Episode 53 – The Gift of Closure

Good evening everybody, and welcome to the Darkly Lit Podcast. This evening, we’ll be reading Joseph: A Story, by Katherine Rickford. Rickford appears to be a fairly obscure author, to the point where I can’t find any biographical information about her, but Joseph was first published back in 1920. I picked this story for tonight not only because of its obvious ties to the Christmas ghost story tradition, but also in honor of the Walsh family, who have finally found out for certain that Otis Toole, who had previously recanted his confession to Adam Walsh’s murder, was indeed the man responsible, a fact supported by physical evidence as well as Toole’s confession.

I don’t have too much else to say tonight, except happy holidays, and keep your loved ones close to your heart in this season, whoever they may be. Our music tonight is provided by Nox Arcana, at http://www.noxarcana.com, and the HPLHS, at http://www.cthulhu-lives.org. Please visit the website at darklylit.wordpress.com, or send comments on the show to lit.darkly@yahoo.com, or our voicemail at 920-341-3065. Until next time, when we celebrate the birthdays of both Edgar Allan Poe and Vincent Price, I wish you pleasant dreams.

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Episode 52 – Ghost Story for Christmas

Good evening everybody, and welcome to Episode 52 of the Darkly Lit Podcast! I know we’re running a little bit late this week, but that’s all the more reason to get down to business, n’est-ce pas? Tonight’s story is M.R. James’ “Two Doctors,” a story of queer revenge. Tonight’s music is provided by Nox Arcana, at www.noxarcana.com, and the HPLHS, at www.cthulhu-lives.org!

Special congratulations go out to Joe Hallett, whose story “Alone” took home our grand prize package for the Darkly Lit Story contest! Your package should be arriving within the next week or two, depending on the vaguaries of the US Postal Service. Our next show will be coming out on December 23rd, and feature a Christmas ghost story by somebody other than M.R. James! After all, if I’m going to prove that this was a widespread tradition, there has to be more than one author out there who did it, right?

But, if you can’t wait that long, there’s one other place where you can hear your friendly neighborhood Wolfemann this month. I co-hosted Episode 19 of Creepy Kitch with Stacy and Cins, discussing the first two Paranormal Activity films with them. You can find their show on iTunes, or at their blog, by searching for Creepy Kitch – and that’s K-I-T-C-H, as in witch. Their show is a *smidge* more uncouth than this one, so be prepared for some instances of adult language and such if you do go over to listen.

If anybody would like to write in with their Christmas wishes, or feedback for the show, please contact us at darklylit.wordpress.com, lit.darkly@yahoo.com, or through our voicemail at 920-341-3065. Until next time, I bring you M.R. James’ “Two Doctors,” and wish you… pleasant dreams.

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Episode 51b: Jack the Ripper

Well, I’ve run into a couple of little delays this week that kept me from getting the recording done on time and without the sound of telephones ringing or dryers buzzing, so I’ll get the next show out on Saturday, most likely. We’ll be reading M.R. James’ “Two Doctors,” for those playing the home game!

In the meantime, I hope you’ll all enjoy a little early Christmas present. This is the audio from my Ripperology 101 panel, held at Teslacon the evening of Saturday, November 19th. Some interesting theories come up, as well as references to classic authors Lewis Carroll and Oscar Wilde! What do they have to do with the Ripper? You’ll have to listen to find out, won’t you?

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Episode 51 – Darkly Lit Lives Again!

Hi there everybody! Back from Teslacon, and I enjoyed myself greatly. I held two panels this year, rather than just one! First, I recorded today’s show, reading Casonetto’s Last Song and The Thing Invisible. Then, the next day, I held Ripperology 101, and had myself a full house for the discussion!

Sadly, we didn’t have time to get into discussing Carnacki the Ghost Finder very much; the next panel needed to get going, so I had to be almost as abrupt as the good paranormal investigator himself at getting the house cleared out! But there is some interesting discussion of Robert E. Howard and Casonetto’s Last Song in there, as well as the stories themselves. And, as always when I do a live show, I give you the full experience by not editing a danged thing. And I was using a brand new recorder too. May the Lord God have mercy on your souls.

