Friday, 14 June 2013
Have you listened to 'Hammer Chillers' yet?
It's a new spooky anthology series from Hammer films, working in collaboration with Bafflegab Productions. They're available for download, one a week, on Fridays - with a cd release coming later in the year.
There are some wonderful writers and performers involved - and a wide range of scary stories that span the genre. I'm dead chuffed to have my work appearing alongside writers such as Stephen Volk and Christopher Fowler. My episode is number three - and it's a very nasty domestic thriller called 'Spanish Ladies'. Available from next Friday, it's very much a homage to the old 'Hammer House of Horror' TV show from 1980.
I've been thinking a lot about horror stories on radio, and how the audio medium is the best place for scary stuff. I guess that's because it all goes back to ghost stories and terror tales being primarily an oral tradition - whether they're being told around a campfire or in front of a blazing hearth. There's also that amazing tradition of radio serials and anthology series of the 1930s and 40s, especially in the US. For several years I was completely obsessed with crackly, bootlegged copies of shows such as 'The Strange Doctor Weird' and 'Lights Out'. All of those shows went out live, with actors all standing round microphones together - and someone doing all the sound effects live in the studio. It always sounds like radio in those days was masses of fun. I love the stories about people like Arch Obler - radio horror writer extraordinaire - splitting open cabbages and various other vegetables with kitchen knives to get the grisly sound effects just right...!
In the 1980s i remember recording 'Fear on Four' so I could listen to them again and again... getting to learn what made these brilliantly compressed, succinct and spiky stories work so well.
Radio does full justice to tales of terror because it makes the listener complicit with what's going on. When you're in the dark, or wearing headphones, and sitting on your own... the story is happening inside your skull. And without visuals, you're creating your own. You're doing half the work. And so you are half-responsible for how much you're scaring yourself. And you become invested and involved in the language in a way that TV or film never lets you. You're in the dark with just a few voices - and at the mercy of what they're telling you...
Anyway - go and check them out! You can buy episodes individually, or as a series of six. Mark Morris's episode is released today!
I think Bafflegab have done a beautiful job on these, and I'm honoured to be a part of them.