Archive for the ‘paranormal’ category

“Ghosts” On CBS…

September 6, 2021

From the ghost of Hamlet’s father to the Kirby’s on Topper, ghosts have always been compelling presences in entertainment. Now it seems that we are soon to be haunted by such spirits on Ghosts, a comedy coming to CBS appropriately enough in October.

Now Ghosts is adapted from a hit BBC series, and ghosts are no strangers to the British or their entertainment. The series Being Human was also translated to an Americanized version, with the characters including a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost. Ghosts will focus just on haunts, however, as a comic series and not as a paranormal “in search of“ endeavor.

The ghosts in question here inhabit a large Victorian estate recently inherited by a couple, Jay (Utkarsh Ambudkar), and Samantha (Rose McIver), who intend to convert the property into a bed and breakfast. When Samantha has a near-death experience, she acquires the ability to see and interact with the multitude of spirits who haunt her property.

And what a diverse crew these spirits are! One is a scoutmaster who wanders about with an arrow through his neck, another is a Viking explorer, a third a 60’s hippie, a fourth a militiaman, plus a prohibition-era lounge singer, and so forth. A number of the spirits have a certain unique power that can manifest itself in the world of the living; the Viking, for example, can cause electrical fixtures to sputter, while another can telekinetically move small objects.

There’s a touch of Beetlejuice here, but the ghosts are far more vulnerable, and have roommate issues. It hurts them when the living walk through them, plus in so doing we smell flatulent to them. It’s no piece of cake being deceased but earth-bound and not having been “passed on,” which is an aww moment.

So you may want to catch Ghosts, premiering on CBS October 7th. It could be a fun way to kick off the Halloween season… 🦊

The Tombstone Pterodactyl and Vintage Cryptids…

August 11, 2021

In the wild, weird west as well as in the present day, folks saw and reported strange beasties, such as the “Thunderbird” supposedly pictured here, reported by the Tombstone Epitaph in April 1890 which had reportedly been terrorizing Native American and local populations for some time. So a couple of good ole cowboys shot the sucker down, and are proudly posing with the carcass in the picture above, its wings extended to give you an idea of the critter’s size. It resembles a pterodactyl, which some contend never had become fully extinct, and which may upon rare occasion be seen from time to time

Trouble is, the newspaper in question lacked the capability of producing photos at that time, and the original of the photographic evidence has never been located. It is accordingly widely thought to be a vintage fake. Similar photos also exist of Civil War soldiers who supposedly also shot down a pterosaur or two.

So why, then, do such photos exist? The answer is simply that such stories sell newspapers, even if unaccompanied by a photo. They were simply meeting a public demand for the sensational while increasing their own profit margin. People tended to be a bit more gullible in the 1890’s, although there’s still no shortage of such folks today.

Now, I would dearly love to see Rodan grace the skies, but until we have scientific proof of the existence of such cryptids, we need to be skeptical of any and all such claims. If nothing else, they were entertaining then as now…and we want to believe!

The Guilty Pleasures of “Puppet Master…”

July 21, 2021

Horror as a genre is not for everyone, and even those of us who enjoy it have our favorite sub-domains. One of my favorite niche franchises is that of Puppet Master, now having produced over a dozen films since the first one issued in 1989.

Now calling these inspired creations “puppets” is technically incorrect as they are actually marionettes, although of the autonomous Pinocchio type that function without strings, or even direct human guidance. Crafted by old world-type puppet master Andre Toulon, these puppets are infused with the souls of people who died fighting the Nazis, and have an axe to grind against them and other rotten individuals. Toulon had picked up the trick of animating the figures with transmigrated souls through Egyptian magic, and as we know the ancients were quite concerned with resurrecting things. A glowing green brew with which he infuses his creations keeps them perking. Each of the anthropomorphic Puppets has a distinct appearance, personality and skill set.

Consider Blade here. Skull-like but not quite a skull, he’s inhabited by the soul of a German scientist and doctor who wanted to work with Toulon, but was shot by the Nazis. Now he operates with a hook as one hand, and a blade for the other, and is arguably the leader of the Puppets. He has kind of a Goth appearance.

