This is a podcast that I had talked about in the past, but never listened to. After hearing a particular episode mentioned on the Monsterfuzz podcast, I decided to check it out. What I wasn’t expecting was to find a series that dates back over 8 years, and clocking in at nearly 900 episodes!
I was expecting the rather usual fare of paranormal/true crime/gruesome history kind of podcast. To say this show caught me off guard was an understatement, but read on and I’ll explain my difficulty in rating this show.
So what’s it about?
The Last Podcast On The Left examines the dark side of life. From serial killers, war, folklore, the paranormal, pretty much any gory, scary or messed up subject has been analysed at least once over the last 8 years.
The hosts Marcus Parks, Ben Kissel and Henry Zebrowski vary in their depth of knowledge, and so each episode they get to learn about things at the same time as you do. Well, sometimes they do. They usually end up making jokes and some incredibly bad taste comments about the subject matter. This will be the dividing line for the listener. Either you will laugh along with the guys and let the last shred of humanity slough off your heart like ash, or you will turn it off and burn your headphones and electronic devices lest they have become tainted by what is quite obviously “The Devil’s Work”.
Is it any good?
Here’s where it gets difficult. In searching for the epsiode mentioned in Monsterfuzz, the first episode I listened to was about Japanese war crimes in WWII. To say that this series is in poor taste is something of an understatement. Having said that, I did find it very funny. I like dark humour, and this show has that in spades.
As they discuss the chosen topic, there are some gaps in their knowledge, and some things they just get wrong. I suspect this is more to do with misremembering rather than actual ignorance of the facts. They do have a wide range of knowledge, and I get the impression that this show is almost totally improvised. Thankfully Google is on hand to help clarify some matters.
The delivery of the episodes can only be described as “frenetic”. The hosts are so hyped up, a lot of the time there are interruptions and talking over each other. This can make things difficult to understand on occasion, but if there are any bits you miss, rest assured it will be a rather coarse joke rather than some nugget of new knowledge.
It seems that most podcasts now have trigger warnings at the outset for various things that would upset people. There’s none for this show though. To list the trigger warnings would literally take up more run time than the show itself.
This show gets three brains because most people with a moral compass would feel nothing but disgust at the humour here. My god has forsaken me though, and there have been some genuinely funny moments (if you find this stuff funny).
In short, I would personally give it 5 brains, but you need to be sure you want to listen to a show like this first. It isn’t for the faint of heart.
As you may already be aware, I have reviewed The Lovecraft Investigations previously, but I was so excited when series 4 dropped that I’ve decided to give this one a standalone review too. So without further ado, here we go.
Before I start though, spoilers are unavoidable due to the fact it’s a review of series 4, and the story continues on from series 3. I heartily recommend you go back and listen to the previous three series before listening to The Haunter Of The Dark, and even before reading this review. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
So what’s it about
This series takes place nearly three years after the disappearance of Matt Heywood. Kennedy has been travelling the world trying to find his whereabouts, but to no avail. Just when she thinks all hope is lost, she is contacted by the mysterious Marcus Byron.
Soon enough, Kennedy is back on the trail of mysterious cults and ancient deities. New allies and old friends work together to try and uncover the truth of The Haunter Of The Dark.
Once again, you don’t really need any knowledge of the source material. You don’t even need to like H.P. Lovecraft to enjoy this series. The story has been updated and adapted to the modern day, and the darkness is offset nicely with humour. This isn’t a comedy show by any means though. The overall mood is one of darkness and paranoia, and it’s amazing.
Is it any good?
Of course it is! The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward was one of the first podcasts I listened to, and therefore this series will always hold a special place in my heart. Thankfully this affection isn’t misplaced, because the series has been consistently brilliant, and this chapter of Kennedy and Matt’s investigations is no different.
Once again, the weaving of historical fact and fictional characters is so seamless you can’t see the joins. This is something that Julian does very well indeed, and just like in previous series, I may (or may not) have googled someone only to find they don’t exist.
To be honest, I would never have guessed that this was the direction the story would go, not that it’s a bad thing, although my keen hearing did spot hints to where I was expecting the cast to find themselves in this series. I’m not telling you lot though, just in case it does go there at some point.
