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Tuesday, 26 October 2010

wireless fear (don't touch that dial)


(uploaded to flickr by fnktrm)

"Lock yourself in a windowless room alone, turn out the light, and put your radio on in such a way that all you get is screams and moans and unearthly noises produced by static. Unless you are the rare exception, you will very hastily switch on the light, fully expecting to see some terrifying intruder in the empty room with you."

James Whale, press book for The Bride Of Frankenstein (1935)


Horror film marathons are the skeletal backbone (or at least kneebone) of any modern Halloween, but the BBC rerelease (them again, I know) this month of the remaining episodes of the pioneering 40s and 50s radio series Appointment With Fear and the 70s radio series The Price Of Fear made me think of having a horror radio marathon.

Fireside frights and trepidation for the imagination to feed on work well with the dark, or even in the light, complete with sound effects, silence and the unnerving eloquent narration by The Man In Black (aka old Harrovian actor Valentine Dyall on Appointment With Fear) or Vincent Price (deliciously revealing each gory morsel of the tale drip by insinuating drip in The Price Of Fear). As Tony Palermo says in his guide for writing radio horror "You need only suggest something and the audience will conjure it up in their minds."

Appointment With Fear introduced stories by Edgar Allan Poe, MR James and John Dickson Carr to wireless listeners while Vincent Price told and starred in four fully cast dramas filled with mischevious macabre and suspense. There's plenty more around to make the ears bleed with terror, or just enjoy like a thrill ride, like the mammoth audio archive at VincentPrice.org that includes witches tales, radio theatre and the secrets of magic and witchcraft, the lurid creepiness of The Black Museum, with Orson Welles in time-honoured mode of calmly scaring people out of their wits with "true-life" tales of London murder mysteries, or the unexpected accompaniment to a wing-backed velvet armchair and a large cognac in the form of Vintage Horror Radio itunes podcasts. Maybe you can disguise the computer with a big picture of vintage wireless. I like this sinister-looking Japanese transistor (pictured) that looks like it might either fry your mind or turn you into some kind of mind manipulated robot when you put the headphones in. Or maybe you can just tune into some static and listen for the uncanny.

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