Then we have Six-Shooter, undeniably well-armed with three sets of them each brandishing a pistol. Cast in the mold of a dastardly western outlaw, he can use his arms to climb walls, like Dr. Octopus of Spiderman infamy, and has a memorable hee-hee-hee laugh. Other Puppets include Jester, Torch, Pinhead, Tunneler, and Leech Woman (don’t ask). These are just a few of the regulars, who at times serve for either good or evil as protagonists or antagonists. It can all get rather confusing, and their universe is far from seamless.

The series has prequels, sequels, and cross-overs which add to the general mayhem and confusion. While a horror series with considerable gore, there’s a bit of leavening humor throughout. One leaves each viewing wondering what exactly they have seen, but this strange brew of Egyptian magic I find oddly invigorating and certainly offbeat…

“The Proof Is Out There” On The History Channel…

March 19, 2021

If you’re like me, you have an approach/avoidance conflict regarding shows on the paranormal and the unexplained.  On the one hand, you love them and feel drawn to them, but on the other, such shows can vary greatly in quality, and leave you feeling unsatisfied.  There goes another hour of my life that I’ll never have back, you may feel afterwards.  Some such shows are so poorly produced and documented as to represent intellectual dishonesty, and be basically hack entertainment.  We are, however, living in a time when fringe conspiracy theories are surprisingly in vogue, so perhaps art is imitating life once again.

“I Want To Believe,” declared a poster on the walls of Fox Mulder of The X-Files series, and this sentiment captured the yearning that many of us feel, but as intelligent skeptics we want to be convinced by proof, hopefully that which can stand up to scientific scrutiny.  Each classic X-Files episode included the legend, The Truth Is Out There.  Playing on this, a new series on The History Channel is titled, The Proof Is Out There.  Hosted by Emmy Award winning Tony Harris, the series is captivating and fast-paced, and it covers several unrelated features, all in the time of half an hour.  The oddball phenomena covered tend to be labeled as credible, not credible, or unexplained.

An episode sampled (S1, Ep5) included segments on the Skunk Ape, whispering sounds heard in a tomb investigation in Egypt, unexplained apparent structures and lines on the lunar surface, and a light phenomena in Texas.  The Skunk Ape segment examined a paw print found on a car window as well as a video supposedly of the creature.  Neither was found to be credible, but the series added that such doesn’t rule out the existence of the creature, but only that the evidence examined did not factually represent its existence.   The “tomb whispers” from Egypt were examined by both a soundscape ecologist and an Egyptologist, but were ruled to be unexplained.  Supposed dome-shaped structures on the moon were found to be consistent with the formation of impact craters, whereas lunar tracks were thought to be from an earlier Soviet rover.  Lastly, blue light found crossing a woman’s kitchen was regarded as unexplained.

With episodes running half an hour, there’s not a lot of inflation, wasted time, or “puffing” of content on the show, which can be so notable on similar features.  There’s economy here rather than padding. There is no unity or theme between the individual segments of it, which can be seen as a strength or weakness.  Overall, the series shows good production values, is intelligently done, thought-provoking if not earthshaking, and generally worthy of your time.  I rather think that Fox Mulder would have approved of this series… 

History’s Greatest Mysteries – Roswell: The First Witness – The Journal

December 15, 2020


The History’s Greatest Mysteries series is for me a mixed bag, with some episodes being captivating, and others less so unless you have a riveting personal interest in the topic under consideration such as D.B. Cooper or John Wilkes Booth.  The individual episodes are all rather expanded by most television standards for similar fare, clocking in at a movie-length two hours. Still, when the topic gets around to possibly new information on Roswell, the mother of all UFO sagas, my interest is definitely piqued, and I’m along for the ride.  That ride began with the Season 1, Episode 5 episode of History’s Greatest Mysteries titled, Roswell:  The First Witness – The Journal.

