Volume IV: Reviews

KLIATT March 2001

This exactly lives up to its name. It’s little, being only one tape long, which adds up to 66 minutes. It’s evil, all right, but not a mean-spirited type of evil. It’s more of a fun evil than a scary evil. It is also a thing – a thing that earns a Delightful, Demented, Demonic, Delicious and Decidedly Devilish rating. The Moscow Symphony Orchestra provides an impressive mood-setting musical background for each story, following the introductory Little Evil Overture. Jim McDonnell is the principal reader (several other voices provide incidental small talk). He is clearly enjoying himself as he performs, with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek. He deliberately overacts, as these stories call for melodramatic horror/humor. This is a little gem. Lest you’re concerned about nightmares, rest assured that chuckles and snickers will far outnumber shivers and shudders.

– Miles Klein


StarVox

Back in the days before video killed the radio star, people tuned in to their radios for weekly excursions of serialized dramas and entertainment. The adage that everything old is new again is most apparent with folks who have been purchasing audio books in order to stay abreast of some of their favorite authors while going about their busy, hectic lives. In essence, the art of storytelling from the radio years are once again back in vogue to keep today’s busy person abreast of some of this generation’s best fiction and non-fiction. Little Evil Things takes us a step closer to the macabre of yesteryear by providing exquisitely creepy and atmospheric music by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra on this 4th sequel to the 1997 Winner of Publishers Weekly Listen Up Award of tales of terror. Within the confines of this CD are 5 stories, punctuated with a chilling soundtrack to make the stories come alive. Despite the fact that the work is not “scary” by today’s horror standards, they are nonetheless still morose enough with a tongue in cheek twist to delight even the most cynical admirer of the macabre. As an added bonus, this volume also has A Little Evil Overture, which is a music only track from the Moscow Symphony Orchestra.

It may not spook you during your daylight hours, however if you listen to a story a night just before dropping off to sleep, you will manage to have some rather wild nightmares!

Those who happen to be a fan of the Alfred Hitchcock books, which were in fashion a while back, or even horror style comic books, will most surely want to explore this. The narration is focused and maintains a sense of apropos delivery. It avoids over dramatization, which is the subliminal secret that keeps the listener fascinated while drawing them in further to the tale as it is being spun. Some stories are in the first person with a single narrator while others have more characters delivering the lines of the tale. The added bonus is the haunting music and sound effects, which moves the flow expertly.

Rather than giving a feeling that one is just listening to a story, Little Evil Things somehow makes one feel like a voyeur to a stranger’s twist of fate. It is almost as if we are overhearing someone’s hellish excursion unravel before us and we are forced to maintain mute witness as they plummet through the depths of depravity.

For those already into audio books, you may want to look into some of the volumes from this company. It is far more entertaining than some of the horrendous trash that Hollywood keeps cranking out in the horror genre and is a nice respite from television.

Mike Ventarola


Album Network October 20, 2000

As we get closer to Halloween, I thought I’d turn you on to something that might come in handy for your station. I don’t know about you, but I always had fun with this particular holiday. In all the years I programmed stations (and especially my own shows), Halloween was definitely a treat. Not just for me personally; I wanted my audience to have something special for the one day a year (other than Christmas) that I could be really creative with the music of the season.

I think I may have discovered something special for those of you who enjoy this kind of thing. It?s a four-CD set entitled Little Evil Things. Frank Darabont, director of The Green Mile calls it ‘The audio version of classic horror comics,’ and he’s pretty right on. The masterminds of these stories, Frank Macchia and Tracy London, liken their project to the old-time radio shows of the 30s and 40s.

Although many actors’ voices are used in the stories, it’s the throw-back-to-another-era narration of Jim McDonnell that kicks my ass. Boy, I’d love to do shit like this in the future what a gig that would be.

Their press clippings are filled with words like ‘creepy’ and ‘scary,’ but I think it?s more than that. Little Evil Things is a work of pure genius; Macchia and London, who wrote and produced everything, have done a masterful job of transforming the descriptive words of the horror genre and making it palatable for listening pleasure. If you want to fill your airwaves with a fresh new sound instead of the same old Halloween classics (which you’ll probably play anyway), get these discs for your station’s library.

They’re either gonna love me for giving this a thumbs-up or they’re gonna hate me for giving you their toll-free number (877) LIL-EVIL and their URL (www.littleevilthings.com).

– Jonathan L. Rosen


Film Score Monthly Volume 5, Number 6 – 2000

Macchi’s ‘Little Evil Overture’ is a dense and aggressive musical assault of gothic horror it’s well-played by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra, but the recording is on the washed side. The rabid orchestral introduction to ‘Infection’ is a great change of pace after the 1940?s source-styled ‘Hazardous to Your Health.’ ‘In Your Head’ has wacky, Howard Shore-like pastiche and electronic elements. ‘The Violin’s Curse’ is more melodic and traditional another nice contrast to the previous two tracks. There’s a lot that good to be had here.


Scifi Magazine 2000
Sci-Fidelity

A rare intermingling of genuinely frightful yarns and lush orchestral melodies, this collection of five fiendish tales is simultaneously terrifying and tuneful. Frank Macchia, who co-wrote both the words and the music, generates a wonderfully apprehensive atmosphere, eliciting anxious reactions from listeners through such scary audio adventures as ‘Hazardous to Your Health,’ ‘Infection,’ and ‘In Your Head.’ Separate scores, marvelously rendered by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra, enhance each vocal narrative, ensuring that, from the instrumental ‘Little Evil Overture’ to the final moments of the concluding story, ‘The Violin’s Curse,’ every scenario is wholly horrific and richly harmonic.

