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Imprisoned with the Pharaohs [Novelette] by…

Imprisoned with the Pharaohs [Novelette] (1924)

by H. P. Lovecraft

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A very pleasing adaptation of one of my favourite Lovecraft tales. The actors do very well, though a couple of times I found Ward and Houdini hard to distinguish due to similar voices. The production is excellent and everything can be clearly heard, while sound effects add a lot of depth and action to the story.

The adaption is on the whole excellent. That being said, I think it shares a drawback with the Mountains of Madness adaption in being sometimes a little too true-to-life. The opening segment featuring the variety show is surely realistic, but I found it overlong, and though convincing it isn't particularly interesting in itself. I felt like this could have been far shorter; this section alone lasts a full five minutes and is entirely irrelevant to the rest of the story. In general I felt like things took a while to get going.

The first fifteen minutes or so of the story is new material made up for the audio adaptation, which I'm basically neutral about. It adds on a sort of prequel, which offers an explanation for some of the story's events which were originally pretty inscrutable. It adds a different twist, which I wouldn't call either an improvement or a detriment, it's just different. Very well done, though. Similarly, the adaptation gives Houdini a companion in his misadventure, which has the great advantage of allowing dialogue, but does remove some of the ambiguity from events. As a dramatised version with little narration we lose a lot of the descriptive passages, which is a bit of a shame as they're rather good and eerie; in particular, the lengthy descriptions of Houdini's descent into the underworld are heavily cut. However, they would be hard to do without resorting to just large blocks of narration. On the whole I felt they did a very good job of translating first-person inner monologue and musing into a third-person radio play without losing either the plot or the flavour of the original.

The whole family enjoyed the atmosphere and tension of the story, and were thrilled with the excellent props that come with it. We listened to this in three blocks on three successive evenings, and I heartily recommend this strategy. A very worthwhile purchase indeed (though mine was a present). ( )
  Shimmin | Dec 31, 2014 |
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Harry Houdini is kidnapped in Egypt, tied up, taken to an unknown location, and dropped down a deep pit, where he witnesses an army of half-man, half-animal mummies leaving offerings to a five-headed, tentacled beast.

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