Volume III: Reviews

Quark’s Latinum Lady

A Potent Concoction of Weirdness and Madness – Horror Fans Will Love It!

“Little Evil Things” is an award-winning series of horror stories set to music, brilliantly written and produced by Frank Macchia and Tracy London. Volume III features the Moscow Symphony Orchestra to add extra chills for your entertainment.

The five tales on this CD are creative, entwining creepiness and macabre humor. There?s no doubt the performers are enjoying themselves; the characters become real through their vocalizations. Amusing accents and wicked giggles bring the listener a cozy kind of fright.

Unless you like crazy nightmares, you don’t want to listen to”Little Evil Things” before you fall asleep. It might be fun to listen to during a morning walk, though. It’s perfect for a Halloween party! It’s not just the stories that stick with you, but the music also. The Moscow Symphony Orchestra did a superb job of blending the stories with the sounds.

“Freaked Out” is about a freak show like no other, and you’ll be delighted at the lengths some people will go to for success. One of my favorites was “Buried Alive” because of an unexpected twist. And, believe me, these tales are twisted! “The Potion” gave me a chuckle . . . or maybe I should say a cackle. I have always loved horror stories about dolls, and “The Dolls” was one of the best! Such pretty, pretty things they can be, and so frightening! Finally, another favorite is “It’s A Boy”. Some people refuse to accept that some things were meant to be.

Billboard – July 31, 1999

Like its predecessors, this third installment of the “Little Evil Things” series features original horror stories accompanied by atmospheric music, here provided by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra. The five stories here are a mixed bag. The best of the lot is “Freaked Out,” in which the owner of a failing carnival sideshow decides to bring
in business by creating new and unusual “freaks”. He and his brothers kidnap homeless drunks, sedate them, cut off various body parts, and dew them back on the wrong places; they then display the results, such as the Amazing Double Man. McDonnell, who reads the story, gives a wonderfully snarling performance, especially relishing the freaks” gory revenge. “The Potion” is a short, funny piece featuring Lauren Cohn as a cackling witch trying to put together a spell, but not sure if she has the right ingredients. “It’s a Boy” is a clever twist on the “Rosemary’s Baby” theme.

Trudi Miller Rosenblum

Rue Morgue – October 1999

These self-described Bites Size Tales of Terror rediscover audio horror (both narrated and dramatized) with the benefit of a lavish, full orchestral score. There’s quite a range of stories here: from demonic kids (The Quiet Child) and freaks ( Freaked Out) to vampires (Buried Alive) and witches (The Potion). A progressive emphasis on camp horror and realized characters give Little Evil Things an increasingly polished style, not unlike Goosebumps. Nevertheless, writers Frank Macchia and Tracy London hardly skimp on the gore with some delicious bits, like the scene from It’s a Boy where an undead baby is born still gnawing on chunks of its mother’s uterus. On Sisters, narrator Jim McDonnell cheerfully describes a knife fight between Siamese twins: “The stabs made soft, squishy sounds,” he says, “like throwing pudding at a wall or sticking your hand in a bowl of uncooked rice.” Yum. All the same, the series is more family oriented than you might think, with an emphasis on tales that are short, jolting and fun. We declare Little Evil Things a perfect fit for camping trips, long drives or simply as a smart alternative to television.

Bookviews – September 1999

If you love Halloween, here are the stories to listen to. It’s the new Little Evil Things, Volume III, a new CD from Little Evil Things. Complete with music from the Moscow Symphony Orchestra, this is great entertainment and scary stuff for anyone from about age 13 on up. Definitely not for little children

Scavenger’s Newsletter – September 1999

More “Bite Size Tales of Terror to Chill Your Bones!” from the creative team of Frank Macchia and Tracy London. Like their debut effort (which I positively reviewed a while back), these beautifully packaged and well-execute tapes blend short horror stories read by narrators, occasional other actors portraying the characters within in the tales, and sound effects, especially the consistently vibrant music, composed by veteran movie composer Macchia. Both Volumes II and III are highly entertaining, yet each has its own particular personality.

Volume II has been out almost a year, but bears mention for the effectively pushing the humor aspect in its four tales. The funniest of
the lot is probably “The Thing in the Jar.” In this mordantly hilarious story, a magical jar offers a succession of evil-minded people each one’s favorite treat in turn, only to finish each one off in amusing gross-out fashion when they yield to temptation and reach in. The neighborhood’s one truly decent guy is, of course, the only one who sees
nothing enticing there and escapes with his life.

The most outlandish is probably “Blubb,” a satire on Hollywood’s fixation on beauty and featuring a monster made of liposuctioned/mutated fat.

Volume III returns the focus to mostly serious scares, though the witty
side of things isn’t totally abandoned. It also focuses on more traditional fright lit icons and, as an additional treat, the Moscow Symphony Orchestra has been recruited to do the sprawling music score accompanying the lead story, “Buried Alive.” Actually, the narrator here, awakening in this familiar horror scene (a coffin, already 6-feet under), begins to realize he’s more buried undead than alive. His attempts to escape provide gross-out fun in abundance.

Volume III winds up with a music-only reprise of the “Buried Alive” theme that lets you fully appreciate the rousing score minus the storyline.

Two more delightful tapes, worth any fan or horror, dark humor and/or audio drama’s attention.

