Turn out the lights…
Back in 2020 when the pandemic was still new and the country was trapped in a nationwide lockdown, Emmy Award winner and indie cult icon Bill Oberst, Jr. (our interviews with him here, here, and here) recognized the pain and panic that was going through everyone’s hearts, and he decided he wanted to do something about it by starting a podcast called Bill Oberst, Jr.’s Gothic Goodnight. It was here where he introduced the Moonlit Library and the Library Keeper, a character prepared to share intriguing and horrifying stories of yore to ease the minds of listeners into slumber. After all, how bad could it be if you’re not being bricked up into a wine cellar or having the Devil himself show up when you ask for help?
It’s been a year and a month since the last episode of the first season of Gothic Goodnight was released, and the world is in a different state now. How do we, as horror fans, interpret what’s going on around us? Maybe seeing it through the cracked lens of the old Library Keeper will help you settle on a conclusion… or, at least, remind you that things could be so much worse.
From an Apple Podcast review of Gothic Goodnight:
“Chicken soup for the dark night of the soul. Heir apparent to the throne of Vincent Price and Boris Karloff, Bill Oberst Jr. does far more than just read spooky stories. He invites you on a thoughtful, dark journey with warmth and sophistication. Do yourself a favor and subscribe.”
Here’s what the man himself had to say on the subject:
“What I mean to do by continuing the podcast is to help listeners enter, in the intimacy of their own darkness, those worlds between waking and dreaming. I think those half-worlds are fruitful, refreshing and essential for our lives right now. Things that fade in and out, things that linger and wax and wane and slide and hide and stow away, those are the things I mean to foster in the listener’s mind, and in my own. The Moonlit Library, and the Library Keeper character, is a combination of Mr. Rogers and Vincent Price in bed with you… I hope listeners will sip it in the dark, and with some satisfaction.”
This is how the Library Keeper opens the second season of Gothic Goodnight:
“Thirteen months of out to sea…
“Thirteen ghosts accompany…
“Thirteen friends remembered still…
“Thirteen graves we’ve yet to fill…”
Creepily relaxing, right off the bat. After a wonderful tribute to several listeners who have passed away since the end of season one and an invitation to watch the moon rise through the library’s floor to ceiling windows, the Library Keeper shares his version of the M.R. James tale, “The Experiment.” A story both ghoulish and heartbreaking, “The Experiment” tells of a widow and her son who are willing to do anything—including raise the dead—to find out where her late husband hid his money. Her sins tarnish her soul, and her other half is left in perpetual half-life. No one wins here.
Strangely, this story is soothing to the soul. This is due to Bill’s measured tone, his words dream-like and full of melancholy. He chooses the voices of each character with careful precision, bringing them to life through just a few lines of dialogue. You can sense the anguish and horror they feel through his intense yet leisurely diction. The wrap up that follows this yarn is unhurried, tempered, and indulgent to the senses. As he bids the world a sweet goodnight, his rhythmic tone slows, matching your decelerating heartbeat as you drift off into sleep, content and tingling.
Bill Oberst, Jr.’s Gothic Goodnight Podcast is a true mastery of storytelling. The creepy vibe of the old Gothic tales combined with the intense yet calming tone of Bill’s voice makes for the perfect nightcap before bed.
Follow the links below to find Gothic Goodnight and stay updated on Bill’s latest projects.