Dark Adventure Radio Theater: “The Call of Cthulhu” audio drama

(This review is by Brian M. Sammons, editor of the recent Lovecraftian anthology Cthulhu Unbound 3, available on Kindle for only $4.99.)

The review follows the Youtube video preview below.

I love radio plays. No, I’m not talking about audio books. While I’ve got nothing against books on tape (yep, showing my age with that one) one reader and a book can’t hold a candle to a fully acted out story with a solid cast of actors, music, and sound effects. Such shows are almost completely a thing of the past, considered to be quaint little curiosities in this digital age. Thankfully there are still a few folks out there keeping this form of entertainment alive.

One such group is the Lovecraft lovers over at the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society. Those crafty and creative Cthulhu cultists have shown their love for all things HPL since 1984. They have done this in countless ways, such as making high quality props for the Call of Cthulhu game, t-shirts, art, music, assorted oddities, movies, human sacrifice, underwear, idols, coffee mugs, and more, all with nods to the cold cosmic dread of Lovecraft.

And yes, they do audio plays of Lovecraft’s most famous stories. They began doing this a few years back under the banner of Dark Adventure Radio Theater and with the novella, At the Mountains of Madness, which was followed by The Dunwich Horror, then came The Shadow out of Time, and finally The Shadow Over Innsmouth.

And then…nothing. There was a bit of a silence in the dark, and the common man prayed that the horrors were over. Well thankfully those common fools were wrong, because the HPLHS is at it again with a brand new Dark Adventure for us to enjoy. This time it’s the long and eagerly awaited The Call of Cthulhu and it. Is. Good!

Now I’m not going to tell you about the story, The Call of Cthulhu because I know you’ve read it. You’re reading this review on the Lovecraft eZine, so don’t tell me you haven’t read that story already. But just on the off chance that you haven’t, what the hell are you waiting for? Go read it, it’s brilliant and mandatory reading for any fan of HPL.

I will say that this radio play version of it remains totally faithful to the story, but it does add a few bits, namely two characters that were not in the H. P. Lovecraft original. Now some purists may gnash their teeth and wring their hands at such an idea, but let me save you some high blood pressure; the two new guys only serve as a framing device for the story. As such they help transform Lovecraft’s tale into something more radio friendly. Also, they add some humors bits as well. No, they don’t make fun of the source material, remember this play is from a society with HPL in their name, but a few nods and winks for fans of the story are handled very well and were a welcome addition.

As for the quality of the production, it is top notch. First, let’s talk about the acting. This play wasn’t done by a few fans using funny voices in someone’s basement. No, the leads here are honest to Cthulhu real actors and their quality shows through the story. Sure, one or two of the extras maybe sounded a bit hinky, but such missteps were both minor and few and far between. In addition to the fine acting, there is great music aplenty in here by Troy Sterling Nies that goes a long way to set the mood, be it creepy, action packed, or dare I say, even whimsical. To round everything out nicely are some sound effects as good as anything Hollywood uses today.

And yes, in this audio production you can hear the actual call of Cthulhu. That’s almost worth the price of admission right there.

In addition to a great radio play, the HPLHS always loves to go one step beyond and add little extra s to their releases. In this case you get some props right out of the Call of Cthulhu story like a page from Henry Wilcox’s dream journal, newspaper clippings, a photo of the strange tupilak artifact, and New Orleans police booking papers of the Cthulhu cultists, Castro. I always love these little bits. The H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society didn’t have to make and include these knickknacks to make a good product, but they did it anyway just for the love of it. A clearer sign of their devotion to the fans and the Great Old Ones would be hard to come by.

Dark Adventure Radio Theater presents The Call of Cthulhu is, in a word, wonderful. All fans of the gentleman from Providence should get it, and you can get either as a CD or MP3 directly from the creators from the website here.  Go now, great Cthulhu commands it!

And you can browse the other HPLHS Lovecraftian audio dramas here: Dark Adventure Radio Theater.  Download the MP3 versions immediately, or if you prefer, purchase the CDs with the excellent props.  And coming soon: The Case of Charles Dexter Ward and Herbert West: Reanimator!

Enjoy, and tell ’em that Lovecraft eZine sent ya!

(By the way, are you looking for lots and lots of free Lovecraftian audios?  Check out my Lovecraftian audios download page!)

(This review is by Brian M. Sammons, editor of the recent Lovecraftian anthology Cthulhu Unbound 3available on Kindle for only $4.99.)

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