Imprisoned with the Pharaohs

As war brews in Europe, world-famous magician Harry Houdini and his wife Bess stop in Cairo on a world tour in the summer of 1914. There they meet with Miskatonic professor of archaeology Nate Ward, who tells them the story of Nitocris, the dreaded ghoul queen of the 4th Dynasty. After a visit to the Sphinx and a dig site led by German archaeologist Ludwig Borchardt, the Houdinis follow their mysterious Arab tour guide, Abdul Reis al Drogman, to the top of the Great Pyramid. Secret identities are revealed and after a desperate struggle Houdini must attempt the escape of a lifetime from under the pyramids!

Lovecraft collaborated with a number of authors over his career, but this story features one of his most remarkable co-authors. Harry Houdini had been working with Weird Tales magazine, but publisher J. C. Henneberger wanted to get him more involved, so he hired Lovecraft to ghost-write this tale under Houdini's name. Houdini provided the story idea, but once it became clear to Lovecraft that it was based on imaginary rather than true events he expanded considerably on the plot’s fantastical elements, and relied on research in tourist guides and museum exhibits for the Egyptian details. The tale, originally published in the May-June-July issue of 1924, was well received. Houdini himself was so pleased with the final product that he met with Lovecraft over dinner, and hired him to work on other non-fiction ghostwriting jobs. Were it not for Houdini’s untimely death in 1926, it’s likely that the two would have continue to collaborate. We can only imagine what they might have produced, and how HPL's career might have turned out differently!

This Dark Adventure Radio Theatre adaptation of the tale brings in a familiar character from previous episodes, along with a real archaeologist of the period to provide some context to the sights of old Cairo.

Get it now!


To enhance your listening pleasure, the HPLHS has packed the jewel case for Imprisoned with the Pharaohs with carefully created props from the story. You'll have

  • A letter on authentic vintage Cairo Museum letterhead, in which Nate Ward describes the sarcophagus and mummy of Nitocris.
  • A Cairo postcard from Harry Houdini to tycoon Charlie Tower.
  • The playbill from Houdini's show at the American Cosmograph Theater, in English, French, Greek and Arabic!
  • A highly detailed clipping from The Egyptian Gazette of 1914, with news from Cairo on the eve of World War I and a vintage map showing Cairo and the Pyramids of Gizeh.
  • Track Listing

    1. Opening 2:27
    2. At the Theater 11:50
    3. Around the Museum 14:09
    4. Through the Streets 19:48
    5. In the Moonlight 7:28
    6. Under the Pyramids 17:54
    7. Closing 1:22
    Total Runtime 74:58

    Cast and Crew

    Leslie Baldwin...Bess Houdini
    Aidan Branney...Jim, Stage Manager
    Sean Branney...Harry Houdini
    Dan Conroy...Erskine Blackwell, Pyramid Climber 2
    Chad Fifer...Rudolph Lloyd, Ansep Al Massri
    Matt Foyer...Dupuis, Pavao
    Alaine Kashian...Gerte van Dyck, Nitocris
    Andrew Leman...Nathaniel Ward, Kareem, German Guard 2
    Holly Long...Francine Kelly, Wee Mona
    Jacob Lyle...Rodrigo, Pyramid Climber 1
    Barry Lynch...Abdul Reis al Drogman, May
    Josh Thoemke...Announcer
    Eddy Will...German Guard 1
    Time Winters...Borchardt, Merchant, Ali Zi, Mayknot
    Tamara Hembree, Ruth Horne, Tristan Jusola-Sanders, Umberto Lenzi, Tobias Nilsson, James Vincent, Tom Woodger...Vaudevillians, Bedouins, Mummy Hordes

    Based on the story by H. P. Lovecraft
    Radio adaptation by Sean Branney and Andrew Leman
    Original music by Troy Sterling Nies
    "Bub-L-Pep Jingle" written by Andrew Leman
    arranged and performed by Harald Lindell and Kathleen Demarest
    Audio engineering by Chris Horvath
    Cover and disc illustrations by Darrell Tutchton
    Bonus props by Andrew Leman and Sean Branney
    Egyptology Consultant: Robert K. Ritner
    Special Thanks to Rula Baalbaki, David G. Cercone II, John Cox, Erin Curtice, Andrew Humphreys, Sophie Klesen, Mike Murphy and the Egypt Study Circle, Alecos Papadopoulos
    Very Special Thanks to David Pavao
    Produced by Sean Branney and Andrew Leman

    Script, Liner Notes & More

    Cairo Postcard

    Our research led to more prop documents than we could pack into a jewel case, so we're happy to offer some extra bonus props as downloadable PDFs that you can print yourself, to enhance your listening pleasure or to use in your own Lovecraftian gaming. Click on the links below to get PDF files.

    * A letter on authentic vintage Shepheard's Hotel letterhead, and two tickets to the American Cosmograph theater! (2.5 MB)

    * Blank postcards from Cairo with vintage scenes of the old city. (70 MB)

    For your enjoyment, we present free PDF downloads of the final recording script and liner notes of Imprisoned with the Pharaohs. Note: this script is only for use for reading along with Dark Adventure Radio Theatre; no performance of the script may be made without written consent of the HPLHS.

    The Dreams in the Witch House
    Episode 9
    The Dreams in the Witch House
    The Horror at Red Hook
    Episode 11
    The Horror at Red Hook
    Dagon: War of Worlds
    Episode 12
    Dagon: War of Worlds
    Liner Notes
    Liner Notes
    Imprisoned with the Pharaohs