Audio CD Boxset Review: Tales From Beyond the Pale
I returned home from a lovely vacation to Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights the other day (big time plug for that event- if you can help it, don't miss it) to find my usual package of DVDs to review waiting for me in my mailbox. As I opened it, I found a curious black box titled "Tales from Beyond the Pale" and was intrigued. What kind of film box set was this? I opened it quickly to find out that it was a group of Audio CDs, compiled as a collection. Needless to say, I was quite excited.
If you know me at all (and most of you do, I see you peeping in my windows), you know that I'm a big podcast guy. For awhile, I ran my own horror podcast (although that's neither here nor there, time constraints killed it) and listen to several each day at my "real" job while toiling away. I'm big on spoken word as an art form and love letting my imagination do the work.
When I got my hands on these half hour radio horror dramas, I was thrilled. This is some good, good stuff folks. You don't have to worry about getting swept up in a long storyline and missing details, because each episode (there are 10) stands alone and wraps itself up by the time it is over.
And they're all different too, because they all have a different cast and writer! I love this stuff- it's all expertly crafted and if you can clear out some time in your day to actually sit and listen to it, you'll develop relationships with these characters and they'll manifest before you as you weave through their journeys. It isn't simply people talking though, there are sound effects and background noise to guide you through. With that said, the dialogue here is great and really natural feeling, and manages to be full of depth.
The whole deal is different, fun to listen to, thought provoking and in the right frame of mind and setting, can be pretty freaky. I love the introductions from host Larry Fessenden, and the little ad breaks in between each story. This was something I really, really liked (if you couldn't tell). As I said before, there are ten episodes. I won't talk about all of them, but I'd like to touch on a couple of favorites. If you're wondering, here's the list:
Man on the Ledge by Joe Maggio (Bitter Feast)
British and Proud by Simon Rumley (Red White and Blue)
Is This Seat Taken? by Sarah Langan (author “Audrey’s Door,” “The Missing”)
This Oracle Moon by Jeff Buhler (Midnight Meat Train, Insanitarium)
Johnny Boy by JT Petty (The Burrowers, S&Man)
The Hole Digger by Larry Fessenden (Wendigo, The Last Winter)
The Confirmation by Paul Solet (Grace)
The Grandfather by Graham Reznick (I Can See You)
Trawler by Glenn McQuaid (I Sell The Dead)
The Demon Huntsman by Ashley Thorpe (The Hairy Hands)
First up is Episode 4, This Oracle Moon. This one features Ron Perlman as a space traveler who ends up with a group of folks an a terrifyingly habited moon that seems to be populated by cro-magnon cave dwellers who feast on the flesh of the living! I will admit that although this one has a goofy, retro vibe, the story builds to a fever pitch and packs a great ending. Also, I could listen to Perlman's expert performance all night.
I'd also like to give props to Episode 1, Man on the Ledge. This one deals with a dude who's ready to leap from a building while authorities try to talk him down. Vincent D'Onofrio provides the voice of our jumper to be and the guy really infuses this twisted tale with emotion and pathos and this tale makes you think. It's admittedly heavy stuff and goes deeper than you might expect in a half an hour's time and the ambient background noise fits in perfectly as an accent to the story.
I'll mention finally Episode 3, British and Proud. A british fellow marries a Sudanese woman and moves to her village in deepest, darkest Africa- completely cut off from civilization. The poor guy dives in heart-first and ends up in a heap of trouble and experiences some true evil. This one will have you riveted, without a doubt. Needless to say, this one gets super twisted and is arguably the most adult story here, dealing with sexual themes and other dark nastiness (especially the end, woah).
It's descriptive, it's different, it can jog your frozen imagination back to life. If you're in the mood for some great stories and have a road trip or a plane ride to take, pick this up. Hell, it even works on the old treadmill. I highly recommend this set.