"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 79
As you can see, I have managed to pry myself away from my Latin dance mix long enough to write a post on our penultimate Horror radio play. It is a third which features an actor who also left his mark on Hollywood: Peter Lorre.
I'm not crazy about the use of images in the following recording, but you can always close your eyes when you listen, as I did . . .
Remind me again exactly how we know that the gorgons have snakes for hair. Did Apollo brag about it or something? Because presumably every other eyewitness was turned to stone . . . or to wax!
I think that we all have a natural fear of total paralysis--a state which is probably the closest we get to physical death while still remaining fully aware of everything. The added indignity of being surrounded by people who don't know that you are conscious is kin to that more familiar horror of being thought dead and then buried alive. I can't decide which of the two is the lesser evil. No one wants to wake up six feet under, but at least those last moments are fleeting compared to an I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream scenario.
The Mask of Medusa seems to have all its work cut out for it . . . but then heads in a very different direction. The first big surprise comes from Medusa herself--and the scariest moment in the entire play is when the murderers who have all gathered around their "collector" (an honourary member of their band, I suppose) hear that they are not alone. Another excellent touch is Zweig's desperate cry that there is more to the mask than they know. Even if he is only lying, to buy time, the possibility hangs over everyone's new freedom like a dark curse. But then the narrator makes the mistake of looking at the mask again himself . . .
"Well, well, well . . . Here were are, back again, all of us, the finest criminal minds in the world . . ." ROFL!!! Lorre nails the delivery, of course. But I needed to listen to the play a second time before I heard how funny it actually is . . . and realised that the horror does not lie in the fate of the murderers, but in the fate of "poor Albert"! How would you like to be surrounded by unsavoury characters who think you are an imbecile and probably fantasise about the different ways they could murder you? That they can't actually do it seems pathetic consolation.
What are your thoughts on The Mask of Medusa?
1) Do you ever imagine that objects in your home are fully conscious and think awful thoughts about you?
2) In all honesty and self-awareness, would you be able to get away from Medusa or would you peek?
3) Just for fun, how did you react to the narrator referring to himself and the other characters as "The Walking Dead"? =P
And now we are almost done . . . Remember when I invited you to open this Old Time Radio mystery box with me and said that I knew the first play and the thirteenth play, but not the ones in between? Well, the time has finally come for the thirteenth play.
It is not technically Horror, but I think that anything which scares listeners not just into jumping out of their seats but also into preparing for the end of the world deserves an honourable mention. Of course I mean the famous Mercury Theatre on the Air adaptation of H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds. Download it from the Internet Archive or a Mercury Theatre on the Air fan page, or TuneIn, Wellesnet, and the ever-reliable YouTube.
Let's make Meeting 80 the best one yet! =D