Friday, October 20, 2023

What's Going on With The Strange Ways?

Hello there, readers. It's been a while.
Well, that's a bit of an understatement. Where this years gone, I just don't know; it's flown by. 
Its been a few months since I've posted any updates here, so I thought it was time for one. The Strange Ways isn't dead, we've just been hibernating, waiting to rise from the dead in the new year like some cheesy B movie vampire. My little hiatus wasn't planned, and I apologise for not posting any updates sooner, but hang on in there. I've got plenty of posts planned for the new year, and I'm looking forward to getting back into writing. 
Keep your eyes peeled, NEW POSTS COMING SOON!

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

The Black Dog of Newgate.

The remains of Newgate Prison, photo by L Wall, 2023

Exiting the tube station at St Paul's, I immediately regretted not bringing my scarf and hat; it was bitterly cold. While not a long walk from the station, I still managed to get lost twice, even with the help of Google Maps. My destination? An unassuming and overlooked lane, inaccessible to the public and hiding an interesting piece of London's history. At the end of the lane, tucked away behind lush greenery and the bins, is an old wall. The last remaining wall of the infamous Newgate Prison. And, of course, it's haunted.

Opened in 1188 and closed in 1902, Newgate resulted from Henry II bringing in new legal reforms in 1166. Unfortunately it was poorly maintained and run, a place where you were likely to die of some horrible disease before you reached your trial date. Rich or poor, innocent or guilty, Newgates doors were open to all. Some of its more well-known inmates included Captain Kidd, Daniel Defoe and (briefly) Oscar Wilde.

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while, or have even been following me on Twitter and Instagram, know I'm a sucker for a Black Dog story. So it should be no surprise that when I came across this gruesome tale my interest was peaked. Not your typical spectral hound, the story of the Black Dog of Newgate hits a bit differently. Rather than being an omen of doom to all who see it, this pooch was only interested in one thing, revenge.

Our story starts during the reign of Henry III, amid a terrible famine. People were struggling and suffering from the lack of food, but the situation was especially dire for those locked in Newgate Prison. As criminals they just weren't a priority when it came to supplies and had been getting so little that some had resorted to cannibalism. Despite being aware of this, the authorities were still sending people to the jail, and one of these unfortunates was an unnamed Scholar. The starving inmates of Newgate took the phrase "fresh meat" to a whole new level when they attacked and devoured him. Had they known that the Scholar had been sent to prison on charges of sorcery, they probably would have left him alone, but he was weak, and they were desperate. Little did they know that this monstrous act would come back to haunt them.  
First, prisoners reported seeing the Scholar himself wandering the prison, but man's true vengeance would manifest in the form of a ghastly black hound. The beast had glowing red eyes, and gore dripped from its tooth-filled maw as it stalked the corridors of Newgate. While the sight of it alone was enough to make a few of the weaker men drop dead of fright, others faced a much more terrifying fate. The hound turned vicious when it got bored of toying with the prisoners. It would appear in locked cells, then tear the men inside to shreds before vanishing. Imagine the horror of the prisoners as, night after night, their cells were filled with growls, blood-curdling screams and the sounds of men being torn limb from limb. 
Horrific as the attacks were, one thing soon became apparent. The Dog was only attacking those responsible for the Scholar's murder, hunting them down in the jail's darkest corners, hell-bent on wiping them all out. 
Upon realising this, the surviving murderers panicked. Together they organised a jailbreak, killing some of the prison guards in their desperate scramble for freedom. They would have been hung if they had been re-arrested, which would have been a mercy. Unfortunately for them the Scholar's wrath wasn't limited to the walls of Newgate, and you can't outrun four legs on two. All of the killers were hunted down and slaughtered. When its task was completed, the Black Dog returned to Newgate Prison, where it seems content to lurk up to this day. 