As always, please give us a call at the new voicemail line, at 920-341-3065. Also, please check out the voting at darklylit.wordpress.com to choose your favorite story from last time to win our fabulous prize package! There’s only one more week to vote, folks, and things are LITERALLY neck and neck between Alone and Stay in the Basement at the time of this broadcast! A 50/50 split! So if you want to be sure your favorite wins, get in there and vote! Because as always, if you don’t, you don’t have the right to complain about the results.

So, enjoy the show, and keep an eye out for a bonus Ripperology episode coming up soon!

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Episode 50 – Three Twisted Tales

Tonight, submitted for your approval, we have three tales of the macabre.

First, we have “Stay in the Basement,” by Brenda.

Then, we have a true tale of terror as Jacob brings us his personal encounter with… The Beast of Bray Road.

Finally, we close out with Joseph Hallett’s debut horror story… “Alone.”

What more could you ask for? How about a chance to vote for the best one?

Just vote in the poll up there, and decide who wins our fabulous prize package! I absolutely guarantee it’s more than a ball of lint and a visit from Ygor!

In the meantime, maybe you want to call our voicemail? It’s over at 920-341-3065. And please pay a visit to Joe Bethancourt, to thank him for his kind musical support these last two shows!

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Episode 49 – Every Town has a Story

Good evening, and welcome to Episode 49 of the Darkly Lit Podcast. The show’s going to be a little different tonight; I don’t have much in the way of stories for you, but instead we’ll be discussing a subject near and dear to my heart – folk horror….

Please leave your comments on the page, or call our new voicemail line at 920-341-3065.

Visit our musical guest Joe Bethancourt at www.whitetreeaz.com!

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We’ve got Voicemail!

Evidently, WordPress doesn’t get along with the Google Voice widget. If anybody knows how to fix that, please let me know!

In the meantime, our voicemail is (920) 341-3065. Please have patience while I figure out how to change the message, set things up, all that sort of thing.

What Movies Need

Hi there all! Just trudging out of hibernation to make some general observations. I’m also cross-posting this to my podcast site, just for kicks (and because people are more likely to see it there, since I’ve kinda ignored The Wolfemann’s Den since starting the show).

I’ve been to the theater a fair amount this year, actually. First, I went to Insidious with my family. Great film, in my opinion, and an almost-perfect “intro to horror” film. I strongly recommend picking it up for this Halloween season (along with Trick ‘r Treat, of course, and the original Halloween, and….)

Second, I went to see Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, on the strength of Guillermo Del Toro’s producer’s credit. I liked it, but it wasn’t a ‘knock it out of the park’ film. However, I will give it credit for inspiring me to pick up some books by Machen that I’ll eventually read for my podcast over at Darkly Lit. I also liked the more stealthy reference to the works of Algernon Blackwood.

And, next weekend, I’m going out to catch Paranormal Activity 3 on opening day. This will happen; the last two films warranted it, and the trailer looks like they’re taking on at least half of my idea for what the third film should do (discussed in Episode 31 of Darkly Lit, along with my opinion of the Saw films)

And, while seeing these films, I’ve seen a lot of trailers. One of which inspired me to see the movie it was for; when I saw Insidious, it included a trailer for Don’t be Afraid of the Dark, which made me want to see it, and made my brother absolutely refuse to. I intend to punish him by watching John Carpenter’s The Thing later today.

But other than that one film, I saw a lot of trailers that did exactly what they wanted to avoid – they made me want to avoid the theater like the plague. For some of these films, I never was going to see them. Bridesmaids, for example. For others, I was actually seriously considering catching them. Straw Dogs, for example. The prequel for The Thing. I’d been considering trying to catch them… and then I saw the trailers. On the bright side, the trailer for Straw Dogs did make me want to go back and catch the Sam Peckinpas original, which meant I remembered to pick it up when I found it at Half Price Books that afternoon! But ultimately, both of these trailers kept me out of the theaters (along with the trailer for Dream House, which I caught on IMDB instead of in the theater itself.)

