Not only does the Fantasia film festival offer us the rare opportunity to see screenings of genre films it also goes above and beyond the regular film festival fare to offer us live stuff as well. Mother Nature must also be a Fantasia freak because she offered us a dark and stormy night filled with lots of lightning and loud thunder. Despite the fact that the rain was lashing down in an eerie recreation of many a horror film backdrop fans of the creepy and strange lined up in front of Yuk Yuks comedy club on MacKay Street and then piled into the small venue to see a first in regards to this radio show.
Storytelling on the radio has been around almost as long as the radio has. In the earlier days master like Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Welles gave radio listeners the chills with their macabre tales. This tradition has carried on up until and including today with the like of Tales From Beyond the Pale. Tales From Beyond the Pale is a creation of indie genre legends Larry Fessenden (director of Habit and The Last Winter) and Glenn McQuaid (I Sell the Dead and V/H/S) and made its debut in 2010. Since then it has gained popularity within the genre or horror community. Enough so that it has won awards and podcasts and recordings of its show have become top sellers. It has gained such a reputation that big name talent such as Ron Perlman (Sons of Anarchy), Vincent D’Onofrio (Law & Order: Criminal Intent), Sean Young (Blade Runner, Dune), and James Le Gros (Drugstore Cowboy, Zodiak). This was the first time that the radio show would be done in Canada.
For this special presentation happening under the umbrella of Fantasia we got treated to three brand spanking new stories courtesy of Fantasia family member and transplanted Montrealer Douglas Buck (Sisters, Prologue) as well as McQuaid and Fessenden.
The first (and longest coming in at around 60 minutes) was Buck’s story, “Hidden Records” which told the macabre tale of a teenager finding out about his guitar wizard father, his not so holy mother and his half-brother. It all ends up in violence, death and then a quiet resolution. Next up was a tale written by Glenn McQuaid and April Snellings called “Speaking in Tongues” that involved the oldest living being on Earth come to take back his words and we wrapped up with a gruesome and funny tale by Fassenden himself entitled “Barricade”.
There is something very cool about watching what goes into radio storytelling happen before your own eyes. Not only do you get to see the talent “act” out their roles, but see how they create the sound effects of a stabbing, door slamming or something as simple as footsteps. It is almost like a trip back to a much more simple time where everything was a mystery still. We could not google whatever question we had and come up with the answer. The evening was a learning experience for me in that I saw fruits and vegetables, cutlery and dishes, hammers and knives as well as Christmas tinsel used to recreate the sounds the stories required. All very fascinating. It all ran like a well-oiled machine right up there live on the stage. Unlike film there was no second takes and these professionals did not require them.
You got to see how important voice work is in things of this sort. The highlight of the night was Larry Fessenden assuming the role of a demon of sorts in “Speaking in Tongues”. His alternately scary and then hilarious voice really got you into what was taking place. If you closed your eyes and allowed your imagination to run away with you it was as if the world created by the story in conjunction with Fessenden’s voice was right there. Another great addition to the latter two stories was the voice work of actor Tony Todd. He has appeared in films like Platoon, Candyman, The Rock, and Final Destination 5 over his lengthy career. The 6’5” strikes and intimidating figure on stage and his deep and eerie voice is perfect for this type of work.
Tales From the Pale runs on Sirius radio, so you can catch it there or you can also purchase a few recordings via Amazon. Try it and you’ll become a fan of the horror radio show.