying exhibits”. I can’t remember where this was, although I suspect it was while I was using the “stumbleupon” browser addon. Over the years, they drifted from my memory (sorry guys). Even after hearing mention of Hellier I didn’t make the connection. In fact it wasn’t until I actually went to the website to hunt for an email address I had that AHA! moment and realised that the museum was the same one I’d read about all those years ago.

I can’t really recommend this series highly enough, unless you really don’t like anything paranormal. But then I can’t recommend Hellier enough either. You should check both out immediately. So close this window on your browser and get on the case. DO IT. RIGHT NOW!

I’m gutted now that I’ve got through the whole series so far. The best thing about missing the launch of a podcast is being able to binge the whole lot. The bad part is I’ve got to wait for the next episode now. At least I’ve got half of series two of Hellier to binge.

You can get The Haunted Objects Podcast here:

Or wherever you get your podcasts 

Under Presho

The house that vanished review

Production Comapny – BBC

Rating –

The House That Vanished logo

This series followed on as part of the excellent BBC dramas I’ve reviewed in the past. The title captivated me immediately, and I was expecting something like The House On The Borderland. I was in for something of a shock though. Rather than something spooky and mysterious, what we have here is something purely grounded in reality, yet no less mysterious. 

So what’s it about?

Rather than the fictional dramas of previous series, this story is true. It follows the remarkable and heartbreaking story of Irish filmmaker Neville Presho. In the 1970s he made a documentary about the loss of traditional Irish ways of life. Whilst filming on the remote Tory Island, he falls in love with the rugged beauty and simple way of life on the island and buys a house overlooking the sea. Whilst not “born of the island” and truly a local, he integrates into life on the island, and is quite literally living the dream.

As is usually the case though, things change and Neville ends up moving to New Zealand. Tory Island though, always remains in his heart and he knows that one day he’ll return.

That day comes round, and as his family are on the ferry to Tory Island, Neville is eagerly telling them about the wonderful view of the harbour from his house, and how it’s the oldest house on the island. As the ferry rounds the headland something is wrong. The harbour is there, but the house is not. Maybe he remembers it wrong. It’s been years since he was here after all. Deep down he knows he’s not wrong. The house should be there, but it isn’t.

Just what the hell is going on?

Is it any good?

It’s an interesting story for sure, but I’m not sure it resonates on the same level as other true life podcasts on my list, and it lacks the excitement of the fictional stories on this BBC series of shows.

Being a BBC series, you know there’s no expense spared regarding production value. The dramatisation is very good, with all the actors on top form. You really get to sympathise with poor Neville and his long suffering wife.

Unfortunately that’s as far as my emotional responses can stretch. Ultimately, Neville’s life choices did him no favours, and whilst the obviously criminal actions of the antagonists are inexcusable, I feel Neville could have pursued matters differently. I’ve not been in that situation though, so take that with a pinch of salt if you like.

Final thoughts

As I mentioned above, this is certainly an interesting and unbelievable tale. Stranger than fiction in fact. You can’t help but feel sorry for Neville and the way an entire community turned their back on him. Unfortunately, I can’t give the series full marks because it’s just missing something for me.

The main thing I took away from this, is that you should never take your loved ones for granted. Even they have limits, and the person I feel most sorry for is Neville’s wife. She obviously didn’t sign up for any of this, and Neville’s deteriorating mental health and alcoholism stretched her love to breaking point. That is the tragedy here. Neville put a house (albeit a really nice one) above someone who loved him unconditionally.

You can get The House That Vanished here:

Or wherever you get your podcasts.

Frayed ends of sanity

Ghosted review

Production company – Long Cat Media

Rating –

Ghosted logo

Allow me to tell you one of the most terrifying experiences I had when I was a child. I remember me and my brother going to bed a bit early because my parents had some friends coming round. We’d been in bed for a while when I heard shouting coming from the living room. Not just like an argument, this was more frantic. Something horrible was happening, but I couldn’t hear what. 

Anyway, it turns out that a group of them were rehearsing for an amateur production of The Monkey’s Paw. I didn’t know what that was at the time, but it planted a seed in my brain. A few years ago, I developed a love for the 70s supernatural TV plays. I’m quite happy to put this down to that night when I was young. Shows like Dead Of Night and Beasts told terrifying stories in contemporary settings. Usually revolving around unloved women on the brink of a nervous breakdown. These shows were experts in building tension. But what does this rambling have to do with the review? Well read on and hopefully I’ll elucidate.

So what’s it about?

Ghosted follows the story of Beth. She is the owner of a lighthouse that she has tried, with varying degrees of success, to turn into a luxury B&B. Helped only by her mysterious aging housekeeper, Beth is finding the stress of running a business and the isolation of the lighthouse increasingly stressful. This isn’t helped by local stories concerning the lighthouse itself.

