Monday, 1 October 2012

Tales of Horror Podcast Review

Our Pod-Master General is back with his weekly take on the world of horror podcasts. This week he reviews the 'Tales of Horror' from The Humphrey Media Productions Company.

Released by The Humphrey Media Productions co, Tales of horror is not so much a dedicated podcast service as a mish-mash of tales and stories from numerous old American Radio shows. Some of them are appropriate and, if you are a fan of the Hammer House of Horror films or the Original Dracula/Mummy/Frankenstein films, these tales will take you back to that by-gone and somewhat innocent era. However, Quite a few of them seem to have been randomly picked, by title alone, and have very little or indeed nothing to do with genuine horror at all. On one occasion the entire title and write-up was utterly wrong. Still these mistakes could have been made by anybody and, with stars like Vincent Price and Peter Cushing in the offing, I decided to give these tales the same chance I would give any other podcast series. That’s a few hours I’ll never get back.

Northern Lights (29 mins) (Quiet Please) The second title is the original series that the story actually came from. I liked this one. It has a little bit of (dubious) science-fiction in it, a little bit of horror, a small amount of mind control and an awful lot that would make your average Health and Safety Officer stare at his mp3 player and start screaming at it in disbelief.

Up in the wilds of the Arctic Circle the Aurora Borealis is in full flow and two well meaning scientists are adjusting an intricate machine in the hopes of developing time travel. Initial tests have proven inconclusive and so they have come to the decision to send a watch forwards in time ten seconds. All good and well. The test comes off beautifully. The watch returns at its allotted time (albeit freezing cold) and everybody is happy. Even the strange freezing Caterpillar that came back with it.

This is when Mr Health and Safety would probably start to kick up a fuss. As the Caterpillar slowly starts to die (We will discover later that they need freezing temperatures to survive) it is grabbed up, by hand, by one of the scientists and placed in the deep freezer. Then things start to go a little haywire - culminating in one of the scientists recklessly sending him through a larger version of their machine and returning from a frozen wasteland covered in hundreds of these Caterpillars. The story is ostensibly about that fact that both the Aurora and the Caterpillars utter the same noise and whether the device is a teleporter as well as Time control device. The story misses the mark somewhat.

While not exactly horror this podcast is well written for what it is, well acted and the music is not too outlandish which, given its late forties/early fifties estimated broadcast date, is something of a miracle in itself. Worth a listen if you have nothing better to do. Rating:- 3/5

Frankenstein (25 mins) (Weird Circle) Question. How do you take the glory and magnificence that is the story of a man attempting to gain mastery over the very power of life and death itself and compress it into a half hour radio-play? Answer. You don’t. Not if you want to retain anything, anything at all, of what gave the story its sheer originality and passion. To be fair, they have not taken the greatest of liberties, the story IS there in essence. The creature is made from animal skin (rather than human parts) which has been wrapped over a frame giving the creature a taut ugly appearance (Think Jackie Stallone). It is brought to life through an injection into its heart (rather than the much vaunted lighting approach). And instead of killing the little girl, as in the original, the creature immediately kills the other scientist present with Frankenstein. (Who decided to attack it before it was fully born).

The Frankenstein in this particular story turns out to be somewhat of a coward and, instead of admitting that he has done something wrong or warning anybody that there is now a monster on the loose, immediately packs his bags, grabs his fiancée and a close friend and heads for the Alps. Boo.

The rest of the tale is, to be blunt, utter monotonous claptrap. This is very badly written both from a re-working and a story continuity point of view. The acting is read as blandly as possible and I can’t help but believe that the actors felt just as bored and cynical of this poor effort when they were handed the script as I do all of these years later. There is an old expression that involves silk purses and sow
s ears and not being able to make one from the other. As far as I am concerned, and the actors seem to concur with my opinion, a silk purse will never come out of this podcast whichever bright light I try and look at it in. I took into account when it was written. I took into account the little that people knew about story formulation. I took into account that at the time a lot of projects would be written and finished on the very same afternoon. But I still kept coming to the self same conclusion - that I don’t know if it belonged to the female of the species or not but this podcast version of Frankenstein is most definitely and utterly a complete pig’s ear. Rating:- 1/5