World of Fandom – Fall 1999

“Billboard” Magazine has heralded it “a perfect marriage of words and music that sets an effective creepy atmosphere!” “Publishers Weekly” awarded the first collection the Listen Up Award for best audio original. From the mainstream trade press to the small press, Little Evil Things has been receiving rave reviews. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure, or the horror, of Little Evil Things, Volumes I and II are collections of sinister twisted tales that will have you shaking from fear and laughter. The scare-child of Frank Macchia and Tracy London, these radio drama type tales are a bit more adult and offer the listener some outstanding film score quality music.

Real People – Fall 1999

Here’s something that’s guaranteed to put a chill in your holiday: Little Evil Things, Winner of a Publishers Weekly Award for Best Audio,

Little Evil Things is a series of original horror tales backed by an eerie soundtrack. “But because the musical score is tailored specifically to the actors’ performances, it’s more like the music to a feature film than a book on tape,” points out producer Tracy London.

And not just any music. The newest installment features the Moscow Symphony Orchestra. Even Alfred Hitchcock couldn’t swing that.

KLIATT Audiobook Reviews – September 1999

More “bite size tales of terror to chill your bones” just in time for Halloween. These tales are performed very much as an uncle or aunt
would read their own, homespun tales to a family on Halloween Eve. Scary, yet not too. In this age of techno-polish, big blockbusters and graphic gross, this series of five short stories from vampires to witches’ brew is quite refreshing. The music from the Moscow Symphony Orchestra is clearly performed with these stories in mind. Fangoria – October 1999

Watch out, Goosebumps! Little Evil Things, III continues the award-winning series of original horror stories set to contemporary
music (performed by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra) and sound FX. Combining chills and humor, all the volumes (available on CD or
cassette) are written and produced by Frank Macchia and Tracy London.

Midwest Book Review – August 1999

The third volume in the audiobook series “Little Evil Things”, Frank Macchia and Tracy London collaborate to provide a unique listening experience where the music has actually been written to the actors’ performance.

The short stories comprising volume Three were narrated and recorded in Burbank, California, then a “click track” was created to the narrators performance (much like the music for a Hollywood movie) and the 92 piece Russian orchestra played to the precision timing.

The stories include “Buried Alive” (the horror of awakening in a crypt six feet under the ground); “It’s a Boy” (a couple’s desire for a child backfires); “Freaked Out” (step right up and behold Zemo’s Big Top Freak Show); “The Dolls” (a doll collection exacts its revenge on a nasty nephew); and “The Potion” (a witch concocts a creepy brew). Little Evil Things is highly recommended for those who love a good scare combined with great music.

James A. Cox

Latest Film Score Monthly (Volume 4, Number 8)

Frank Macchia’s series of tongue-in-cheek spoken word albums hits the big time with Volume III, eschewing the small ensemble and electronics of the first two albums for the power of the Moscow Symphony Orchestra.

These albums revive the undead monster of radio drama with a series of grand guignol Night Gallery-style stories narrated in breathless style by Jim McDonnell, Tracy London and Lauren Cohn, with additional performances by London and Macchia himself.

It’s all accompanied by rambunctious, over-the-top scores by Macchia that are strongly thematic and act as an additional performer that’s very much at the forefront of the proceedings. If you’re bored by the under-dubbed dronings of a lot of today’s movie and TV scoring, this is an enjoyable trip back to the good old days when film scores actually had something more to contribute to the process than vague background sustains. Without sound effects, the stories (by Macchia, London and Guy Vasilovich) manage to be graphically disgusting through sheer
overheated verbiage and suspense.

“Buried Alive” is the self-explanatory title for the first tale, in which a man discovers that the only thing worse than being buried alive is what happens when you claw your way out of your own coffin. “It’s a Boy” is a celebration of the miracle of childbirth very much in the manner of Larry Cohen’s “It’s Alive!” by way of Frankenstein, with Macchia’s music chillingly played against the action. “Freaked Out” goes Tod Browning’s “Freaks” one better with the story of a struggling circus freak show that gets a boost when its owners do some hands-on modifications to their stable of deformities. These two tales play out at around 14 minutes, with the next story, “The Dolls,” is a 21-minute epic of squabbling relatives over the inheritance of a wealthy aunt whose doll collection takes bloody revenge for her murder.

Most of these stories are fairly mean-spirited and tongue-in-cheek, and they definitely seem best suited for children or kids in their early teens. Macchia’s music is lively and entertaining, although the comic effects (and an overdose of circus music in “Freaked Out”) can drive you right up a wall. But driving you up the wall is what this CD is all about. A bonus for people who are more interested in the music than the mayhem is track 6, which plays the energetic “Buried Alive” score without narration.

School Library Journal November 1999

Five grisly horror tales are contained in this collection. The macabre drama of these stories is heightened by expressive reading which suggests just the right amount of suspense. Background music heightens the brooding mood, and the overall sound quality is excellent. This is especially true of “Buried Alive” where the musical accompaniment is provided by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra. Not for young listeners or those with queasy stomachs, these stories focus on the worst of human failing: greed, obsession, cruelty, and ignorance. School and public libraries whose older listeners enjoy the horror genre will find this a popular selection.

Los Angeles Times – October 27, 1999

Thanks to a musical score provided by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra, production values have quite improved in the latest collection of silly, scary stories by Frank Macchia and Tracy London, “Little Evil Things, III”.

Five stories run the gamut of subjects ranging from premature burial to that of a vengeful doll collection. The high-energy production is aimed at ages 13 and older – it is far too gory and the themes too adult for younger listeners. Less vulgar than Volume II, this collection is closer in style to the first volume which won the Publishers Weekly Listen Up Award in 1997.