Archive for the ‘mysteries’ category

“The Crossing;” Quirky But Compelling Television!

April 4, 2018

Immigrants are washing up on our beaches again!  They’re not “boat people,” because they have no boat.  They’re not Cubans or Mexicans, and are not here to steal your jobs, bring crime, or drain the safety net in some Trumpian nightmare. These people are as American as most readers of this blog. They just happen to be from the future, and are seeking sanctuary…

The Crossing is a new, 11-episode series whose debut episode has recently run on the ABC network.  Only the pilot episode was made available to reviewers, and not all reviews were favorable.  Accordingly, I initially approached this series skeptically and with low expectations.  I was really won over by what I saw, however, and think that I could become a fan of the series, which blends elements of dystopian science fiction, the paranormal, and even current-day, real-life social issues.  At times, it’s almost reminiscent of X-Files material while promising more episode continuity.


If you find some aspects of the current American and world state disquieting (and I do), you can console yourself with the thought that about 180 years in the future, things are gonna be much worse!  At that time, a genetically-enhanced group called APEX with heightened senses and abilities has taken things over, and essentially waged a genocidal war against the rest of us.  The details of this conflict are only available to viewers in dribs and drabs, but suffice it to say that things became bad enough in the future that a group of several hundred people took a risky time travel venture back to our present reality.  All of the bugs were not worked out, however, with the time travelers not knowing exactly when or where they’d wind up, and in kind of a bad Star Trek transporter incident most of them wind up drowning in the ocean outside of the small Oregon fishing town of Port Canaan.  A small group of about 47 souls survived, however, to wash up on the beaches, presenting first local authorities and soon thereafter the Department of Homeland Security with some interesting questions and problems…and we all know that local and federal operatives tend to get into turf wars and clash.

Sheriff Jude Ellis (Steve Zahn) is a central character, as are Reece (Natalie Martinez) and her eight-year-old daughter, Leah (Bailey Skodje).  Mother and daughter are separated upon arrival by some distance, and Reece in seeking her daughter demonstrates freaky powers, including abilities reminiscent of The Bionic Woman. – – Is Reece of the APEX group, or otherwise some kind of genetic mutation?  Does her daughter Leah likewise have freaky powers, and if so, what are they?

We’ll just have to wait and see, but it’s revealed that an earlier group of time travelers have previously arrived, and some are of the APEX group with desires to change the present in order to shape the future.  Resettled into a kind of internment camp, the time travelers also pose an interesting reflection upon current immigration policies and social attitudes.

This quirky show with legs in several genres has promise, and may appeal well to a niche audience or at least generate a cult following.  It’s worth a look, and in my area airs Monday night at ten on the ABC network…

Still Rockin’ the X-Files…

January 13, 2018

  
Hard to Kill” might have been a subtitle of the second installment of the new limited X-Files  season as Fox Mulder and Dana Scully eluded and thwarted deadly Soviet operatives when guided themselves by the artificial intelligence version of a deceased Lone Gunman who sought to be unplugged, Richard Langly (aka Ringo).

I like how the series has kept its paranormal core while expanding the two central characters into almost action-heroes.  I mean, when armed with only handguns against a legion of Soviets with automatic weapons who attacked them at home they killed two Soviets outright,  and not only eluded death  but despite being handcuffed together managed to escape!  These are two smart, savvy, and tough FBI agents who could probably be featured on recruitment posters for the agency.  The episode expanded upon real-life events, too, with the enigmatic Skinner referencing how the current administration in Washington didn’t like the FBI much, and had even been infiltrated by Soviets.  

Now deep in the bowels of a compromised FBI resided a supercomputer into which had been uploaded the virtual essences of Langly and hundreds of other people whose survival was deemed desirable for the dark times to come.  A computerized existence was abnormal and apparently hellish, however, for Langly who wanted the program ended and his virtual existence expunged.  Mulder and Scully now as renegade agents were ultimately able to penetrate the forbidden FBI complex, with Mulder going mano-a-mano against a younger agent (and besting him) while Scully zaps the computer.  Plot twist, however; the bad guys made a backup system, so we may be hearing from the virtual Lone Gunman again.  I’d like that…

The notion of uploading an individual’s life experiences and general personality attributes to a computer program to simulate that person in life is within the fringes of a possible future reality, and may someday provide a kind of worldly immortality while allowing relatives to interact with a version of a departed loved one without requiring the downside of a zombie…I want to believe! — And hooray for the FBI and two of its coolest agents!

