Tag: Ghosts

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 

Sleep Tight

Haunted review

Production company – Chalk and Blade/Panoply

Rating –

Just a quick note before I begin. This review has lain half written for a long time, hence the opening paragraph below. This week though, Danny has announced the release of the sequel to The Battersea Poltergeist. This will be starting the day after this post is published, so I figure it’s a rather apt time to get this thing finished. I guess I’m no longer a completionist, at least until the end of the month anyway!

Consider me a completionist. I’ve now completed the Danny Robins trilogy of podcasts. I’d actually looked for this one back when I first heard The Battersea Poltergeist and couldn’t find it. Probably because I thought it was also released by the BBC. Thanks to a Facebook post, I found it and eagerly downloaded the whole series, ready to binge.

So what’s it about?

In a similar vein to the previously reviewed Uncanny, each episode features a different true story of ghosts and hauntings. People contact the show and get to tell their own creepy stories of the paranormal.

As with Uncanny, these aren’t run of the mill cliché type ghost stories. The stories told here are next level in the creepiness department. And the tension really ratchets up as the series progresses. The final story of the series is truly terrifying, and one that wouldn’t really be matched until halfway through Uncanny.

This series also features legendary Parapsychologist Ciarán O’Keeffe, a somewhat stabilising influence, as he has been since trying to lend legitimacy to the TV series Most Haunted. His critical mind usually finds some possible mundane explanation, and my personal thoughts on this aren’t really relevant. I’m not a Parapsychologist, so what do I know! His take on things though is always interesting, particularly his comments on false memories. I also just realised I’d always spelled his name wrong! I’ve now corrected this here, and in the Uncanny review. Sorry Ciarán!

Is it any good?

Absolutely. Danny Robins knows how to make a good podcast. His genuine amazement at the stories is infectious and really adds to the atmosphere. He also walks the fine line between believer and skeptic with great skill.

The main difference between this show and Uncanny is the lack of audience interaction, whereas Uncanny had lots of listeners contacting the show with extra information about the cases. This is probably because it was a totally new show and (please forgive me if I’m wrong), but Danny Robins was a rather unknown quantity when this podcast was released. It also means he has to trawl through library records to research the cases rather than crowd source it.

Final thoughts

Listening to this series after hearing Danny’s more recent work is like discovering the early albums of a favourite band. You can hear all of the familiar elements you know and love, but the production is not quite as polished and there is more of an “attitude” that changes as the band gets more established. But enough of the tenuous music analogies. This is another great podcast from Danny Robins, and as I’ve said before, I can’t wait to hear what’s coming up next. His involvement in a series is enough for me to immediately subscribe.

In the interest of getting my damn facts straight, I decided to listen to this series again. So I did. The whole thing in a day. It’s still as creepy as it was the first time I listened. If that’s not recommendation enough, then I don’t know what is.

You can listen to Haunted here:

https://www.dannyrobins.com/haunted

Or wherever you get your podcasts.

Terror never sounded so good

Uncanny Japan review

Rating –

Uncanny Japan logo

I love folklore, and (as I have said before) living in Wales there is plenty on offer. Because of this, I am often drawn to the more mysterious style podcasts. Whether actual folklore or fiction inspired by folklore, I just can’t get enough. Maybe it’s because of my love of J-Horror or Anime, but Japanese folklore has captivated me for years. When I stumbled across Uncanny Japan I immediately subscribed and pressed play with baited breath.

So what’s it about?

Each episode, the host, Thersa Matsuura explores a different aspect of Japanese Folklore. Don’t expect to yawn through well trodden tales of the Kappa, Urei and Yokai so beloved of western audiences. This series also covers the lesser known traditions, festivals, and mythical beings said to lurk in the shady corners of the country. These episodes are what you could call “bitesize”. Most podcasts on folklore tend to run at one hour plus, so these 20 minute gems are very short in comparison. I think there have been a few even shorter!

The episode starts out with a brief introduction with the beautiful binaural recordings, and then Thersa starts telling the stories. Not all of these are discovered from ancient sources, although many are. There are some modern day cases that crop up too, and in the later episodes there are similar tales from all over the world. While this does technically leave the Japanese side of the stories, I don’t mind. All stories have a shared source, and drawing these parallels are great fun.

Is it any good?