While what happened that July morning in 1947 in New Mexico will likely always be controversial and probably unknowable, we are left with the fact of rancher Bill Brazel finding his field littered with a massive amount of strange and unusual wreckage.  He wondered whose responsibility it would be to clean the wreckage up, and noted that his livestock avoided the debris field.  We animals have instincts about such things, ‘ya know! The rancher presented some of the wreckage to sheriff George Wilcox, who suggested reporting it to the military.

The first official military man on the crash scene was Jesse A. Marcel, an intelligence officer, who privately is reported to have thought that the debris was not of this world, and showed pieces of it to his wife and son, apparently retaining some.  The metal pieces were light but strong, and had shape-retaining characteristics when efforts were made to crush them.  Fiber optic-type filaments were also recovered that were unknown at the time, as were I-beam items with strange, hieroglyphic-type inscriptions on them. While the local authorities initially leaked stories that the military had a “disc” in its possession, the story was soon recanted and replaced by a government military version that the wreckage was nothing more than fragments of a weather balloon.  Jesse Marcel was reportedly sworn to secrecy by the military, and forced to participate in a cover-up.  Local residents were also reportedly warned to keep quiet about the incident or be charged with treason; surviving locals of the time continue to be tight-lipped, but generally convey that there’s more to the incident than the official account; they won’t talk, but will give you under the table a name of someone who will.  Mac Brazel, the son of the rancher, was said to have been forced to give up what crash debris he possessed, and to keep quiet or face imprisonment.  Agents appearing for retained debris reportedly said they wouldn’t take it from the family, but wouldn’t leave without it.  

Now Jesse Marcel kept a private handwritten journal which was cryptic, with speculation made that it may have held coded clues as to what actually transpired in the Roswell investigation.  The History Channel investigative team led by Ben Smith, a former CIA operative, consulted a forensic document examiner, who found that the document was genuine, and entirely written by Marcel. 

Using a magnetometer and ground-penetrating radar, team geophysicists investigated the Roswell debris field scene, finding a patch of ground with a high magnetic reading, a distinct anomaly. In a future upcoming episode, possible hidden clues in the journal and other questions regarding the Roswell incident will be further considered.  The History Channel investigation is hampered by incident details being strewn over three generations of people, with many key players being deceased and hard evidence not available. Whatever beliefs one may have about the veracity of the government’s account of Roswell, the eyes of Jesse Marcel as he poses with the “weather balloon wreckage” in the vintage photograph below appear to speak volumes…


 

“History’s Greatest Mysteries” on The History Channel

November 14, 2020

 

If you, like myself, are drawn to strange stuff, and might confess to watching an occasional episode of MonsterQuest or Ancient Aliens, you might be interested in a new show scheduled to debut on The History Channel in my area Saturday night November 14th at 9:00 p.m., History’s Greatest Mysteries.  Featuring Laurence Fishburne who will both host and narrate, the series will get into some of the strange and loose ends of history, such as the Roswell incident, the Shackleton Expedition, the sinking of the Titanic, and similar stories. 

The first episode will get into the strange story of hijacker D.B. Cooper.  While not all episodes are likely to be equally intriguing, they’re going to have three episodes alone on Roswell, for cripes sake!  I’ll withhold my coveted Pawprint of Approval rating until I’ve actually seen a few episodes, but History Channel usually does have good production values, and this new series just might be worth a look… 

 

 

“Real Vampires” on MonsterQuest…

November 6, 2020

 
We can’t all be vampires, much less Dracula…some of us are just children of the night, and I can live with that.  It’s not that I dislike vampires, it’s just that I’m much more of a werewolf guy! Besides, we children of the night have a hell of a band, being know for our music.  Alright, now we’re just a garage band, but watch for our breakout album…

…that being said, MonsterQuest recently aired a new episode titled, Real Vampires.  Now vampiric legends exist in 95% of human cultures, with the oldest originating thousands of years ago in China and India.  Kali the Hindu goddess was one such example.  A word of warning that some gruesome things covered in the episode follow…

