One step beyond the usual audio book’s simple recorded reading for long drives, Little Evil Things adds music to its macabre tales. Its subject matter may not make it the best party album, but you’re sure to want it at your next séance. In “The Thing in the Jar,” evil’s wrath is felt by all those who open a cursed modern-day Pandora’s Box. In “Blubb,” a Beverly Hills nightmare becomes reality when a giant monster made of fat terrorizes those most afraid of it. Not your average horror stories, these give you more than something to be afraid of but something to think about. In addition to the occasional high-pitched scream, original music throughout the narrative adds another dimension to heighten suspense. Available on CD and cassette, this new scare gives old B-movie monsters some worthy competition for the affections of Goth hipsters everywhere.
– Uma Kakde
September 5, 1998
Perfect for Halloween, sleepovers, or an evening of spooky stories around a campfire, this tape features four original creepy stories written specifically for audio, accompanied by original music. The tape is labeled “age 13 to adult,” but apart from the first story (which deals with adultery), it would also be appropriate for younger fans who like R.L. Stine’s “Goosebumps” and “Fear Street” books. The tales are full of gory descriptions, unexpected jolts, and satisfying punch lines, which will especially appeal to boys. The highlight is the final story, “Blubb,” a gross yet hilarious tale in which the discarded fat sucked out of liposuction patients is struck by lightning and comes to life as a giant Blubber Monster. Nicknamed Blubb, the fat oozes its way through Beverly Hills, Calif., engulfing greedy, spoiled rich people. The story is full of mellifluous wordplay, and narrator Jim McDonnell takes full advantage of it. Like a man eating delectable fruit, McDonnel savors every juicy adjective, lingering over the words and letting them roll of his tongue. He’s clearly having a ball, and his performance makes the tape a lot of fun.
Los Angeles Times
October 25, 1998
Frank Macchia and Tracy London are a team of independent writer-producer-narrators who have created a horror series, “Little Evil Things,” that can compete with the big names. In the latest volume, No. II (70 minutes), four stories unfold like old-fashioned radio plays, complete with music and spirited performances. The writing is a tad vulgar in spots, but the whole thing is so energetic and fast-paced that you can’t help having fun. The tales – of angry Siamese twins, a cursed bell jar, a man’s fear of water, and the Fat That Ate Beverly Hills – should appeal to anyone 13 and older. Meanwhile, Volume I is still available. The writing is tighter and it’s less adult-oriented, making it a better choice for family listening.
– Rochelle O’Gorman
March 1, 1999
The four tales composed for this recording aren’t so much frightening as they are divertingly gross. “The Thing in the Jar” may be peaches in rum – or not – as Phil’s philandering business partner finds out. “Sisters” are Siamese twins who decide to cut the tie that binds them and in the process find out that their evil triplet has been with them all along. “It’s in the Water” is the monster in the deep end of the swimming pool, invisible to everyone but our hero. “Blubb” concerns a literal meltdown at a Beverly Hills fat clinic. The stories are performed with vigor by a professional cast, including narration by Jim McDonnell, accompanied by appropriately spooky music. Young adults especially will enjoy this production.
– Nann Blaine Hilyard
Dec 1998/Jan 1999
Little Evil Things is an audio publisher that looks to the dark side forsome mayhem and fun. With their eyes focused on horror and science fiction, they have heartily staked out their own turf. They’ve taken original stories written by partners Frank Macchia and Tracy London and formulated them into an exciting and immersing audio experience.
Unlike other audiobooks, Macchia and London weave a tapestry of sound throughout their entire opus. In a style that is reminiscent of the radio shows of yore, they layer their cassettes and CD’s with an incredible array of underscoring following the ebb and flow of the actors’ performances. Macchia composes the music for the stories and he and London also write their audiobooks.
Their spine-tingling tales offer exciting listening pleasure. One of the beauties of audiobooks is they way they unfold. When stories are well done, they literally crackle engendering excitement and anticipation on the part of the listener. In the case of “Little Evil Things”, they’ll have you on the edge of your seat.
The success of this new company hasn’t gone unnoticed. In 1997, they won the Publishers Weekly “Listen Up” award for original audios.
That brings me to another effort that succeeds, not because it is a groundbreaking idea, but because it is an idea that is executed better than most. When Frank Macchia and Tracy London combined their considerable talents, the outcome was a series of three CDs and audiocassettes called, “Little Evil Things.”
The premise is simple: Take a good story, combine it with the appropriate background, and let the fun begin. And that generally works. Macchia and London, however, weren’t satisfied to with the status quo. They wanted something different. Something new.
So they started with a standard idea and improved on it. There is nothing new in their basic format. Story+Background=Effect. The difference is in the way the equation is put together.
Take one award winning composer, a talented cast, all original stories, and some of the eeriest soundtrack work you are going to hear on any story collection (and many movies), and stir. Somewhere in the mix the vignettes become exactly what the creators advertise: Little Evil Things.
The stories are reminiscent of Arch Obler’s radio series, Lights Out, and the shocks and jolts are not contrived. They come from careful plotting, characters that are established quickly, and some downright fertile imagination work.
