Written by Peet Banks
One day, in August 1966, Jorge da Costa Alves was out flying his kite near his home on Vintem Hill in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, when he came across the bodies of two men. Both were lying on their backs, dead, wearing water resistant trench coats. Each had a crudely made lead mask covering their eyes – the kind used to protect from radiation. There didn’t appear to be a struggle, so what happened?
The men turned out to be Miguel Jose Viana and Manuel Pereira da Cruz, two friends who worked as minor electricians. Three days before they were discovered they had told their families that they needed to go and buy supplies for their business, and hopped on a bus for the three hour journey.
When the police came to investigate the bodies, they noted a few other strange things nearby, such as two towels in a packet, an empty water bottle and a notebook with a cryptic message scribbled inside. Translated into English, the message said: “16.30 be at the agreed place. 18.30 swallow capsules, after effect protect metals wait for mask sign.”
So what did they take and why did they need protection from radiation? The autopsy reported that there was no known cause of death. Of course, it’s possible the tablets they swallowed killed them – but we will never know because for some reason there was no toxicology done on the deceased.
Investigations turned up a few more clues. The shop where they purchased their trench coats was found, and the bar where they bought their bottle of water. The waitress remembered the pair, and also remembered that they seemed very edgy, and always looking at their watches, as if they were running late for something.
There have been many theories over the years as to what happened. Was it just that they were simple and easily manipulated by somebody, making it simpler to rob them. They did not have any money on their persons when their bodies were found, so it could be possible.
Or did the victims have an interest and belief in time travel, thinking they had discovered some kind of doorway to other times? Did they buy the coats and lead masks to protect themselves from whatever they may find?
The most popular theory is that they were quite intense UFO believers, and that they were on the Hill to make ‘first contact’ with an alien race. It is well known that they were intrigued by the idea of alien life, had researched sightings, and that the Hill where their bodies were found was even a UFO hotspot.
Where the story gets really interesting is that because it created such media hype, many people came forward to tell of the strange things they had seen in the sky while on Vintem Hill.
Did aliens kill Manoel and Miguel? I guess we will never know.
Written by Peet Banks
I’ve always had a theory about past lives. If past lives exist, I believe that those times and places in your current life that you’re most fascinated with is a time you have lived in. If my theory bares any truth, than I died in the horrible volcanic eruption that smothered Pompeii, because I have been truly fascinated with it for as long as I can remember.
So naturally, when my sister and I planned our trip to Italy, Pompeii was at the very top of the list of places we had to visit. So much so that when we got off the plane from Germany, it was the first stop!
We hired a car, and my daring sister braved the Italian highways as we made our way to Pompeii. The car ride itself could be a whole other article, but I will spare you the details...
The plan was to check in to our hotel, clean up, change, then wander down the road to the ancient ruins. Our plans were ruined (pardon the pun) when the hotel wouldn’t let us check in for another five hours, so instead we used the lobby bathroom to change into summer clothes (it was about 42 degrees), and then spoke to the concierge about how to get to the archaeological site.
In my mind Pompeii was a ruin in the middle of nowhere. I envisaged that you would drive to the ruins, park in the parking area, and then make your way in. Therefore I was very surprised to find suburbia and a shopping district completely surrounding it for miles. Seriously. It’s smack bang in the middle of the town. I don’t know why this surprised me so much, but it did.
The concierge told us the best place to park, and we followed her directions. This ended up being a bad decision. We thought all was going well because we found a spot in the car park, and the entrance was only a five minute walk away. We entered the gates and saw a queue of people, lining up to purchase tickets. On either side of the lines were dusty, glass buildings, and inside those buildings were the plaster casts of the people they found in the ashes.
We took photos while lining up in the heat of the day, and assumed all was well – until we got to the ticket office. No audio guides. No English maps. I had not travelled half way around the world to not know where I was or what I was seeing. We asked the attendant where we could get an audio guide and they told us at the entrance around the corner, so we decided to set off and find the correct entrance.
We walked. And walked. And walked. Forty-five minutes later we saw an entrance that had busload after busload of people heading through a gate.
“This must be it!” we thought, already exhausted from the long walk in the midday sun.
We followed the crowd like two ignorant sheep, and it wasn’t until it was too late that we discovered that once again we had come to the wrong entrance.
