May 1, 2017

BIRTH. MOVIES. DEATH. The Overlook Film Festival: TALES FROM BEYOND THE PALE

The spooky radio drama got a live read at Timberline Lodge.

If you’re not familiar with Larry Fessenden and Glenn McQuaid’s radio drama Tales From Beyond the Pale, it’s a terrific and haunting storytelling device. I’ve been lucky enough to see two live reads of the show – once at The Stanley Film Festival, and this week at The Overlook Film Festival.

The performers stand at mics with headphones and scripts on podiums, while McQuaid sits in the background at a soundboard, producing the show and playing his original score. Two sound effects artists work at a table to the side, using sound props like a small door in a frame, shoes in a box of gravel, jars full of liquid, a tube they shake to create, as my colleague Katie Rife phrased it, “ambient spookiness.” As riveting as the stories are, and as great as the performances, it’s tempting to just watch the sound artists at work, the little magic they create with bags of sand and aluminum ducts.

Fessenden, in his marvelous voice, opens the show with a Crypt Keeper-type monologue, assuring us that today’s stories are intended to distract us from the “hundred-day horror show” that has been this nation. He also performs a role in each story, along with Shudder’s Sam Zimmerman, The Pumpkin Pie Show’s Clay McLeod Chapman and actress Janet Scanlon.

The first story is titled “Re-Appraisal,” in which a man (Chapman) is trying to sell his house so he can escape the modern insanity of the United States and move back to his homeland of Ireland. A potential buyer (Fessenden) arrives with a very compelling offer, but the seeming bargain comes at a terrible price. “Re-Appraisal,” written by McQuaid, trades on our new, unfortunate revival of nuclear panic, and tells a lesson about the selfishness of our own anxiety.

The second story, written by Fessenden, is called “In the Wind,” and it’s a Fargo meets The Mist-type tale in which Scanlon plays Frannie, a small town police chief in a snowy mountain resort, with Zimmerman playing her sweet-tempered second-in-command. While investigating a homicide, Frannie and her team soon realize that what they’re dealing with is something much worse, a supernatural foe that threatens to overtake the entire town.

Both stories were perfectly creepy and beautifully performed, generating real suspense in that small, warm room. Tales From Beyond the Pale was once more a highlight of this horror festival, a refreshing change from slasher flicks and the like. There’s a quaintness to the delivery of these scary stories that makes their unnerving content stand out in stark contrast. If you ever get a chance to see Tales From Beyond the Pale performed live, you should take it, and in the meantime, check out more tales here.

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May 1, 2017

TALES at the Overlook: “One of the coolest events that the fest has to offer”

Tales at the Overlook Film Festival, 29 April 2017:
Clay McLeod Chapman, Larry Fessenden, Beck Underwood, Sam Zimmerman,
Glenn McQuaid, Janet Scanlon, Lee Nussbaum, Devin Febbroriello

For a long time I suffered from cystitis, passed all a couple of gynecologists and a couple of urologists. The last urologist was driving me, at first it seemed to me he did not believe me, the tests were kind of like normal, but unpleasant sensations persisted. But the last time there were 75 white blood cells in the urine.

From Kalyn Corrigan of Bloody Disgusting

After the movie had ended I ran over to the Barlow room, where I got to see one of the coolest events that the fest has to offer – Tales From Beyond the Pale. Like an old H.G. Wells show, four actors, including Larry Fessenden and Sam Zimmerman, voiced two live readings of creepy Twilight Zone-esque stories that left me feeling like I was in the 1950s huddled up next to family members and a roaring fireplace as we listened to our favorite radio program. I mean, there were even two ladies on the side of the stage putting their hands in shoes and making them walk on a piece of wood to create the illusion that someone was stomping through a house. When a character in a story experienced turbulence on an airplane, they clinked together drinking glasses to make it seem like the actors were really on a plane. “Phonecalls” were voiced through a megaphone to make it sound authentic, and an old wooden chair was swiveled back and forth under a microphone to mimic the creaks of an aging house moaning in the wind. It was truly fascinating to see these stories leap off the page and become alive right before me.

The second story titled “In the Wind” took place in a snowy mountain town, where two sweet little police officers named Frannie and Carl followed up a call about some missing truckers who had left their cars and been found hundreds of feet away without an explanation. Before long, gargoyle-like winged creatures appear and ravage the officers, stealing from them their lives and their sanity. I enjoyed both stories immensely, but the first one was especially cool. In it, a self-absorbed man named Tom hangs up the phone with his wife who pleads with him yet again not to move their family away to Ireland, but to no avail. Just as he ends the call, a knock appears at the door, and it’s a strange gentleman who offers to buy the house they’re trying to sell on the spot, without haggling, above the asking price. Tom jumps at the chance but begins to grow suspicious of this odd character after he begins asking for other things, too, such as Tom’s dog, and then his wife, and his two children. At first, Tom grows angry, but as the soothing spirit coaxes him with his Irish tongue and twisted logic, Tom finds himself adhering to this strange and unusual deal, he comes to see it as a bargain and gladly trades in his old life for a new one. He’ll soon live to regret it.

I simply cannot praise Larry Fessenden enough. From his writing to his acting, and even just his voice all carry a unique sense of the old world. When he shows up for a job, you can just tell that he’s there and doing it because he loves to perform. He loves his job. It’s not about the money, it’s about the craft, and every project he’s a part of becomes that much more special just because of his commanding presence. It was a real joy to witness him live and in person.


rehearsal gets ghostly

April 24, 2017

TALES FROM BEYOND THE PALE at The Overlook Film Fest 4/29/17

Glenn McQuaid and Larry Fessenden are pleased to present a TALES FROM BEYOND THE PALE LIVE event at the Premiere Edition of the newly minted Overlook Film Festival outside Portland Oregon at the famed Overlook Hotel seen in Kubrick’s THE SHINING.

On the bill are two new macabre stories, penned just for the occasion: McQuaid’s Reappraisal and Fessenden’s  In The Wind. Lending their voice talents will be Tales regulars Clay McLeod Chapman and Sam Zimmerman along with special guests and your host, Larry Fessenden. McQuaid will be on hand to trigger music and effects, while Beck Underwood and Devin Febbroriello will provide foley, all live-mixed by audio maestro Lee Nussbaum.

The team promises to deliver thought provoking chills and thrills, and would like to remind you that if things get too scary… covering your eyes won’t help.

Special event poster by Brian Level.

Tales from Beyond the Pale
LIVE in The Barrow Room, Saturday, April 29 at 4pm

McQuaid and Fessenden are having none of it.

Now in its sixth year of operation, TALES FROM BEYOND THE PALE, the brainchild of Larry Fessenden and Glenn McQuaid, has delivered over forty original audio dramas to the eager ears of horror fans the world over. Their most recent batch of Tales, Season 3, “We’re All Ears” won Best Audio Drama Series at the New York Festival Audio Awards, and their forth season, “Wish You Were Hear,” a collection of live shows from the past three years is set to be released this Halloween.