Her already tenuous grip on her sanity really starts to slip when an old university friend books in for a break, but using a pseudonym. The two friends try to rebuild their friendship after Beth’s unannounced departure from the university course years ago. As the two friends start to defrost their estrangement, events in the lighthouse start to escalate. As they increase in intensity Beth’s grasp on reality becomes increasingly tenuous.

Is it any good?

As I mentioned in my somewhat long-winded intro, it’s very reminiscent of 1970s TV horror stories. For some reason the one that really springs to mind is an episode from the Dead Of Night entitled The Exorcism. I think mainly because of the stress of keeping up appearances despite the occurences becoming increasingly bizarre and terrifying. This ratcheting of tension also reminds me of the climax of The Telltale Heart.

The acting is great, but in a very retro manner, if that makes sense. When you see old TV shows, the acting style is a lot different to modern techniques. Maybe because in the 60s and 70s, actors got their chops on stage rather than going straight to TV. I don’t know, I was only young, and I’m no media expert, but that’s my opinion.

The plot is also very tight and the drama between the two leads is great. As their backstory is revealed and secrets exposed, you really start to wonder exactly what is going on here. There are multiple layers to the story that keep you guessing and produce real surprise when they come to light.

Final thoughts.

If you’re a fan of old TV mystery and horror, then you will absolutely love this series. Particularly the work of Nigel Kneale. Having waxed lyrical about how this drips with retro vibes, I don’t actually know if that was the intention here. At the end of the day, these ramblings are just my thoughts, and hopefully you agree. 

This was a great way to kick off a podcast. The second story has just launched, and I’ll be interested to see how that one plays out. I haven’t started it yet, but then I have so many podcasts on my list, it’s not possible to get through every new epsiode as it drops. Rest assured, I will reiew it when it’s done.

You can get Ghosted here:

Or wherever you get your podcasts

A whole new world

Some Other Sphere review

Rating –

Some Other Sphere logo

Back to the world of the mysterious this week. I can’t remember how I heard about this show, but it probably cropped up on my twitter timeline. That seems to be how I usually hear about podcasts nowadays. Well that, and people interviewed on podcasts like this. But read on and we shall rend the veil between the magical and mundane.

So what’s it about?

Some Other Sphere is essentially an interview series focussing on some different, mysterious subject. Or “exploring our strange world, one conversation at a time” as the host puts it (in a much better and concise way if I do say so myself).

Each episode sees host Rick Palmer interview somebody in a different niche field. I can’t really make it any more specific than that, the interviewees range from authors, to occultists, from cryptozoologists to tarot readers and paranormal investigators.

Think of it as The Fortean Times, but as a podcast and you won’t go far wrong.

Is it any good?

I really like it. It reminds me somewhat of the old school programs we’d watch in the 80s, when the giant old TV would be wheeled into the classroom. This feeling of nostalgia is helped with the electronic theme song that really gives it that hauntological edge. There is still a part of me that waits for the instruction to “take out your workbooks”.

Rick’s enthusiasm for the subjects really comes through, and despite his knowledge of the subject matter, his excitement when some connection is made is obvious (and that makes two of us!)

So far the whole thing squeaks in at just under 100 episodes. I know that nearly 100 episodes can’t really be described as a “squeak”, but compared to a lot of the similar shows, it’s pretty fresh faced and I’m having no problems ploughing through it in 7 hour chunks.

There are a few subjects where there are a few real holes in his knowledge. The one that springs to mind was early on when he interviewed Matt Hopewell about discordianism. I was waiting for them to bring up the work of the KLF, or even Chris Morris’ TV show Brass Eye (which certainly falls into the ballpark of “Operation Mindfuck”, especially the episode about drugs). In other podcasts, I start thinking I’ve caught the host out, because I know something that doesn’t get brought up, but they’ll invariably mention it before the end. Not here though. I can’t expect someone to know everything about everything, so I won’t mark the show down for that. But seriously WATCH BRASS EYE!

Final thoughts

There are many folklore and mystery podcasts out there. Unfortunately they vary wildly in quality of style and content. Some Other Sphere straddles both of these with ease. It’s never boring, and the choice of guests is varied enough to keep even the fussiest listener entertained for at least a few shows.

There’s a lot to be said for these cosy talking head style interview podcasts with no sound effects or adverts. Producing the show inthis way really give the guests a chance to shine without anhy distractions from the subject matter.

This podcast really reminds me of The Folklore Podcast by Mark Norman. Although, whereas that show veered more towards the academic, which is fine in its own way, it did tend to get a bit stuffy at times. This is a brilliantly accessible, entertaining and well made podcast that will have something for anyone with even a passing interest in the more leftfield subjects.

You can get Some Other Sphere here:

Or wherever you get your podcasts.


Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