“Haunted Cabin” on”Terror in the Woods

December 11, 2017

 

The Haunted Cabin episode of “Terror in the Woods” (S1/Ep8) was basically a ghost story, but with a side order of cryptid thrown in.  The story was pleasantly scary and creepy, and I like that!

In deepest Kentucky in the Red River Gorge, a rustic cabin sat in the woods on an abandoned logging road that married couple Bill and Charisse chose as kind of a retirement retreat.  Bill held the fort while Charisse worked hard for the money at a city job about two hours away.  Now Bill was a college grad, not some yahoo, and he put up a security camera outside the cabin.  One night around two to three a.m., said camera picked up a sporadic green mist that seemed to morph in and out.  We, the viewers, were shown the actual footage, and it did look like a floaty mist to me! Alerted by the security camera, Bill went outside and thought that he saw a ghost…

…other creepy things then transpired.  Bill’s TV and Playstation came on twice by themselves!  Now Bill was suitably creeped out by this. I mean, would you want ghosts messin’ with your PlayStation?! They’d stay on it for hours, and leave slime all over the console and controllers, for cripes sake! Bill then did what any sensible person would do, and spent the night in his car.

A week later, Bill’s trusty security camera showed a ball of white light that seemed to come out of the ground and which floated along the area; ghost alert! Viewers were also shown this footage. Bill trucked into town, speaking to and showing locals the footage; not surprisingly, they thought it ghostly.

Now comes the Bigfoot alert; walking outside his cabin in the woods, Bill hit a tree with a branch, and thought that it was answered with other knocks. Bill experienced fear and panic, since ghosts and Bigfoot make for a full paranormal schedule. A friend later visited him, and they found strange footprints with four digits and hooked claws; pictures were taken of this, which viewers of the episode were again shown.

His wife later returned to join Bill, and things went smoothly for a time until they heard howling and barking of a guttural, hellhound nature. They tried to record the commotion, but the sound stopped. Later when watching a ghost show on television, the two decided it would be a kick to casually try and summon a spirit themselves. Be careful what you ask for, because a loud knocking then came to their door, although nothing was there when the door was answered!

So our protagonist again went to the nearest town, showing the locals and woodsmen his latest videos and pics of the strange footprint.  Not surprisingly, they couldn’t explain them but agreed that they were freaky.  It was learned, however, that the cabin Bill and Charisse had bought was built for an ailing daughter who died in the cabin.  The cabin has since continued to be plagued by paranormal activity…spooky!  

“The Hell Hound” on “Terror in the Woods”

November 30, 2017

The Hell Hound episode of “Terror in the Woods” (S1/Ep9) wasn’t the kind of hell hound that I had been expecting.  In fact, at first I was wondering if the episode bore the wrong label, or if the hell hound would show up in a second segment.  To me, what was presented was more of a shadow person, restless spirit, haunting, or possession-type case, none of which represent my usual territory…

…at any rate, the dark, full hour-long story concerned a woman called Amy who in May of 2016 went on a ghost-hunting expedition with a number of others to an abandoned prison (also described as a hospital) situated outside of Columbus, Ohio. where over 300 died in a large fire in 1930.  She described a feeling of eyes upon her as she entered the building, and felt uncomfortable.  Although a person fascinated by the paranormal, Amy’s feelings turned from excitement to fear.  In one cell, she reported encountering a featureless, dark shadow of which she snapped a picture that later did reveal an image.  Amy fled the hospital and returned to the isolated cottage in the woods where she resided with her husband and a dog, Jake.

