Archive for October, 2009

Halloween Review Spectaculathon! DP, BSAP, & MORE!

Posted in 19 Nocturne Boulevard, BrokenSea, Darker Projects with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2009 by Random Frequent-Flyer Dent

 Halloween is my favorite holiday. It has everything: Free candy, the chance to dress up in a strange costume and frighten people,  free candy, 2 episodes of The Byron Chronicles in the same week, free candy, costume parties, free candy… you get the picture.  The other thing I like about the Halloween season that I only truly started noticing this year is the holiday specials, both on TV and in the audio drama world.  Yes, last year I was in paroxysms of glee over the Byron Chronicles special, but I didn’t know how many other similarly brilliant things were out there.

So, I’m going to ignore SyFy’s ’30 Days of Halloween’, and I’m going to somehow manage to ignore Nathan Fillion dressing up as Malcom Reynolds on ‘Castle’, (at least for the moment,) and focus on a few of my favorite things: Halloween, Audio Drama, and some good old-fashioned creepiness.

The Byron Chronicles Halloween Special: Dead Time (DP)

Last year’s TBC Halloween special featured a demonic 2-way plot and some ridiculously quotable bits of dialogue, but I think this episode might top it. While attending a live performance of a staged show called Psychic Detectives, Byron encounters an actual demonic spirit from his past in the midst of all the elaborate fakery.

This episode has it all: Evil creepiness, Byron being badass, and, in the trend of the last few Season 2 episodes, a flashback. It also has Leviathan Chronicles author Christof Laputka making a cameo appearance, which bumps this episode up a couple pegs on the Epic-O-Meter ™. They also reference Stephen King. Oh, speaking of references and of things that make my little bibliophilic heart feel all warm and fuzzy, something was mentioned in this episode that I’ve been waiting to hear ever since I started listening to this show two years ago: “My name is Byron, and no, I don’t recite poetry.” Thank you for that, episode writer Mark D. Wrenchild. I like you a lot.

So, for the Stephen King reference, and the aforementioned line about the other Lord Byron (the one who did write poetry,) ‘Dead Time’ joins the ranks of my favorite episodes. The fact that the story is very well-written and well-acted helps, too.
Now… bring on that Christmas special!

To listen to Dead Time, ring the doorbell here.

Kolchak the Night Stalker — All Saints Archive (BSAP)

I don’t just celebrate Halloween on October 31st; I celebrate it for the entire month leading up to the special night. I’ve even been known to start making my costume as early as September. Even August. The nice, creepy people over at BrokenSea Audio Productions and I are alike in this respect: We know that one day simply isn’t enough to get all of the Halloween out of our systems. BSAP started the celebration on October 1st with a host of Halloween madness, including the introduction of a new miniseries, Kolchak The Night Stalker — All Saints Archive, based on the cult tv series that inspired The X-Files. . Since there’s so much Halloween goodness goin’ on at BSAP, I’m not even going to try to review everything. Instead, I’ll just point you in the right direction and stand back…

To listen to Kolchak — All Saints Archive, get your bag of candy ready and say, “Trick or Treat!”

If you’re in need of more Halloween goodness, try Zombie Cheerleaders 2: Pom-Poms of Death, and/or The Robot With A Human Brain Vs The Insidious Octpoids, which has the greatest title of all time.** The Insidious Octopoids can be found at Brokensea.com, while Zombie Cheerleaders 2 comes to us courtesy of www.grindhouseaudio.com.

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Making Book (19 Nocturne Boulevard)

This is by no means a new release, but I think it deserves mention in this Halloween Review Spectaulathon for two very important reasons: 1) It’s creepy beyond words, and 2) Every single thing I’ve listened to from these people has been brilliant, and it’s about time I started reviewing some of it!

‘Making Book’ tells the story of a woman who steals an artifact of unspeakable power in exchange for money to pay off her brother’s gambling debts. The artifact in question is a mysterious book that, when opened,  releases horrible, murderous creatures that devour whomever they see. At first, the book seems like the perfect way to resolve her brother’s problems, but he soon discovers the dark truth about using the book instead of using common sense.

While listening, I kept expecting that one guy from Stephen Sommer’s first Mummy  movie to jump out and shriek, “NO! You must not read from the book!” Well, he didn’t, but that’s ok because I did it plenty of times myself. I kept alternating between being freaked out and mildly grossed out, and potential listeners should be aware that my tolerance for grossness is very high. This story is very graphic, with plenty of squelchy sound effects.

