For Halloween, the Spooky and Queer Holiday, More Weird Audio Dramas
October 20, 2018 7:38 AM   Subscribe

Some of you may be aware that Limetown Website Previously FanFare is making a return at the end of the month, but other creators have been turning out more and more spooky and weird (and sometimes funny) audio dramas for your entertainment as the nights get longer and the days colder (in the Northern Hemisphere, at least). Here’s a round up of audio dramas with paranormal elements. In honor of the historical queerness of Halloween, LGBTQ characters and elements are also identified.

This list omits audio dramas that are vehicles for unconnected stories held together with a framing element. Podcasts with frequent or severe content warnings are noted when possible. Links to the podcast homepage, previous FPPs on MetaFilter, and FanFare pages are included where available. All the podcasts are accessible on iTunes or via most podcast apps and aggregators (although, weirdly, some apps seem to not catch entire seasons of some of the shows).

Riley, a teen with schizophrenia, is sent to the Amber Ridge asylum to be treated after a particularly bad episode. There she meets fellow teen patients Ryan and Elliot and experiences increasingly disturbing visions of a ghost. Riley begins to suspect that the ghost isn’t a hallucination while Elliot doubts that the teens are there to be cured. Some episodes contain content warnings.
Tone: Eerie, plus humanizing mental illness
LGBTQ: A major trans character
Complete story in one season (12 episodes)

Archive 81
The Third Season follows a brother and sister pursuing a ritual that's notably weird even for this world. They interact with an occult demimonde full of bizarre, irritable, and increasingly dangerous practitioners as they try to assemble the parts and information they need to complete their ritual and to protect themselves from the other practitioners. It is possible to begin listening with the Third Season, although you probably want to listen to the last two episodes of the Second (“The Golden Age”).
Tone: eerie and whimsical.
LGBTQ: Major and secondary gay and lesbian characters
Three seasons (34 episodes)

Duggan Hill
On a back country road outside of Duggan Hill, Saskatchewan, a woman named Sasha Ismond goes missing without a trace mere minutes from her father's home. The last person she spoke to was her former partner, Zoe, who sets out to find Sasha. In Duggan Hill, things become increasingly strange as the search for Sasha drags on and people begin to act oddly. A new season, possibly with new characters, is coming.
Tone: Eerie and conspiratorial
LGBTQ: Lesbian protagonist
Complete story in one season (13 episodes)

Author Sunny Moraine plays a woman who wakes up to find everyone gone. She tries to react sensibly to an empty world and then, to her horror, the world becomes emptier and starts closing in, and maybe she’s not so alone and maybe that’s worse. Part bleak horror, part character study, and part meditation on isolation. Serious content warnings late in the season.
Tone: Eerie and paranoid and lonely
LGBTQ: Lesbian protagonist
One season (11 episodes plus bonus material)

Kalila Stormfire’s Economical Magick Services
Kalila is trying to rebuild her life after a scandal forced her from the Grand Coven. Unfortunately, someone doesn’t want her to retreat into easy obscurity. As she tries to rebuild her life and business, comic moments alternate with anger and fear as someone keeps sabotaging her business and life. Not horror, but it's very witchy.
Tone: Light fantasy with some horror and emotional trauma moments
LGBTQ: Major trans character; minor lesbian characters
One season (13 episodes, plus bonus material)

The Last Movie
Nic and MK from the Tanis podcast in a “side quest” searching after a film that kills people. The Tanis blend of conspiracy and weird events told through Serial-style audio recordings with a bit of Laird Barron and Robert W. Chambers added. If you want to try Tanis without committing to the full series, this may be for you.
Tone: Eerie
One season (6 episodes)

The Leap Year Society
Amanda and Mitch (and later Colin) are on the trail of a cryptic secret society. Along the way they delve into weird events, sketchy researchers, bizarre clues, and looming danger. Very much influenced by Tanis.
Tone: Conspiratorial
One season (5 episodes and counting)

Love and Luck
The story of Jason and Kane, gay men from Melbourne who fall in love, open a dry bar, and find out they can do magic, told through voice mails. They work to build community and protect and help their friends. This is not spooky at all, being mostly sweet and romantic, although there is fear and trauma and a few content warnings. There are a lot of episodes, but they average less than 10 minutes in length.
Tone: Sweet with a bit of danger and stress
LGBTQ: Pretty much everyone in the series is queer and plenty of relationships
One season (51 episodes and counting)

The Magnus Archives
If you have experienced something weird, go to the Magnus Archives and tell them about it. They will take down your statement, investigate it, and file it away. At first, this is a horror short story podcast with a framing device, but, as the seasons roll on, the frame takes over as the connections between the stories become clearer and more awful. Most episodes have content warnings.
Tone: Bleak and cosmic and horrid
LGBTQ: A fair number of LGBTQ characters in the stories; one frame character is bisexual
Three seasons (120 episodes)

Three women in different times encounter ghosts? Aliens? Alien ghosts? Whatever they are, they are weird, upsetting, and isolating (or maybe they only appear to the isolated). A project by Jamie Killen, who wrote and acted in the Spines podcast, this is intensely focused on women and their experiences. The story is slow so far, but with distinct characters and growing menace.
Tone; Eerie with Science Fiction
LGBTQ: Lesbian main character
One season (4 episodes and counting)

New World Sonata
In a post-Singularity future, the Solar System is a maze of “strata” and “islands,” with masses of ordinary people and an upper caste of psychics with vast powers. Four privileged young people discover that the death of their friend may have been part of a conspiracy and, possibly, not final. Mostly extravagant science fiction, although with horror elements.
Tone: Science Fiction and Conspiracy with a touch of horror
LGBTQ: Lesbian and Gay main characters
One season (9 episodes and counting)

