A way-cool mystery audio program: WORMWOOD

I don’t want to sound I’m shilling for these guys, but I’m totally crazy about Wormwood: A Serialized Mystery. It’s a serialized audio drama, of the mystery/horror genre, with half-hour episodes podcasted weekly. It’s the best example I know of how it must have been in the 1930s and 40s, breathlessly awaiting the next adventure of The Shadow, or I Love a Mystery, or The Green Hornet.

Not that Wormwood is any lame exercise in old-time-radio nostalgia. It’s a fairly adult horror show, whose hero, the superbly named Dr. Xander Crowe, is a damaged-goods-case psychologist who’s gotten tied up with the occult. He’s on the losing side of his struggle with alcoholism, his moods range between nasty and foul, and he has an assistant who delights in giving him many varieties of shit before giving him the help he requires. He’s constantly bordering on bankruptcy, and the local Mob would like to get their hands on him. Oh, yeah, he also has a withered-up “dead hand,” which he keeps gloved, until it comes alive of its own accord, to do things no … normal hand could.

Wormwood logo copyright Habit Forming Films LLCA psychic vision of a drowned woman eventually leads him to the town of Wormwood, California, a creepy little burg that David Lynch would feel right at home at (until it spooked him sufficiently to leave). Various soap-operatic situations abound. The town has a local monster, the “Muddyman,” perhaps an urban legend, perhaps… not. People die in unusual ways. People inexplicably disappear. People who are supposed to be dead show up again. There isn’t an appropriate romantic relationship going on in the entire town. Mayberry, this ain’t.

There’s a lot of audio drama out there on the internets, available as free podcasts. Generally, they’re worth what you pay for them. By contrast, Wormwood is intelligently and imaginatively written, very well-acted, with terrific production values, and a minimalistic, spooky, acoustic music score. Produced by an outfit called Habit Forming Films, this is the good stuff: mysterious, spooky, frequently amusing, and entertaining as all get-out.

It’s just beginning its second season; the first season (24 episodes!) is available through most podcasting sites, iTunes, and the Wormwood website.

Go get it, get caught up with it, and get into it!

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