What this did make me think about was the current state of the theater. Why do I go so seldom? Because 99% of the films that are coming out are so freakin’ weak. There’s no reason whatsoever for me to go spend $10 on a theater ticket, $3.50 on a small drink, and $4 for a small popcorn when I can wait until the movie comes out on DVD, rent it at my local Family Video (or Netflix, or Redbox) for less than the price of the popcorn, and then watch it in the comfort of my own home, with a chilled bottle of Sprecher’s ginger ale (not available at my local movie theater, at least), and all the freshly popped peppered popcorn (not available at any movie theater) that I can eat.

Oh, and the ability to pause the danged thing when I need to use the can. Or turn it off if it turns out to be an absolute pile, which happens entirely too often these days.

Why should I go to the theaters? 3D films? I don’t have a 3D TV, after all, so that might be a reason. Except that (a) most 3D movies are this post-processed crap that aren’t worth the $3 surcharge, (b) most of the ones that are truly 3D films and warrant the surcharge are glorified tech demos (Avatar, I’m looking at you), and (c) I’ve got regular glasses. Have you ever tried wearing a pair of cheap shades over prescription glasses? Yeah, it’s not fun. Especially not for three hours of eye-strain (again, Avatar, I’m looking at you.)

But I understand why they’re pushing 3D. It’s something that most people’s home theaters can’t do yet, or at least can’t do well. That’s going to change in the very near future, I’m quite sure, but that tech’s still being worked on. Once they don’t have that any more… what will theaters do? Most people think that they’ll go the way of the drive-in; they’ll become a novelty, something that you do because you want a special night out, not because you just want to see a particular film . This is something that we’ve seen before; back in the 50’s and 60’s we had this sort of thing happening when TV came out, and then in the 80’s when video came out. At least then the theaters still had the advantage of the big screen and better projectors… but in the era of 62″ plasma/LED TV’s that have 1080p resolution and the Blu-Ray player, that doesn’t help so much.

What will convince people to pay through the nose for the privilege of sitting in an uncomfortable chair, surrounded by morons talking and texting during the film, all while paying 2-3 times the going rate for your snacks?

What the movie theater industry needs is another William Castle.

Will Castle was the marketing genius responsible for putting butts in seats during films like The House on Haunted Hill, The Tingler, and Mister Sardonicus (by the way – both of those links are to Archive.org, where you can pull down perfectly legal public domain copies of the films to watch). These films were cheesy, yes. They were cheap, hell yes. But they were fun. They were enjoyable… and Will Castle got the guys running the theaters to make it an event. Take a look at some of the things he did in his films. And he wasn’t the only one, just the most common one. Roger Corman did this in the original Pirahna (you know, the good one). Here are the recommended tricks that Corman suggested theater owners to do (paraphrased from the pamphlet included with the 20th anniversary special edition:

1: Tie in the local tropical fish store, and get a tank full of pirahna placed in the lobby. Put a sign out saying “Fish don’t eat people. People eat fish.” Scatter a few old rings and watches on the bottom of the tank to complete the effect.

2: Turn the tables on the pirahna, and sponsor a “pirahna swallowing contest.” Replace the pirahna with goldfish, and give the winner complimentary tickets to the film. Be sure to have the local press cover the event.

3: Persuade local bars and restaurants to feature a special on a “pirahna cocktail” (better known as a Bloody Mary.)

4: Make a tie-in with your local sports shop, since the movie features a lot of summer water sports. Set aside some space in your lobby for the sports stores to set up a display.

5: Sponsor a dance contest, where the contestants are judged based on their interpretation of the new, as-yet-unknown dance craze, “The Pirahna!” (Ah, the 70’s.) Winners receive a free one-way bus ticket to Aquarena Springs (in Texas) and 3-days free use of top-of-the-line camping gear from your local sporting goods store.