I’m well aware that social media every so often exhumes the rumours of Guillermo Del Toro directing At The Mountains Of Madness, but I really can’t see that happening. For my money, the legacy of H.P. Lovecraft’s fiction is more than safe in the hands of Julian Simpson. And thanks to the introduction of a character at the end of the final episode, I think I know where the story is going next (although I said that last time didn’t I?).
Something that I am eternally grateful for is growing up in the 80s. We had the best music, the best kids movies and the best kids TV. We could spend all day out and… yes. Ok. I know. I’ll shut up. You get the idea though.
We were also the last generation where adults didn’t pussyfoot around us. We had films and TV shows that would never be shown to kids now, as well as some truly chilling public information films. As such we were well aware that motorists wouldn’t try to avoid us if we ran across the road, or that we’d get snagged on some underwater junk if we swam in the old flooded quarry. Oh yeah, and “Protect And Survive”.
So what’s it about?
Well, I mean, it’s about all the above really. This show is a homage to all the things that made us Gen Xers a hardy bunch, and the darker influences of the current Hauntological movement. The main focus is on TV, all of those square eyed kids (me included) grew up watching stuff they weren’t supposed to. Although the stuff we were supposed to watch was also pretty weird and scary. I can’t imagine a primary school nowadays showing a class of 8 year olds the film Watership Down for example, but I remember more than one child leaving the room in tears when it was played to us.
Each episode, the hosts Andy Bush, Stephen Brotherstone and Dave Lawrence interview a different celebrity. They are encouraged to bring in three “scars” and discuss just why these things were so scary. What I found surprising here was the number of title sequences to TV programs being mentioned. I can relate to that. One of the earliest things I remember scaring me was the intro to Tales Of The Unexpected.
Episode one (actually episode two. The first episode is the hosts discussing their “scars”) sees a great interview with Jamie Anderson, son of Thunderbirds creator Gerry Anderson, and a writer and director in his own right. Episode two sees the guys interview actor, writer, and filmmaker Andy Nyman. His film Ghost Story (based on a stage show fo the same name) definitely has the feel of a much older style, and is one of the scariest modern horror films (and one of Paul Whitehouse’s best acting roles).
Is it any good?
If you are of a certain age then you will no doubt grow all misty eyed (and slightly wary) at the discussions of Mr. Noseybonk, Candy and Andy et al. A few years ago I showed a picture of Mr. Noseybonk to my kids and he still has the power to terrify kids, even now.
If you were born after 1990 (or heaven forbid 2000) you will listen with equal parts horror and disbelief. But as a preemptive answer to you young pups, yes we did watch/listen to/read this stuff. Yes we did do this stuff, and yes, this is what passed for entertainment.
The interviews are funny and very entertaining, and also the reason for my current YouTube search history. Thanks to Mr. Nyman, I’m currently working my way through the Thriller TV series
I’ve been a fan of the SFL Facebook page for a very long time now. When I heard they were releasing a podcast I eagerly awaited episode 1. You may think me somewhat premature by posting this review when there are only three episodes released, but then my review of The Estate only covered two episodes so it’s not entirely unheard of.
The guys at SFL have also released a series of books. I think I know what I’ll be asking Father Christmas for this year!
This review is also my 100th blog post! I didn’t think I’d get this far, and I can’t think of a more worthy review for my centenary. Here’s to another 100.
Back to regular programming this week folks. I’ve had loads of stuff going on outside the podcastverse, but now I’ve got the time to enjoy listening to shows without deadlines and embargoes to worry about (I do quite like deadlines and embargoes though)!
So what’s under the microscope this week? Well dear readers, we are dealing with a classic here. A classic in more ways than one. Read on and discover why this is almost the perfect podcast for this here podcastgeek.
So what’s it about?
Re:Dracula is an interesting take on the classic Bram Stoker story. I say “interesting take”, its more fathful than any of the other versions out there. It’s told in “real time” as entries in Jonathan Harker’s diary. Therefore the episodes vary in length, and they are released on the relevant days. Thrown into this are also reports by Doctor Seward as Renfield grows ever more agitated, and the correspondence between Mina and Lucy. Their innocent gossip in particular providing a contrast to the darkness of the events around the male protagonists.