By this stage I didn’t care about the audio, I just wanted to go inside. Therefore, our visit to Pompeii was not everything I had hoped it would be, but it was still magnificent.
The ancient Roman city of Pompeii was completely covered a thick carpet of volcanic ash in the year 79AD. Mount Vesuvius, a volcano close to the town, erupted. The first thing to happen was the explosion. The Volcano ejected a large amount of debris at least 12 miles into the sky. To put it in context, that was more than double the size of Mount Everest. This covered the township in volcanic ash 16 feet deep.
After that hot, deadly pumice and volcanic ash (at an estimated 704 degrees Celsius) came rolling down the mountain at 112km per hour. Those who may have survived the initial blast could not survive this. Nobody could survive that kind of heat. That’s four times hotter than your average cooking temperature for a roast lamb!
The eruption lasted for 24 hours, and it was estimated over 2,000 people died.
The eruption, and subsequent devastation turned the land into a time capsule. Those who died remained in the position they died in until 1748 when a group of explorers rediscovered the site and were surprised to find that underneath a thick layer of dust, the city was mostly intact!
Archaeologists recovered art, clothing, pottery and of course, the famous casts of the bodies of those who died.
But is it haunted? HOW COULD IT NOT BE?
The weirdest thing that happened to me was the heatstroke I got. I started to get a migraine, which quickly turned into “I’m going to vomit” feelings. My sister dragged me to the first aid centre, much to my reluctance, and convinced the medics to give me drugs.
“You like paracetamolo?” I was asked in broken English. By that point I would’ve taken their first born child had the offered it, so I said yes.
They put one tablet in my hand, and I thought that it would do exactly nothing. WOW... so Italian Paracetamol is a lot stronger than the stuff you buy at the chemist for $1.00 a packet! Twenty minutes after taking it I was bouncing off the ruins, having the time of my life and seeing stars!
The Pompeii ruins close at dusk, but we waited until the very last minute before saying goodbye and heading back to our hotel. It was an amazing experience, and I hope that by the time Mount Vesuvius erupts again (which WILL happen, it is long overdue), scientists have managed to discover an early warning plan to enable the hundreds of thousands who now live in that area to evacuate!
More photos from Peet's Pompeii visit
Elie on David Bowie
David Bowie, a name synonymous with greatness. Originally David Jones, he decided to change it so as not to be confused with another star who also tragically passed a few years ago, Davy Jones of The Monkees. His career would soon capitulate into stardom.
I didn't discover Bowie until my late teens, thanks to my mum who was a fan. I have many memories of playing his hit song, "Sorrow" while cleaning the house with my mum as well as "Under Pressure" with another fallen great, Freddie Mercury.
Bowie first came to stardom with his album hit "Space Oddity" with many more hits to follow. As well as a talented singer/songwriter, Bowie was also a natural actor, perhaps best remembered for his lead role in "The Labyrinth", a favourite of many generations of fans.
Bowie will be remembered for his innovation, rejection of traditional image and gender, amazing character personalities, and of course, his music.
David will always be a hero, not for a day, but until the end of time, joining all the other legendary musicians 2016 has taken away from us...
Tina on Prince
Prince (prince Rogers Nelson), was a great man and inspiration to many. Being a singer,a songwriter,a record producer and a multi instrument player he touched most people's hearts in all walks of life. I vividly remember growing up with my older sister playing prince songs (on records) in the lounge room and her bedroom singing along with every word. The movie purple rain was an influential movie to me. It showed me that not every thing in life will be perfect, not everything is forever.
His music was the sound track to a generations life and the ripple effect of his stage presence set a precedent for what a performer should strive to reach at Evey Concert they perform. With over 1oo million albums sold world wide and winning an uncountable amount of awards including being introduced into the rock and roll hall of fame in 2O04 why wouldn't you as a performer want to reach this level of respect and admiration.
He taught me that different isn't bad,different doesn't mean that you should hide,be loud and be proud of who you are. Be eccentric and stand out,make a difference. His support in female artists was next to none in the music industry and was encouraging for a then very young me a positive roll model for a male wanting to include and recognize females and their talents. In a world of red roses be the purple Lilly. Prince left this world at the age of 54 years young (too young) and I have no doubt that his musical mark will be a permanent reminder that just because someone said no doesn't mean you can't do it. It simply means you have to show them why you need to do it.