This gruesome tale could easily be the plot of a horror movie, but allegedly it's a true story. Our first written account of the Back Dog of Newgate was from a pamphlet (or chapbook.) published in 1596 by a highwayman named Luke Hutton. This was likely a pen name with a false backstory attached as an attempt to boost sales, as books written by criminals were popular even back then. The story might pre-date publication, but we don't have the original version as proof, which would have been told word of mouth. It's doubtful that it resembled the fantastical story that was published. If it was a pre-existing tale, then it's more likely that it became exaggerated over time till it became the horror story we know today. But one fact remains, true or not, people claim to have seen the hound. There have been sightings of a shadowy, dog-like thing slinking around the remaining wall. Reports include a terrible smell*, not unlike that of death, and the sound of footsteps. The area itself is meant to have a strange atmosphere. 

While certainly not one of London's most well-known ghost stories, I'm pretty fond of this tale of revenge from beyond the grave. I came across the story by chance, on Tik-Tok of all places. I got curious and had to look into the tale more. After that I couldn't resist a visit to the location. Sadly, as I've said previously, the site is not accessible to the public, so I couldn't get any closer than I did in my photo, and even that was zoomed in a bit. 

Have you ever been to this location and witnessed something strange or supernatural? I love to hear your stories! Tell us about them in the comments section below, or tag me in a Tweet!

The Black Dog of Newgate

* The wall is near some bins, so they might have been responsible for the Terrible Smell in more modern times. Either that or it's terrible dog breath, and we need to break out the paranormal pedigree dentastix.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

(A Slightly Belated) January Update

2022 is over, flown past in a blink of an eye. I don't think I've ever known a year go past so quickly. Fingers crossed 2023 takes its time, goes a little slower. And I hope it's a good year for you all. Happy New Year, dear readers.
As always, I'll be taking January off to make plans for the blog in the coming year. Those plans are rough ones as they're often subject to change, not something that bothers me. As a result I wont be giving you any clues about what I'll be writing about just yet. There's one thing I can say though, and that's that I'm hoping to visit more of the places I'll be writing about. Who knows, maybe I'll have some weird and wonderful experiences to share with you all. This will start with Februarys post, as this week I'm off in search of a little, often missed ruin that's allegedly frequented by a ghostly hound. 
Wish me luck?

Saturday, December 24, 2022

The G.O.A.T

Whether you've seen it in travel guides or on social media*, there's no denying that the Gävlebocken, or Gävle Goat, is pretty impressive. 
So, what's the purpose of this giant straw goat, and why are people so desperate to set it on fire?

Photo by Wordshore, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Simply put, the Gävlebocken is a giant Swedish Yule Goat. You might be familiar with these straw goats, as they've now started popping up alongside the usual Christmas decorations for sale, only a lot smaller than the big guy.**
While its origins are unclear and often speculated on, it's most likely that the Gävlebocken has links to the Vikings, with many believing it to be a representation of Tanngnjostr and Tanngrisnir. These goats pull Thor's chariot.

Standing at 13 meters in height, this festive straw beast has been an official yearly tradition in the town of Gävel since 1966 and was intended to bring more tourists and trade to the area. There's no denying that it's been a success. If you want to visit, you can find the Goat in Castle Square, erected four weeks before Christmas.
The unofficial tradition of burning the Gävlebocken to the ground has been around for as long as it has, with the first incident taking place in 1966. The Goat isn't meant to be burnt; it's meant to be stored and reused. Setting the Goat on fire, or vandalising it in any way, is classed as a crime which will result in jail time and/or a heavy fine. The torching of the Gävlebocken has been linked to drunken dares, misunderstandings, general vandalism and some people mistakenly believing that burning it will bring luck in the coming new year. Sadly, while many arsonists are caught and charged, more have gotten away with it. If the damage isn't too bad then the Goat can be repaired, though in some cases replacements have had to be made. I'd say that, on the bright side, some years the Goat hasn't been burnt down, but in the chaotic timeline of the Gävlebocken, that still doesn't mean it survived.

