Los Angeles-based production company Drunken Devil specializes in immersive experiences, leaning into live productions of horror-themed storytelling events before the pandemic put such things on hold. Granting time to reimagine its concept, the brand has entered the realm of audio fiction via hosting narrative podcasts paired with lush soundscapes and interactive elements.
“The best way to experience a horror film, show, or production is to be fully immersed in it. Whether it's in a darkened cinema, an immersive haunted house, or, perhaps, a twisted dinner party, you want the world around you to pull you in and allow your unbroken focus on the unfolding horror story,” says Matt Dorado of Drunken Devil in a quote to Wealth of Geeks.
The brand’s newest offering is The Cosmic Game, a podcast featuring a series of vignettes with the framing narrative of God and The Devil playing humanity like a board game in hopes of gaining the upper hand over the other with the end goal of winning total influence over the earth. Co-directed and written by Matt Dorado and Mak Manson, this classic radio-inspired drama follows vampires, Roman tyrants, cults, demons, and more, as well as some of the interactive elements of the live events.
One of the themes the podcast is introducing to encourage greater interaction with its audience is a unique suggested cocktail pairing featured in every episode of The Cosmic Game. Crafted by Nathan Hazard, the drink menu interacts with the time-jumping element of the series by offering beverages inspired by the place and the era in which each story occurs.
Dorado explains, “When we shifted gears, we wanted to continue telling our big and bold stories, but needed to find the right platform. After some exploration, we realized that the heightened radio dramas of old matched up well with what we were going for. So we took that heightened sense of storytelling, and updated it with immersive sound design, an original score, and the colorful characters that populate the Drunken Devil universe.”
As for the influence of classic narrative radio, Dorado notes, “There was something about the shared experience of listening to a radio drama that we found interesting. In years past, folks gathered around the radio—much like they do now for watch parties—and enjoyed an exciting narrative drama together. With The Cosmic Game, we wanted to evoke a similar experience that audiences could enjoy; a communal experience where listeners could get together with their friends, share a (thematically-paired) libation, and escape, together, into our weird and wonderful world for a bit.”
On the cocktail collaboration, Dorado says, “Nathan and I have been friends for many years. I always admired his ability to craft wildly themed and, of course, delicious and potent cocktails. I went to his event, The Coconut Club, at Clifton's Cafeteria a few times, and was impressed each time I went.” Dorado continues, “Nathan worked with myself and my creative partner, podcast co-creator and performer Mak Manson, on developing each cocktail based on individual episodes: Which character would this be based on? Where does this episode take place? What is the theme of this episode, and how can we translate that into a cocktail?”
Likewise, each episode features gorgeous photography highlighting the drinks, with easter eggs that tie into the inspiration around the cocktails. After developing a set menu, the creative team enlisted the help of celebrated food and beverage photographer Noah Fecks to create inventive portraits. “Noah and I met on Instagram, allegedly, after I kept commenting on how impressed I was by his photography, and hit it off immediately. He loved the idea of Drunken Devil and the audio drama, and our teams worked together to craft these gorgeous cocktail portraits.”
“At Drunken Devil, we tell these dark stories, and often use food and drink to help bring you into the world,” says Dorado. “Each recipe for this show was crafted with the primary characters and narrative arcs in mind, down to the type of spirit and mixers being used, the preparation method, and even the garnish.”
The Cosmic Game is available through all major podcast platforms, as well as Drunken Devil’s website, where fans of the series are encouraged to sign up for the newsletter or follow the brand on social for updates.
Image Credit: Drunken Devil.
Sara is a horror writer, a critic, a reporter, a filmmaker, and an artist that has written for many publications and platforms. She is the co-host of the Bitches On Comics podcast as well as the co-founder and editor of the Decoded Pride anthology which focuses on works of queer speculative fiction.