Definitely. Thersa expertly covers so much ground in each relatively short episode, yet it never feels rushed. The fact that a 20 minute episode can feel much longer could be used as an insult for a review of a lesser show, but here it is absolutely a compliment. This is partly due to her amazing calm voice and the use of atmospheric recordings of her surroundings. The incessant piping of frogs or chirping of cicadas could be somewhat Lovecraftian in the bleak heaths of New England. Here though, it really brings her stories to life.

These sound effects coupled with Thersa’s soporific voice would lend itself to be the perfect sleep aid, although I can’t guarantee a peaceful night’s sleep from some of the content here! There are some very creepy tales indeed, and the thought of having some of these dark denizens of the Japanese countryside invade my dreams isn’t something I’d relish.

Final thoughts

This is one of those shows that you don’t have to be interested in the subject to enjoy. Thersa is a joy to listen to and her knowledge of her subject matter is immense. She has also published books of fiction based on Japanese folklore as well (we are occasionally treated to some excerpts of these on the show).

Where other folklore shows have fallen by the wayside, either through the podcast coming to an end, or me getting bored, this one has got real staying power and is always great to listen to. Do yourselves a favour and give this series a go. You can thank me later.

This is also one of two podcasts on Japanese folklore that I had subscribed to, and the only one I am still subscribed to. Truth be told, I only ever listened to two episodes of the other one and gave up on it. Thersa has set the benchmark for Japanese culture!

You can listen to Uncanny Japan here:

uncannyjapan.com

Or wherever you get your podcasts.

The Usborne Legacy

As Yet Unexplained review

Rating –

As Yet Unexplained logo

I first heard of this podcast from Richard Daniels (of The Occultaria Of Albion fame). Unfortunately it wasn’t originally available on every podcatcher and in the interest of fairness, I avoid reviewing such shows. The reason for this is that not everyone has Amazon, or iTunes or Spotify, so I don’t want to review shows that not everyone can enjoy. However it seems that it’s being shared on all apps now, so with great eagerness I subbed and settled down to binge on the whole thing as quickly as possible.

So what’s it about?

This is probably best described as an audio version of the now beloved Usborne books on the unexplained. These were very popular when I was a child and are now experiencing something of a renewed popularity (by people my age, as it goes).

Each episode looks at a different subject. They range from ghosts to UFOs, and from folklore to strange military cover ups from the East and West. There are some very creepy stories here indeed and they are all very well narrated.

Whether intentionally or not, Westley Smith’s narration lends itself to the vintage patina of the show. I can almost imagine him like James Burke on some windswept moor accompanied by a hungry cameraman as he investigates ancient burial chambers, or strange lights in the sky. Also, his voice reminds me of a mix of the character James Hunter from Haunted: An Audio Drama and Jonathan Sims from The Magnus Archives.

Is it any good?

I love this show. The whole thing has a very retro feel. From the logo to the soundtrack, this is a very good pastiche of classic mystery books and shows from my childhood. To be honest, there won’t be any new information here for anyone with an interest in such things, but that really doesn’t matter. Westley Smith does such a good job telling the stories that you almost forget that you know the stories and get sucked into the tales being told. Surely that is a mark of a great orator.

Despite the lack of new information, there are some genuinely creepy moments in the series. The haunting of 50 Berkeley Square will never not be scary, but there are other tales to chill your blood too. The ghosts of Charterhouse, the San Pedro Haunting, and the stories of Russian Cosmonauts drifting off into space are terrifying. The latter especially so, because despite the transmissions being classified, there were people around the world who happened to stumble across them. 

While a show like The Occultaria Of Albion wears its hauntological badge with pride, that show represents a fictional 1970s UK. This is more like the actual late 70s TV shows and books. In the episode on ancient UFO sightings, he’s describing woodcuts that I had studied as a child in my parents’ books on such things. That only reinforces the nostalgia factor, for me at least.

Final thoughts

I really can’t recommend this show highly enough. It’s easy to digest and very well produced. As I mentioned earlier, there aren’t any groundbreaking revelations here, but that’s ok. You can enjoy the show for what it is, and what it is is excellent. Almost immediately, this rose to the top of my favourite podcasts on such subjects.

***NOTE***

I apologise for the constant comparisons to Richard Daniels’ show, but they come as something of a package deal. Indeed, after every episode, that dastardly Richard Daniels manages to inject a subliminal advert for TOoA just to further his own nefarious agenda!

You can get As Yet Unexplained here:

https://asyetunexplained.wixsite.com/home

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.

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

Quis est hic qui audit?

