Escape Artists

PseudoPod => Chamber of Horror => Topic started by: Anthony Creamer on July 08, 2017, 05:14:30 AM

Title: Horror Audio Anthology
Post by: Anthony Creamer on July 08, 2017, 05:14:30 AM
   Obviously psuedopod archives but... Are there any anthologies out there available in audio format that you would consider a great introduction to the genre over the last twenty years or so? I don't read a lot of horror but I'd like to listen to some of the best and most representative of the last couple decades. I purchased and listened to most of what I could find of lovecraft (maybe I should expand that to the last hundred years hehe) and now that I'm through with that I'm not sure where to go. I'll be hitting up pseudopod but I want to broaden out, get a feel for some of the mainstream stuff.

Edit: mainstream IE mainstream outside of pseudopod. That made it sound like I was saying something negative about the podcast but I wasn't. I'm loving the stuff I'm listening to over here in the pseudopod archives. You guys do a great job collecting and editing some creepy stuff :)
Title: Re: Horror Audio Anthology
Post by: Sgarre1 on July 08, 2017, 11:41:56 AM
I wrote an essay about charting the pre-history of audio horror in the vein (heh heh) of Pseudopod that was available to read to those who donated to our now successful Kickstarter. I'll check with Alex to see if that can still be linked to or I could put the text somewhere, I guess.
Title: Re: Horror Audio Anthology
Post by: JohnCombo on July 15, 2017, 12:37:52 AM
Have you tried The Horror! At It spans a lot of older radio horror dramas from the 1930s to about the 1950s.
Title: Re: Horror Audio Anthology
Post by: Anthony Creamer on July 15, 2017, 10:34:32 PM
Title: Re: Horror Audio Anthology
Post by: Sgarre1 on July 16, 2017, 12:01:07 AM
I've pulled the meat of the essay, stripping out the intro and personal history. Examples of most of these shows should be available on Keep in mind that this was a pre-history of what PSEUDOPOD does - narrative readings of horror fiction - so OTR horror dramas were not included:

I thought I might take this opportunity to inform the interested reader of what has come before, an illustrious pre-history of our chosen form of fright.

I imagine I should initially note that this essay might technically be titled AN AMERICAN PRE-HISTORY OF PSEUDOPOD – as the UK, Canada and Europe never actually abandoned broadcasting narrated fiction (or radio drama, for  that matter) – continuing to produce exemplary examples long after television had supposedly killed the form in the United States. Also, before we start, it is worth mentioning that there is a parallel history of narrative vinyl albums containing dramatic renditions (the length of many short tales seem tailor-made for an album side), including wonderful examples by such illustrious monologist actors as Ugo Toppo, David McCallum, Orson Welles and Roddy McDowell, performing works by Bierce, Lovecraft, Poe, Joseph Conrad and Shirley Jackson.

 Nelson Olmstead, creator of the infamous radio drama horror show BLACK NIGHT (1937-1939 - sadly no recordings exist) read various short horror, mystery and suspense stories on SLEEP NO MORE, which ran on the NBC Radio Network from 1952 to roughly 1957. Over needle-drops from lps of dramatic music, Olmstead (a trained voice actor) performed stories by Cornell Woolrich, Edgar Allan Poe and Ambrose Bierce. While a bit too rushed at times, these shows are still a fascinating documents – notable for including Irvin S. Cobb’s proto-Lovecraftian “Fishhead” among its offerings.

Commercial voice-over master Ken Nordine read on the spectacular FACES IN THE WINDOW (1953) on WNBQ, Chicago's Channel Five while still at the start of his career. Nordine’s deep, resonant voice (he would later create his signature word-jazz narratives, and host a long running NPR show), booming over prerecorded dramatic music, presented the Gothic horror works of Poe, Balzac, Dostoevsky and even Lovecraft and Frank Belknap Long! Technically, it’s a little bit of a cheat to include FACES, as it was actually a live television show, the video now lost to the ether whereas some audio remains forever preserved on tape.

With the tolling of a clock, the mysterious DREADFUL JOHN AT MIDNIGHT’s formal, cultured and slightly morbid-sounding voice would ring out form WKCR in Columbia University, New York City, from 1963 to 1967 at exactly the witching hour. Produced and directed by Clive Thomas Cuthbertson, John Willis Morrow read a variety of the usual suspects (Poe, Bierce, etc) while also travelling farther afield with the occasional conte cruel from Guy de Maupassant or Villiers de l'Isle-Adam. I was able to track down a few pieces of short fiction by Clive Cuthbertson from literary journals and local magazines of the time, but very little is known about this show.

Erik Bauersfeld (you may know him as the voice of Admiral “It’s a Trap!” Akbar) read for the exceptional BLACK MASS, heard on San Francisco’s KPFA and  Los Angeles’ KPFK from 1963 to 1967. Backed by eerie, original music Bauersfeld (a leading American radio dramatist of the post-television era who just recently passed away) presented a wide range of creepy stories: Dunsany, Benson, James (Henry *and* M.R.) and some truly effective takes on Lovecraft (the climaxes of “The Outside” and “The Rats in the Walls” are dramatic dynamite!). The show itself was a hybrid of radio drama and straight reading, as Bauersfeld seemingly scripted them to retain as much of the original prose as possible.

And finally I should mention the long-running speculative fiction readings by Michael Hanson (and occasionally Carol Cowan) on WHA out of Madison, Wisconsin for a program called MINDWEBS (running from roughly the mid 70s to the mid 90s). Since the show was a local college radio program that flew under the radar of copyright concerns, Hanson was able to read whatever stories he liked (usually over a backing of electronic music) and while he mostly presented classics from the entire history of science fiction (technically making the show a precursor of our sister podcast, ESCAPE POD), he occasionally found time for a story or two from Robert Bloch or William Sansom.

So there you have it – five radio shows which presented readings of short horror fiction long before Pseudopod ever stretched a tentacle. The audio narrative form of short speculative fiction is a strange beast, fraught with more considerations and perils than most listeners realize (but which would take a separate essay to elaborate on), but I consider these shows as beacons along the weird, murky path we have all chosen to trod, lighting the way by example. All of the creators did fine work in keeping the sounds of literary fear alive for earlier generations, and we can only tip our hats and do our best in keeping up this fine, if nearly invisible, tradition.