The Gävlebocken Timeline: from past to present.

1966 The Gävlebocken is erected for the first time and also burnt for the first time

1967 Survives.

1968 Survives.

1969 Burnt.

1970 The Goat survives six hours before being burnt down.

1971 The Goat is smashed up, and the culprits were never caught.

1972 The Goat collapses due to sabotage.

1973 The Goat is stolen. However, it's a bit difficult to hide a giant straw goat, and it was eventually found.

1974 Burnt.

1975 Presumably, due to some flaw in its construction, the Goat collapses under its own weight.

1976 Someone rams their car into the Goat, causing it to collapse.

1977 Burnt.

1978 The Goat is kicked to bits. Sad, but still an impressive feat of strength. That's a sturdy-looking goat!

1979 Burnt before construction was even finished.

1980 Burnt.

1981 Survives.

1982 Burnt.

1983 Attempts were made to burn the Goat, but luckily only the legs were damaged.

1984 Burnt.

1985 Thanks to tightened security, this Goat had a group of armed soldiers guarding it. That didn't stop it from being burnt down.

1986 Burnt.

1987 Attempts were made to fireproof the Goat. It didn't work.

1988 Survives.

1989 The first Goat doesn't even reach completion before being found and burnt. A replacement is made but doesn't fare any better than the first.

1990 Survives.

1991 Burnt.

1992 Only survives 8 days before being burnt, so a replacement goat is built. And burnt.

1993 Survives.

1994 Survives.

1995 Burnt.

1996 Survives.

1997 Fireworks are fired at the Goat, but it survives with minimal damage.

1998 It survived a terrible blizzard, but determined arsonists still managed to burn it down.

1999 The Goat survives a record two hours before being burnt.

2000 Burnt.

2001 The Goat is set alight by an unfortunate American tourist, who thought they were participating in a Swedish tradition, not realising it was illegal.

2002 Survives.

2003 Burnt.

2004 Burnt.

2005 Two people dressed as Santa and a gingerbread man fired burning arrows at the Goat.

2006 Survives.

2007 Survives.

2008 Burnt.

2009 There are multiple attempts made to burn the Goat. The last one is a success thanks to hackers taking out the webcams being used to watch the Goat, giving the culprits time to get in there and set it alight.

2010 An attempt to steal the Goat via helicopter was prevented when the culprits were caught trying to bribe the security crew to turn a blind eye.

2011 The people building the Goat attempt to fireproof it by soaking it with water. This failed, and the Goat burnt.

2012 Burnt.

2013 Burnt.

2014 Survives.

2015 Burnt.

2016 The Goat is burnt. And then, to add insult to injury, it gets hit by a car. Again.

2017 Survives.

2018 Survives.

2019 Survives.

2020 Survives.

2021 Burnt.

2022 ???

These days the Gävle Goat is well guarded, with a fence, security cameras and a dedicated security team. Still, this hasn't deterred the would-be arsonists, and neither has the prospect of jail time or a hefty fine if caught.  

At the time of writing this post, the Gävlebocken was still standing and unburnt.

*It even has its own Twitter page!
**Mine came from IKEA. He was not, thankfully, flat-packed.

Friday, November 11, 2022

Sideworld: Damnation Village

It's the season for ghost stories, something Sideworld does with style. Having loved their last two documentaries, Haunted Forests of England and Terrors of the Sea, there was no way I would pass up the opportunity to watch and review their latest film. And, as usual, in a time when so many paranormal documentaries are cut from the same mould, Sideworld always steps up to the challenge of bringing us something fresh and exciting to watch.

Accompanied by stunning cinematography and enchanting music, George Popov is back to act as our guide into the land of the sinister and eerie. With the help of voice actors William Poulter and Helen O'Connor, he leads us down cobbled streets and lonely pathways in search of the spirits that dwell there and the secrets they hold. But where are they taking us this time?

