August Horror Report, Week 2

This was meant to be posted Monday. Oops.

August 5-8

-- All I managed, due to being very tired, was podcasts, but I should list my current horror podcasts anyway.

  • The Magnus Archives - When Jonathan Simms takes over as head archivist of paranormal research group The Magnus Institute, he finds the archives in terrible disarray. Statement files in no order at all, nothing digitized or recorded. He begins making audio recordings of some statements, but discovers that some files simply will not record on the computer. He finds an old tape recorder in a corner and begins recording those on magnetic tape, his skepticism firm despite growing weirdness. Four seasons and almost 150 episodes later, Jon has become something not-quite-human, the tape recorders follow him and his associates around and turn themselves on, and what began as an episodic show has become the kind of intricately interconnected story that fans keep spreadsheets of to track things. It is amazing, and I highly recommend it.
  • Liberty: Tales from the Tower - The Liberty podcast family is about the colony of Atreus, cut off from the rest of humanity, torn by generations of civil war, divided into the shining City and the lawless Fringe. The original show was Critical Research, an ongoing storyline that I gave up on in its second season because I hated the accents, but I love the Tales from the Tower stories, short horror tales from that world. Just how dystopian the city actually is becomes more and more apparent, and that's part of the creeping horror. You don't need to listen to Critical Research to understand Tales, but give it a try, maybe it won't irritate you the way it did me. The Liberty podcasts are created by Fool and Scholar Productions, the team behind The White Vault, a really awesome horror story that I won't get into because it's on hiatus right now, so I'm not listening this month. Also they create...
  • Vast Horizon - a slow survival horror podcast. Dr. Nolira Eck wakes to find herself alone on the vast colony ship Bifrost, which is falling apart around her. All she has now is her memories and the ship's AI... and a single mysterious life sign somewhere out in the ship that seems to always be heading in her direction. For extra coolness, Dr. Eck speaks Manchurian as well as English.
  • The No Sleep Podcast - a show which started out with the best stories from the NoSleep subreddit, and just kept refining their format and finding better stories. Now on season 13, each free episode has 2-3 short stories with very good casts (they also sell expanded versions with 3-5 stories for very reasonable prices) and excellent production values. Must-listen. Oh, and the show notes on the website have content warnings for each story.
  • SCP Archives - The SCP Foundation is now a classic of collaborative online horror fiction, running for 11 years now. Anyone can jump in and write an SCP file. Take a dive through the archives, have some fun. SCP Archives is one of several podcasts that just does SCP files, but so far it's the highest quality one I've found. I've also just as I was writing this followed the same group's creepypast 'cast, called Creepy (on the same page).
  • The Black Tapes - a faux-docudrama about weird paranormal shit. It's actually over now, but I'm relistening, just for fun. Alex Regan is a radio journalist who's decided to move to podcasts. She sets out to do a program on people with fascinating jobs, but ends up so fascinated by her first subject, paranormal debunker Richard Strand, that she changes directions and makes her new 'cast about him, his life, and his work. The name comes from his collection of black VHS cases (no, not all the contents are on tape) which contain the records of cases he hasn't been able to debunk -- "yet", he would insist. Mind you, by "debunk", he doesn't mean "conclusively disprove", he just means "come up with a plausible non-paranormal explanation for". He's the most infuriating kind of self-proclaimed skeptic, the kind that's not a true skeptic (because a true skeptic would be willing to be convinced by evidence), just a disbeliever, who immediately dismisses any possible evidence, prima facie. Strand is infuriating, but the podcast is fun, and pokes some fun at him.
  • Archive 81 - a new addition to my listening, Archive 81 is a found footage series. Young archival preservationist Dan Powell was hired to transfer audio from tapes from the 90s to a digital format. He's on a short-term contract to just do Archive 81 of a whole set of them. 81 centers on the Visser building and the interviews Melody Pendrass conducted with the residents for the Urban Preservation and Development Department of New York State. He certainly started the job... but at some point he sent a lot of audio files (both from the tapes and from the apparently 24/7 audio recordings he has to make of himself) to his friend Mark, and then disappeared. Mark is uploading the files and putting them out there in the hopes of finding someone who can help him find Dan. Fun stuff.
  • McGillicuddy and Murder's Pawn Shop - Another new listen. From the 1921 diary of one Maude, a respectable young working woman living a respectable (and boring) life. She stumbles upon the titular pawn shop, finds it magical, and begins searching for a little piece of the magic that she can afford to take home. When she finds it, things begin to get a lot less boring... Not strictly horror, or at least not yet, but the heroine is definitely creeped out by some things. Lots of fun.

Oof, lot of typing about podcasts.

Onward!

-- I have given up on And the Trees Crept In. The Amazon spoiler really ruined it. Reading The Coffin Path instead.

August 9

-- The Endless (2017)

Two brothers who escaped from a "death cult" ten years ago receive an antiquated-looking video cassette apparently from the remaining cult members, who they had thought committed mass suicide years ago. The younger brother, whose memories of his childhood are still mostly positive, wants to go back and check on them, and after some debate, the older agrees. What they find is not at all what they were expecting.

I don't even fucking know. But that was fucking amazing. The weirdest take on the trope I've ever seen. Also, pure existential-dread-horror. Some mild startles but no real jump scares, no one trying to kill the protagonists, just... that... I fucking loved it, and I don't know what the fuck to do with it. I can't talk about it without spoiling it.

August 10

--The Nightmare Gallery (2019)

Professor Samantha Rand is thrilled when her friend and star pupil Sanjay gets his hands on "the alchemical manuscript of Hermes Trismegistus", but when she arrives at his house, he is missing, along with the text. Three years later, she's still putting up flyers around campus asking "HAVE YOU SEEN ME?" And then a package arrives, containing a variety of strange objects, and, painted across what seems to be a page from the text, the message, "Come follow me." It is, she is certain, from Sanjay, and she immediately dives into its mysteries. The concerns of neither her wife, nor her department head, nor her students can slow her down.

For geek points, this movie stars Amber Benson (who was Tara on Buffy the Vampire Slayer). For negative occult geek points, it fails to have any alchemy involved and also gets a number of historical details badly wrong (the manuscript is in book form, frex). The friend I watched it with described it as "Lovecraft, but much better written and without all the racism". An ancient text that drives mortals mad? Yeah, ok, fair enough.

Actually very well done, and I enjoyed it a lot.

August 11

-- Prince of Darkness (1987)

A priest dies. In the abandoned church he used to tend, an evil waits to finally enter the world. A theoretical physics professor and his students are called in to help study it. I'm not at all sure why, or how the hell anyone could translate Latin into differential equations, but hey, creepy. Also, lots of green goo falling upwards.

Pretty good, overall.