Party like its 1999 prince, ride in that little red corvette, wearing your iconic purple leather jacket and I'll remember each year to blow you a kiss when doves cry and I see purple rain.💜
Peet on Alan Rickman
Although I'm sure this wasn't the start of his career, my first memory of Alan Rickman was those immortal lines "I'm going to cut your heart out with a spoon". He made the very best Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves. I always remembered him after that. Every time I'd see him in a movie, I'd think "That was the dude from Robin Hood."
Then, of course, came Harry Potter. I am a mad Harry Potter fanatic. I am Hufflepuff all the way, and the books are like my bible. So when Mr Rickman first appeared as the devious Severus Snape, I was entranced. Snape is not meant to be loved, and the fact that he has such a huge following is testament to Alan Rickman's acting skills.
When I found out, in that final book that everything Snape ever did... like, EVER did, was for love - my heart just broke. And when I heard that Alan Rickman had died on 14 January 2016 - my heart broke all over again.
"After all this time?"
Danni on Alan Rickman
I think for me Alan Rickman's death had hit me hardest. I fell in love with the character Professor Snape from the Harry Potter book series first, then when Rickman made his Harry Potter film debut appearance as Professor Snape in 2001 it was done; sold; finalised! I was in love. That voice, his talent, the way he perfectly captured what I envisaged as a teenager, Snape to be. Snape to me was a misunderstood character; a young, different and unusual boy who grew into a begrudging and harsh teacher at Hogwarts. A man who felt the sting of unrequited love and built walls to protect himself.
Rickman was from a humble working class background and made his way into theatre pretty much the same way I did. Reading, influence, the magic of the stage and wonders of creative writing fueled his passion. So I followed his footsteps; dreamt of the day I trod the boards of a theatre and wrote for the stage. His ability to so artfully demonstrate comedy and tragedy was what I wanted to do with my theatre. Have the ability to make others laugh and cry all the while experimenting with all things art and theatre. From the Sheriff of Nottingham in "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" right through to the absurdism of Samuel Beckett's "Play", I enjoyed every bit of Rickman's theatrical choices in life. Rickman once said in an interview, "I never said no", and I try to this day to follow that advice when chasing the dream. This was how he influenced my life. Below is a taste of Alan's absurdism. The theatre/film world lost a legend to cancer January 14, 2016 and it feels like yesterday I shed a little tear for this loss.
Jonathan on Zaha Hadid
For me, 2016 was the year the world lost one of its most innovative and groundbreaking architects, Zaha Hadid.
For those who may not have heard of Zaha, some of her well-known works include the London Olympic Aquatic Centre and the Riverside Museum in Glasgow. The British designer, passed away aged 65, after suffering a heart attack while in hospital in Miami in March where she was being treated for bronchitis.
Zaha’s buildings have been built all over the world and she paved the way for women looking to do something amazing in a male dominated profession.
Zaha was the first architect to really have a lasting impression on me. Unlike most designers, her work blossomed from inconceivable creativity, which was beautifully manifested graphically in her art, and finally born into stunning reality as her projects got built. She was an individual of great courage, conviction and tenacity.
Zaha once said, “You have to really believe not only in yourself; you have to believe that the world is actually worth your sacrifices.”
I was privileged to be able to visit a few of her buildings in the UK this year – a wonderful and befitting way to say ‘Goodbye and Thank you’ for inspiring me to be who I am.
Alex on Leonard Cohen
I did my best, it wasn't much // I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch // I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you // And even though it all went wrong // I'll stand before the Lord of Song // With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah
Leonard Cohen (Canadian singer, songwriter, musician and, poet) died the 7th of November 2016. He was 82.
Leonard Cohan was very much on my mind when he passed as new cover of Hallelujah by an American A Cappella Pentatonix has just been released and just Bob Dylan just in October has been award the Nobel Prize for Literature "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition". Leonard and Bob's work and contribution to music were often compared and there isn't a cover of Hallelujah I don't love so Leonard and his dark voice and words were very much on my mind.
