Podmass_In [Podmass](https://www.avclub.com/c/podmass),_ The A.V. Club _sifts through the ever-expanding world of podcasts and recommends the previous week’s best episodes. Have your own favorite? Let us know in the comments or at [podmass@avclub.com](mailto:podmass@avclub.com)._  

In Podmass, The A.V. Club sifts through the ever-expanding world of podcasts and recommends 10–15 of the previous week’s best episodes. Have your own favorite? Let us know in the comments or at podmass@avclub.com.

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The Flop House
Dracula 3D

As Shocktober rolls on, the Floppers sink their teeth into the crapfest that is Dario Argento’s Dracula 3D. While Argento’s early films like Profondo Rosso and Suspiria are classics of Italian horror, his more recent, late-period films are far more likely to land at a bad movie night than in the arthouse theater. The story of Dracula is universally known at this point, so the hosts dispatch with the normal plot summary. The result is an episode that is more commentary-heavy than usual. A critique of the Italian horror genre raises salient points about Argento’s oeuvre, while a discussion of Dracula’s relationship to Romantic literature is another insightful highlight. In bits that fit in seamlessly with these more sober-minded moments, the Peaches unleash their inner-Pervazoids to decry the film’s lack of nudity before imaging Dracula on a cruise ship. Stick around through the recommendation section to hear “Rocket Crocodile In The World Of Tomorrow,” the listener-contest winning song of the autumn that samples a classic Elliott Kalan fake movie pitch from a 2012 episode. [Dan Fitchette]

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The H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast
Leslie S. Klinger

This wonderfully obsessive podcast is not for everyone. It started as a story-by-story discussion of weird horror author Howard Phillips Lovecraft’s complete literary catalogue, with Chris Lackey and Chad Fifer beginning with exhaustive and engaging commentary of “The Tomb”—the author’s first real story, penned in 1917 and originally published in 1922—and then moved forward chronologically. Three years and more than 100 episodes later, they ran out of actual Lovecraft stories and widened their focus to include Lovecraft-esqe tales and narratives inspired by the Rhode Islanders’ Cthulhu mythos. The full archives of The H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast are a beautiful thing to behold for specific subsets of horror fans. But even casual horror fans may find interest in a recent atypical episode, in which the co-hosts interview Leslie S. Klinger, author of The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft, as well as annotated versions of both Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories. The half-hour conversation offers genuinely compelling insight into the creative process behind some of the most seminal concepts of modern storytelling. [Dennis DiClaudio]

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Knifepoint Horror
Vision

Knifepoint Horror calls itself an entirely new genre of horror writing. Written and hosted entirely by Soren Narnia, the show steeps itself in an intense first-person prose that cuts away the fat of extravagant spooky stories plagued by backstory and unnecessary details. The minimalist style is meant to resemble old-fashioned campfire stories, but campfire stories were never this unsettling. Narnia is gifted with a direct voice and a mind for terrifying setups. This week’s hour-long episode “vision” tells the tale of a man coping with a recent and inexplicable catatonic episode. The sharp, intense tone of Knifepoint Horror does wonders for creating tension for our hero, a troubled police officer, as he navigates through a host of moody, isolated set pieces. Coursing throughout the story is a sense of helplessness, as the protagonist is just a normal person navigating an increasingly bizarre world. From start to finish (and especially the finish), this is a gripping piece of radio drama with serious forward motion. It flies by, sure to creep out listeners who can make it to the end. [Matt Kodner]

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Monster Talk
Fangs That Go Bump In The Night

