Monday, October 6, 2014


If the reviews on this site seem a little one sided, it's not your imagination. When it comes to DARK SHADOWS media, it's my goal to review everything that comes down the pipeline for better or worse. For the most part, it's not a bad job. Things like WOLF MOON RISING, THE CRIMSON PEARL and (eventually) DARK SHADOWS YEAR ONE make my job pretty easy.

Dreck like DARK SHADOWS/VAMPIRELLA, on the other hand ... well, the less said about that, the better.

I barely have enough time in the day to meet my DARK SHADOWS obligations, so I don't like wasting my time (or yours) writing about things I don't like.  It seems more practical to use this space to discuss things you might actually enjoy.

Which should be the case for TALES FROM BEYOND THE PALE, a series of audiodramas that have managed to stay off my radar until until this past week. A DARK SHADOWS fan by the name of Glenn McQuaid dropped me a line to compliment the website, and pointed me in the direction of the series. TALES FROM BEYOND THE PALE has been in production since 2011, but somehow has eluded me. McQuaid is one of the show's "curators."

While McQuaid's name didn't ring a bell, it turns out I was familiar with his work. He directed a segment of V/H/S and the feature film I SELL THE DEAD. And I'd recently seen the show's other curator, Larry Fessenden, in JUGFACE, one of the more interesting horror movies of 2013.

But, when I sat down to give the series a spin, their names were still a mystery to me. As a blogger, creators are always trying to get my attention, and much of what they're peddling sucks. That's not to suggest they're bad people; just that the work they're doing isn't especially interesting to me. So, when I paid my first visit to the TALES FROM BEYOND THE PALE website, my expectations were low.

After listening to a sample provided on the website, I decided to gamble $2.99 on an episode. I selected one of the tales written by McQuaid, put on the headphones and let the story have its way with me.

And I'm glad I did. THE TRAWLER, a tale of New England fishermen that run afoul of sea monsters, is an incredible piece of work. I'm kinda stunned by how much I loved it and frustrated by how little I can actually say about it without spoiling things. (Part of me also worries that my affection might be crossing the line into full-blown infidelity, but Big Finish Productions knows I still love them.)

THE TRAWLER is Lovecraftian in a way that doesn't draw too much attention to itself: Three fishermen abandon a failing expedition, turn the boat toward a storm and begin a search for mythical sea fare better suited for a museum than the fish market. Since this is a horror story, you can probably imagine that things don't work out in their favor.

For a story that involves only three people (and is almost entirely confined to a small fishing boat) THE TRAWLER manages to mine a great deal of dramatic tension from its cast. This isn't a story about stock characters filling airtime until meeting their inevitable demise; there's a sense of desperation about the cast from the very start. These abrasive characters also help to establish an interesting tone, balancing menace and humor in a very delicate way. While there's a sense of doom hanging over the episode, it's never oppressive.

And that's about all I can say about THE TRAWLER without spilling every bean. I'm not in the habit of doling out unqualified blowjobs in my reviews, but TALES FROM BEYOND THE PALE is good stuff. If you don't enjoy it, it's a sign that you've got a character defect that needs immediate attention.

1 comment:

Darren Gross said...

Sounds great- I'll have to check them out. I wonder if they're hiring... hmmm...

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