– Jeff Berkwits


The Midwest Book Review – August, 2000

This fourth volume in the Little Evil Things audio series showcases original, spine tingling stories enhanced with forty minutes of contemporary music played by their Moscow Symphony Orchestra and a wealth of chilling and effective sound effects. Highly recommended for fans of the bizarre and horrific, these new and harrowing tales included Lost (a man suffers the tortures of Hell in a nightmarish dream, or is it just a dream?); Hazardous To Your Health (a 1940s mobster gets hooks on a deadly habit); Infection (a man?s life gets turned inside out when he discovers a spot on his arm); In Your Head (are those gray hairs really what they appear to be?); and The Violin?s Curse (gypsies and a haunted victim).

– James A. Cox


Bookviews September 2000

I was happy to receive Little Evil Things, Volume 4, a CD from my friends Frank Macchia and Tracy London. This latest offering continues their award-winning series of original horor stories complete with music and effects to make you check to see if your doors are locked. If you like being scared every so often, this is the ticket!

– Alan Caruba


AUDIOWORLD 2000

Want to be scared!?! Little Evil Things, Volume 4 is a scare-a-minute. These short horror stories on a stick are light enough for the tame soul and frightening as an adult version of Goosebumps. Note to actor Jim McDonnell: Keep scaring the hell out of me you do it in every ‘ . . . Evil . . . ‘ collection.

– Bennet Pomerantz


Rue Morgue Magazine
September/October 2000

The cable and internet era has done as much as it can to kill audio theatre, but thanks to a precious few, this once popular artform is still recharging the airwaves of late night/weekend radio.

Two people in particular, Frank Macchia and Tracy London, have dedicated their lives to Little Evil Things, bite-sized tales of terror along the lines of the Tales from the Crypt, Haunt of Fear and Vault of Terror comics. The two have kept faithful to their Halloween release schedule most recently with the fourth volume in the series.

For those of you who have heard the previous three (see RM#11), Little Evil Things, Vol. 4 stays true to the formula: here, you will find short, gruesome stories narrated over the undulating music of the Moscow Symphony Orchestra. Among this year?s entries are the story of a man who goes to hell (Lost), a guy who finds the new-found mole on this arm is getting bigger (Infection), and a man whose grey hairs start growing inside his head (In Your Head). A belated move to drama as opposed to straight narrative the fifteen plus minute Violin?s Curse is definitely a standout – is hopefully a sign of things to come.

Despite the occasional gross out, Little Evil Things will probably be a hit with the kids, even suited for family sitdowns. Think of it as Halloween punch for the ears.

– GC


The Morning News 2000

For those tired of the usual Halloween CD fodder of goofy witch cackles and creaking doors, there is an antidote: Little Evil Things. This four-disc set from Framac Music goes back to the old school, when people had attention spans longer than that of your average toaster and could actually listen to a story instead of requiring vast amounts of eye-candy to keep things interesting. Most of the speaking on all four volumes is done by actor Jim McDonnell, who sounds one moment like a life insurance salesman, and next like a tormented soul condemned to hell (now really, is there a difference), rolling ever word off his tongue somewhat maniacally yet completely subdued; an easy voice to listen to.

Full of monsters and gore, ‘Little evil Things’ is an indispensable Halloween party favorite. Fun stuff, and the time is right. Be different, be strange, and be just a little evil this Hallo’s Eve by trying to scare the wits out of your date. Or yourself, for that matter, as some of this stuff is undeniably creepy.

– Matt Yeager


Burbank Leader October 28, 2000

Watch thy way. October moon begins to swell and purveyors of evil lurk in the shadow valleys of Burbank. Frank Macchia and Tracy London, five-year Burbank residents and husband and wife, have recently released ‘Little Evil Things, Volume IV, a recording of five audio horror stories with music accompaniment. ‘Little Evil Things IV’ is the latest in a series of horror-story recordings that Macchia and London have written, produced and released annually since 1997. Macchia is a freelance composer, orchestrator and musician for Disney, NBC’s ‘Tonight’ show and Warners Bros. He got the idea for the narrated and acted fright stories while creating a music demo tape to get work as a film and TV composer. “Most demo tapes are just music,” he said. “But producers and directors want to know how music will affect what’s going on in the story.” So he made a demo with a story underscored with music. “We got such a positive response that we started doing stories and putting them out,” he said. Macchia, 42, and London 38, collaborate. “The story is written first, then the music,” said London, an actress and writer. “Frank will write the first draft and then I’ll develop it in a different directions. Then we’ll argue about what stays and what goes. It’s a lot of fun and very fruitful.” The recordings contain good old-fashioned horror stories, Macchia said. “We try to combine elements similar to scary old-time radio shows like ‘Inner Sanctum’ and ‘Lights Out’, but with an underscore of continuous music,” he said. “Frank literally scores the stories as you would a film,” London said. The music is written in the style suggested by the story some contemporary classical, some jazz, some surreal, Macchia said. For Volume IV, they went to Moscow and recorded with the Moscow Symphony Orchestra. The approach is a novel one and has led to the receipt of the ‘Listen Up’ (best in audio) award in 1997 from Publisher’s Weekly and positive reviews for different volumes in the Los Angeles Times, Billboard and other publications, London said. The recordings, which vary in length from 55 to 71 minutes and have four or five stories each, are released in September for Halloween. But they have a year-round life, Macchia said. They’re great for taking on camping trips when you want to get really scared, or for car trips and drives,? he said.

– Robert Phipps