Pluckley, Kent.
Known as England's most haunted village, it's hard to find a location in Pluckley that isn't home to a ghost. From full-blown apparitions at the local church to spine-chilling screams in the surrounding woodland, this beautiful little village has many stories, some darker and more tragic than others.

Prestbury, Gloucestershire.
Phantom funeral processions, terrifying old ladies, the tragic spirit of a local jockey, and many more call this village home. Prestbury's biggest mystery lies not in why it's haunted but in what kind of haunting is occurring. Are these sentient spirits, or is history repeating itself in Prestbury?

Eyam, Derbyshire.
The village that, when falling victim to the plague, chose to sacrifice itself to save the lives of others; the people of Eyam decided to isolate themselves to stop the disease from spreading to nearby towns and cities. This location has soaked up so much grief and tragedy, it's no wonder it's haunted.

While I've wanted to visit Pluckley and Eyam for ages, I'd not heard of Prestbury before and was delighted to discover somewhere new. That's the beauty of these documentaries; the Sideworld team excel at introducing viewers to ghost stories that they might not have encountered before, and the stories you already know are examined from a fresh perspective, presenting new facts and theories. As a result, the scientific side of hauntings is taken into consideration, looking into the topic of Residual Hauntings or Stonetape Theory and explaining them in a way that's easy to understand. This was unexpected but fascinating and enjoyable to watch, as I feel this isn't a side of the paranormal that gets enough attention or is usually not explored in depth.
If Damnation Village is your first experience with this series, I highly recommend watching the other two episodes. Damnation Village is a stunning addition to an already addictive series, full of intriguing stories, with an excellent narrator and cinema-worthy visuals.

A ghostly tour de force, Sideworld has bought us a chillingly delightful exploration of the haunting world of real-life folk horror. Damnation Village is just what you need to lift your spirits on those dark Autumn/Winter nights, and the series keeps getting better with every new addition. I can't wait to see where George Popov and the Sideworld Team take us next! 

Sideworld: Damnation Village is available to buy or rent on Prime Video!

Directed and Narrated by George Popov.
Produced and Written by Jonathan Russell.
Voice Acting: William Poulter and Helen O'Connor
Cinematography: Richard Suckling
Music: Matthew Laming 
Original Art: Todor Popov
Website: Sideworld

Monday, October 3, 2022

Halloween Creature Feature

It's Spooky Season, and Halloween is fast approaching. Stuck on what to watch? Looking for something new and spooky? Or just need some movie inspiration? Take a look at my list of 31 horror movies, one for every day of October. If you want to weigh in on these movies or have any recommendations of your own, feel free to leave a comment or tag me in a Tweet.

1 - Pumpkinhead
Horror and tragedy often go hand in hand, but Pumpkinhead handles the two incredibly well. A grieving father seeks vengeance after his son is accidentally killed by some teens in a hit-and-run. With the assistance of a witch, he summons a demon to hunt down the people responsible but soon finds himself feeling remorse, as his link to the creature means he experiences the ensuing horror as it takes place. And the only person who can end the carnage is him.

2 - The Evil Dead
If you went to a cabin in the woods with your friends and found a creepy cellar filled with occult goodies and a voice recording that's likely to unleash literal hell on earth, would you:
A. Leave it alone, continue enjoying your break and never speak of it again.
B. Play the recording and mess with the mysterious artefacts.
Unfortunately for Ash and his friends, they chose B, freeing a race of ancient demons known as the Deadites. They probably should have stuck to a nice package holiday, but a film like that wouldn't have led to a series of cult movies, a TV series and multiple games. There's also a reboot, but I recommend starting at the 1981 original.

3 - Hellraiser
A must-watch with the reboot being released on the 4th of October. A Clive Barker classic, this dark and bloody horror is perfect for Spooky Season. Moving into her husband's childhood home with him, Julia soon realises that the worst thing about the house isn't that it's a bit of a fixer-upper; it's haunted by her long-lost lover, her brother-in-law, Frank. Having summoned a group of sadistic demons, he's now escaped them and enlists Julia's help in resurrecting his earthly body with human sacrifices. It's up to Julia's stepdaughter, Kirsty, to stop the duo's murderous rampage. That is if she can survive her family and the demons pursuing them.

