The podcast Video Palace is an intriguing text through which to examine monstrous embodiment, as the presence, texture, and appearance of its monsters is reconceptualised through sound alone.  This paper will demonstrate how Video Palace uses what could be considered “bad” noise, such as distortion, glitches, and interference, to assist the audience in their visualisation of monstrosity, and examine how it pushes its diegetic recording technology to the point of (faux) breakdown to imply monstrous forms that cannot be contained by its medium.

The anxieties present in Video Palace circulate around both old and new media forms, the uncanny possibilities of technology, and the fragile boundaries between realms. Through noise, the podcast creates monstrous beings that straddle a spectral past full of fading memories of VHS rental stores and the uncanny possibilities of new technology in our current cultural moment. This paper will therefore investigate how the “bad” noises in Video Palace are utilised to underline both its horror and its authenticity.

This paper will present Video Place as representative of a new and innovate subgenre of podcasts that are connected to, but different from, found footage horror cinema, and in doing so will demonstrate how Video Palace encourages a form of active listening during which the audience lean into the sound, recreating the found footage horror subgenre – ordinarily very visual in nature – on a purely audio level.

Video Palace not only uses “bad” sound, distortion, and glitches to assist the listener in their visualisation of monstrous bodies. It is also concerned with the physiological reactions we have to sound, and as such this paper will connect it to earlier binaural radio plays and accounts of real life horror without visual referent, while showing how it utilises the podcast form to create monsters for the digital age.

About the speaker

Shellie McMurdo is in the final year of her PhD, and her thesis is titled “Blood and Broken Lenses: Cultural Trauma and American Found Footage Horror Cinema”. She has recently published work on American Horror Story and the True Crime Community, and co-edited a chapter on late phase torture horror.

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