This week’s Week in Review comes a little early because there’s a distinct Halloween theme going on here, and a Halloween-themed Week in Review released on November 2nd just wouldn’t feel right. So, on the eve of All Hallows’ Eve, here are some of the scary and not so scary podcast highlights from earlier this week. Read on, but beware, there are witches and masked murderers lurking below!
Stuff Mom Never Told You: Wednesday’s episode of Stuff Mom Never Told You featured a brief history of female witches in TV and movies. Hosts Cristen Conger and Caroline Ervin discussed the lineage of Hollywood witches, starting with Samantha Stevens in the 1960s TV show Bewitched all the way through to American Horror Story: Coven. Conger and Ervin talked about why witches are so popular, especially with women, and how the portrayal of witches has changed over time. The hosts also conducted a fantasy draft of sorts, selecting who they would put on their all-time-best witch team.
I Was There Too: What better way to celebrate Halloween than with a behind-the-scenes look at the classic horror movie Halloween? Host Matt Gourley (whose name I am mightily resisting turning into a Halloween pun here) interviewed actor P.J. Soles who played one of Michael Myers’ high school victims in the original 1978 Halloween. The show was a small accomplishment for Gourley, who admitted to having a deep fear of the movie since seeing it as a five-year-old boy. Soles talked with Gourley about her work on Halloween as well as some other classic films like Carrie, Private Benjamin and Stripes. After his interview with Soles, Gourley really tested out his fear of Halloween by going with friend and host of The Film Junk Podcast, Jay Cheel, to a couple of the locations used in the movie. It’s not clear that Gourley completely healed his childhood wounds by the end of the show, but his adventures certainly make for fun listening. Fans of IWTT will know this, but if you’re new to the show, I recommend not fast forwarding through the ads. Gourley does the ads himself, and this show features a particularly hilarious ad for Casper Mattress in which Gourley experiences an existential crisis brought on by the ad copy.
Selected Shorts: The Selected Shorts podcast released last Sunday featured four stories selected specifically for your Halloween listening pleasure. Writer Neil Gaiman hosted the episode, which featured two of his own works as well as stories from writers Charles Baxter and Mark Richard. All the stories will delight you in different ways, but the thrills come from Gaiman’s “Click-Clack, the Rattlebag” and Baxter’s “Through the Safety Net.” “Click-Clack, The Rattlebag” methodically and slowly pushes you along toward an inevitable but thrilling and scary end, while “Through the Safety Net” features a mixture of humor, suspense and a wonderful, hammering twist in the end. Perfect listening for you Halloween-obsessed people out there.
Nocturne: If you want a true story to get you into the Halloween mood, I’d recommend the episode of Nocturne released earlier this week. The episode features the story of Shawn Taylor, a man with Jamaican roots whose two-year-old daughter shook up his inner skeptic and connected him back to his family’s mystical roots. The story starts with Taylor’s early life experience living with relatives in Jamaica, where he was first exposed to a strange mix of local religion and tales of his family’s famously violent history. Forty years after that visit, one of Taylor’s few remaining family connections he could share with his daughter was his great-grandfather’s ring, which he had stolen during his stay in Jamaica as a boy. Turns out, that ring connected Taylor and his daughter with their ancestors in a way that Taylor could not have imagined and that would challenge Taylor’s view of the world.
The Moth Podcast: This week’s Moth episode featured two Halloween-related true stories from past live Moth performances. The first story came from a 2002 recording of musician Kimya Dawson, who told the story of being pulled aside at the Canadian border in the early post-9/11 days. Dawson recalled how questioning by customs agents led her into a memory from October 1996 when she worked as a zombie at a haunted maze. The story features a surprising celebrity appearance and lots of laughs. The second story from this week’s Moth podcast was told by writer and storyteller Kevin Haas. Haas told a story of being confronted by a gang of tough-talking vampires after work one Halloween night. The incident was resolved without a punch thanks to one click of a button by Haas and some very jittery vampires.