"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 73
Would you like some Lipton Tea before we call the latest meeting to order? How about some Lipton Soup? =)
Inner Sanctum Mystery was not part of my first proposed lineup of Horror radio plays, but since I started this "listenalong" as a learner rather than an expert, I've been open to recommendations from anyone who knows better. So this is another post I have to thank Brandon for!
Do you know what my favourite line in this whole play is? "You're living in New York City, on top of an eighteen story building. This is 1945, not the Middle Ages." ROFL! It gives us the fun implication that there were vampires in medieval times, but also the fallacy that there are places and times that are so reasonable that "unreasonable" things could never exist in them. (Unreasonable to whom, hmmm?) We hear the same naivete in protests like, "I can't believe we still don't have women's ordination! This is the twenty-first century!!!" With nothing but that argument to oppose, no wonder Diana so easily believes that her husband might indeed be a vampire.
But do you buy it, too? I think that Diana jumps to the least likely conclusion awfully quickly--and on the flimsy basis of a bad dream. But remember that the play has less than half an hour to make its case. A full-length novel or a thirteen-episode series on TV would presumably be able to pull it off, with a reasonable explanation of why Diana has never seen Richard in the daytime (?!?!); so let's not be too hard on the terrified woman. Although this play relies much too heavily on a smarmy tone from the actor playing Richard, the script does admit, every step of the way, that it's also possible that Diana is just going crazy!
If I wanted to show off my literary credentials, I'd now compare "The Undead" to The Turn of the Screw by Henry James--a novella in which neither the governess nor the readers can be sure whether the former is haunted or just going mad. But because I'm the sort of person who'd name a blog after cheese (and later wish she had named it after nuts), I think the real comparison to be made is with Stephenie Meyer's Twilight and all its sad, pale clones: an entire subgenre in which odd impressions, including weird dreams, are all it takes for a girl to be convinced that a mysterious boy she whom has become infatuated with is also a supernatural creature. Perhaps the most morally infuriating thing about these stories is that the girls end up being right. At least our latest radio play offers more ambiguity. It's also absolutely correct that sometimes the people who believe in monsters can be just as scary as the monsters themselves.
And how about that "product placement"? =D The interaction between our host and Mary the Tea Lady is fantastic. Even when they interrupt the story, they aren't jarring--no more than a fellow Inner Sanctum Mystery fan would be jarring if he shared an observation or two while you were both listening to a play. I enjoyed "The Undead" on its own merits, but I think I'd listen to another Inner Sanctum Mystery just to hear the two of them again!
What are your thoughts on The Undead?
1. What would it take for you to believe that your spouse is not quite human?
2. Which explanation do you think is more likely: Richard's wanting to turn Diana into a vampire or Richard plotting to murder Diana after first driving her insane? Or do you have a third theory?
3. Does this play seem pro-divorce to you?
Our next radio play is "The Shadow People" from The Hall of Fantasy--another series I didn't originally consider but am really looking forward to now. Enjoy the recordings on YouTube, My Old Radio, and of course Relic Radio ("The horror! The horror!")--or download it from the Internet Archive (where it's Track #8).
Image Source: Inner Sanctum Mystery opening