Flashing forward to more modern times, we have the case of “JB,” who was buried in the 1800’s in Willington, Connecticut.   His remains were accidentally discovered in 1990, and his body exhumed due to its unusual condition, which included the remains being mutilated, with the corpse decapitated, the ribs broken, and the thighbones disarticulated and placed into an “X” formation on the chest…some people thought that they were destroying a vampire here.  Modern forensic investigations found that the poor soul had suffered tuberculosis, revealed in the thickening of his rib bones.  Terminal tuberculin victims cough up blood towards the end of the disease progression, which to the unenlightened may have suggested a blood feeder rather than a disease victim.

New England vampiric beliefs likely came from eastern Europe, where in Hungary in the 16th century, Countess Elizabeth Bathory,  the “Blood Countess,” was obsessed with maintaining her fading youth and lured young girls into her service over a twenty  year period of time, later torturing and killing them and bathing in and drinking their blood; she would be convicted of 80 counts of murder, and is thought to have been one of the most prolific female serial killers in history.  In 1784, the Johnson children were exhumed to presumably break a vampire curse, which often involved removing and burning or destroying internal organs of the deceased.  Years before Bram Stoker wrote Dracula, a woman called Mercy Brown in 1892 was exhumed two months after her death due to suspected vampirism, and had her heart cut out, burned to ashes, and fed to her brother, the gruesome ritual failing to prevent his death from tuberculosis, then called “consumption.”

So what gives with these people?!  Mysterious plagues, superstition, and a lack of scientific understanding can drive people to do strange and horrendous things.  Disease processes and even human decomposition were poorly understood, with such things appearing paranormal to those unfamiliar with them.  Rigor mortis and then the subsequent relaxation of muscular tissue after death can cause corpses to move somewhat, with the gases of decomposition also causing bloating and at times the expulsion of bodily fluid through the mouth that can appear blood-like.  Subsequently, those looking for vampires could appear to find them through changes in the corpses of deceased individuals. – – Get the torches, pitchforks, and stakes ready, we got us an “undead” vamp here!

Even more recently, a “vampire clan” operating in Eustis, Florida in 1996 killed the parents of one of their disciples, their leader drinking small amounts of the blood of the victims.  “Clinical vampirism” has professionally been recognized as a delusion that the blood of others is needed to survive.

After examining this extensive but not exhaustive history, MonsterQuest last examined the phenomenon of psychic vampires, who reportedly feed off the life force of others and are not themselves “the undead.”  A psychic investigator shown on camera during the episode found that a so-called psychic vampire could slightly affect a measured electromagnetic field in an interaction with another person that they were “feeding” off.  I think that many of us know people who can drain the energy out of a room by entering it…

The legend of vampires is embedded in popular culture, and involves power over someone or something else.  Portrayed over the ages as anything from outsiders to dark heroes, vampires symbolize a deep human hunger…

 

 

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…

 

 

 

 

Movie Night with Casper the Friendly Ghost…

October 21, 2019

I’m not a big fan of Casper the Friendly Ghost.  It’s not that I have anything against him, it’s just that I prefer my ghosts to be scary if not outright terrifying.  Casper may be friendly, but I find that annoying, and so he is to me in this Geico commercial, in which young couple Kurt and Jill are preparing to enjoy a movie in the living room of their new house…

“I can’t believe it,” says Jill.  “You can’t believe that our house is haunted by ‘Casper the Friendly Ghost?,'” replies Kurt.  At that moment, Casper enters the scene, cheerily greets the couple, notices the movie, and enthusiastically invites himself to go get some snacks.  He then returns with popcorn, announces the other varieties of it that are available, and sits or hovers there on the sofa back between them, stuffing his face and making a pig of himself.  Jill then clarifies herself to say that she can’t believe how much money they’ve saved on their car insurance with Geico.

Perhaps the couple could invest some of those savings to hire Ghostbusters to get rid of this pest, who even chews loudly.  This ghost is a milquetoast, not a proper haunt, and his cuteness gets cloying very quickly…

 


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