There comes a moment about halfway through this episode of Monster Talk when the listener will realize something fascinating as the show’s guest, Richard Sugg, discusses historical accounts of poltergeist phenomena. They will listen to him discussing the human psyche and how it can be strongly affected by fear, and then an epiphany will spring forth in their minds and they will think to themselves, “Oh, this guy actually believes in poltergeists.” Or, to be more generous, quasi-scientific explanations for poltergeists. Obviously, there are plenty of shows out there for which such a realization would be too banal to even bear mentioning, but this is an official podcast of The Skeptic magazine. It also comes after about a half-hour of thoughtful, well-researched materialist explanations for why belief in vampires permeated so many cultures for so many centuries. Though Monster Talk’s co-hosts Blake Smith and Karen Stollznow seem a bit nonplussed at the direction in which the the episode suddenly moves, they’re at no point rude, and opt against challenging his claims too harshly. And, odd as they are, Sugg does make a somewhat compelling case for his beliefs. [Dennis DiClaudio]

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99% Invisible
Good Bread

Despite the fact that 99% Invisible carries a “design in our world” theme, this episode approaches the concept of bread from many sides at once. Though the introduction and spine of the episode focus on the commercialization of bread advertising (the monolithic Wonder Bread in particular), it quickly segues into a proper anthropological analysis of bread’s history and how the food industry has over-produced what we eat into wads of chemicals. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, flour was commonly supplemented with sawdust, and bread bakers would use ingredients often full of terrifying diseases. The fact that white bread loaves have become so popular in America is rooted in that era’s particular fear of immigration and darker races infecting the population. This not-so-subtle racism and the way it has worked its way into science and the aforementioned advertising makes for great storytelling. Things get compelling fast, with the signature laser-focused narration the show is known for. Host Roman Mars also does a well-earned victory lap this episode, as his public radio storytelling Kickstarter just met its goal early and is in the stage where it promises big stretch goals. [Dan Telfer]

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The NoSleep Podcast
Season 4, Episode 13

David Cummings is the type of host who can make ad copy sound creepy, even menacing. Without skipping a beat, Cummings slips back into his role as spooky emcee, where he sets up and often narrates a variety of scary stories. The tales here are all originals you won’t find outside the darker corners of the Internet. The show was created in a direct response to the popular “No Sleep” forum on Reddit, where users submitted their amateur horror hoping to make insomniacs out of their readers. Three years ago, Cummings and a team of volunteers sought to introduce the world to this bubbling cauldron of new, exciting scary stories through a mix of classic radio drama and audiobook-styled storytelling. Each episode features six original stories, with only the first three available for free. Stories like this week’s “Find Her” benefit from Cummings’ added soundscape, with sound effects straight out of a Lord Chillingsworth album. The writing featured this week isn’t aces, but the intriguing twist behind the second story, “Fresh Luck To Its Owner,” is a perfect example of the show’s ability to spook. The stories might not be scary enough to keep listeners up all night as promised, but are enjoyably creepy and consistently interesting. [Matt Kodner]

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Radiolab
Translation

Radiolab has made its name digging into the intersections between science and culture, usually in the form of three or four thematically related radio segments. Sometimes a topic requires the long-form treatment, and those are usually among the best episodes. But it’s not often that an episode is split into eight segments, as is the case in this week’s “Translation.” Despite the overstuffed contents, the episode runs about as long as any other, so the segments fly by as Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich expound on what it means for a text, comedy bit, or even the fundamental biology of life, to be translated. The segments that work the best are the ones that focus on cultural translation, like a phone operator’s struggle to normalize a desperate, upsetting 911 call. These segments are just long enough to get a full picture, pose a question, and really dig into it. But the scientific ones fall flat as they desperately try to rush through the differences between RNA and DNA, or about the buzzing vest designed to create a new sense. [Matt Kodner]

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RISK!
Dicks!