I can’t really expand on it more than that. Everybody knows the story so this section is understandably short
Is it any good?
I really like most of it. The story is great, it’s told in an interesting way, and the acting is top notch (more on that in a bit). I’m not too fussed on the interviews with people scattered throughout. I appreiate why they did it this way, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with them, but they don’t interest me, so I tend to skip those episodes. It may have been a better option to have those as bonus episodes after the story has finished, as they have done with Scamanda.
I have also heard that some people aren’t really keen on the shorter episodes. Some are under ten minutes long. I could understand this if you are listening along in real time as well, but due to my other commitments, I just binged the whole lot, and to be honest I didn’t really notice that. So I guess you can do things properly , listen in real time and maybe get frustrated, or ignore all the hard work that the producers went to and plough through it all in huge chunks. It’s up to you.
Now, on to the voice talent. In my opening paragraphs, I mentioned that this may be the perfect podcast for me. The reason for that is the cast. The keen eared among you will recognize Jonathan Sims from The Magnus Archives, Graham Rowat who I have waxed lyrical about in various reviews before, and Karim Kronfli as Dracula. I immediately recognized Karim’s voice as gangster Bruce from A Scottish Podcast, a show you’ll remember my fondness for. Looking at his IMDB page, he’s been in so many classic podcasts I’m sure you’ll know him from elsewhere.
In fact, the only person missing from this cast is David Ault. If he shows up I would probably get all giddy and giggly when it’s on.
Even if you know the story inside out (I mean, who doesn’t know the story of Dracula) I would recommend this. It’s such a great production (possibly the best thing Pacific S. Obadiah has done). Don’t get me wrong, I loved SCP Archives and The Sheridan Tapes, but this is next level stuff here.
If this is the shape of things to come from him, then we are all in for a treat indeed.
You may remember that this line here usually says “or wherever you get your podcasts”. I put that in originally as a little fun quote to mirror what all podcasts say when they are advertising. I thought it was cute. However, Imran over at GreatPods told me about a site that provides links to every major podcatcher. So from now on, I’ll just post the new link and you can sort yourselves out. It’ll probably take me a few posts to get out of the habit though!
I know, another weird day for a post. I couldn’t pass on another opportunity for an early listen of a new podcast though (despite my misgivings). So here we are. It’s a Friday and you’ve just noticed the little icon on your browser, or had your phone make a noise. Maybe you forgot it was Friday, and thought it was Sunday. Maybe not.
I mentioned I had misgivings with this show, and that’s because it’s about vampires. I’m sorry, but vampires make me cringe. They aren’t scary (not since Max Schreck anyway), and the current penchant for sparkly, emo, monobrowed heartthrobs (or was that the werewolf?) grinds my gears. But here we are. I’m reviewing a podcast about vampires. So is it any good? Well read on and I’ll tell you.
So what’s it about?
The Lesser Dead is set in 1978, a year dear to my heart. You see, that was the year I left the warm sanctuary of my mother’s womb and arrived kicking, screaming, and hairy into this cruel world. It’s also set in New York. This is not dear to my heart, seeing as I’ve never been there, but I digress.
Joseph “Joey” Peacock is a 19 year old vampire. As part of the community of vampires called The Family, living in “The Loops”, an area of unlit tunnels off the main subway. He gets tasked somewhat reluctantly by Margaret, The Mayor of The Loops, to find someone who has been “peeling” people (vampire slang for killing victims). You may think that vampires are supposed to kill people. In this universe, they use people more like drink dispensers. I guess there’s less hassle if you keep your victims alive.
As Joseph and his friends start searching for the killer, he also discovers that someone has been turning children into vampires, an unspoken rule that should never be broken (Vampire children are always creepy). So with his friends, he sets off to uncover just who is doing these unspeakable things.
Is it any good?
Surprisingly, yes. I enjoyed it way more than I thought I would. There is none of the usual clichés that are so beloved of this particular branch of horror recently.