 To listen to Making Book and other great offerings from 19 Nocturne Boulevard, knock on this door… if you dare. (You’ll have to scroll down a bit…)

Gothik (Darker Projects)

There’s just something about the word ‘Cthulhu’… it’s fun to say, once you actually figure out how to do it. It’s one of those words that just begs to be screeched out in a public place, along with  “KHAAAN!” and “SNAAAKE!” I’ve never actually read any of H.P Lovecraft’s books, something I will soon remedy, but that doesn’t mean I enjoyed Darker Projects’ ‘Gothik’ any less.

Again, this isn’t anything new. It’s actually Halloween Special 2007. I think it was maybe supposed to be the first in a series, but nothing came of it. It works very well as a standalone episode, so that’s perfectly fine. It’s one hour of creepiness, HPL references, and noir elements. Oh, and did I mention the cast? No? Probably because it would take me all day. It includes Laura Post, Mark Bruzee, David Ault, Mark Kalita, Fiona Conn, Judah Friese, Elie Hirschman, Eric Busby, Chris Snyder, Shire Smith…and many, many more. It’s worth listening to for the cast alone, although it’s got a perfectly brilliant plot. It also goes well with popcorn.

Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn: Listen to Gothik by descending into the crypt.

A Few More Halloween Recommendations…

Age of the Zombies (Necropolis Studio Productions): The very creepy high-quality  tale of the zombie apocalypse. I just started this one myself… brilliant. (2009 Parsec Awards finalist!) Click here.

Alive Inside (Darker Projects): A creepy, gory tale of a band of survivors making their way across a zombie-infested United States in search of the cure to the undead virus. (Note: Contains strong language & adult content.) Click here.

Underwood & Flinch (by Mike Bennett): U&F tells the story of a vampire named Underwood and his caretaker, Mr. Flinch. I’ve only listened to the first episode so far, but that’s enough for me to say that it’s a brilliant show and a fresh imagining of a familiar genre. Click here.

Autumn (Darker Projects): Based on the novel by David Moody. For the most part, it’s your basic zombie survival formula, but it’s so well adapted and brilliantly acted that it doesn’t really matter.  Click here. (It’s much better than the recent indie film adaptation…because it stars David Ault and Mark Kalita, to name a few.)

Well, that’s all I’ve got, so I’ll leave you to enjoy this lovely All Hallow’s Eve… The air is cool, the sky is darkening, and fallen leaves rustle in a  sudden breeze… Unless you live in L.A or something, where it’s probably warm and horribly sunny (if you can see the sky) and the leaves don’t die and fall off like they’re supposed to.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN from THE OMNIPOTENT BLOG LADY!


The Asterisks!

Lord Byron (George Gordon), was a 18th century English writer and poet. The literary stereotype he created has become known as the ‘Byronic Hero’, a category DP’s Lord Byron definitely falls under.

** The second greatest title of all time belongs to the Dark Matter episode “Zombie Pumpkinheads from Outer Space!” , which I believe is the first Darker Projects Halloween Special…

 

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The Byron Chronicles 2×07: Dracula, Part 2 AKA The Beginning of the End

Posted in Darker Projects with tags , on October 25, 2009 by Random Frequent-Flyer Dent

WARNING: SPOILERS AND SOME WILD THEORIES MAY OCCUR PAST THIS POINT…
… although I’ll try to keep both to a minimum.

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The Byron Chronicles Season 2 started a little over a year ago, back in September 2008. I was overjoyed, because after listening to the Season 1 finale, I honestly believed that the show was over and done with. Now that a year has gone by and Season 2 is rapidly approaching its close, I’ve realized something that I never really consciously thought about before: I’ve become very emotionally attached to these characters.

It happens with pretty much all of the shows I follow, on television or otherwise. After over two years of rapt listening and rabid obsessing over The Byron Chronicles and related characters, I’ve come to the conclusion that if this season ends the way I think it’s going to end, I’ll be in tears.  More on that later, though, down in the section marked “wild theories”; I just felt I should bring it up right in the beginning, so that later when I mention being emotionally traumatized while listening to Dracula, Part 2, you’ll understand why.

The episode begins pretty much where Part 1 left off; Chris, Byron and Katharine are more or less prisoners of Demitri and company,  and are locked up in a room waiting, as we are, to find out what’s going to happen next. Since there’s nothing else to do, it’s the perfect time for some backstory, whether Byron likes it or not. At Katherine’s insistence, he reluctantly continues the story of his encounter with Mina Dracula in Bar Harbor, Maine.  

This definitely an episode I would recommend listening to without looking at the cast list first, because even a few nice little shockers will be a bit spoiled. Also, reading this before listening is a great way to accomplish the same thing, but hey; I warned you.