There are two types of stories on this week’s dick-themed episode of RISK!: those that feature dicks both real and fake, and those that feature terrible people. Two solid stories—one in which David Crabb befriends a terminal cancer patient, the other a cautionary tale about why curious teens make bad sex shop managers from Tara Clancy—start things off, but it’s the second half that’s notably strong. Danny Hatch’s account of his sexual explorations as a horny and curious teenager is, like so many of RISK!’s most uninhibited pieces, told with an energy that makes it as riotous as it is cringe inducing. But it’s the last story by Rachel Rosenthal that’s the real tour de force. Her piece recounts the many twists, turns, and torments of a years-long battle against an identity thief; it’s a disturbing saga that, without giving too much away, comes to an end with a horrifying revelation. Rosenthal finds moments of humor in bleak circumstances, making her piece one that’s worth skipping ahead for, even in an episode as good as this one. [Dan Fitchette]

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Science Weekly
Halloween Special

Halloween, meet the killjoy of science and reason. The season’s annual bits of silliness with ghouls and goblins are put under the microscope in this interesting Science Weekly installment that considers why so many people are drawn to belief in the supernatural. Psychologist Chris French and The Skeptic magazine editor Deborah Hyde discuss the science of suggestibility, sleep paralysis, and a study involving a ball and a gorilla costume to explain professed experiences with ghosts and other paranormal claims. While the program occasionally teeters on self-congratulation and mocking, it manages to entertain and inform with quick, witty banter between the guests and hosts, Ian Sample and Nicola Davis, who also delve into the historical context for tales about werewolves, vampires, and witches. The program’s most captivating moment comes when the panel considers whether belief in the supernatural is a harm worthy of fact-based combat or, in the case of those who have lost a loved one, a soothing apparition. A science podcast understandably doesn’t offer equal time to believers in the paranormal, but it serves as a fascinating, cold, wet blanket to balance this month of reveling in spooky myths. [Trip Cook]

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Serial
Route Talk

An uneasy moment occurs early in the episode, when Adnan Syed—from prison—opines over-earnestly to host Sarah Koenig that the prosecutor’s timeline for the murder of Hae Min Lee would have been virtually impossible for him to pull off. Koenig, dogged by the details that don’t line up, sets out to recreate that timeline, finding that it is in fact quite possible for the events to occur in the allotted time. When Koenig reports back to Syed that his story doesn’t exactly hold up, Syed’s voice belies a genuine sense of incredulity. Syed catches himself, though, seemingly aware that protesting too much could be seen as self-incriminating. For the first time in the series, Syed comes off as calculating, whether real or imagined, where previously he’d been unfailingly pleasant and guileless. That peek behind the curtain is precisely what makes Serial a slow-burning fuse leading toward some serious explosives; listeners are constantly buffeted about on the pendulum-swing of Syed’s guilt. In the span of an episode, feelings shift so often that soon the desire for definitive proof becomes the overriding obsession, stripping away the humanity of the players at the center of the case, as the listener seeks only personal satisfaction. [Ben Cannon]

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Stuff You Missed In History Class
Beast Of Gevaudan

Tracy V. Wilson confesses that while she and Holly Frey love when the show does Halloween episodes, she’s a bit burned out from researching supposedly spooky fare. The story of the Beast Of Gevaudan blew her away, however, and rightly so. A mysterious wolf (or wolves) in France in the 1760s left terrifying gore and legendary accounts in its wake. Eighteenth century Europe was a remarkably different place, one where, instead of wolves being wary of humans and civilization, they were known to—and commonly did—prey on humans. The rural Gevaudan community was particularly vulnerable, nestled between remote mountains. The first victim was a shepherd, followed by two teenagers and a deluge of deaths in the span of one September that gripped the small community with fear. Biting out throats quickly escalated into brutal decapitations. Though the total number of attacks differed, they consistently hovered in the 150-200 range with 60-113 deaths, a stunning number to attribute to even a small pack of animals, let alone what may have been one. Though an army was called in and several wolves were killed, accounts seem to agree that this wolf was much larger than a normal one, implying that it may have actually been anything from a hyena to a gorilla. The amount of research available on this single monster is vast, making it a terrific story to sit through in dark contemplation. [Dan Telfer]

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Tangentially Speaking
Hound Tall (Moshe Kasher & Friends)