Macchia’s scores provide the subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) pinpricks that take the tales beyond the realm of story and turn them into full-fledged experiences. He knows when to move softly into the background, and when to use the music to send a jolt straight through to your spine. Tracy London and the assembled cast of actors capture the subtle nuances and hammer-it-home points of the original tales. You will believe in the unspeakable things, because she and her fellow artists sound like they believe it, and the result is much more than a mere reading of some scary stories to eerie music. They become little evil things. And they do it by taking a standard concept and treating it in anything but a standard manner. These aural journeys of terror are just that… journeys. And you don’t want to take them too lightly. Otherwise, you will find yourself looking behind doors, becoming wary of the most innocent household objects, and rummaging through the junk drawer looking for a night light.
– Thomas Smith
Film Score Monthly Review
(Little Evil Things, Vol. I and II)
Things That Go Bump
Little Evil Things is an attempt to cross-breed the sensibilities of old-time suspense radio broadcasts, The Twilight Zone, and Stephen King (which are all somewhat related anyway). Writer/composer Frank Macchia and writer Tracy London have concocted a series of short horror stories for which Macchia has composed background scores using synths, samples and some small acoustic groupings. The music is brash, sometimes cartoony horror material, particularly in the high-tension vignette “Transformation.” “Little Evil Thing” features an almost blasé, tongue-in-cheek, Thomas Newman-type opening, and somewhat tongue-in-cheek narration by London. It’s unusually descriptive music that would never be allowed in a contemporary movie. “The Quiet Child” is a variation on the old “It’s a Good Life” segment of The Twilight Zone, with a moody opening of string and woodwinds, and scratchy “Danse Macabre” violin solos throughout. “It’s After Me” is narrated by Macchia himself. “Parasites,” with a man’s body being invaded by maggots, is a more graphic version of Ray Bradbury’s short story “Fever Dream.” While you might think that this would be an appealing listen for older children, there’s definitely an adult sensibility at work in many of the stories.
Volume Two features longer, more elaborate stories, and some of the material is pretty wild. “Sisters” tells the story of two women literally joined at the hip who just don’t get along. Siamese catfight – yeah, baby! The second album has a more contemporary feeling, kind of like thirtysomething goes mad. Macchia’s music for “It’s in the Water,” the story of a man with hydrophobia, has a lot of shifting, submerged, undulating textures; my only real disappointment was with the L.A. satire “Blubb,” the tale of a gigantic mound of leftover liposuction fat that threatens Beverly Hills. This was the perfect opportunity to lampoon the musical conventions of giant monster movies, but Macchia’s score maintains a small-scale, droll and ironic tone instead.
The composer plays quite well against the narration throughout both albums and this really does capture that creepy, black feeling of some of the older Twilight Zone scores. Of course, like a comedy album, Little Evil Things I and II may not hold up under repeated listening once the punch-line finales of the stories are known. But it certainly scores as a novelty.
– Jeff Bond
Dark Regions & Horror Magazine
Available on both CD and cassette, this collection of horror short stories offers an entertaining listening experience. Partially narrated, partially acted out, with original music by Frank Macchia to set the mood and punctuate the action, they play like fondly recalled radio performances.
The stories themselves are a B-movie mix the Crypt Keeper would enjoy. Part horror, part humor, and all delivered with verve in a professional package, they well maintain the standard set in Volume I, which received Publishers’ Weekly Listen Up Award.
“The Thing in the Jar” relates the effects of a mysterious container of goop that has the power to change lives. “Sisters” takes a look at Siamese twins who can’t get along, with a nice little twist at the end. “It’s in the Water” demonstrates why it may be better to pay attention to our primitive fears. “Blubb” rounds out the performance with the semi-satirical tale of what happens to the castoffs from a Beverly Hills liposuction clinic.
Performers’ voices are well chosen for their roles, and delivery is exactly right in all but one minor role. The music is a fine addition, adding emphasis and suspense in all the right spots.
Macchia and London have made it as easy as possible to purchase their audio tales. If your local record or book store doesn’t stock it, you can call the producers toll free at (877) LIL-EVIL, fax them at (818) 563-1694, contact them by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or order on the Internet from Amazon.com.
– Jordan Stoen
Thanks to Frank Macchia and Tracy London for Volume II of “Little Evil Things” on both cassette and CD for new tales of fear and terror perfect for your Halloween party! They’ve reinvented this classic form of entertainment.
— Alan Caruba
Just in time for this year’s Halloween celebrations, Little Evil Things is out with Volume II of their “Bite-Sized Tales of Terror.” More than just a story being read, this volume is a listening experience where the music is actually tailored to the actors’ performances much like the score of a film. In Volume II listeners will discover four brand new tales of terror. “The Thing in the Jar” is a twenty-minute tale about the evil residing inside a jar. “Sisters” is a fifteen minute excusion into the horror of sisters who don’t get along and what happens when they decide to separate … of course, they’re Siamese twins. “It’s in the Water” invites you to step into the psyche of a man who fears water for good reason. And finally, “Blubb” follows the path of a giant glob of fat as it terrorizes Beverly Hills. As in Volume I, this is a professionally-delivered delight. Lots of fun to listen to on the way home from work after a hard day. It’ll remind you that things could definitely be worse.
— David B. Silva
I have to say it – Little Evil Things, Volume II is better than the original. These tales of terror are the adult version of “Goosebumps”. The blending of the text, music and sound makes this audio mix frightfully good audio theater. It reminds this critic of “Lights Out” and “Suspense” from the classic days of old radio. Don’t wait for next Halloween, buy it any time for a fearful good fright.
— Bennet Pomerantz