A horror drama that looks like it will be a new story each season with a new setting and characters, although reusing actors. The first season is about Anneliese, a haunted woman who moves into a possibly-haunted house. Tension ramps up as she tries to figure out the house’s secrets. The second season involves Ellen, a runaway from a bad home who ends up in a stranger (although maybe no less bad) house with a showman and his sideshow “attractions.” Unsurprisingly, things are not what they seem. Some episodes have content warnings.
Tone: Haunting and Eerie
LGBTQ: Lesbian minor characters
Two seasons (14 episodes and counting)

Station Blue
Desperate to find meaning in his life, troubled Matthew Leads takes a job as the caretaker of an Antarctic Research Facility. Billed as “an atmospheric isolation horror” story that follows his struggles with mental illness, a broken heart, and the suffocating presence of Station Blue.
Tone: Horror and isolation
One season (10 episodes and counting)

Station to Station
A handful of fading memories, the remains of a research project, and a garbled tape recording are all Dr. Miranda Quan has to her name after her research partner goes missing on the eve of a 10-week ocean expedition. Now, she must try to find closure in the midst of a rapidly-unraveling conspiracy while surrounded by a handful of unlikely allies, several likely threats, and the icy waters of the North Pacific. Initially told from Dr. Quan’s point of view, the story opens out to a trio of women investigating the mystery from different angles. There is a fair amount of playing around with even sequence; this is probably best listened to with your full attention.
Tone: Horror, Science Fiction, and Conspiracy
LGBTQ: Lesbian major characters
One season (10 episodes plus bonus material); possibly complete story

Under Pressure
In the wake of personal tragedy, Dr Jamie MacMillan-Barrie forgoes a future in academia is favor of an uncertain future in the form of an humanities residency aboard the Amphitrite, a deep-sea stationary research facility. On the Amphitrite, Dr MacMillan-Barrie tries to come to terms with her circumstance while facing her antipathetic hard-sciences colleagues, an unending series of minor crises both the personal and professional realm, and an increasingly hostile ocean above.
Tone: Horror and whimsy
LGBTQ: Developing lesbian romance
One season (10 episodes)

The White Vault
A small team of experts is sent to Svalbard in Norway’s far north to repair a research station run by a secretive corporation. A storm sets in, and things get rapidly tense as the team musters their resources for survival. Then they explore the installation in depth, and things get much, much weirder and much, much worse. They creators are trying hard to make the podcast as international as possible.
Tone: Horror and isolation
LGBTQ: None significant
Two seasons (12 episodes and counting, plus bonus material)
posted by GenjiandProust (8 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
To avoid self-linking in the body of the post, last year's roundup of weird audio drama

The LGBTQ elements in the stories are not always super foregrounded, but I included any with characters who are identified as LGBTQ. I thought about identifying series where developing relationships were part of the narrative, but it felt like spoilers, so I took them out.

I'd like to draw attention to Mabel from last year's list, which is super-queer in its sensibility. Spines and The Bright Sessions also probably deserve shout-outs (shouts-out?).

Love and Luck probably doesn't belong on the list, but it's from the Southern Hemisphere, so the spookiness runs the other direction!

Omitted from the list for having pretty much horror elements at all, but rather queer and very fun is The Strange Case of Starship Iris.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:01 AM on October 20, 2018 [4 favorites]

Splendid post.

Can't wait for more Limetown!
posted by doctornemo at 9:24 AM on October 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

Thanks so much for this, I'm always looking for more awesome queer audio for my commutes and some of my art time!
posted by bile and syntax at 11:27 AM on October 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

oh hell yes. Thank you so much for posting, I will be devouring these shortly.
posted by scruffy-looking nerfherder at 12:03 PM on October 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oh yes hooray! Thank you for this post! If you happen to have any other favorites that were omitted from the list due to lack of horror, I would love to hear about them.

I just got caught up today on the third season of EOS 10, which has a very whimsical tone, but does feature a reality-threatening horror conspiracy and some lovely LGBTQ characters mixed in with the space hospital sci-fi silliness.
posted by beandip at 1:16 PM on October 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

Even though I led with Limetown, I'm less excited about it than I would have been a few years ago. Going completely dark sort of soured me on it, and I listened to the whole thing over the last few days to get ready for the new release and... it's OK? The production values are good, as is the voice acting, and the dialog is fine, but the plotting is... better than Tanis? It kind of jumps around and uses what it's good at to cover up that it's doing the really common "we don't actually seem to know where we are going with this" that made Tanis and the Black Tapes so frustrating. In the list above, I'd say that I am considerably more excited about new seasons from Duggan Hill, Gone, The Magnus Archives, and Palimpsest, and Archive 81. I mean, I am going to definitely listen to Limetown, season two, but I feel the bar has been raised since their first season, and they need to bring a lot more to the table than production values. Give me an audio drama with heart!
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:16 PM on October 20, 2018 [2 favorites]

My friend and queer music/theater/performance icon Dane Terry has been working on a new podcast with the Night Vale folks called Dream Boy which probably belongs here.

Someone is changing all the streetlights in Pepper Heights, Cleveland. The color of nighttime is shifting. Everyone thinks they know what happened at the Pepper Heights Zoo… But do they, really?
posted by mykescipark at 3:38 PM on October 20, 2018 [2 favorites]

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