April 30, 2014

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[Stanley Fest '14] Getting Vocal With ‘Tales From Beyond the Pale’

From at Bloody-Disgusting.com on April 27, 2014

One of the most pleasant surprises of this year’s Stanley Film Fest was being able to witness a live recording of Tales From Beyond The Pale at the Historic Park Theater in downtown Estes Park. For those unfamiliar, Pale is a radio show produced and directed by Larry Fessenden (Habit, Beneath) and Glenn McQuaid (V/H/S, I Sell The Dead). Previous episodes have been penned by the likes of JT Petty, Simon Barrett and many other noted horror writers.

Fessenden filled me in on the show’s history several days before the performance, “we devised the concept some years ago and we went into the studio and did 10 of them, which allowed us to craft them very well. It’s an experience as an audio drama, it’s not just about dialogue. It’s also about sound design. And that did well, it was well liked. So we said, ‘let’s do it live.’ An opportunity came up with a theater engagement in New York and we pushed ourselves and approached different collaborators and did it live and that was great. But this is our first time traveling with the live show.”

That live show is surprisingly complex. If you’re thinking a radio show just involves a microphone and some prerecorded sound effects, you’d be wrong. There are several other performers onstage in addition to the voice actors, ensuring the room (and your ears) are filled with a palpable atmosphere. From plinking ice in a glass when someone pours a drink to stretching celery in unnatural ways to depict a werewolf transformation. McQuaid rightly insists that this stuff is every bit as valuable as the meat and bones of the narrative, “the foley because your performance too. The show is happening live and if someone’s digging a grave, the actor needs to hear and feel that.”

Despite having been familiar with and intrigued by the project for a year or so, I had somehow (ill-advisedly) never managed to check it out. So seeing this radio play unfold live, in a Stanley specific episode that drew inspiration from the haunted hotel we were all staying in, was a surprise and a delight. The Park Theater has a stately, pleasantly arcane atmosphere that nicely suited this old fashioned piece of entertainment.

Not only was the aforementioned foley work (and computer programmed sound design) immersive, the voice talent on display breathed full life into the characters. Here, Fessenden was aided by Martin Starr (Knocked Up), AJ Bowen (The Sacrament) Ana Asensio, Jocelyn DeBoer (Dead Snow 2) and Fangoria’s Sam Zimmerman (who displayed some nice chops in his professional stage debut). They all nailed it, nicely straddling what must be a difficult line to balance between going big on the stage and going intimate for the radio. DeBoer is an actress that was utterly off my radar until this performance (I haven’t seen Dead Snow 2 yet), but based on her work here I think she’s a real find. And if you’ve never heard Bowen vocalize the pleasures of eating placenta, you should definitely check this performance out when it becomes available for download.

The piece itself was nicely atmospheric, character driven, funny and chilling in a gleeful way. It evoked exactly the sensation I was hoping for, an oddly soothing old-timey experience that reached back to the genre elements that made me fall in love with horror as a child. Think of it as comfort food for the tortured soul.

I hope they come back to the Stanley next year (a festival you should attend, by the way). In the meantime, you can check out some older episodes here.

Photo by Annette DiGiovanni.

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April 30, 2014

Stanley Film Fest: Live Tales from Beyond the Pale Offers Awesome Alternative to Film Program

from Ryan Turek at ShockTillYouDrop.com, April 27th 2014

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Purveyor of all things celebrating indie horror, Larry Fessenden, brought his Glass Eye Pix team to The Stanley Film Festival in Estes Park, Colorado for a live performance of Tales from Beyond the Pale, the anthology audio play that channels the old days of scary radio dramas. Y’know, that era when all it took was some actors, some sound effects, some music and your imagination to frighten the heebie-jeebies out of listeners. The series has previously featured the macabre works of Fessenden, Glenn McQuaid (I Sell the Dead), Simon Barrett (You’re Next) and Jeff Buhler  (Midnight Meat Train) among many others.

For Tales from Beyond the Pale: The Stanley Edition, Fessenden and McQuaid pulled together an acting troupe which included AJ Bowen (The Sacrament), Martin Starr (Silicon Valley), Jocelyn DeBoer (Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead) and even our pal Sam Zimmerman from Fangoria. Fessenden took a leading role as “Jack Landon.”

With the stage set at the Historic Park Theatre in downtown Estes Park, director McQuaid and the actors told a fun lycathrope-inspired story of an author (Landon), who bears an uncanny resemblance to Jack Nicholson and checks in to the Stanley Hotel to write a new book “which will be remembered.” We’ll call this story “A.”

Story “B” – which is the tale that Landon pens – cocerns a husband and his pregnant wife (Starr and DeBoer) who are en route to the hospital. Elsewhere, a mother and father – in a separate car – have tied up their son, thrown him in the trunk and intend to kill him for the dark secret he holds. These two vehicles ultimately collide and the lives of their passengers are changed in horrifying ways.

This “B” story is undoubtedly the highlight of this tale of terror, but as a whole, it all works. More importantly, what was fascinating about the live performance was seeing the gears of this machine at work. Beyond the actors, the stage was populated by the foley sound effects team – working with various props (from melons, to knives, drinking glasses and a bag of rice), a sound mixer and the music composer. And just off stage: McQuaid, serving as the ultimate conductor, making sure music and sound cues were properly-timed and that the rotation of actors went smoothly.

It took some very slight adjustment focusing on the narrative, but once I got used to it, I could fully appreciate the mechanics of what went into making this live performance work. We were encouraged to close our eyes and just listen to the show, but I truly enjoyed watching the experience. It distills the nature of telling a horror story down to the basics without any sort of flashiness and it was a welcome alternative to the film programming at the Stanley Film Fest.

I know that Glass Eye Pix has done a live performance of Tales in New York City. If they do it again, I encourage you to go. I’ll be sitting here in Los Angeles, hoping they share this magic with the West Coast.

Tales from Beyond the Pale‘s second season is now available over at the official website.

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April 30, 2014

TWITCH-resizeTales From Beyond The Pale: Stanley Edition

From Michele “Izzy” Galgana at Twitch:

The myth, the man, the legend that is genre stalwart Larry Fessenden brought his horror radio show to the Historic Park Theatre for a Stanley Hotel-themed performance. Set to a live theremin and even live foley work onstage (I could smell the watermelon, post-stabbing!), the event lent a welcome new flavor to the festival. Fessenden played a Stephen King-esque writer who decided some killing was in order, while A.J. Bowen joined the stage in the guise of bloodthirsty werewolf.

[Photo taken by author. Second to right, Fessenden; far right, A.J. Bowen.]

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