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Dark Adventure Radio Theater

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In my prior post on the Case of Charles Dexter Ward, I mentioned the HPLHS Dark Adventure Radio Theater adaptations. Just in case it wasn't clear, I am a huge fan of these vintage '30's style radio dramas. They are excellent dramatic of many of H.P. Lovecraft's stories. I've listened to many of the stories and they have some classics: "At the Mountains of Madness," The Call of Cthulu," "Dreams in the Witch House" all done in a dead-on OTR (Old Time Radio) format.  Other than "Brotherhood of the Beast", which was based on an RPG game rather than a canonical story, they have been uniformly excellent. (That one just wasn't my cup of tea.) These shows are available directly from the HPLHS web site as well as from Amazon and Audible. However, if you buy them from the HPLHS web site you can also get the "props" including postcards, newspaper stories and similar ephemeral material. That said, they are somewhat expensive, around $20 as CDs with props, or slightly less as MP3 downloads.  


The Case of Charles Dexter Ward Podcast

BBC Charles Dexter Ward

Somehow a random internet search landed me upon the BBC Case of Charles Dexter Ward podcast. This is possibly one of the best adaptations of H.P. Lovecraft's stories I've encountered. It's like a cross between NPR's serial, the X-Files and good ol' HPL himself. BBC Radio 4 produced this 10 episode adaptation and it is completely worth binging on. I listened to the first 5 episodes on a long drive and I found it riveting. 

It's a modern adaptation that uses the podcast format to good effect. It starts as a simple "locked room" mystery being investigated by two podcast journalists. They run a show called (wait for it...) Mystery Machine, replete with requests for funding. This show is so good, it actually had me reaching for my wallet. From there, it expands to a broader tale of madness, occultism, conspiracy, underground tunnels, murder and evil librarians.

I won't go into the details except to say it is completely updated to the 21st century which gives it a verisimilitude that makes it much creepier than most HPL adaptations. The production is top notch and you feel like you are listening to a smalltime investigative podcast recorded via iPhone; you're hearing their discoveries as they are happening with phone calls, audio clips, interviews etc. It's a format that invites you into the scene so that you really feel a part of it. Hopefully there will be a second season which continues the story.  

I love the 1930's charm of the HPLHS Dark Adventure Radio Theater adaptations, but this is a uniquely modern twist on classic Lovecraft. (And of course, both are very worthwhile.)