Whereas most episodes of Tangentially Speaking feature Christopher Ryan—polyamory advocate and co-author of the controversial Sex At Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, And What It Means For Modern Relationships—interviewing guests about the sex-related topics that he finds so fascinating, this one places Ryan as the guest, being interviewed by a panel of comedians, again about the sex-related topics that he finds so fascinating. Though, to be fair, chimpanzee penises and gang bangs probably have a somewhat universal appeal. This was recorded as part of previous TS guest Moshe Kasher’s Hound Tall (with which it was co-released) at the UCB Theater in Los Angeles along with Nick Kroll and Nikki Glaser, firing off one-liners in a cacophony of irreverence as Ryan patiently does his best explain his research and his theories to the audience and panel. At times, the jokes do overpower the conversation, and it gets a bit frustrating trying to follow Ryan’s idea thread amid the interruptions. But, for the most part, there’s a comfortable balance of reporting and repartee, as everyone on stage becomes transfixed on the subject matter. Be forewarned: Ryan’s 15-minute introductory monologue is a bit of a slog. The fast-forward button is your friend. [Dennis DiClaudio]

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War Rocket Ajax
Goblins And Haints F/ Jon Morris

The excellent comic book podcast invites writer Jon Morris, editor of the Boo! horror comics anthology. But before Morris’ segment, Chris Sims introduces a semi-recommendation for a strange anime currently living on Hulu. At eight episodes, Don Dracula is a bizarre, insane, and terrible ’70s anime show wherein Dracula’s castle is imported to Japan. The titular monster and his daughter Chocula are haunted by Chocula’s professor, Van Helsing (who has really bad hemorrhoids), and the resulting wacky cultural issues are so terribly dubbed that Sims feels compelled to share this fever dream as best he can. Matt Wilson is a little more eager to recommend Dario Argento’s Dracula 3D, which resides on Netflix and is apparently a shambling masterpiece of utter mediocrity (with Rutger Hauer as Van Helsing) that Wilson claims most closely resembles Tommy Wiseau’s The Room. Not only do Sims and Wilson have lots of Halloween-related things to talk about, they also dig into Morris’ obsession with regrettable superheroes: failures, but justified and undeserving failures. In particular, his description of Nelvana Of The Northern Lights illuminates a superhero so fascinating that it deserves any mention (and independent listener investigation) possible. [Dan Telfer]

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We see what you said there

“It is less scary than a box of Count Chocula.”—Stuart Wellington’s review of Dracula 3D, The Flop House

“Holmes would out-think Dracula, and ultimately there’s no more powerful weapon than the mind.”—Leslie S. Klinger on who would win in a Sherlock Holmes-Count Dracula fight, The H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast

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“The skeptical position on poltergeists is not very satisfying. It’s not much fun.”—Blake Smith, Monster Talk

“The neighborhood bakery that we romanticize today was the specter of fear and terror.”—Aaron Bobrow-Strain, 99% Invisible

“Euphemisms can be a repellent thing. But no one is fooled. What we’re mocking is the absurdity of the effort to disguise something that you cannot disguise.”—Adam Gopnik, Radiolab

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“One of the things that is notable about were-animals is that they’re always apex predators. There’s no point in going to the trouble of changing into an animal and changing into a were-hamster. Mythology seems to be certain on that one.”—The Skeptic magazine editor Deborah Hyde on the disappointing lack of cute were-animals, The Guardian Science Weekly

“It was probably also somewhat soothing to consider that it could have been something exotic escaped from a menagerie rather than some unnatural monster.”
“GUH! Slightly less frightening.”—Holly Frey and Tracy V. Wilson describing the logistics of the giant, mysterious Beast Of Gevaudan, Stuff You Missed In History

“Bonobos—who are equally closely related to humans as chimpanzees—they are really interesting sexually. They look in each other’s eyes.”
“What’s that like?”—Christopher Ryan and Nikki Glaser, Tangentially Speaking

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