4 - Critters
Think Lilo & Stitch...if Stitch was a group of hungry, murderous fuzzballs who have just escaped a maximum security interstellar prison and have landed on earth with no intention of beings friends with anyone. Gore galore in this excellent galactic comedy horror.

5 - The Decent
One of the most claustrophobic movies I've ever seen. A group of friends goes caving, but their trip soon turns into a nightmare as they find themselves trapped deep underground. As if that wasn't bad enough, it turns out that they aren't alone down there. The caves are inhabited by a race of subterranean humanoids, and they're hunting the girls.

6 - The Cabin in the Woods
Remote woodland cabins are never a good idea; horror movie fuel every time. A group of college students retreat to a cabin in the Woods, determined to relax and party, but their good time soon gets ruined as they fall victim to a family of zombies. But that's the least of their problems, as there's more going on here than meets the eye. Quick, clever and a little bit different to your average monster movie.

7 - Tremors
The classic monster movie that launched multiple sequels, a TV series and an as-of-yet unreleased TV series. Earl and Val are tired of their boring lives in their run-down little desert town, so they leave, searching for better things. However, their attempt at starting new lives for themselves is scuppered as they come across the horrifically mangled remains of some other locals and workmen fixing the road outside of town. What they initially take for the work of a serial killer turns out to be the result of something much worse, and Earl, Val and the townsfolk soon find themselves involved in the world's worst game of The Floor Is Lava.

8 - The Ritual
I'm not going to lie, Moder is one of the most well-designed monsters I've seen in a long while. Four guys go on a hike after the tragic death of their friend, but bonding goes out of the window when they take a regrettable shortcut.

9 - Willy's Wonderland
A mysterious, energy drink addicted stranger takes a job as a cleaner in an abandoned amusement center in exchange for repairs to his broken-down car. As if cleaning the place wasn't hard enough, he has to deal with a group of well meaning teens and a gang of killer animatronic critters at the same time. If you're a fan of the FNAF games then you'll love this manic, gory, funny horror movie.

10 - Dog Soldiers
Nobody warns a group of soldiers on a military exercise about what happens if you don't stay off the moors and beware the moon. The other best Werewolf movie in existence. Terrifying monsters, characters you'll want to survive and, eventually, no Spoons.

11 - The Unnamable
Another film based on a story by H. P. Lovecraft by the same name. Two groups of university students head to their town's local haunted house, one to party and the other to find their missing friend. While the house has been rumoured to have been haunted since the 18th century, the two groups soon discover that they're up against something worse than a ghost. A demon had been sealed in the house for decades, but now it's loose and angry.

12 - 13th Child
There aren't that many good movies about the Jersey Devil out there, but I'm sure there are some. This isn't one of them, but it is a fun watch for Spooky Season. People are being murdered, seemingly by an untraceable assailant with superhuman strength. Intrepid District Attorney Murphy sets out to solve what could be the most significant case of her career but soon realises that the killer she's hunting is far from human.

13 - The Thing
If you're worried about what will be found as the ice caps melt, this might not be the movie for you. A research team on a remote Antarctic base find themselves besieged by an unknown creature that can mimic any living thing...or any living person. As tensions run high, they battle fear and paranoia in an attempt to stop the Thing before it can kill them all and escape the base.

14 - Antlers
Teacher Julia takes a particular interest in the well-being of one of her students, Lucas, as she fears the boy is being abused. Her investigation soon takes a horrifying turn because Lucas is guarding a dark and terrible secret, one that's about to get out.

