Suspense – Dunwich Horror
Adapted from the story by H.P. Lovecraft; Adapted by William Spier; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 26 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBS Radio
Broadcast: November 1, 1945
Provider: Archive.org On All-Hallows Eve Henry Armitage, the librarian of Miskatonic University, ascends the summit of Centennal Hill. First published in Weird Tales, April 1929.
Stars: Ronald Colman, William Johnstone, Joseph Kearns, and Elliott Lewis.
Virtually all of Bierce’s tales are tales of horror; and whilst many of them treat only of the physical and psychological horrors within Nature, a substantial proportion admit the malignly supernatural and form a leading element in America’s fund of weird literature.”
-H.P. Lovecraft, from Supernatural Horror In Literature
A 1,500 word horror tale by Ambrose Bierce, typically bundled as the final of seven short horror stories, under the collective “Some Haunted Houses”, The Thing At Nolan was first published on its own. And that’s why I’ve edited up a special The Thing At Nolan from a larger LibriVox version.
The Thing At Nolan
By Ambrose Bierce; Read by Peter Yearsley
1 |MP3| – Approx. 10 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
First published in San Francisco Observer, August 2, 1891.
There’s also a CBS Radio Mystery Theater adaptation, adapted by actor Arnold Moss! It fills in a lot of the details from the very sketchy sketch of Bierce’s original story. Moss also takes a role!
CBSRMT #0920 – The Thing At Nolan
Adapted from the story by Ambrose Bierce; Adapted by Arnold Moss; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 44 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBS Radio
Broadcast: November 20, 1978
Source: CBSRMT.com When a father vanishes while digging a ditch in frontier Missouri, suspicions fall on the rebellious son who recently threatened him with bodily harm. His mother believes his claims of innocence, but the rest of the townsfolk do not.
“In a remarkable short story, ‘The Grove of Ashtaroth,’ the hero finds himself obliged to destroy the gorgeous little temple of a sensual cult, because he believes that by doing so he will salvage the health and sanity of a friend. But he simultaneously believes himself to be committing an unpardonable act of desecration, and the eerie voice that beseeches him to stay his hand is unmistakably feminine.”
The Grove Of Ashtaroth was written by the fifteenth Governor General of Canada, John Buchan. Despite that high position, he was the viceregal representative of the Canadian monarch for five years in the 1930s, Buchan is probably better known today as the author of The Thirty-Nine Steps. Buchan’s novelette has been described as a “weird story” (by the makers of Escape) or as “high fantasy” (in The Fantastic Imagination) by editors Robert H. Boyer and Kenneth J. Zahorski, a 1977 anthology).
I’m not sure exactly what it is, except very interesting and certainly within the vague borders of the Fantasy genre. The Grove Of Ashtaroth reminds me of a short story by Philip K. Dick, Of Withered Apples.
You can judge for yourself what you think it is most like.
There’s a hurried, but unabridged, reading available |MP3|. It’s read by Libby Hill for the TV On The Internet podcast (beginning shortly after the twenty minute mark).
But your best bet, in audio, for the moment at least, is to listen to the 1948 Escape radio dramatization!
Escape – The Grove Of Ashtaroth
Adapted from the novelette by John Buchan; Adapted by Les Crutchfield; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 31 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcast: February 29, 1948
Paul Frees as John Buchan
William Conrad as Lawson
And if you were wondering, the only major difference between the original story and the dramatization is that the unnamed narrator is named (after Buchan himself) in the dramatization.
The SFFaudio Podcast #185 – Jesse, Tamahome, and Christine A. Miller (of Escape-Suspense.com) talk about the two CBS radio drama anthology series, Escape and Suspense. But first we play two shows: From the series Escape – Treasure, Inc., and from Suspense – Always Room At The Top.
Talked about on today’s show: Escape-Suspense.com, adapted scripts vs. original scripts, Escape vs. Suspense, John and Gwen Bagney, layer upon layer of double-cross, the hopeless ending, what is Clive’s motivation?, a femme fatale, exotic locales, these shows still work 50+ years on, Christine is an episode historian (not a radio historian), Pursuit, Romance, are you looking for Three Skeleton Key?, the use of radio drama in middle schools, The Most Dangerous Game, Archive.org, Edgar Allan Poe, The Hitchhiker, Lucille Fletcher, the Mercury Theatre, Sorry, Wrong Number, running out of shows, San Francisco, the Field Trip app, a lonely workplace is great for radio drama, “don’t think about it at all, just do it”, bad episodes, the movie star connection, Vincent Price, Lux Radio Theater, anthology series, an anthology mystery vs. Law & Order, the format, killing characters, ripped from the headlines, Earth Abides (was done as a two part adaptation), George R. Stewart, The Scarlet Plague, Jack London, San Fransisco as a setting, Man Alive, the Ferry Building, is Always Room At The Top set in New York?, La Mirada, “it could only happen in the world of Suspense?”, Jack Webb, Wally Maher, Anne Baxter, pacing like The Front Page, “business workplace episodes”, mistreated employee episodes, reaching for the 47%, An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge (Ambrose Bierce), remakes remakes remakes, appointment radio, The Country Of The Blind (H.G. Wells), Favorite Story, Plunder Of The Sun (David F. Dodge), Hard Case Crime, Treasure Of The Sierra Madre, The Rim Of Terror, The Killer Mine (Hammond Innes), “Nancy Drew with adults”, those impossible to get books, The Quick And The Dead by Vincent Starrett (Arkham House), Cornell Woolrich.
CBS Radio Mystery Theater ran an astounding 1,399 original episodes. Unlike early radio drama series, in which popular episodes were re-staged, sometimes with the exact same script, not one of the nearly 1,400 episodes of CBSRMT episodes was re-done.
And yet, they came pretty damn close once. Episode #0715, which first aired in 1977, is called The Guy de Maupassant Murders. It takes direct inspiration in plot and structure from a short story by Guy de Maupassant called The Diary Of A Madman.
And yet The Diary Of A Madman was itself adapted as episode three years earlier!
Having heard them both I prefer The Guy de Maupassant Murders. I think that’s because I heard it first. But the performance is more interesting too, perhaps because it stars Fred Gwynne, best known for his role as Herman Munster.
When I first heard Gwynne’s performance I thought he was off – that he had just been unprofessional that day – it sounded as if he was just reading the script for the first time while they were recording – but upon a second listening I noticed that the way he delivers the lines completely fits the character and his psychology.
Judge for yourself.
CBSRMT #0715 – The Guy de Maupassant Murders
By Sam Dann; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 45 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcast: September 26, 1977
Provider: CBSRMT.com The polymathic houskeeper for an aging bachelor judge follows the reports of a serial killer’s flagitious crimes with interest. The only clue is a note left on on each of the victims. It always reads “THOU SHALT KILL.”