Jack Kilmer as Joseph is somewhere between a young Henry Hill in Goodfellas, and Leonardo DiCaprio as Frank Abagnale in Catch Me If You Can. He has that youthful charm and exuberance that verges on being cocky, yet stays just the right side of annoying. You know that every word that comes out of his mouth is delivered with a smirk.
Minnie Driver as Margaret is also well played, and a perfect “Yang” to Joseph’s “Yin”. Her no bullshit, foul mouthed Irish firebrand attitude seems like quite the departure from her usual oeuvre (not that I’m really up on her body of work). But she rules The Family with an iron fist, or to be pedantic, an iron spade. She is all too aware of the trouble that this rogue “peeler” will bring to The Family, so is keen to end this mess and return to anonymity asap.
The supporting characters are very good too, from the older and wiser Cvetko played by Saul Rubinek, to Margaret’s spooky henchmen Oldboy and Ruth. Mysterious kingpin The Hessian, played by Danny Huston is also a good brooding presence in the few episodes he appears in.
I can’t really pick holes in this series at all. The acting is top notch, the sound design is great, and the story is brilliantly written and engaging. And not to go too far along and spoil anything, but the series ends EXACTLY how I like.
I love the music too, from the weird reimagining of “Rapture” by Blondie at the end of episode 1, to the timeless Disco Inferno by The Trammps in Studio 54. There’s also a melody that reminds me of Hushabye Mountain from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in parts that adds to the dreamy atmosphere of the vampire’s night world. I’m surprised though, that there is so little music in the series. For it to be set in New York in 1978, disco and punk at their height, and the birth of hip hop, I feel that there could have been a bit more made of this without detracting from the scene setting.
If you’re a fan of modern vampire fiction then you’ll absolutely love this. Vampire stories tend to be very trope led, which is why I don’t like them, however this is a nice change. It’s part gangland thriller, and part murder mystery. Even if you are somewhat cynical of the genre, then I’d still encourage you to give it a go. It really is a brilliant show.
Has this changed my opinion on vampire stories? No, not really. Although it has made me think about not being quite so judgemental about new podcasts, so there is that. I was going to give it a four out of five rating, just because of the vampire aspect, but I can’t. It’s a five brain podcast all day (or rather, all night) long, and one of my favourite fiction podcasts of the last 12 months. I never thought I’d say that.
Again, thank you to GreatPods and Echoverse for giving me the opportunity to get the whole lot in advance for this review. I really do feel like a professional blogger now! (You were right Imran!)
Harlan Guthrie has made something of a name for himself in the podcast world with the wildly popular Malevolent (which I didn’t really like). However, I won’t write someone off just because they release a show I don’t like. Recently, my twitter feed has been alight with reviews singing the praises of his new show Deviser. I read the blurb, and was reluctant to listen to it to be honest. But maybe I’m wrong, maybe this is the one to change my mind. Maybe there is a reason that Harlan Guthrie has set fire to my social media feed like some modern Prometheus*.
So what’s it about?
Deviser is a Sci-Fi horror series, following the trials of “Son”. He wakes up on a spaceship controlled by the computer “Father”. His only other companion on this journey is “Dog” (a dog, funnily enough). Son is in charge of helping Father look after the ship and the thousands of sleeping passengers happily snoozing the journey away in cryo-stasis.
Soon though, things start to go wrong. Son finds it increasingly hard to do his job whilst suffering from memory loss, and there are odd occurrences on board this supposedly deserted ship.
As Son’s sanity starts to unravel, a reality darker and more horrific than he can imagine starts to materialise. With the knowledge that every choice he makes has more importance than the last, how will Son survive?
Is it any good?
After listening to Malevolent, I wasn’t holding out much hope for this one. I’d even put off listening to it on purpose just because I thought it would be cut from the same cloth. Thankfully, it isn’t. It’s still a tough decision for me to make though. Originally it was a three brain show, then I decided it was a five, then I finally settled on a good four. Here’s why.
The story itself is very well written. It’s acted very well indeed, and the sound design is top notch. Also, I really can’t emphasise how good this series is seeing as it is the work of one person. I dressed to think think the hours that Mr. Guthrie puts in to this stuff.
The twists are just one step ahead of you the whole time. Unfortunately I did guess the general line story was taking rather early on, and that spoiled it slightly, although as I say, the details remained delightfully beyond me.
