Archive for the ‘mysteries’ category

The Osbournes Want To Believe…

September 28, 2020

 

 

 

The Osbournes Want To Believe is a strange combination of reality and paranormal shows airing on the Travel Channel.  Why is it on the Travel Channel?- – Who knows?!  Why is wrestling on the SyFy channel?  The series does “travel” in the sense of airing paranormal film clips filmed in different locations, I suppose.  Each episode is filmed with three members of “The First Family of Darkness” sitting on comfy oversized red chairs in a rather gothic-styled room, complete with black accents and lots of candles burning.  Patriarch Ozzy is there, complete with wife Sharon and son Jack.  There’s also a Pomeranian dog or two resting on one of them or a chair armrest, and moving so little that you wonder if they’re alive.  Ozzie wears a black knit hat decorated with skulls, often looks on the verge of falling asleep, and occasionally chugs large mugs of coffee to perk up a bit, requiring bathroom breaks.  His speech is often accompanied with subtitles as he can be, well, difficult to understand.  Sharon and Jack are readily understandable, and seem like sharp people who could pass in regular company.  Ozzie may have seen better days.

In each hour-long episode, son Jack who is involved in paranormal investigation shares videos with his parents who then comment on them, and rate each on whether they are creepy and credible on a ten-point Woogie Boogie scale.  The videos may be supposed to represent a variety of things like ghosts, UFO’s, and cryptic creatures such as Bigfoot or reptilian humanoids.  Predictably, the images seen on the videos are brief, blurry, and jumpy, filmed by amateurs. 

With low production values of the footage, this is certainly not a scientifically rigorous presentation of any of the unexplained paranormal phenomena.  Experts or professionals are nowhere in sight, and son Jack is the glue who holds the show together and advances it.  The show does not take itself seriously, and doesn’t pretend to.  It does grow on you, however, and is just strange enough to be fun, even if the Osbournes are now about as scary as The Munsters show of the 1960’s…

“The UnXplained” with William Shatner…

March 1, 2020


Originally debuting in July 2019, The UnXplained with William Shatner is now presenting new episodes on the History Channel, and while yet another paranormal show, it brings a measure of quality to its presentations that many similar shows have lacked. Without naming names, such shows can often be poorly done and even cheesy, simply trading on the presence of a receptive audience desperate to believe.

That’s not a problem with The UnXplained, which has solid production values anchored by the iconic presence of William Shatner.  This is hardly Shatner’s first rodeo with the paranormal, and he’s been kicking around our television screens since the 1960’s, so one can excuse him for looking a bit tired.  We’ve all looked better for the most part, at least those of us who are past our twenties.  His creepy narrations with an underlying note of whimsy reveal that the Shat is still where it’s at, so warp speed ahead, Captain!

Now The UnXplained is for us paranormal buffs more of a reunion with family than a presentation of new material.  You’re unlikely to see or hear new topics here, but rather a smooth and balanced presentation of familiar ground, with nothing dwelt on or belabored excessively.  A consideration of cryptozoology transitions swiftly and smoothly between Chupacabra to Mothman to species thought extinct but not, and we’ve even seen many of the commentators, experts,  and witnesses before on other shows…it’s a nothing new here, but gee, it’s nice to see you again kind of thing. The lure of the familiar is undeniable.

The UnXplained succeeds in its purpose of being entertaining if not illuminating, and it’s marathon season debut episode of four hours can really fill a dull evening.  So catch William Shatner’s latest mission to strange if familiar worlds on The History Channel, and be kind to him.  After all, “Klingon bastards” killed his son…

 

 

 

 

The Ozark Howler…

June 7, 2019

The Ozark Howler as profiled on In Search of Monsters (Season 1, Episode 10, the Travel Channel) ranges in the dense forests of the Ozark mountains, and is a large feline-type creature traditionally described as having black fur and horns, and equipped with razor-sharp claws and teeth. In some accounts, he also sports glowing red eyes, with which it can give a “death stare.”  In spite of this, there are no reports of a Howler attack on people!  As his name would suggest, the Howler has a cry described as unsettling, uncanny, and terrifying.  A family in Missouri has recorded this cry, and it can’t be identified.  Some speculate that the loud and focused cry is a form of communication between other members of the species, suggesting that there is more than one individual member.

Game camera images also exist supposedly of the creature, images which a wildlife expert could not identify.  In 2015, other photos of an unidentified, horned creature were also taken that could not be identified (below).  These images appear to be of a smaller, less terrifying creature, and some regard them to be photoshopped although the photographer adamantly denies this.

