Archive 81 is a horror podcast that has gained a lot of traction especially after its recent Netflix adaptation.
It was created by Daniel Powell and Marc Sollinger and uses the found footage technique to progress its story.
Up Till now, it has had three seasons with a total of 35 episodes. The length of each episode ranges from 15 minutes to 1 hour each.
Its Netflix adaptation is due to return for a second season soon this year in 2023.
The Creator Behind the Podcast
The creator of Archive 81 podcast, Daniel Powell had an enthusiasm for podcasts since childhood.
He began recording radio shows at a very early age.
As a profession, Powell graduated with a sound engineering degree from college.
He was working at home alone, reviewing and archiving sound effects for a company, when the idea for Archive 81 struck.
He immediately shared this with his friend Marc Sollinger, who worked then as an associate producer on a radio show called Innovation Hub.
For the first season of the podcast, the team did not have any funding. The show was written, recorded, and produced by Powell and Sollinger independently.
Reach of the Archive 81 Podcast
The Archive 81 TikTok account, where short videos related to the show are shared, has more than 441M views.
The official trailer of the Archive 81 podcast television adaptation released a year back in January 2022 has received 2,616,846 views.
As of January 2023, Archive 81 was ranked 18 on Apple Podcasts.
Themes and Topics Covered
The theme of Archive 81 is predominantly horror, including some other themes like journalism.
The central storyline revolves around Daniel and Melody Pendras, who is the second most important character in the podcast.
Melody Pendras is portrayed as a journalist searching for the truth about her mother’s disappearance.
The first episode of the show begins with a mystery and ends with a cliffhanger.
The original names of the hosts are used throughout the episodes to make the entire script feel more real.
While the podcast is a horror program, it has episodes where Dan and Marc ask and answer other questions.
They talk about the future of the podcast, what new episodes are in the pipeline, and when they will be returning to the story of Dan and Melody.
Guests are sometimes invited to the podcast as well, serving filler episodes for when the program is unable to continue the horror story.
The Format of the Podcast
The podcast begins with Dan portrayed as an audio archivist enumerating the events of the tapes he has fixed as a part of a job.
This largely contains footage of Melody Pendras and her encounters with the supernatural.
Most of the episodes then, are dedicated to the horror encounters of Melody weaved into a story format.
Unlike other podcasts, Archive 81 features fewer guests because its main premise is to deliver a horror story which does not require external commentary or opinions.
However, there are a few episodes where other guests are invited to talk about the reception of the show.
In one episode Daniel Powell interviews Ella Watts – producer of the sci-fi podcast The Orphans – and asks her how she likes Archive 81.
These filler episodes are usually added when Daniel and Marc have been unable to produce a continued episode about the horror story.
On some occasions, to fill the void – Daniel and Marc talk about other sci-fi podcasts and suggest listening to and discussing some of the other famous podcasts like Kalila Stormfire’s Economical Magick Services, Boom: A Serial Drama Podcast and Joseph: The Revenge of Opus.
Reception and Impact
The first season of Archive 81 marked its popularity among podcast listeners. It claimed the 25th rank on Apple podcasts and was recommended by Cassandra Baim at The Guardian,
From then, every season and every episode has become a great hit.
Listeners are glued to the podcast because of the surprising elements and sudden twists in the story line. In fact all the little details of the podcast are meticulously shot, helping them visualize the sound fiction.
Read out some of the reviews below – (source)
“Archive 81 kept surprising me yet continued its own narrative, and I think those two things are hard to find within the same creation. I ate the three seasons in hardly 2 weeks, and I would give my life for Static Man, to be honest. You have music, you have immersive audio drama, you have great acting, great worldbuilding AND that 3rd season? Mindblowing. Just listen to it.” – DavidOrionPena
“One of the most unique stories I have heard. This podcast has cemented itself as one of my all time favorites. Great if you like to binge listen, or weekly, one episode at a time. The voice acting is top notch and the production is superb.” – Podcast_Junkie
Currently, the show is ranked 18th on Apple Podcast and audiences have only good things to say about it.
And with the Netflix adaptation, many new audiences are discovering it.
Archive 81 Netflix Series
In 2022 Rebecca Sonnenshine, (famous for her direction in The Vampire Diaries) created the Netflix version of the audio podcast filed under the same name.
The plot of the series was the same as the podcast version – “An archivist takes a job restoring damaged videotapes and gets pulled into the vortex of a mystery involving the missing director and a demonic cult.” (source)
The series performed well with a 7.3 IMDB rating and a 86% Tomatometer voting percentile and even remained at the Netflix Top Chart for some weeks.
However, surprisingly Netflix canceled the second season of the show. Deadline reported that “the number of eyeballs Archive 81 drew possibly did not meet the threshold Netflix had set for the series based on its budget”.
The best way to judge if the podcast suits your taste is listening to it personally.
Since it has numerous reviews applauding it, you can be certain you will enjoy the horror show especially the podcast audio version.