Tales from the Tombstone Tavern is a new six-part podcast series featuring five iconic monsters from classic horror: Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, The Wailing Woman, Wolf Man and The Mummy. The five all hang out at the Tombstone Tavern, drinking and exchanging stories, when one evening they talk about how their brand of horror has become irrelevant and today’s scary stories are not what they once were.
Directed by Jamie Boucher, the podcast opens with narration by Delmar Terblanche who also wrote the series. Their narration is excellent combining traditional methods of creating atmosphere with a self-mocking philosophical whirlwind about time and its role in life.
From the opening the sounds of the pub are created and the atmosphere of a busy bar is created. The group sit good naturedly making fun of each other’s tropes and bemoaning some of the representations of them in 21st century media. Wolfgang the Wolfman (Percival Fagent) is determined that he is still relevant as the metaphorical implications of lycanthropy being a representation of puberty and the horrors of growing up are still at the core of contemporary horror.
Arguing about the validity of this statement, Vlad Dracul (Joshua Manning) challenges them all to put their case by telling a scary story. The Mummy, Queen Ank-es-en-Amon, Annie for short, (Sena Bryer) agrees to begin with a Lovecraftian horror story, Lovecraft being, she says, the beginning of horror itself.
Her story The Dentist of Kingsport (which she sheepishly refers to as a spur of the moment working title) is of course set in a cosy New England town in Massachusetts, in the early twentieth century, at some point between the two great wars. Consumerism is rife, Harry’s is the place to get a delicious burger in no time at all and dentistry, practised by our hero, Dr Michael Carter, is a relatively new art. A horrific oral plague is quickly spreading around the town of Kingsport and the effects of it have caused Dr Carter to break down and be admitted to the local asylum, where his brother John visits him to learn the truth of what has happened, which turns out to be more horrible than anyone could ever imagine.
The cast take on the various voices of the characters in the story as Bryer narrates. This is a lovely touch and creates atmosphere in the story which is well enhanced by effective sound effects which build the world of the story as it progresses. Small vocal sound effects added by Bryer emphasise her character and create a sense of her dramatic and colourful persona.
The story is very effective, with plenty of gruesome imagery and moments that make you jump while steering away from explicit blood and gore as always in Lovecraftian fiction. Beautifully complex language sits it firmly within its genre and the horror of the situation increases wonderfully as the story progresses.
This is a wonderful opening to a very promising series which will literally make your teeth ache. The dynamics between the five characters are interesting and this original take on classic horror is sure to take us somewhere surprising and delightfully creepy.
Tales from the Tombstone is being released every two days from Wednesday 21st October to Saturday 31st October, at 12pm and is available wherever you listen to podcasts.
Reviewer: Donna M Day
Reviewed: 21st October 2020
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★