There are a couple characters that are introduced and re-introduced in this episode, and both instances caused my head to spin a little, like a ballerina playing with a top on a merry-go-round.  Clym Angus Dodds joins the cast as the most famous vampire of all time: Count Dracula himself.  I was thinking that since they’d already introduced Mina Harker as Dracula that the Count himself wouldn’t actually be making an appearance. Let’s chalk that up on the list of things I’ve assumed about this season that have ended up being completely wrong, shall we? Another semi-familiar character also pops back up in this episode; Branlaven, that melodramatic, insane, rush-manufacturing sewer-dwelling vampire who made his first appearance way back in Season 1 Episode 3 turns up as one of Dracula’s followers.

The way so many seemingly incidental characters are making surprise reappearances, it makes me wonder who’ll be next: Caduceus? Max the demon? There have been vague rumors that Jo Penny will be coming back in some respect, although I’m not sure how that’ll work since she was killed in the season premiere… but getting killed didn’t stop Katherine from coming back, so we’ll see.

The overall impression I got from this episode was that it was a bit like The Two Towers:  It’s epic in its own right, but we all know that it’s really just building up to the big, shiny fanfare that’s sure to follow. There’s a story to be told, and there’s space for a few surprises and epic moments, but it’s really all leading in to the conclusion. That doesn’t make it any less brilliant, mind you–it’s just the way it felt while listening to it.

Now, this is the point at which the wild theories and my emotional trauma begin. I have spent the second half of the second season convinced that Chris Sparrow is going to die. It seems logical, since according to series creator and writer Eric Busby, Season 3 is going to be much, much darker… and what better way to make Byron turn to the dark side than to kill one of the few people in creation he actually cares about?  This theory was reinforced further for me by the very last line of the episode; as soon as Byron explained why Dracula was coming to kill him, it was like someone lit up a big neon sign which read, “R.I.P CHRIS SPARROW, YOU WILL BE MISSED.” For now, though, we’ll just have to wait and see, but I know I’ll be keeping a box of tissues handy. As I mentioned before, I’m very emotionally attached to these characters.

 So, in short, listening to this episode made me even more excited for the next episode (and the holiday specials, but that’s another story for another time), but it also made me a little sad inside. For once, I’m actually hoping that my theory is completely off the mark…

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Listen to The Byron Chronicles 2×07: Dracula, Part 2 by clicking the following link, or by going through the middlemen known as iTunes and the Zune Marketplace. THIS IS A LINK. CLICK IT.

Red Sands Investigations : Pendant’s New Original Series!

Posted in Pendant with tags , on October 20, 2009 by Random Frequent-Flyer Dent

Detective shows always make me feel like an idiot.

Same thing goes for mystery novels; when the plot is unfolding, I think I know exactly what’s going on, and I feel so very clever, but then the resolution comes and everything is revealed and the answer always, always, always ends up in a completely different zip code from my original prediction. Everything seems so simple, too, once they explain it…

Despite my long-lasting petty feud with detective stories, Red Sands Investigations, the promising new mystery series from Pendant audio, was actually a great listen.

The story follows Carla Marley, niece and heir of private detective Jim Marley, who comes to the city of Red Sands to put her uncle’s affairs in order after his death. Instead of selling the property as she had planned, however, she ends up following in her uncle’s footsteps and decides to take over his business. There’s no shortage of opposition, however, especially from Jim Marley’s old competitor, Nick Flint. Interestingly enough, the series is narrated by… Jim Marley, which is strange, considering the fact that he’s dead. Whether this is just a plot device or if its hinting at some supernatural element is yet to be determined.

While the first case covered in the series was a relatively simple matter of suspected infidelity, the writers still managed to throw in a convincing plot twist to keep things interesting. There was plenty of excitement even though the case wasn’t high-profile. I’m looking forward to following future cases, despite my gradually lessening dislike for the genre.

Red Sands Investigations had another aspect which endeared it to me; In most detective shows/novels that I’ve watched/read, it seems like whenever there’s a problem, someone pulls out the Whatever Device or turns on the Magic Problem-Solving Computer Program of Win. Well, this detective agency doesn’t have any of that. Their office doesn’t have a computer, and all of their files are stored on hard copy. When a problem arises, they solve it the old-fashioned way. That made me happy, because while a little technobabble is good for the soul, sometimes it can seem like Convenient Device X is pulled out to solve writer’s block, not the actual case. I’ve done it more than once. So, props to writer/director Fiona Thraille for eschewing the gadgets and going for the good old-fashioned approach.

The first episode, “The End of the Pier Show”, was released on October 12th, and the release date for Episode 2, entitled “Keep it Hidden”, is listed as November 9th. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing where this show is headed in the future.  