The history of the Howler gets interesting, with witches known to have been active in the Ozarks once upon a time, and one such witch reputed to have had a horned familiar.  Is the Howler then a supernatural entity created by witchcraft?!  None less than Daniel Boone in 1810 described shooting and wounding a black, horned creature.  More mundane speculation is that the Howler is a black mountain lion, leopard, or jaguar.  Winters in the Ozarks are judged to be too harsh for a leopard or jaguar to survive, however…

The Ozark Howler should not be confused with the Midnight Rambler, which was a Rolling Stones song not heard often enough. As my mind moves in strange directions, however, I can imagine myself visited by the Midnight Rambler, a terrifying late-night cryptid who arrives uninvited and engages in pointless conversation when you only want to sleep. “Just get to the point, dammit…either that or kill me and end my misery, OK?,” I pleaded. (What passed for a grin moved momentarily across The Rambler’s face. He fed off human misery, and had no intention of ending my suffering.)  “Let me tell you about what I had for lunch yesterday,” he began as I pounded my head against the wall, and prayed for the sweet release of death that would escape me…

 

Expedition Unknown: Hunt for the Yeti

April 6, 2019

Expedition Unknown featuring Joshua Gates can provide a quality presentation of paranormal topics and investigations that are anchored with both science and history, and attractively mounted.   I tend to pass on episodes involving such things as treasure hunts, while pursuits of legendary creatures have me on board.  In one such episode recently presented titled Hunt for the Yeti — Everest Yeti Hunt, Josh started his journey in Kathmandu, heading high into the Himalayan mountains of Nepal to obtain scientific evidence of the Yeti.  

Hopping from one village to another, Josh wound up in a monastery reportedly having a Yeti scalp in their possession that had been there for 200 years, and kept in a closed and locked case.  After back and forth negotiations with the temple high lama brokered by a monk, Josh was allowed to see and physically examine the scalp, and even remove a single hair for later analysis.  A second monastery was later visited that at one time had claimed to possess a Yeti hand, one digit of which was stolen to have been later followed by the entire hand.  Today, only replicas of the hand reconstructed from photographs may be seen.  While the hand has been lost, analysis of the finger conducted later reflected human DNA, and the hand itself is felt to have come from the body of a deceased Himalayan climber discovered in the past.

There are an abundance of human eyewitnesses to the Yeti, and Josh at times through interpreters talked to a number of them, including a farmer who claimed to have lost over a dozen yaks to the Yeti, their remains being found torn apart.  Searching through the surrounding woods, Josh and his team did find yak bones strewn about in the woods.  Josh himself thought that he saw movement and perhaps a shape beyond a stream, but found nothing by the time he forded the raging waters.  The team did collect some scat and hair from suspected Yeti “nests,” and hopefully will be picking up on this story in the future.  Until that time, there are a variety of eyewitnesses but no conclusive evidence of the Yeti’s existence…

 

“Strange Evidence” Predator Resurrection

February 10, 2019

The Strange Evidence series on the Science (SCI) channel is one of the better shows currently televised on unexplained phenomena and scientific speculation. If somewhat uneven and episodic, the shows have decent production values and offer commentary and opinions by scientists as well as observers of the topics under consideration.  It’s a mixture of the far out and things that just might be possible; I like it!

With each installment comprised of several segments, the S1/Ep10 offering included camera trap footage taken in Tasmania in 2016 of an animal unfamiliar to observers that may have been a Tasmanian tiger, a species thought to have been hunted to extinction in the 1930’s with the last specimen in captivity (above) having died in 1936. Actually a marsupial, the Tas tiger was wolf-like with stripes and a long, inflexible tail. Due to the low resolution of the film taken, experts consulted could not conclusively identify the animal present, and thought it might have been a quoll, which is a smaller carnivorous mammal common to Tasmania.

So is the Tasmanian tiger still out there?  I remain skeptical, but stranger things have happened…

“Project Blue Book” A Winner!

January 17, 2019



Think of a real-life X-Files series set in the 1950’s, and you’ve got the gist of what this ten episode dramatic series on The History Channel is like…and boy, did they get the period atmosphere and flavor right, down to the home decor and guys going everywhere in hats!  In addition to careful and authentic detail, there is superb acting and engaging scripts based on actual Project Blue Book investigations.  Aidan Gillen known for Game of Thrones gives a wonderful characterization of J. Allen Hynek, a brilliant but underappreciated professor called in by the government basically to put cases to rest but finding that science can’t explain everything away. He is pressured by his assigned partner Air Force Captain Michael Quinn (Michael Malarkey) who in turn is pressured by military higher-ups to produce the desired investigation outcomes.  It’s all there, including shadowy “Men in Black” figures lurking in the background, and glimpses of a UFO hidden in a government hanger.  

Episode 2 concerned an investigation of The Flatwoods Monster, a close encounter of the third kind which occurred in West Virginia in 1952 and about which I blogged here way back in 2010.  The incident was previously highlighted in an episode of the late great series, MonsterQuest.  Anyways, in this Project Blue Book treatment Dr. Hynek explains away the alien sightings as being of an owl up in a tree so as to appear ten feet tall, but is beginning to doubt his own explanations as the episode ends and he is hustled off the case.  Future episodes will probably depict the continuing evolution of the character, and I look forward to seeing it, commending the series for your viewing…

 

“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…