A Podcast To The Curious review

Rating –

A Podcast To The Curious Logo

I figured I’d do a belated review of this podcast because hosts Will Ross and Mike Taylor have just done a belated 10th anniversary episode. So in the spirit of late posting and life getting in the way, here is my (late) review of the excellent A Podcast To The Curious.

So what’s it all about?

Originally (as you may have guessed from the podcast title), this was a series dedicated to the works of the renowned teller of ghost stories M.R. James. I say originally, because originally they did one episode on each of his stories in chronological order. Now, much like the musical back catalogue of Robert Johnson, the James back catalogue only contains about 20 something tales of terror. Once they had exhausted these, they branched out into stories written by “The James Gang”, the group of contemporary writers who have a similar style (and also a penchant for two initials before their surnames).

There are countless podcasts and collections of audio books that just do straight readings and adaptations of famous stories, but this one is more scholarly. Each episode certainly contains excerpts and readings, but this is more of a deep dive into the mechanics and inspirations of the story. Their research uncovers if the fictional settings have real life counterparts, and if certain notable historical figures ever existed at all. They uncover hidden Easter eggs and in-jokes in the stories, and essentially add a whole new dimension to what were already great stories.

Is it any good?

Absolutely. The guys are witty and engaging, and make what could easily become boring, entertaining. The occasional guests they have on are also witty and engaging, and extremely knowledgeable on the subject of all things Jamesian. A standout example was their interbew with Robert Lloyd Parry, a man who has quite literally stepped into James’ shoes and hosts evening readings of his stories by candlelight.

It was also interesting to hear their “premonition” of a better ending for “The Mezzotint”. That actually got included in the recent Mark Gatiss adaptation. Maybe he’s a fan of the show! (I should think he is. Tut tut Mark)

Final thoughts

You’ll love this podcast if you’re a fan of M.R. James, or traditional ghost stories in general. There is so much to discover in each episode it really is worth your time. Don’t expect an audiobook or straight reading of the stories though. This is more scholarly than that. Don’t let that put you off though (unless you really want an audiobook).

I appreciate that this review is somewhat shorter than my usual posts, but that can’t really be helped. There is no voice acting to critique, or sound effects to enjoy. It’s just a deep dive into some classic horror stories. 

You can get A Podcast To The Curious here:

http://www.mrjamespodcast.com/

Or wherever you get your podcasts.

Like She, that on a lonesome road Doth walk in fear and dread…

Haunted Road review

Production company – Grim And Mild

Rating –

Haunted Road Logo

Another spooky one this week, and one that I feel follows nicely from last week’s foray to the other side. This week though we’ll be travelling to the other side of the pond to review an American paranormal podcast.

Paranormal tv shows have been something of a guilty pleasure for over twenty years now. From videotaping episodes of Most Haunted every week, to the demonic hyperbole of Ghost Adventures, I’ll watch (almost) any ghost show out there. I know it’s all put on, I’m not an idiot, but I enjoy watching draughty windows and motes of dust get misconstrued.

When I saw that Amy Bruni, of Ghost Hunters and Kindred Spirits fame was releasing a podcast, I knew I had to listen. So is it worth you listening? Well read on and find out.

So what’s it about?

In each episode of Haunted Road, Amy Bruni discusses a well known paranormal hotspot in the USA. She starts out with a history of the location, then recalls some of her experiences there. The second half of the episode is an interview with someone (usually) connected to the place. Here, they take more of a deep dive into the ghostly goings on. They also debunk some of the more popular myths that get retold by lazy researchers.

These locations can vary wildly. From the usual haunted hotels, prisons and asylums to ships and even entire towns. I mean, it’s probably harder to find somewhere in Gettysburg PA that isn’t haunted.

Her research is well done and thorough. It’s also nice to hear someone who will call out and disregard the more far fetched stories that can be the bread and butter of lesser podcasts. The Alcatraz episode springs to mind here, as almost every story that people know about the place is shot down. Having said that, the actual true stories of the place are even more unbelievable than the fictional ones.

Is it any good?

On the whole, yes. There is one thing I don’t like though. I almost feel like a bastard for saying it, but here we go. In the first half of the episode when Amy is recounting the history of the location, she’s obviously written everything out first, which is fine. The thing is is that she has that sing song way of reading out loud that is so cliché of Americans. Imagine the way that people say the “30 days hath September” rhyme, and you’ll be close. As I said, I feel bad for criticising this as the habit can’t be helped. Much like Australians ending sentences as though they are asking a question and people starting answers with “so”. It does start to grate a bit when you listen to three or four episodes in one go, like I do. There we are , I said it. Sorry Amy!

