Sunday, July 29, 2012

Macabre Mansion: A Place to Free the Imagination

Back in the old days--before the advent of the entertainment industry as we know it today; and yes, even before television itself, broadcast radio experienced a heyday--the "golden age of radio," as some like to call it. From the 1930's to the early 50's it was the primary source of entertainment for a large segment of humanity as families and friends would often gather together in the evening to listen the latest episode of The Lone Ranger or The Invisible Man. It was a time when unseen actors, actresses and narrated descriptions set the imagination in motion. While everyone listening to a broadcast might be entertained, no two people would visualize the setting, occurrences and players in the same way. There's a certain magic in that.

Interestingly enough, a generous amount of dark fantasy, horror and sci-fi apparently made its way onto the airwaves during both radio's golden age and later attempts to revitalize that time period. You can imagine my excitement then when, two or three years ago, a friend made me aware of a website called Macabre Mansion. It's a place from which many of the darker radio programs of times past are streamed 24/7 over the net. It's a place that once again allows our imaginations to run wild.

In the mansion's archives lies an impressive selection of original horror programming. Some productions, such as those broadcast over the CBS Mystery Theater, a program hosted by E.G. Marshall, were fairly popular. Others however, have fallen much deeper into obscurity. Included among these are a program called The Weird Circle, which aired from 1943 to 1945 and a show heralding from South Africa called The Creaking Door. It's believed that the latter hit the airwaves some time around 1950. Other horror and sci-fi productions streamed from the mansion include The Inner Sanctum, The Haunting Hour and Lights Out, a program which focused on the supernatural.

The folks at Macabre Mansion have also done a couple of their own productions, which include Edgar Allan Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher and Charles Dickson's A Christmas Carol. Both are available for download or can be purchased on CD. According to the website, work has started on a third production.

It goes without saying though, that most of the programming heard at the mansion is quite old. The vernacular and style of delivery are somewhat dated. Still, the good folks behind this project present the listener with an opportunity to let his dark imagination run free at any time of the day or night. I recommend nighttime listening for obvious reasons.

As I look at what's currently playing, I see that it's an episode of Dark Fantasy entitled, The Thing From the Sea.  It might be a good time to turn off the lights, fire up a candle or two and listen in.

Here's another link to the Macabre Mansion website.

Photo is from the mansion website.

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3 comments:

  1. I have saved that to my favourites list thanks

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  2. I will have to find the time to give that website much attention. The only radio story I have ever heard was through a friend of mine who showed be BBC and Channel 4 book at bedtime when they did a few horror stories such as Clarimonde, which was my favorite. -Midi

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