Podcast Review: COLORS OF THE DARK – ‘The History of Splatstick with Ryan Spindell’

Who here listened to Shock Waves, Fangoria’s leading horror podcast, on a regular basis?

It was a fun show from largely the triumvirate of Dr. Rebekah McKendry, Elric Kane & Rob Galluzzo that explored all angles of the horror genre, replete with interviews from those in the business. Sadly, it seems to have been quietly abandoned following scandal for Fangoria during lockdown it is steadily working to overcome, including the actions of their owner Cinestate and accusations levelled at Galluzzo that has seen him quietly slink from the public space. Shock Waves appears to have been sacrificed at the altar of these issues and, subsequently, a new show has been forged from largely the same DNA – which brings us to Colors of the Dark.

With McKendry & Kane in tow, this could be named Shock Waves II. It feels, in many respects, a natural continuation of a similar format.

Not that any of the above is discussed in this opening episode, of course, but people would be naive to assume it would be. Most listeners will likely be aware of why Shock Waves appears to have been replaced and the reboot button struck, so it doesn’t behoove the podcasters here to rake over unsavoury ground.

Old hands with this style and format, McKendry and Kane hit the ground running. Both have an easy going nature and a well-honed, horror geek rapport. McKendry anchors the piece, frequently indulging reminiscences of her own horror critic and filmmaker experience, while Kane unfurls a cavalcade of film knowledge and breakneck pace; he even jokes at one point that one of the primary questions he is asked by listeners is to repeat the titles of the films he discusses given how quickly he streams his consciousness on the subject. Neither feel the need to dominate, however, and flow between each other as they exchange at the top for new listeners what films they consider essential horror pictures for the other.

Shock Waves listeners will feel no real transition here but this works as a good point for newcomers to pick up with these podcasters. Many will know Kane from Pure Cinema Podcast, a show which began as a fairly small-scale conversational couple of hours between he and friend Brian Saur, and has grown into the official podcast of Quentin Tarantino’s New Beverly Cinema, attracting guests of the calibrate of QT himself, Edgar Wright or Joe Dante. That’s where I personally really discovered Kane and jumped onto Shock Waves as a result, but much later; Colors of the Dark, in that sense, serves as a break point to attract new listeners to a solid, clear format he & McKendry are porting into this new project.

Hence the inclusion of a favoured Patreon extra, Deep Cuts, in which they pick a horror picture that is hugely obscure for listeners to check out. They go into what they’ve recently been enjoying, including Kane’s adoration of Brandon Cronenberg’s new film Possessor (one I missed at LFF but can’t wait to see either); plus they indulge Movie Fight, pitting two horror pictures against each other and playfully extolling the virtues of each. The core of the piece revolves around an interview with emerging horror director Ryan Spindell, who discusses the use of a fairly obscure horror sub-genre called ‘splatstick’ (basically a fusion of physical comedy and extreme gore) in his films and broader examples of it as a whole. Spindell has a friendly, engaging manner (as a self-confessed Shock Waves fan) and the interview is relaxed, entertaining and informative.

The attractive part of Colors of the Dark is that it isn’t too polished. Despite being tethered to Fangoria, there remains a low-fi, DIY aesthetic to McKendry & Kane’s style that appeals. They’re just two horror nerds who know their shit and want to shoot the breeze about it, and while they’re not self-indulgent to the point they go off topic too heavily, they’re comfortable enough with each other and their subject matter to riff and play around as they go. The 75 minute or so length, as a result, flies by.

An extension of what came before, Colors of the Dark on the evidence of this opening episode, will pick up the baton from its compromised predecessor nicely.

Colors of the Dark is now available to listen to on all podcast platforms.

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