A vinyl record leaves anyone who listens to it either dead or insane.
Aside from sounding like a hipster's take on The Ring, it's also the central premise of DEADWAX, an original short form series from horror streaming service Shudder. Created by Graham Reznick (sound designer on horror features like Stake Land, The House of the Devil, and The Sacrament), the show was inspired by myths of "backmasking," the action of playing a record backwards in the hopes of hearing a hidden message (i.e. "Paul is Dead" in "Revolution 9").
Hannah Gross (David Fincher's Mindhunter) stars as Etta, a woman with a talent for tracking down incredibly-rare records for rich clients. She'll stop at nothing to get the right product for her paying customers, even if it means doing a bit of B&E.
According to the film's offical Fantistic Fest (where it will debut later this month) description, Etta's vocation takes a turn for the sinister when one of her wares, "a 'key' record from master sound engineer Lyle M. Lytton," one of only three in the entire world, begins to leave a trail of bodies in its wake.
"Peppered with ‘70s giallo-esque music, and splashed with ‘80s-style gore, this highly original series works with as sparse an atmosphere as the songs contained on the deadly platters," reads the description. "Reznick’s background in sound design comes through in his use of eerie tones, electrifying bursts of static, and nightmarish music, each giving life to DEADWAX."
Watch the first teaser for the show:
The term "dead wax," according to Urban Dictionary, refers to the space on a record between the last track and the label in the middle.
This space is usually occupied by a series of numbers and letters (known as the "matrix number" or "stamper number"), which can denote a specific take, recording session date, recording equipment, or even certain pressings. While originally intended to be used by the record's manufacturers, matrix numbers have become important tools for vinyl connoisseurs in deciphering the value of their collections.
In the upcoming Shudder series, the dead wax on the ominous record is distinguishable not by its matrix number, but by "strange, ominous marks."
Also starring Sam Raimi's brother, Ted (Ash vs Evil Dead), DEADWAX will first premiere all eight of its 15-minute episodes at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas on Sunday, Sept. 23.