Download Episode 1 of Red Sands Investigations  here , or from iTunes, etc., and enjoy.

Far Horizons 1×05: The Derelict AKA Why Space Zombies > Earth Zombies

Posted in Darker Projects with tags , on October 11, 2009 by Random Frequent-Flyer Dent

I’m here today to talk to you about zombies.

There’s something for everyone in a zombie movie. For those who delight in blood ‘n guts, there are always entrails flying left and right. For those who pay attention to inter/intrapersonal relationships, rest assured that the scriptwriter will have thrown in some romantic angle, or something equally ridiculous. For those who only bought a ticket to see the explosions, there’s sure to be at least one really big one resulting in the Flaming Hordes of the Undead rampaging through the ruined streets of whatever major population center the movie is set in. I go to see zombie movies because they make me laugh, usually at the stupidity of the survivors.

I really like zombie movies. They’re funny. (Except for Night of the Living Dead, which was made back in ’68 and is the scariest movie I’ve ever seen in my life.)

You know what isn’t funny, though? Zombies in space.

If the dead start coming back to life on a spaceship, what, exactly, are you going to do about it? You can’t run and hide, since there’s only a limited amount of room on a spaceship. There’s also only a limited amount of supplies and weapons, and there’s no way to get more of these things while stranded out in the cold, black vacuum of space. It’s all just a waiting game when the undead rise in a spaceship. This is why space zombies are infinitly more creepy than earth zombies. And when they’re alien space zombies… ‘scuse me, I need to turn some lights on.

This is why the current installment of Far Horizons gave me the shivers. I’ll get back to the zombies later, though.

The episode begins in the third week of the Art Bell’s voyage home. They have no idea where they are, and suspect that they’ve traveled even further away from Earth after multiple Gate jumps cause them to end up in an area of space with no familiar constellations to navigate by. The Host, downloaded from the first Warp station, is their only form of guidance. All the planets they’ve passed have been utterly destroyed, presumably by nuclear war, and every Gate station they encounter is deserted and dead. They are completely alone.

Then, a Warp jump lands them on the fringes of the galaxy. They’ve barely arrived when out of nowhere, a proximity alarm begins to blare as an unknown object is discovered directly in their path, orbiting around the station. (This is very similar to something that happened to me yesterday while biking in the snow, only my ‘evasive manouvers’ included more screaming  and a tree instead of a derelict spaceship. Still, very similar.) Well, it turns out that the mysterious spaceship wasn’t playing a game of deep-space chicken with them after all; there are no lifesigns on board. It’s dead in the water.

A handful of crew members decide to investigate the ship, which the Chief identifies as a Korsavan Saber, in order to learn more about the Korsavan’s ships in case they encounter the race again, and to see if there’s anything to salvage. Once onboard, they discover that the ship is full of long-dead bodies, that were killed not with weapons but with teeth.

After discovering a creepy message written on the wall in blood (Which fans of The Byron Chronicles and the horror genre in general know is never a good thing) the dead bodies begin to rise and say other extremely creepy things.

 Then the episode ends with a nice cliffhanger. Well, when I say ‘nice’, I mean ‘not nice.’ And when I say ‘not nice’, I mean ‘next month had better get here very quickly’. Zombie battle in SPACE!

Overall, great episode. I like the newer episodes much better than the originals (which I need to re-listen to, to clear a couple things up and refresh my memory) and I’m excited for the next installment. Bring on that space-zombie audio crack!

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Download Far Horizons Episode 5: The Derelict by clicking here, or by going to the usual suspects…enjoy.

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Stir Fry : Philanthropy, Behind the Scenes, and Blogs

Posted in Uncategorized on October 7, 2009 by Random Frequent-Flyer Dent

This post will be like stir fry; many different ingredients tossed together in a pot and cooked over an open flame. Ok, that’s a lie. There will be no fire. I will now pause the blog so that all the pyrophiles in the audience can go home. …

Right then. To business.

I’m taking a slight departure from Audio Drama (Yes, I do engage in other forms of entertainment!) to talk about two things which are brilliant and not completely off-topic: 1. Metal Gear Solid: Philanthropy,  2. Blogging, and 3. Behind the Scenes at Darker Projects

Yes. I’m going to blog about blogging… but only a little, and in an epic way.

Both of these things tie back in to Audio Drama, actually. It’s like a segue, but not really. (I don’t know why I’ve become so obsessed with segues. I guess it’s because they have absolutely nothing to do with segways. Yes, that must be it.)  Actually, it isn’t a segue. I just like the word.