Honestly though, this really is the only thing I can fault here, and it’s not even a big deal. Especially if you’re an American I guess. It’s surely a show of appreciation that the only fault I can find is something so nitpicky as that.

The interviews themselves are very interesting. On the TV shows, these are often pruned down to a few juicy soundbites before the team uncover “demonic entities” or some such Hollywood influenced nonsense. Here though, the people are given more room to discuss the location and the phenomena in more detail, and this is where Amy comes into her own. She is charming and her genuine interest in the subject really comes across.

Final thoughts

If you have even a passing interest in the paranormal or ghosts in general, then you’ll love this show. Even if you’ve seen all the visits by all the TV shows to all the locations, Amy will unearth some interesting snippets of knowledge to whet your appetite.

I’ll be perfectly honest here, I don’t actually listen to that many paranormal podcasts. Therefore my opinions here might be somewhat ill informed. Once my list of podcasts to review starts getting a little lean though, I think I’ll have to start delving into this genre. All it usually takes is one or two good shows to set me down the path, as it did with true crime podcasts.

After listening to this show, I feel bad for not giving her new TV show a chance. I think I’ll have to change that very soon.

You can get Haunted Road here:

https://www.grimandmild.com/hauntedroad

Or wherever you get your podcasts

I know what I saw

Uncanny review

Production company – BBC Sounds/Bafflegab

Rating –

Uncanny logo

Originally, the title of this review was going to be called “Bloody hell ken”, but then it turns out the last episode was called that so I had to change it last minute to the rather less inspired one you can see a few hundred pixels above this paragraph.

This is the first of what will be a few reviews of paranormal podcasts (not all at once though, I’ve got other half written blatherings to publish first!). I know I’ve reviewed podcasts with similar themes in the past, but this is a true, all out paranormal series. It’s also very creepy.

So what’s it about?

This is the latest podcast presented by Danny Robins. He’s also known for the brilliant “Battersea Poltergeist” (which I will be reviewing here soon). Rather than focusing on one case, this is more freeform, with each episode examining a different case sent in by listeners. These range from a bizarre UFO tale, to very creepy true stories of hauntings. Each episode is usually an interview with the person concerned. As the story progresses it gets examined by parapsychologists and skeptics, (including the legendary Ciarán O’Keeffe), who weigh in on various aspects and discuss possible causes for the phenomena. Listeners also get to write in to the show with any relevant information they might have about previous cases.

Is it any good?

Yes. If there’s one thing the BBC does well, it’s podcasts. As I said, I heard about Danny Robins when the Battersea Poltergeist was released and after that finished, I couldn’t wait for his new project. As soon as the first episode dropped I subscribed and looked forward to each new case.

You can tell that Danny’s really interested in the subject and in almost every episode his mind is blown by the claims of the people he’s interviewing (hence the title of the final episode). He also seems to get creeped out very easily during the interviews. I can understand this, as two in particular are perfect horror film material in themselves.

The production quality is good, but not overly polished. This is great because it gives the episodes an air of spontaneity. It’s not poor enough to be unlistenable or amateurish, nor is it super audiophile studio production. It really does sound like Danny is just recording things as they happen, or as he thinks of them. This was especially true in the Battersea Poltergeist which had an almost “Ghostwatch” feel in places (and quite understandably so).

I honestly can’t wait for series two (hopefully they’ll make one), because this show is a real refreshing change to the usual ghost story podcasts, but more of that in future reviews. This is the benchmark for paranormal podcasts.

Final thoughts

There are an awful lot of “true ghost story” podcasts out there of varying degrees of quality. Both this one, and Battersea Poltergeist are well worth your time. Danny Robins is a great presenter, and the skeptics and believers who appear on the show are also very engaging.

I think the thing that sets this apart from other series’ is that these won’t be stories you’ve heard before. Most paranormal podcasts will focus on the famous locations around Britain, analysed and investigated for decades. Maybe this is why it’s so good. I defy anyone to still get a shudder from Leap Castle, the Tower of London or Berkeley Square etc. Poltergeist activity in a remote Scottish bothy however is fresh. And scary.