15 - The Mist
A father and son, David and Billy, become trapped in a supermarket when a strange mist takes over the town. To their horror, they and the other people stuck in the building discover that the abnormal weather condition is home to a large variety of hideous creatures, all of which are preying on the helpless humans trapped within the store. As tensions rise and the attacks grow more frequent, some of the humans inside become just as dangerous as the monsters outside, and the real fight for survival begins. A word of warning, the ending of this movie is heartwrenching.

16 - It Follows
And it has no intention of stopping until it's killed you. In this chilling and dreamlike film, Jay finds herself cursed after sleeping with her boyfriend. Chased by a creature that only she can see, which can take on any form it pleases, she and her friends find themselves in a race for time to stop the Thing or at least slow It down.

17 - The Reanimator
Based on the H. P. Lovecraft story Herbert West - Reanimator, this 1985 comedy horror is one of my all-time favourite movies. When medical student Dan puts out an advert for a new flatmate, and the position is taken by new student Herbert West, his life takes a turn for the bizarre and horrifying. Herbert isn't just any ordinary medical student. He's a modern day Doctor Frankenstein obsessed with halting death itself, but the only way to advance scientific theories is to test them out, and their medical school offers plenty of opportunities to do just that. As everything spirals out of control, Dan finds himself dragged along for the ride.

18 - The Fly
More mad science with 1986's The Fly, a reboot of the 1958 film of the same name. Scientist Seth Brundle decides the best way to test his new teleportation tech is on himself, but in the process finds his DNA fused with that of a fly. Although nothing seems wrong initially, Brundle soon finds himself mutating into a grotesque hybrid. Can he save himself, or is he doomed? 

19 - Killer Klowns From Outer Space
We can all agree that clowns are creepy, but what if they were worse? What if clowns were aliens from outer space that had come to earth to feed on the citizens of a small American town? That's the problem our heroes face in this cheesy 1988 horror comedy. Well worth a watch, especially if you intend to play the game based on this movie, due in 2023.

20 - American Werewolf in London
Two college students discover what happens when you ignore people's warnings to stay off the moors and beware the moon. Friends David and Jack are on a walking holiday in England when they're attacked by a Werewolf. Although Jack is killed, David survives, waking up in a hospital in London where he suffers from terrifying hallucinations and dreams. By the time he realises that he's become a werewolf, it's too late, and David is loose in the city. 

21 - Gremlins
You'll never want an exotic pet ever again after watching Gremlins. Billy is gifted an adorable new pet by his Father, a sweet fluff ball named Gizmo, who comes with a simple set of rules to follow when caring for him. Despite this, two of these rules get broken, unleashing a hoard of maniacal Gremlins on the town. Far from being mischievous, these little creeps are out for blood, and it's up to Billy and Gizmo to save the day.

22 - The Mummy
The 1999 classic, not the 2017 flop. Egyptologist Evelyn Carnahan dreams of discovering great archaeological treasures, especially in the lost city of Hamunaptra. In an attempt to find the city she enlists the help of her brother Jonathan and a charming rogue, Rick O'Connell, who knows the city's location. The trio compete with other archaeologists seeking treasure and accidentally set free a cursed Egyptian priest, Imhotep, who was mummified alive. Now the race to find treasure becomes a race to save not only the world from the vengeful Imhotep, but also Evelyn because Imhotep is convinced she's his lost love reincarnated. This much-loved monster movie is iconic and perfect for any moviegoer.

23 - Ravenous 
The most subtle kind of monster is the one that appears human. A bloody, dark comedy with an insane soundtrack, Ravenous is an enjoyable introduction to Wendigo mythology. Sent to work at Fort Spencer, Captain John Boyd is soon involved in a mission to rescue a lost party of settlers when a lone survivor finds their fort. It becomes apparent that the party has been cannibalised, and the one responsible has lured them there for his next meal. Before he knows it, Boyd's promotion turns into a nightmarish game of cat and mouse between him and the sinister killer Colquhoun.

