Sunday, April 30, 2017

Become a Pod Person

Photo by Derrick Tyson of Flickr. 
Lately, when I haven't been listening to audiobooks at work, I've been listening to podcasts.

Additionally, I've been really into horror stuff--stories, books, movies. I think it's because things have been so politically bad, a word where plants will dig their way under your skin and slowly devour you from the inside seems far better than a world in which 45 is president. So here's my podcast suggestions--horror edition.

1. Pseudopod

This is an obvious one, and I've mentioned it before. Pseudopod is one branch of Escape Artists, which is a multi-professionally-paying publication group run and owned by Alastair Stuart--who is a great guy and very cool. Pseudopod is their short horror fiction podcast series. Each week, episodes clocking in around 30-45 minutes long are published, read by some amazing talent. The episodes change in genre weekly, so there's always something different on there. If you're not feeling a story one week, you can always come back next week for a fresh offering, and since the show has been on for a decade or so, there's TONS of back episodes to listen to. Highly recommended. I always recommend episode 433, "20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism."

2. Welcome to Night Vale

Another obvious one I've mentioned before. I imagine some would possibly argue that Night Vale isn't horror because it's not exactly extreme. No swearing (except occasionally in the songs they play during the weather), and no gore or anything graphic. Just eerie, odd, and quirky. But the show runs a fascinating gambit of episodes from the entertainingly quirky, to the eerie and unnerving, to the tragic.

If you don't know the pitch, it's essentially NPR if it were set in Stephen King's Maine. (It's literally set I believe somewhere in Nevada, but you get the idea.)

While the show has a loose ongoing story line, you can easily pick almost any episode to start listening and you'll eventually catch on. Seriously, jumping into episode one is just as bizarre and humorously odd as jumping into episode 25. They provide plenty of context clues and explanation in each episode so you know who people are. You may miss out on some of the character growth and change, but sometimes the show fucks with you in that regard anyway--for example, they released an epilogue episode that followed up on the events of their book that had not even come out yet, with lots of "Well, I don't have to explain that, do I? You were all there. You all know what I'm referring to."

3. Shock Waves (The Deep End of Horror--Better Than Sex)

The next two I have aren't horror fiction, but rather focus on horror movies. Shock Waves is the reboot of a podcast formerly known as "Killer POV." I'm not sure why the old one went under and why they relaunched with a new name--I haven't gone back and listened to the old show--but I can highly, HIGHLY recommend Shock Waves.

The show is hosted by Rob Galluzzo (Senior Editor of Blumhouse.com), Elric Kane (This Week In Horror and Inside Horror), and Rebekah McKendry (Editor In Chief of Blumhouse.com). I really appreciate Rebekah's presence on the show. It really helps break up the cast having a woman to contribute her perspective on the horror industry. Otherwise, it would just be three dudes, and that's just not as interesting--we tend to overrun the genre.

Most episodes follow a similar structure: they talk about what horror movies they watched last week (or sometimes expand to what horror related things they've done--such as festivals, special projects, etc.), then they go over to Ryan Turek (Blumhouse Director of Development ) for a segment called "Pick of the Week." He usually picks a neglected or little known horror movie, but sometimes recommends horror soundtracks, too. And then they delve into a long interview with someone from the horror industry.

My favorite episodes I've listened to so far are episode 2, in which they interview some folks from Scream Factory and we learn the fascinating ins and outs of film rights for distribution (it doesn't sound interesting, but trust me, IT IS!!!), episode 4, which features an interview with possibly my favorite modern horror director Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Hush), episode 7, in which they interview the Soska Sisters (directors of American Mary and hosts of Hellevator), and episode 14, in which they interview the writers behind The Final Girls and we get to hear what the horror genre means to two gay men--a perspective often lacking in the discussion.

Seriously, I love this show, and it comes out weekly, so you have PLENTY of content.

4. The Faculty of Horror

While Shock Waves is great for a horror industry look, sometimes their discussion is a bit surface level. If you want a show that digs down into the symbolism of a movie, the history of those symbols, and the context in which the movies were released, then The Faculty of Horror is the show for you. And best of all, they frequently approach their film discussions with a feminist angle, which is extremely welcome.

The show is hosted by Andrea Subissati, the Executive Editor of Rue Morgue magazine and host of a great YouTube channel (The Batcave), and Alexandra West, author of Films of New French Extremity: Visceral Horror and National Identity (totally added that to my Amazon wishlist). Together, they really dig into what makes a horror movie tick. While some episodes focus on one movie and its impact, most of the time they take on two movies that share a common theme.

Their episode on The Blair Witch Project gave me a new appreciation for the movie, and since they're Canadian, their look at Pontypool revealed aspects of the film of which I was completely ignorant. A couple more episodes I highly recommend: episode 19 on eating disorders in Drag Me to Hell and Black Swan, and episode 36 on motherhood in Goodnight, Mommy and The Babadook.

I actually found this podcast because they guest hosted an episode of Pseudopod (see? Bringing it all back around, eh? Eh??) and loved their academic approach to analyzing the story after we heard it. Honestly, I WISH there were a Faculty of Horror style podcast about horror literature because I would be so fucking there.

Check out these podcasts, I think you'll like what you hear.

If someone has any suggestions for podcasts hosted by LGBT+ folks or hosted by people of color, please let me know. I follow the Graveyard Shift Sisters blog, but sadly, they don't have a podcast. I would love a Shock Waves or Faculty of Horror style podcast that focused specifically on the queer and/or people of color perspective.