I love it when I’m wrong. I really do. This is a great series. It’s very dark, and certainly pulls no punches as far as horror goes. It did nothing for my fear of dentists either. Father is a chilling creation, in a similar vein to HAL in 2001. Son finds out all too late that intelligence doesn’t necessarily equal compassion.
If you love sci-fi then you’ll love this, as will fans of gory horror. There are many films that are similar in both feel and plot, but I’m not going to mention them, because it will absolutely spoil the fun.
Hopefully Harlan Guthrie will continue to release series up to this standard. Yes I know that loads of people loved Malevolent, but I didn’t ok? This is a much better podcast.
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.
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.
I stumbled across this podcast quite by accident recently on twitter. Somebody had complained that despite the early episodes being interesting, they were now too horrible and gratuitously gory. What more reason to subscribe did I need? Much like being young and trawling the Radio Times for horror movies to watch, I quickly realised that the ones that got two and three stars out of five were the best ones. Was I wrong in my assumption though? Read on and I’ll tell you.
So what’s it about?
How Haunted? is a paranormal podcast by Rob Kirkup, a ghost hunter based in Newcastle. That’s Newcastle, England, and not one of the other namesakes scattered across the former colonies. I wouldn’t normally bother with such clarification, but according to Google analytics, the majority of my meager readership is based in the US.
Each week he examines a different location from across the British isles, although owing to his location, there is a higher proportion in the north of England and Scotland. There is a lot of research involved in every episode. Even with well known locations, there is plenty of new information (for me at least) that adds much more depth to the locations rather than just repeating all the well known tales.
Is it any good?
Well, yes and no. I’m a big fan of paranormal podcasts, particularly ones that avoid needless hyperbole. Haunted Road springs immediately to mind as a good comparison to this show. Maybe get in touch with Amy Bruni in the future to swap stories?
Having said that, there are some parts of the stories discussed that really set my Sceptic-o-meter® buzzing. I do believe in ghosts, and I’ve had many strange experiences, but some stuff here has me asking questions about the validity of some claims. Unfortunately some events get glossed over with not much in the way of efforts to debunk, and some of the reports had me thinking, “yeah, but did that really happen?” To be honest, this doesn’t happen with Rob’s stories, but in the interviews with other people.
There are also some episodes that verge on being history lessons, with some ghost information tacked on at the end. In fact, the episode on the Colosseum in Rome doesn’t actually have any ghost story attached if I recall correctly. That’s not to say that it isn’t interesting, it absolutely is, but to say that a building is one of the most haunted in the world and then not offering up any actual paranormal information seems like a bit of a bait and switch.
I really like this show, and because I usually listen to four or five different podcasts a day, I’m not as far through this one as I’d like to be. I really am looking forward to hearing how this develops as it goes on though.
When I was younger, I found a video called Billy Roberts Investigates The Paranormal. It was a low budget affair with Billy traveling to various haunted locations and seeing what was there. The investigations were interspersed with interviews, and despite being very low budget, and not what I was expecting, it was rather interesting. This podcast reminds me a lot of that. Don’t take that the wrong way Rob!
I think that nowadays, there is a real push for paranormal shows, and by extension ghost walks and suchlike to offer some “bang for your buck”. That way lies the path to “creating” a haunted experience. Every paranormal investigator I’ve heard says that a lot of the time absolutely nothing happens. I love that. Especially when they visit somewhere where the walls are supposed to drip blood and your hair will turn white with fear. The contrary part of me loves for the final report to be “absolutely nothing happened”.
If you are into paranormal podcasts though, this is definitely one you should check out very soon, particularly if, like me, you grew up on the Usbourne ghost book and the multitude of similar tomes that filled the libraries of the 70s and 80s.
A bit of a different post this week. Something of an epic undertaking that hopefully will work. I don’t think I’ve ever reviewed three podcasts at once, there is however a reason for this. I listened to Roanoke Falls when it was first released, and never got round to reviewing it. Rather than following on with something similar, Series two was called Black Friday and departed from the original style altogether. Series three, called Beatrix Greene, was another curveball. My thoughts on all series were similar, so I figured I’d tear all three plasters off at once. So buckle up, this may be a long ride.