The week after the incident, Amy’s husband, normally a skeptic on paranormal matters, heard a raspy voice in his ear telling him to kill himself.  The family dog whined and sat at the bedroom doorway, refusing to cross the threshold.  Unnerving events continued for months thereafter, and Amy dreamed of seeing a featureless dark shape in the corner of the bedroom that slowly moved towards her.  The day after, she found bruises on the top part of her legs that looked like finger marks.  Due to recurrent vivid nightmares, Amy became afraid of going to sleep.  The dog “Jake” would apparently perceive the entity, which the woman described as being a “hell hound.”  Research performed by the woman suggested that seeing such a creature meant that you were about to die.  Others reportedly had also seen black dogs in the prison visited.

One day Amy found her dog lying outside, unable to move.  She apparently had a nasty dream prior to this of finding the dog eviscerated in the woods with the dark entity nearby.  Taking the dog to the vet, they found it to have a spinal condition which prevented use of its rear legs, and had the animal euthanized.  Although the dog was eleven years old, Amy blamed herself for his death, or rather thought that the entity that latched onto her in the prison was responsible.  Three months transpired from the time of the prison visitation and subsequent nightmares until the dog’s demise.  The once skeptical husband had come to believe that something malevolent had attached itself to his wife, and followed her home from the prison.  The woman warned people to be careful if they went looking for something because they might find it, and it might not be what they had expected…  

The Blood Skull and Woman of the Woods on “Mountain Monsters”

June 5, 2017

 

When we last left Buck in the previous episode, he had gone solo to the “Three Rings,”  and encountered the mysterious “little girl.”  Well, it turned out that while Buck was momentarily distracted, she conveniently vanished. Meanwhile, ailing team leader Trapper re-entered the scene, and collected Buck and Huckleberry.  He directed them to collect Jeff, which Willy and Wild Bill did, pursued in their truck by the other team.  Jeff related that the rogue team had a building deep in the woods where secrets resided,  and Buck was sent by Trapper back to the shed where photos of the AIMS team had been found on the walls.  Stripping these pictures off the walls, Buck found the words, “Find the blood skull,  find the Woman of the Woods” painted on the walls.

The Rogue Team’s cabin described by Jeff was found by the rest of the team, and Willy and Wild Bill entered it, guns at the ready.  In a back room of the cabin, they found skulls decorating the walls and a topographical map of the dark forest.  Buck then called Huckleberry from the woods, relating that he felt a foreign object was the cause of Jeff’s frequent nosebleeds; Buck had remarked in a previous episode that he knew why Jeff’s nose bled, and he may have received this knowledge as ‘the chosen one” from the little girl during his “lost time.” Well, Jeff was reclined on a table, and in a gross scene the team used a forceps to extract what turned out to be a small skull-like object from his nose…there was screaming and blood. — Yes, the secret of the Dark Woods was not under Jeff’s nose, but up it!  Eww!

Meanwhile Buck had again been seeking the little girl by returning to places where she’d been seen, and spotted her again.  The girl pointed to a grapevine and stump “throne” within which was…the blood skull, seen but fleetingly.  Buck also caught a brief glimpse of the Woman of the Woods, who did not appear to have eyes, but rather flaming orbs or perhaps empty sockets. Returning to his truck, Buck found it occupied by the skull-masked figure who had earlier held him and two team members captive in a shed.  If all of this seems a bit Grimm to you, some say that the current story line has been a hillbilly re-construction of the Little Red Riding Hood tale…

“The Three Rings of the North” on “Mountain Monsters”

May 26, 2017

 

 

With an episode title like “The Three Rings of the North,” (S5/Ep6), you might think that Mountain Monsters was getting into some kind of Tolkienesque fantasy, but the rings referenced were of grapevine, and hobbits were nowhere in sight.

In the last episode of this increasingly strange series, a bloodied Huckleberry was left inside their base camp, and it seems that he claimed to have gotten into a knife fight with a creature he had driven off.  Huck understandably contended that they needed to fortify the camp, at which point Jeff walked off, saying that he needed some air.  “I’m falling apart here bad,” he told pursuing team member Buck, who was able to talk Jeff down and arrange another private meeting with him the next day.

