Audio Review: Classic Radio Horror

Spine-chilling stories of the supernatural

(AudioGo)

AS the cold winter evenings draw in, there’s nothing better than curling up in front of a blazing fire with a nice glass of wine, the wind howling outside, and a spine-tingling ghost story on the stereo… Fortunately the BBC archives are packed with all sorts of chilling dramas and anthologies, ensuring there’s something for everyone from a wealth of the genre’s greatest talents.

We start off our mission into the macabre with the return of the notorious Man in Black, aka the late Valentine Dyall, whose devilish tones introduced almost all the ten series of Appointment with Fear from 1943 to 1955. Alas, only a few episodes from this celebrated series remain, but they are definitely some of the best, and are quality representations of what is still fondly remembered as an all-time great radio show.

All four stories included here are dramatised with a full cast, and include Edgar Allen Poe’s The Pit and the Pendulum, The Clock Strikes Eight and The Speaking Clock, both by John Dickson Carr, and Monkton Hoffe’s The Deep Shuddered.

Continuing with the dramatisations, our second anthology is The Price of Fear, which consists of four full-cast dramas from the classic radio series: Cat’s Cradle, Come as You Are, Speciality of the House and The Ninth Removal. The legendary Vincent Price brings his macabre sense of humour and his unique blend of eeriness and stylish suspense to these highly-polished plays.

Of course, if you’re looking for an all-time classic horror novel, then few people could overlook Bram Stoker’s seminal work Dracula. This enthralling BBC Radio dramatisation stars Frederick Jaeger and Phyllis Logan, and admirably captures the atmosphere of brooding fear and dark eroticism. Unfortunately some of the earlier sequences in Transylvania are cut-down or omitted, which takes away much of the building sense of creeping menace that exists in the novel, but don’t let that put you off what is ultimately a first-rate version of the celebrated vampire yarn.

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If you’re still in search of scares, Ghostly Tales is our final collection, containing four spine-tingling short stories from the golden age of the ghost story, each read by experienced actors including Andrew Sachs, Eleanor Bron and Michael Maloney. It includes The Phantom Coach by Amelia B Edwards, The Tapestried Chamber from Sir Walter Scott, Bram Stoker’s The Judge’s House and The Man of Science from Jerome K Jerome.

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