At least once a year there's a podcast that strikes a chord and seems to take pop culture by storm. In 2014 it was Serial, and there have been others since, but the current podcast I hear everyone talking about is Lore, which is also now a "TV" show on Amazon Prime. As many of you already know, Lore explores different frightening myths and legends throughout history...except each one is based on true stories, real places, and horrifying moments in our past that still affect us today in ways both subtle and supreme.
The Amazon version is, in my opinion, very well done and follows the format close enough to keep the gripping feel of the podcast, but the podcast is still the richer of the two experiences. Something about being able to listen while on the go is just so much fun. And while there are other great eerie, spooky podcasts out there, the feel of Lore is similar to that of another passion of mine - the spooky radio programs of the 1930s through 1950s and beyond. These thrillers and spook shows often played upon the same fears and folklore we find in Lore, focusing on ghosts, monsters, human atrocity, murder, and superstition.
In the past I wrote about my top 6 old time radio episodes, and I wrote about some episodes that affected my own spooky short stories found in my book What Lies In Wait. If you like Lore, you'll enjoy those too, but here are 5 more episodes that are worth your time, and sure to chill you to the bone. These are all found online for free, many at the Old Time Radio Archive. Enjoy!
In this episode of Lights Out, two women lose their way while touring the countryside. They flip a coin to decide which way they should walk. Fate deals them a terrifying hand, as they soon come across a lonely, remote cottage where they hear music and meet a strange man who seems to always stay just enough in the shadows to hide his appearance. When the women become concerned enough to get up and leave, he refuses their exit, and forces an impossible choice upon them, one that might end in death for one, or both.
In this chilling episode of Suspense, we get a version of the old "Man with a Hook for a Hand" tale of an escape madman who stumbles across two kissing teens in a parked car, but in this version a husband and wife decide to take a shortcut through a remote stretch of country road. As you might expect, they run out of gas just as night falls and a storm strikes. To make matters worse, they hear a news story on the radio of an escaped murderer, a woman roaming the countryside with a butchers knife. Is she out there in the dark? Is that shadow in the night coming closer? Listen in to find out.
Vincent Price lends his golden voice to this all too possible tale of a secret restaurant that serves guests by invitation only. It's tucked away just down a certain alley in a city just like yours. And the menu? Well, there is no menu. It serves one dish per evening. And some guests wait and wait for that one evening when they serve their specialty, a meal so delicious no others ever compare. The recipe is unknown, and those to try to find out...sometimes they never return. But what's a missing friend when you discover the specialty is back on the menu, for a limited time. Dig in, friends!
Quiet Please is yet another program that used superstition to play on the public's fears, and this one's pretty unique. Two tramps up to no good stumble across a dead man, and one decides to take his coat to stay warm, except the coat comes with a unique trait. While wearing it, one cannot be seen. This comes pretty handy for them, but jealousy and greed rear their ugly heads. As the two plot against each other over who deserves the coat more, they discover another secret about the coat just a little too late, a secret that will scare you so much your ribs will rattle. Okay, maybe not that much, but it's a fun creepy tale all the same!
Another episode of the always excellent Suspense, we find a haunted house tale of a special variety, but I won't give away the twist for you, and trust me, it's a super strange one! A young couple enters a real estate office looking for a home, and the agency is happy to get rid of one up in Cyprus Canyon. Unfortunately, the couple didn't ask enough questions, especially about that one door they can't open. And what are those screams at night? And why does this all feel so oddly familiar for the real estate agent? Tune in to be terrified, and just be careful about the next home or apartment you move into. Some kinds of horror have ways of happening again, and again, and again...