During that meeting, Buck described his getting lost in the last episode, and hearing the “sickening cackle” of the “Woman of the Woods.”  Becoming upset in this recollection as well as a video left on his cell phone, Buck decided that he had missed something and needed to go back to the woods alone to search for clues.  Doing this without even a cameraman, Buck had another fleeting encounter with a little girl who seems associated with the “Woman of the Woods,” and left the site.  

The next day, the team met with their leader Trapper, and Jeff who had been serving as a double agent confessed that he was not a higher-up in the other organization.  An electrified fence was erected around their base camp, with blood found on trees outside the camp, presumably from Huckleberry’s knife fight with the mysterious creature in the camp itself.  Trying to continue his role as defector, Jeff met at night with members of the other team and was told that his tenure there was done; a scuffle ensued when Jeff insisted on hearing that from the other team’s boss.  Jeff was taken away by the other team, later managing to text the AIMS team to turn on the radio that Willy had stolen from the other team in the previous episode.  Listening to this radio, they heard that the other team was headed north to the “three rings.”  They headed north themselves on foot, eventually finding a large grapevine construction of three rings with torchlight illumination.  Jeff himself was wandering about the scene, apparently in a daze and holding a torch…

…the plot thickens, huh?  Not exactly gripping entertainment, but the show’s attempt to live up to their opening promise that “In the Dark Forest, the mystery ignites.”  At this point in the series, the cryptids are almost a peripheral consideration to the soap opera and mystery elements.

Of Blood Rain and Star Jelly…

October 6, 2016

 

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Every day, about 100 metric tons of material rains down on Earth’ s surface.  Episode 11 of Season 1 of Monsters and Mysteries Unsolved ventured into the sticky, perhaps revolting question of what exactly was “star jelly” and “blood rain.”  Please be advised that frog spawn will probably be discussed in the post, so if this offends or disgusts you, read no further.– You have been duly warned!

Now references to star jelly and blood rain date back to medieval times, with an account presented as far back as the year 1176.  Modern references are numerous; in November of 2001, for example, a gelatinous blob was found in Manchester, England that emanated a smell of rotten eggs, and dissolved when touched.  In 1950 in southern Philadelphia, two police officers saw a “dissolving UFO” that gave off a purplish glow, and inspired the 1958 Steve McQueen movie, “The Blob.

In Oakville, Washington in 1994, a gelatinous rain fell during a meteor shower that covered tree branches and made some individuals sick.  Two bacteria were found in samples tested by the Washington Dept. of Health that were capable of causing urinary tract infections and septicemia.  Conspiracy theories then blossomed as black planes and helicopters were later seen over the area. – –  Was Oakville chosen as a military test site? – – Was Fox Mulder summoned?  Alas, the remaining samples disappeared, and department scientists reported being told not to say anything about it.  Fortunately, an area resident kept a sample in her refrigerator (“Don’t eat the jelly, Honey!“), and it was taken to an independent lab that found bacteria present and a eukaryotic cell.  This sample then also disintegrated.

Now in India in 2001, a blood red rain fell to Earth, freaking out the residents.  Originally told that the rain was colored red by dust, it was later disclosed that the rain contained biological cells that strangely matched no known DNA.  The question was raised if these unknown cells were possibly of extraterrestrial origin.

Now Scotland has had numerous reports logged of luminous jelly falling from the sky.  Clarkson University specialist Dr. Langen feels that many of these samples are of terrestrial origin, did not fall from the sky, but are in reality…frog spawn (remember, you were warned)!  Langen exposed frog spawn to freezing and heating, and found that it could dehydrate and rehydrate in a manner similar to “star jelly.” Other creatures such as tardigrades can also survive extreme conditions of heat, cold, and even the vacuum of space.

The panspermia theory holds that life originated someplace other than Earth, and was seeded here by meteorites and comets.  While some scientists and researchers believe that Earth was “pollinated” by outer space, others do not.  At any rate, should you find any star jelly lying around, don’t eat it…you don’t know where it’s been!