So what are they about?
Series one, entitled Roanoke Falls, is a fictional retelling of the events at the eponymous American settlement in the 17th century. In real life, nobody knows what happened there other than the entire population “disappeared”. I put that last bit in inverted commas because obviously back then there was a huge delay in communication and travel. Needless to say, time has turned these events into a rich source for folk horror and conspiracy.
The story takes place in the second Roanoke settlement, the villagers are desperately clinging to their faith in the face of disappearances, allegations of witchcraft and murder. It follows the downfall of Agnes, the wife of village priest Thomas. She finds a diary of one of the women from the original settlement of Roanoke, an outcast during a plague, who apparently placed a curse on the village. These events seem to eerily mirror what is happening to the villagers in the new settlement. Sightings of a tall man with a skull face are causing tensions within the community. Agnes faces accusations of being a witch, even from her own husband. The body count rises, and the truth is exposed.
Series two, entitled Black Friday is a “comedy” horror podcast. I got to about 2 minutes in and realised I was not going to like this series at all. In the interest of fairness though, I gritted my teeth and ploughed on.
This follows an eccentric group of shop staff, who are stuck in work during Thanksgiving. A group of demons get summoned by a ritual for a job promotion gone wrong, the hapless employees struggle to fend off the gruesome demonic foes.
Series three, follows fraud medium Beatrix Greene. She takes a challenge to investigate a notoriously haunted house. As is the trope for stories such as these, she soon realises that she has bitten off way more than she can chew, and the party of brave investigators is in grave danger indeed (pun slightly intended).
This story has so many references I can’t count them all. Way more than season two, and more subtly done as well. There were points where I wondered if I’d heard it before. It’s like ghost story bingo, but not in a bad way.
Roanoke Falls is a good attempt at folk horror, particularly films like The Witch, but it never quite hits the mark. I’m not sure exactly what it is. Possibly the strange way that the story is told. It’s not wholly a drama production, and not a narration either. It’s somewhere in between. For me it doesn’t work.
The acting isn’t great by any means, despite their best efforts. The blacksmith in particular seems to be incapable of portraying anything approaching real emotion.
The story itself is not so bad, it’s a nice concept, despite the weird way it’s told. As the story winds up, there is a nice “circularity” that seems to tie things up, only to veer off in a remarkable twist that reminds me instantly of the film “The Boy”.
By god do they like their adverts. Each 20 minute episode has 4 advert breaks, including one right before the end credits. I knew there was something that really irked me about this series, but it wasn’t until I re-listened before writing this that I remembered.
Black Friday casts a wide net. Taking diverse inspiration from modern slasher films, particularly Hellraiser, and comedy series like The Office, this is like a pick ‘n’ mix of references, with too many winks to camera at how they jammed all the horror references in.
Again, the acting isn’t great, although I suspect that in this case it isn’t supposed to be. It has more chewed scenery than Crufts, and the characters follow every cliche so beloved of modern horror. There’s the stoner slacker, the over eager yet overlooked management wannabe and the sarcastic cynical knowitall who only puts up with everyone else because she ultimately has nowhere else to work.
Calling this series a “comedy horror” is something of a con. It is neither funny nor horrific. Apparently the writer was inspired to write this story after working one too many thanksgiving shifts at a store. Whereas some people can pull this off (Kevin Smith, for example), this is just a grab bag of tired clichés and predictable characters.
Definitely my least favourite of the three.
More tropes on the way in this series. The plucky tomboyish Beatrix Greene has made something of a name for herself as a fraudulent medium. It does an ok job of setting the scene, but it’s more “Houdini and Doyle” than “Carnacki”. They even slipped a “Do you see?” in there, but I’m not sure if that was intentional or not.
This, like season one, has a strange way of narrating the story that I’m not too keen on. Like Roanoke Falls, it is 50% narrated, 50% acted. The problem is, is that the narration switches from Beatrix narrating, to sceptic James Walker (her nemesis at the beginning of the story). This gets rather confusing, especially where there is some overlap in the plot. I wonder whether this is done for any reason other than trying to be deliberately clever.