6: Leave dead pirahna along local rivers and streams. Organize your local boy scouts and such to guard against “the oncoming onslaught.” Pay a few enterprising kids a few bucks to stay out of sight for a few days while the film is out, and watch your grosses soar!

Now, of all of these options, only 2 and 6 would be likely to get you picketed or sued or otherwise in trouble in the modern era (again – ah, the 70’s…). Maybe they wouldn’t have the strongest effect of putting butts in seats, but it would certainly get word of mouth going. Couple it with something like #1, and you can make it work a bit better.

Or maybe do what Hammer Films did with Rasputin, the Mad Monk, and distribute souvenirs to theaters (Rasputin beards, if you’re curious). If you got a little knick-knack when you went to see the movie, maybe that’d be a good reason not to wait for the DVD. As it stands, you’re more likely to get a knick-knack when you wait for the DVD, if you pay for the special edition!

And it’s not like it’s hard to figure out gimmicks to use. Pirahna 3D (or 3DD)? Just borrow the old gimmicks from the 70’s. Saw? Go back to William Castle, and have one of your underpaid ushers (or volunteer theatre major, if you’re in a college town) be the “victim” of a trap during a dull spot in the film. Dream House? Eh, this one’s a little tricky, but given the real estate market these days maybe pay somebody to set up a haunted house in their for-sale property? I don’t know, but then, I’m not getting paid to think of these things either.

The point is, there are lots of ways you could come up with gimmicks. Sure, they’re cheap. Sure, they’re propping up a movie that’s not necessarily that great. Sure, they’re chintzy.

That’s the freakin’ point.

They make going to the theater a unique experience. They get people talking about a movie, and about the amazing thing that happened there that you can’t see anywhere else.

Thiswould get butts in seats. Even I would consider paying to go see a Saw film if I heard that somebody had a trap go off on them in the back row of the theater and run out screaming. Sure, I’d figure out that it was a cheap gimmick in the theater, but it’d be fun! And isn’t that why we’re going to the theaters in the first place?

Shark Night 3D? Make it a real 3D film, and have a flying shark swoop down over the audience on rails! It’d get people laughing, but in a film like that, that’s what you want!

Don’t be Afraid of the Dark? Play a ‘whisper track’ that doesn’t have anything to do with the movie, have a paid plant or two to gasp or otherwise act like something grabbed at them, knock something over in the back of the theater – pretend that the fairies are loose in the cinema!

Of course, you’d have to rework the movies so that they had scenes where these sort of things weren’t too disruptive, or otherwise played into the tension of the film. But it’d be a blast! It would make the movies enjoyable again. It would make that $10+ ticket actually kinda worth paying for, because you can’t get it at home. You would be selling memories that’ll last forever, and sometimes little collectibles that folks can hang onto just for fun.

And, if all else fails, you can always fall back on offering life insurance policies in case you die of fright during the movie.

And then pray to high heaven that nobody just happens to have a coronary in the middle of it.

Episode 48 – Obsession!

Good evening, and welcome to the Darkly Lit Podcast, September edition. I’m sorry we’re a little late, but to be honest I just couldn’t think of a good theme until the last minute, and by then it was a little too late to record the show. Tonight, we tell a tale of loss, love – and obsession. Three of them, actually. First, I’ll read Edgar Allan Poe’s Berenice, where a lady’s smile is perhaps the most delightful thing a man can imagine. Then, we’ll be speaking briefly about another tale of unhealthy obsession and romantic dread – Twilight. I’ve heard some people complain about the knee-jerk reaction to hating on the series, and I’ll admit that I’ve done it myself in the past. But tonight, I’d like to explain my real concerns with the series – and, in the process, maybe cast a little light on the mythology of vampires, and the increasingly creepy way that love and romance is viewed these days.

We also have musical offerings from both Nox Arcana and a new artist, Tarby! Tarby’s works can be found on SoundCloud, through the following links.

His Primary Link
Tonight’s musical offering
The full Something Broke, all 21 minutes of it (still worth listening to)

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