Whether you believe in the paranormal or not is not for me to discuss here. But nevertheless, this show is undeniably a five brain podcast and very binge worthy indeed. Even if you listen to it, just scoff and say “yeah yeah, whatever Danny, these guys are having you on” I think you’ll still enjoy the creepy tales. I mean, a scary story is a scary story, whether it’s true or not.

You can get Uncanny here

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/brand/m0010x7c

Or wherever you get your podcasts

The lore of the land

Ghosts and folklore of Wales review

Rating –

Being Welsh is something of a privilege. We have the coolest looking flag, and the best national anthem. We also have a Christmas tradition of having a rap battle against a horse’s skull on a pole (yes, really). This is partly why this review is being released today. But I digress…

This is another queue jumper for my review schedule, but one I think is worthy. As soon as I’d heard the first episode I knew I’d be ploughing through the whole lot in no time. I’d actually be further along with it, but the pre-Christmas work rush has put the kibosh on my 8 hour listening sessions somewhat. So without further ado, here is my review of the Ghosts and folklore of Wales podcast.

So what’s it all about then?

Ghosts and folklore of Wales is a weekly podcast by the perpetually cheerful Mark Rees, a Welsh journalist, author and folklore fanatic. In fact, according to Mark, this is the ONLY podcast dedicated to Welsh folklore. Every episode revolves around a different subject, and usually includes a few stories related to the main theme. So far he’s covered stories about the Welsh versions of the “Black Shuck” dog, the infamous Mari Lwyd, various tales of devils, and even the story of a headless Jesus driving a coach and horses. See, Wales is nothing if not fascinating.

But is it any good?

You can really tell that Mark has a great love for what he does. His enthusiasm is contagious and his witty style of storytelling is a joy. After listening to the first episode I had decided that this was a “four brain” podcast (maybe a three). I had judged too quickly though, because I didn’t realise how subsequent episodes would go. The things that I would have critiqued actually have become endearing features of the style of the show. Hopefully he keeps his special effects budget exactly as it is!

It’s amazing how he manages to research some of the stories found here. For every well known ghost, or tale of fairies, there are some really obscure local news reports that must have taken all his journalistic skill to unearth. I suspect that he spends hours hunched over a microfiche machine, or maybe poring over old archives. Maybe he just types searches into his work computer, who am I to assume? Not all of these are truly paranormal however. Stories the local ne’er-do-wells tormenting unwitting victims are just as good as, if not more entertaining than a real ghost story.

Another thing I love about this podcast, and one that sets it apart from other podcasts like this is the fact that he will translate the Welsh names of the subject of the episode. I suspect that other podcasts don’t do this because. A) the sources they use don’t do it. B) they don’t speak Welsh themselves so can’t do it. or C) They don’t think it’s important. It’s just some hard to pronounce word that sounds weird and thats good enough for them.

The great thing about translating though is that it gives more depth to the subject. I mean who knew that the dog breed Corgi, actually means “dwarf dog”. Not dwarf because it’s small, but because it was owned by the mythical dwarves? This also provides someone with only a passing grasp of Welsh (me) with plenty of head slapping moments when I try to figure it out and get it completely wrong. At the risk of perpetual ridicule, and full disclosure, I translated it to “choir dog” or even “singing dog” because the Welsh for choir is also “Cor”.

Final verdict

A lot of paranormal and folklore podcasts (and I’ve listened to quite a few) have a tendency to get rather stuffy and academic. This is probably just the nature of the beast, as a lot of the resources available tend to be stuffy and academic. What sets this series apart is the light-hearted way each story is told. I’m reluctant to use the comparison, but it’s more along the lines of Horrible Histories than some late night BBC documentary.

I’m really not putting it down with this comparison, but I feel you are more likely to retain facts when they are related in an engaging manner. An engaging manner is (thankfully) what Mark has in spades. His self-deprecating humour is endearing rather than irritating and his real sense of disbelief relating the more far fetched tales and hoaxes result in some proper laugh out loud moments. You are also guaranteed to learn some obscure nugget of wisdom from the aforementioned translations. The Dwarf Dog is absolutely being retained for when I get to go on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.

I know that Mark has also written a number of books on the subjects of ghosts and folklore. I’ll be getting my hands on them soon, because if they are half as well researched and written as this podcast then they will be a great addition to any collection.

You can get the show here:

http://markreesonline.com/ghosts-folklore-wales-welsh-haunted-podcast-mark/

Or wherever you get your podcasts.

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