This is one moustache twiddle away from silliness. It does it’s best to cling on to the coat-tails of Shirley Jackson and William Hope-Hodgson, and to be honest, this was my favourite season so far. I say favourite, what I mean is that I didn’t lose interest before the halfway mark and feel like I was slogging through it just to write a review. The story is the most derivative of the three, even more so than the first season.
Maybe it’s the 1920s setting I like, but despite this, it’s still not enough to rescue the low rating here.
Maybe I’m getting old and grumpy (I know I’m getting old and grumpy), but I can honestly say that every few episodes, I was wondering whether this was worth it. Should I stick with this podcast just for the sake of writing what I knew deep down would be a rather scathing review. As season two got underway this feeling got stronger. I’d already started writing this though, and I was rather pleased at the thought of a triple header. Also, I tend to review podcasts I like, so I felt I needed to take one for the team so to speak and suffer through.
Mitch Hedberg had a joke that went “The other day, I walked into Target and missed. I think the entrance to Target should have people splattered all around.”
Unfortunately the entrance to “the good podcast list” has Realm podcasts splattered all around.
As I finish this rather long winded stream of consciousness, they are currently three episodes into season four. Honestly, I can’t bring myself to start it.
You can get the Fear series here if you really want to:
I usually have some idea of what I’m getting myself into when I subscribe to a podcast. It’ll be recommended by a friend, or I’ll hear an interview on another podcast. I went into this one completely blind. The name sounded interesting, but I honestly don’t remember hearing anything about it at all. This made for a rather interesting experience, and I’ll tell you all about it here.
So what’s it about?
The Silt Verses is a rather “folk horrory” series. At first it seems to be set in an indeterminate country in an indeterminate timeline. At a guess, it’s America at some point in an alternate present or future. I’m only guessing that because of the voice actors, and the fact that they have modern tech like mobile phones. These are details that are almost irrelevant though. The point of the story is the sheer weirdness of the events. There are strange religions, odd people and sinister antagonists. Did I mention strange religions? There are LOTS of strange religions.
The story follows pilgrim Carpenter and her young partner Faulkner. They follow the faith of The Trawlerman, a river god of water and silt. Carpenter’s grandmother was highly regarded in the faith, and Carpenter has that same ego so beloved of people who trace a lineage back to something important.
As their voyage continues they meet many allies and enemies. There are strange symbols carved everywhere, and horrific creatures lurking in places both magical and mundane.
The pagan ways of the populace are pitched against followers of The Saint Electric and similar deities, truly modern gods for the technological age. Everywhere they go they meet people who follow different gods, and there are gods of everything.
Is it any good?
On the whole, yes. There are a few niggles here and there that stop it being a true “five brainer”. My main problem is that whilst the acting is top notch on the whole, there are a few cast members who let the rest down. There are also parts of the story where it is obvious the cast were recording at different times, and on different equipment. You can hear the cuts in the audio and this really distracts, particularly on headphones.
As the first series progresses, I found myself enjoying the exposition episodes more than the main thread. Don’t get me wrong, the main story is great, but there’s only so much bickering I can take. I get it, the young one thinks the old one is out of touch and the old one thinks the young one is an idiot. That’s life. The backstories though are so brilliantly written, particularly Paige’s corporate history. That is like an episode of Black Mirror.
As I have said in past reviews, the term “Lovecraftian” gets bandied about a lot nowadays, and is a badge usually hung on anything that is a bit weird. I think this podcast truly is Lovecraftian though. The whole thing has a dreamlike quality that is simply delightful, due in part to the ambiguity of the setting. The only thing we have to go on as far as dating is that it takes place “after the last great religious war”. I also loved the episode about the god of hunger. That was a nice, ambiguous concept that offered a nice (albeit no less gruesome) contrast to the more physical horrors encountered in the story.
When I first started this review many months ago, it was a three brain show. At that point it was nothing more than a title and a rating. I recently revisited it to refresh my memory as to why I gave such a low rating and decided it was worth five brains. Taking everything into consideration though, it is a solid four.
If you like Neil Gaiman, H.P. Lovecraft, or Charlie Brooker, then you will love this show.