The Tomb of the Mysteries

Lovecraft, Poe, Frank Belknap Long, Robert E. Howard
Tomb of the Mysteries, New Orleans Supernatural Radio Theater

The Tomb of the Mysteries centers around the dramatization of horror stories where fear is generated by atmosphere and implication, unlike the contemporary trend of graphic and explicit movies cranked out by Hollywood, films that leave little to the imagination. Drawn from the romantic era horror writings of authors such as H. P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe, where the element of horror is implied, more contemporary precedents can be seen in the series ‘The X Files’ as well as films such as ‘The Blair Witch Project’ and The Conjuring’. The closest antecedent would be ‘Radio Mystery Theater’, which drew its roots from earlier radio dramas such as ‘The Shadow’ and ‘War of the Worlds’. Even video games have an association with the fundamental thread of the show – the stimulation of imagination, interaction, the unknown, etc. Specifically, the game ‘Call of Cthulhu’ is directly drawn from the macabre mythos of atmospheric fear created by H. P. Lovecraft and expanded in writings by his friends, fellow writers and imitators. T O M draws directly from this mythos, but is not exclusive to it.
(The band ‘Black Sabbath’ also drew heavily from the Lovecraft mythos for lyrical content in their early records.)
The wildly popular works of JRR Tolkein and JK Rowling draw from this tradition: the name ‘Gollum’ having roots in an old Jewish mystic tale involving the animation of inert matter via an ancient magic scroll, the horror of the ‘Ring-Wraiths’ exemplifying subconscious dread of the malevolent unseen, and the elves’ tales of spirits of lost lovers embodied in certain waters, though Tolkien focuses on moral fantasy and etymology; in Rowling’s case, numerous names and devices are drawn from older writings, though presented in a more whimsical fashion – paintings that speak, prolongation of life through elixirs, ghosts, astrological associations of the ‘Hogwarts houses’, names like Paracelsus and Nicholas Flamel; even the name Aleister is a take from the infamous post Victorian British occultist & poet-novelist Aleister Crowley.
Though superficially similar to the ‘Conspiracy Theory / Ancient Alien’ shows of George Noory, Art Bell and others, Tomb of the Mysteries takes a somewhat different approach, aiming more for the deeper roots of subconscious fear rather than speculations on the meaning of pyramids and discussions about ‘raining frogs’ and ‘space brothers’.
The stories are designed to create an atmosphere of fear, rather than tales of explicit horror; the prominent music and sound design are aimed at both stimulating this atmospheric drama as well as being entertaining in itself.
Along with radio drama storytelling, the show includes call-ins surrounding the unusual and bizarre, editorials, interviews, reviews and discussions about the dramatizations and related topics..
The many people who would read a Poe, Lovecraft or Stephen King book rather than go to the latest ‘slasher flick’, those that decry the loss of stimulation of the imagination in modern entertainment and people given to speculation on the eldritch and macabre will easily be drawn into the show…New Orleanians in particular, steeped in voodoo, witchcraft, masquerade and the fantastic, will be especially receptive to the atmospheric and eldritch elements of the presentation.

Tomb of Mysteries, New Orleans Supernatural Radio Theater
The Tomb of Mysteries, in one of it’s many manifestations.

2 thoughts on “The Tomb of the Mysteries

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