24 Fright Night
An excellent horror comedy and the perfect Halloween monster movie. Teenager Charley loves horror, but things get a bit too real when he discovers his charismatic new neighbour is a vampire. Although people are clearly dying, nobody believes Carlie when he tries to tell them what's happening, so he decides to slay the beast himself, enlisting the help of his friends and washed-up horror host Peter Vincent to do so.

25 - Night of the Demon
Released in 1957, this is the oldest film on this list, but I highly recommend it. Based on the M.R James story Casting the Runes, it follows Doctor Holden as he arrives in England to attend a convention and finds himself investigating the mysterious death of a colleague and possibly cursed by the cult that may have been involved with it. Even if you haven't heard of this film before, you might still be familiar with it thanks to the Kate Bush song Hounds of Love, which opens with a sample from the movie; "It's in the trees! IT'S COMING!"

26  - Frankenstein Theory
A team of documentary makers discover that Frankenstein is based on a true story, thanks to one of them possibly being his only descendant. The crew set off to Canada to investigate some possible sightings of what could be the infamous monster, but in their attempt to separate fact from fiction, they end up biting off more than they can chew. A fun-found footage movie; a little low budget, but enjoyable.

27 - Lost Boys
Sometimes people fall in with the wrong crowd, but Michael takes it a bit too far when he finds himself in too deep with a group of bikers, who also happen to be vampires. Luckily for him, while he was messing around with the creatures of the night, his little brother Sam was making friends with the local vampire hunters. A mix of dark comedy and thrilling horror, it's hard to find a more perfect vampire film than this.

28 - Night Breed
Have you always sided with the monsters instead of the humans? Then this film from the mind of Clive Barker is for you. Dark and strangely beautiful. While a brutal serial killer haunts the city where he lives, Aaron Boone is haunted by dreams of a mysterious place known as Midian and feels strangely drawn to the place. Because of these dreams he's been seeing a psychiatrist, Doctor Decker, who's the one responsible for the killings, but pins the blame on Boone, persuading him that he's the one responsible. Rather than hand himself in to the police, Boone goes on a quest to find Midian, believing that it's the only place he can find the answers and peace he seeks. Meanwhile, he's pursued not only by the police and his loyal girlfriend but by Decker, who isn't finished with him yet.

29 - The Return of the Living Dead
A clumsy duo of employees in a medical supply company accidentally crack open a barrel full of chemicals, releasing dangerous gas into the air. This gas gets mixed into the rain outside, soaking into the local cemetery and resulting in the bodies returning to life, searching for delicious brains.

30 - Ginger Snaps
Being a teen is hard, especially if you're the odd one out at school, but things get more complicated for sisters Ginger and Brigitte when, on their way to prank a school bully one night, they are attacked by an unknown creature. Ginger is bitten by the beast, and as she begins to go through some weird changes that can't be blamed on puberty, it becomes clear that her attacker was a Werewolf. The race is on for Brigette to save her sister before the upcoming full moon, but can she do it and does Ginger really want to be saved?

31 - Trick r Treat
A delightfully ghoulish collection of tales, interwoven into a true Halloween classic, with monsters abound. Some of those monsters, however, are more human than others. Beautifully shot and brilliantly acted, this film is a true love letter to Halloween and quickly developed a cult following. Fans have been after more for ages and got good news recently when director Mike Dougherty announced that he's involved in active development with Legendary Entertainment on a sequel. I can't wait to see what that will be like, and I'm sure you'll be looking forward to it after watching this.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Sideworld: Terrors of the Sea

Summer is here, the weather is glorious, and what better place to spend your time than the coast? But away from the crowded, golden, sandy beaches, you'll discover a whole new world. A world rich in stories of the supernatural, thanks to our unique and sometimes turbulent relationship with the sea. These stories have a different feel to the ones with their roots inland, somehow darker. A little more feral. The spirits here play by their own rules. 
Want to wade into this new area of the paranormal, and cool off in the hot weather by sending chills down your spine? Well, you're in luck because Director George Popov and Rubicon Films are back with the latest in their Sideworld documentary series, Terrors of the Sea. If you didn't have Thalassophobia before watching this well-crafted and beautiful documentary, you will have after.

