You won’t normally find me writing for this column. I’m not much of a podcast guy. It’s weird, I love audiobooks, I listen to NPR all the time, I should be a podcast guy – I just forget the exist. However, there are a handful that have sucked me in and kept me going. I listen to Simon Brew’s Film Stories and our own Ultimate Movie Geek’s MAaD podcast on the regular. But sometimes I need something a bit stranger.
There are lots of good sci-fi and horror podcasts out there. I could easily write half a dozen articles this month about them. And maybe I will. But for now here are my three current favorites.
This is my first love of the podcasting world. Mimicking the journalistic style of Serial and S-Town, Limetown is a wonderfully tense and engaging sci-fi story. Journalist Lisa Haddock investigates the disappearance of some 300 people in Tennessee town over the course of 6 episodes.
While the over arching story is science fiction, the tension that builds as it unfolds is enough to please most horror fans. While absent of gore or the supernatural there are elements of the story that are reminiscent of the Resident Evil and [Rec] franchises. The acting and production value are almost enough to be convincing. The single season reveals just enough of the mystery to keep you engaged and give a sense of closure, but not so much as to ruin the mystique.
A prequel novel is available for pre-order right now from their website. It was also recently announced that a TV series starring Jessica Biel as Lisa Haddock is in development.
The Black Tapes
The Black Tapes is a podcast series that is essentially the X-files if it were produced by NPR. Journalist Alex Reagan has an idea for a show. She wants to be the next Studs Terkel, interviewing the common man for stories that unite us. But her first subject changes things drastically. She meets Dr. Richard Strand. Strand’s goal in life is to debunk the myth of the supernatural. Anyone who can submit proof of supernatural occurrences will win a million dollar reward. No one has yet to claim the prize. However, Alex discovers that Strand has room full of videos in plain black boxes – videos Dr. Strand can’t totally discredit. Alex, along with help from Dr. Strand, begins investigating the tapes one by one.
Much like X-files the series takes a creepy story and has the two protagonists investigating it from opposite view points, skeptic vs believer. Alex Reagan is not the full blown believer Fox Mulder was but has a very open mind. And not unlike the X-files the relationship between the two leads soon becomes the greater focus of the story.
The acting and production values of the first season are a bit sub-par, but the quality of the writing keeps the series afloat. Sadly, as the seasons progress that begins to shift. The stories and dense mythology begin to outweigh the quality of the work and you’ll be hanging on out of fan obligation more than honest interest….also like X-files. However, the first season is awesome and a must for horror fans look for something different.
Welcome to Night Vale
I’m a bit late to the party when it comes to this show. It had been highly recommended to me but I had avoided it due to the comedy aspect. How foolish I was. Welcome to Night Vale is a bit like Twin Peaks or the League of Gentlemen but with the more upbeat quirkiness of Syfy’s Eureka. To be honest I am hooked. It’s so damn good. The type of good that makes you jealous of the creators.
The concept is simple – Night Vale is a remote desert town where every conspiracy theory is true. The execution is simple as well, but deceptively so. Welcome to Night Vale is performed as a local radio show for eponymous town. The host, Cecil Gershwin Palmer, is merely relating events that have occurred in town recently. The stories are mostly vignettes with no real plot and only sketches of characters. They are a mix of musings, news reports, and dire warnings of horrible, horrible things occurring in town. The concepts are a wonderful mix of horror and science fiction delivered with something between dry wit and subtle camp. Each episodes builds on ideas, themes and characters from before. The end result is a growing understanding of rather nebulous but intricately designed story. It is one of the more artistically clever works of fiction I’ve come across lately.
There are over 100 episodes of the main series at this point, each about 20 minutes long. Which seems daunting for new listeners. But, there are summery episodes to get you up to speed and the looseness of the storytelling allows you to skip around if you want. This show is absolutely bonkers in the best way. If you like Twin Peaks, League of Gentlemen, Inside No. 9, Eureka, Rick and Morty, or David Wong’s John Dies at The End (John and Dave series), this series will be your next obsession.
We usually hear voices coming from KJ McDougall’s office late at night. Often raised and occasionally rhythmic…like chanting. He has sworn up and down that he is just listening to pod casts. After his admission in this article, however, we are starting to doubt his sanity….or our own.