This month, Fangoria launched their new series Dreadtime Stories, featuring a new forty-minute radio horror show every month. The series is meant to harken back to the quaint old days of radio dramas while pushing the envelope in regards to dark and disturbing content. Now that we’ve got streaming audio and podcasts at our fingertips, it’s a very cool way to use new technology to bring back an old-school approach to storytelling.
The series is produced by Carl Amari, whose Twilight Zone resurgence is a huge hit on Sirius satellite radio. The spooky score is produced by Fangoria editor-in-chief Chris Alexander, and the episodes are narrated and hosted by…Malcolm McDowell! It’s so awesome!
The first episode is called The Late Shift, and it tells the story of Jim, who investigates his friend’s sudden hospitalization and stumbles on a terrifying conspiracy. The episode is a creepy blast, with a wonderfully eerie soundtrack, earnest voice actors and a compelling hook. McDowell’s narration is just so delicious. I know the man’s got a busy schedule, but I really wish he could carry a heftier chunk of the episode. The voice actors were great, but every time I heard McDowell’s posh, somber tones, I perked right up.
While listening to The Late Shift, I was never very scared, but I was certainly entertained. The episode is grim but with a dark humor around the edges, and I was pleasantly surprised that the story plays with topical themes of financial corruption and labor exploitation, rather than merely resorting to surface scares. But for future eps, I’d love a story with more old-fashioned content that jibes with the platform. The Late Shift is so clearly set in the present day, and the modern references feel anachronistic and jarring for a radio show–even one that I was tuning in to from my iPhone. I think a more vintage narrative tone would fit cozily with the format.
You can read a great interview with Carl Amari, Chris Alexander and Malcolm McDowell here and go to the Fango site to listen to The Late Shift. It’s streaming for free until the new episode goes live, or you can download it for cheap and get to keep it with extended scenes and no commercials. With cool weather, Halloween around the corner and Strongbow cider in my fridge/mouth, I’m in the mood for all manner of scares, and Dreadtime Stories offers a new (old) way to spook yourself.