1. Metal Gear Solid : Philanthropy

I love movies. I love them a lot. Well, I love good movies. I also like video games. Unfortunately, the words “good”, “video game” and “movie” rarely ever appear in the same sentance, unless that sentance is “Gee, I wish someone would make a good video game to movie adaptation…” and is followed by a wistful sigh. Well, Metal Gear Solid: Philanthropy does just that… and it isn’t some big, Hollywood blockbuster, either. It was made by a group of college students. Without a budget. And it’s non-profit. And it is, in a word, amazing. Did I mention the fact that it is absolutely amazing? No? Really? Well, it is. I was completely in awe. Can anyone say “high production values?” Giacomo Talamini, (producer/director/star of the film) and the rest of the people behind MGSP certainly can.

I’ve never played any of the Metal Gear games, and in fact, the only thing I knew about them was that… um…there’s this guy named Snake. Yeah. Even so, the movie made perfect sense to me, even though I spent the whole hour completely incoherant due to an overload of epic. Now, here’s the part where MGSP ties back in to Audio Drama — it was originally filmed in Italian, and then dubbed over in English. Two names in particular stand out from the cast list… Lucien Dodge and Laura Post! Yes, that’s right: There are a couple familiar voices in this film. Actually, the fact that these two people add their considerable talents to the film is the only reason I heard about it in the first place, and one of the biggest reasons I ended up watching it. It’s like when the Lord of the Rings trilogy was coming out, and I methodically tracked down and watched pretty much every single film starring an actor from Lord of the Rings, only with DP people.

Also: I may have mentioned this before, but I always pay close attention to the music, whether I’m watching TV or a movie or listening to an Audio show. The music from Philanthropy is just as stunning as everything else about it. I absolutely love it.

So, even if you’re not a Metal Gear fan, check out MGS Philanthropy, and you’ll become one. It can be found at www.mgs-philanthropy.net . The film can be downloaded or streamed from the site.

 

2. Blogging

I started this blog because I was bored, and because I needed to rant about how amazing Darker Projects is. I was hesitant to do so, because it seems like everyone and their mother has a blog these days. Well, now I’m certain of it: everyone is blogging. Even… wait for it…

Byron.

Yes, the Pale Man of Portland has his own blog. Written by series creator Eric Busby from Byron’s perspective, the entries are sure to entertain fans of the show who, like me, go completely insane in between installments. There have been two posts so far, the first entertaining and the second a little darker… still, finding out that this existed made not only my day, but my entire week. If you’re a fan of The Byron Chronicles, then click the link for some epic. I really hope that this keeps going, since I like seeing what happens in between the actual episodes, if you know what I mean.

Byron’s Blog: http://palemanofportland.blogspot.com/

 

3. Behind the Scenes at Darker Projects

I found this strange little… series during the summer between the first and second seasons of The Byron Chronicles, which is when I basically went through and downloaded everything from the Darker Projects website and listened to it. Basically, each episode is a little one-sided interview of sorts with one of the dark all-powerful beings who make Darker Projects happen. Writers, actors, producers…  some are informative, all are entertaining, and the chance to take a peek at the men and women behind the curtain is intriguing. Now, if only they could turn down the background music a little bit… hm. There are currently thirteen episodes out, containing ‘interviews’ with: Judah Friese (Section 31, Lost Frontier), Elie Hirschman (Lost Frontier, et. al.), Mark Bruzee (The Byron Chronicles, ), Paul Mannering  (Author) , Alexander Davis, Fiona Conn (Doctor Who, The Byron Chronicles),  Shire Smith (The Byron Chronicles), David Ault (The Byron Chronicles, Doctor Who), Clym Angus (The Falcon Banner), Matt Manning, Chris Snyder (The Falcon Banner, The Section 31 Files), Laura Post (The Byron Chronicles, The Falcon Banner), Christopher Patrick Lydon, (Author of ‘The Falcon Banner’), Eric Busby, (Darker Projects creator) and others. If you want to take a behind-the-scenes look into the strange and mysterious inner workings of Darker Projects, then click the link –> http://www.darkerprojects.com/behind_the_scenes_at_darker_projects.php and enjoy.

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That’s all I’ve got for now. There were reviews I’m supposed to be doing… but this pesky thing known as life smacked me upside the head with a flyswatter and threatened to leave me and take the dog with it if I didn’t start paying more attention to it. I think it may have even started crying. I had to give in. I had to… but only temporarily!

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Random Link : Look, DP stuff! Wearable DP stuff! For the win! But… where’s the shirt with the logo on it? I need a new one, as mine has fallen apart. http://shop.cafepress.com/darker-projects Also: What about Section 31 and Byron shirts? I know I’d buy ’em…