The Plot
Like my review of Sideworld's first documentary, Haunted Forests of England, I don't want to give away too much. This is a no spoilers zone so as not to ruin anything for anyone wishing to watch the documentary for themselves. After the treat that was Haunted Forests of England, I was really excited when they announced Terrors of the Sea. And, as predicted, they didn't disappoint.

Ghost Ships
Some of the most frightening spirits are things rather than people. This chapter covers a variety of ships, from the iconic Flying Dutchman to an ominous Spanish Gallion. Are these ships truly spirits? Or are they just doomed to reenact their demise for eternity? 

Sea Monsters
After this, you might reconsider your next paddle because here there be monsters. We've explored more of the moon than we have our own oceans, Sideworld introduces us to some of the many fantastic beasts that have been spotted over the years, but by the end of this chapter you might find the real monsters aren't the ones you expect.

The sea may be beautiful, but sadly it's a dangerous place for the unwary or unfortunate. Some of these spirits may have lost their lives on land, and some at sea, but none have any intention of resting in peace.

Taking many forms, are these really creatures of myth or are there more to these (fish) tales that meet the eye? Here we discover that despite their alleged habit of drowning sailors, it's usually the mermaids themselves who are mistreated by humans. While some of these creatures may have treated their captors with kindness, others have not been quite as merciful.

About the Documentary
Following the same style as the first documentary, four subjects linked to the main topic are broken down into a chapter-like format, which leads to a smoother viewing experience. This makes it easier to find and re-watch the tales being told and to find where you left off if you have to stop watching for some reason. I've already found this feature incredibly helpful living in a busy house. I'll often find myself pulled away from my computer for some reason or another, and being able to hop straight back where I left off has been fantastic.
Like the first documentary, Terrors of the Sea is filmed on location, and the cinematography is, once more, perfect. The stark beauty of the rocky coastlines and the restless ocean takes on an almost dream-like quality, shot with the same attention to detail you might find in a movie. Whether they're filming wrecks or lonely Cornish coves, you're left with no doubt that these are places where lost spirits roam and strange beasts lurk. This is complemented by a mix of atmospheric historical photos, eerie artwork from Todor Popov and other artists, and an elegant and haunting soundtrack by Matthew Laming, adding even more depth to the tales being told.
George Popov returns as our narrator, accompanied once more by actors William Poulter and Suzie Frances Garton. The stories they present blend historical ghost stories, facts and folklore. Expertly curated and narrated, chilling, and highly enjoyable. At the same time they're delivered with a care and reverence not often seen in programs about the paranormal. While there are a few stories here that I'd heard of before, I was delighted to discover that there are even more that are new to me. The Sideworld team put a lot of hard work into researching further information to share with their viewers, which has really paid off. 
This combination creates an enchanting program, the perfect mix of spine-chilling stories, myths and folklore. With its unique style, Sideworld: Terrors of the Sea has a fresh feel whilst still feeling like a selection of classic ghost stories. I can see this series becoming a cult favourite in and out of the paranormal community, one that people will return to for years to come.

Do I recommend checking this out? Very much so, I'd be lying if I said I hadn't already watched this episode more than once. Several times actually. Informative and fascinating, this documentary isn't just binge-worthy; it's part of a series you'll find yourself hooked on. Whether you're watching alone, with family or with your friends, Sideworld: Terrors of the Sea is a highly entertaining watch.

Available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Director: George Popov
Producer: Jonathan Russell
Starring: George Popov, Suzie Frances Garton and William Poulter
Music: Matthew Laming
Cinematography: Richard Suckling
Featuring art by Todor Popov, and others
Runtime: 1 hour and 11 minutes
Subtitles: English and Spanish
Made by: Rubicon Films