Gaslight (44 mins) an average mystery thriller. Woman gets married. Moves into her Aunt
s house. Husband tries to convince her that she is going insane by moving things around and generally messing with her head. Somebody is watching them. A police officer who is still after the perpetrator of what we would term nowadays as a ‘Cold Case’. And, well, that’s about it. Here is another of Humphrey Media Productions Tales of Horror that have absolutely no place being included in this list. It’s a Victorian murder mystery and that is all it is. It’s reasonable enough as these types of stories go. The plot twists and winds but in a way that never really pleases. There are far too many of the “by the way, did you know that….” story arcs that always suggest that the writers did not want to befuddle the already uneducated and bemused. If it wasn’t for the fact that it was written for a fifties audience I suspect people would be offended by the sheer condescension of it all. But it was. So I’m not. The acting is not bad and it’s a good product for what it is.

If you like this kind of thing then it’s a tolerable listen, but it is not, in any way, horror. This is why, though okay, it loses more points than it should. Rating:- 2/5

The Night and the Wolf (Double Episode 47+38 Mins) this is going to be a short review even though the story and the podcast are not. Don’t listen to this. This is not a joke. Simply do not listen to it. The story is a jumble, badly acted and badly written. The sounds quality veers randomly between being unable to hear what the characters are saying to the feeling that your ears are going to bleed when the music suddenly appears at 1000 times normal volume just when you were straining your ears to hear. This is an absolute insult to other pod casters and to audiences. It is the very worst of shoddy workmanship and even after I had balanced and equalized all of the sound it was still astoundingly patchy.

The Humphrey Media Productions should be ashamed of themselves for even releasing such garbage. Rating:- 0/5

The Haunted Trailer. (30 mins) (Mistakenly noted as Murder In 2952) Once I had realised that I wasn’t listening to Murder etc (IE about six second after the podcast started) I figured I would give this story a try. I was going to listen to one anyway so did it really matter which one it was? Yes, as it happens. It does. When I’ve read the write-up from the company itself and then bothered to download that particular podcast on the strength of that self same write-up, then I do, indeed, expect it to be THAT story and I tend to get rather annoyed when it is not.

Still, onwards ever onwards.

Our hero has a trailer. One night he parks the trailer next to a rail yard and accidentally picks up a hitch-hiker in the form of a loud mouthed vagrant ghost. Most disgruntled and bemused by these events he comes to the conclusion that if he drives off, with trailer in tow, then the rather unpleasant ghostly apparition will be left behind. It apparently doesn’t work like that and the ghost is torn from whatever was holding it by the rail yard and is now free to roam the world.

More of a comedy than a horror things go from bad to worse when the Ghost starts inviting friends over for the fumes from cigars and evaporations from bottles of whiskey.

The writing is okay. I have no complaints about the acting and the story itself, though not great it is not at all bad. Rating:- 2/5

There you go. Everything you need to know about Tales of Horror from Humphrey Media Productions in a nutshell. They’re not great. They’re not particular funny. They’re usually not even Horror. Most of it is just a huge bloody waste of time. This company does not give a damn about quality, it does not care whether anyone is listening or not and most of all it does not care about YOU. Its podcasts are mediocre, badly put together and mislabelled. They have not bothered to check their product for suitability, sound levels or, it would seem, for any kind of accuracy what so ever. The only check that these people seem to care about is the one spelt the other way and that they hope to receive through the post for one of the hundreds of products they advertise on their website.

It’s at times like this that I wish I had millions in the bank simply so that I could buy the company and sack every one of the lazy and incompetent people there. Overall Rating:- 1/5

The Humphrey Media Productions (HMP) is a privately-owned media company with offices in San Antonio, Texas. At present HMP publishes 150 Podcast, Portaled by the world's largest distributors and subscribed to by over 2 Million monthly listeners. With over two million monthly listeners we are one of the largest independent media companies in the United States and one of the largest new media companies in the world.

Find out more about 'Tales of Horror' at

Download the free podcast at iTunes

Review by Peter G Staff (Pod-Master General)

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