In recent years, it seems that the most obsolete of media have make a comeback. Vinyl records are reappearing in HMV. Apps allow a return of platform games. Even Disney took a gamble by allowing Tim Burton to make a black and white stop motion movie. But probably the least likely medium to make a comeback is the Radio play. But on one stormy ride, Horror filmmakers Glenn McQuaid (VHS) and Larry Fessenden (Wendigo) decided to take a chance and create Tales from Beyond the Pale, an anthology of “Radio Plays for the Digital Age.” The result is a series of deliciously macabre Horror stories that slithers into your ear and lays the eggs of fear into your mind.
“Greetings Audiophiles” croons Host Fessenden as a metronome ticks in the distance. Like Rod Sterling and the Crypt keeper, Fessenden introduces each story, which always comes in a strange package, whether it is inside a fish or on a vinyl player. At first readers maybe thinking it sounds a lot like Tales from The Crypt (or for someone around my age, Tales from the Crypt keeper). And in a way, they would be right. His dialogue is often laced with goofy puns and the tone of the stories is along the same lines. But in terms of performance, Fessenden has earned a place alongside Vincent Price and Rod Sterling as one of the best Horror hosts. He has a smooth, eerie voice that allures the audience, even when he’s delivering goofy puns.
In the first season, the show was released in a box set and on iTunes. Besides, each story is very different in terms of style. Each represents a different type of genre, from the modern psychological thriller of David Fincher to the classic Gothic Horror of Edgar Allen Poe. So, I am going to review each story one by one.
A few things can be said of the stories as a whole. The obvious question is, are they scary? Not only are these plays scary but, it can be argued they are the scariest horror stories in recent years. With the lack of images, the Radio plays use the imagination of the listener. And often, what the listener conjures up in his/her head is more frightening that anything created by a costume designer. Credit should also go to sound designers and the music composers for creating tone to engage the listener from beginning to end.
The biggest surprise is that about the show is that it never goes for a cheap jump scare. The terror comes from the sense of dread for the oncoming terror. It helps that the shows’ main characters aren’t obnoxious, one dimensional horn dogs. Even the most unlikeable characters hook the listener from minute one.
My only complaint with this collection is the ads that play in between acts. The ads consist of trailers for other movies made by the episode’s writer. The problem is not the ads. The problem is they come from movie trailers so the listener has no idea what’s going on in a scene. Beyond that, Tales from Beyond the Pale is a well written series of ravenous macabre.
1) I know that I’ve already reviewed this show on The Draft and the Yellowknifer, but I don’t care. I want to encourage as many people as possible to check it out.
2) Last Halloween, they did live readings for second season. Hopefully, this review will encourage the creators to release the second season.