What I have always loved about Leonard's songs and lyrics is how they appeared defeatist, I know that sounds incredibly sad but he always seemed to embrace the worst so very well and leave us not necessary with chin up look on the bright side but instead a reminder that from the bottom this is really only one way to go and that is up. This was very evident in how he explored political, justice and war themes. I could also relate to how torn and changeable he was on these themes, sometimes he was ready for the gritty fight and other times he was a sweet hippy speaking of love and peace time. To me, he always seemed very in tune with what was going on and how he was feeling and in that way a true artist using art to reflect back to world what he is seeing.
Like a bird on the wire, // Like a drunk in a midnight choir // I have tried in my way to be free.
Peet on Gene Wilder
When the news broke on 29 August that Gene Wilder had died, a piece of my childhood went with him.
I know Gene was most well known for his portrayal of Willy Wonka, but my main memory of him really just relates to him. It's of being a kid, and seeing my mum laughing so hard she had tears streaming down her face. We were watching a show called "Hanky Panky" - not one of his most well known, but definitely one of the funniest. To see my mum that happy imprinted on my brain and it's something I will never forget, so thank you Mr Wilder.
Another honourable mention that also made an impression on me was "Hear No Evil, See No Evil" where he played a deaf man and teamed up with Richard Pryor, who played a blind man... hilarity ensued! This was one of four movies they made together, their comedy genius bouncing off each other.
Gene was born on 11 June 1933 and named Jerome Silberman. Back in the days when real names weren't chic enough, he changed his name to be more appealing and received an Oscar nomination for his first major role in Mel Brooks' "The Producers".
When Gene died, he left the world with a true legacy in the form of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles - amongst many others.
"A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men."
- Willy Wonka
Amanda on Carrie Fisher
When a celebrity dies many people say 'why are you sad, you didn't know them' but whilst we may not have known them personally, these people touched our lives and gave meaning to certain times in our life.
Once such person for me was Carrie Fisher. With her portrayal of Princess Leia I was shown, as a young girl, that a woman can be a formidable person, a kick ass, bad ass leader of the rebellion who stood up for what was right and took no shit, and Carrie herself was no different!
Her advocacy for mental illness and drug addiction showed everyone that these topics needed to be talked about, discussed and brought into the public eye. Many parts of her life were put on display in her autobiography Postcards from the Edge.
Carrie will always be Princess Leia to me even though she has a vast movie history and to sum up my feelings..
"I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened. "
One of my favourite quotes from Carrie is “I don’t want life to imitate art. I want life to be art.” something we should all remember and live by I think! I will forever be sad that we won't get to see her grace our screens again after Episode 8 or hear her views on the world.
Let it be reported that Carrie drowned in moonlight, strangled by her own bra.
Vale Carrie Fisher 21.10.1956 - 27.12.2016
Written by Peet Banks
So you’d better watch out, you’d better not cry, you’d better not shout I’m telling you why… Krampus might come and throw you into his sack and make his Christmas Dinner out of your remains!
Written by Peet Banks
The History and Haunts of the Castel Sant’Angelo, Rome
In August 2016 I was fortunate enough to visit Europe – with Italy being on the agenda. Accompanied by my sister, there were so many places on our ‘to do’ list, Pompeii, Naples, the Vatican and St Peter’s Basilica, and of course the Colosseum and the Roman Forum.
Our journey through Italy is a whole other story – one fraught with laughs and near misses (for those who have been – you know what I mean when I say ‘Italian Drivers’), and I loved every second of my time there, and especially when I discovered ‘the surprise’.
During our whole time in Rome (about five days), I kept seeing this magnificent, round castle, sitting in a prominent position on the skyline. I had no idea what it was, and didn’t even know that there was an old castle in the middle of Rome. I had heard of all the other tourist destinations of course, except this!
The building, with its round edges, and its striking statue of an angel sitting right on the very top of it, kept calling to me.
One night my sister and went on the Dark Rome Ghost Tour. I say ‘night’, because it was 8pm, but in all honesty it was still daylight, which was a little disconcerting for a ghost tour. We met on the steps of an ancient church, not far from the Pantheon, and began our walking tour of the streets of Rome, the night sky obliging by darkening as we went.
The tour was amazing! A little too theatrical for my taste, but incredibly informative and full of some great stories! It ended at the Castel Sant’Angelo – the amazing castle I had been seeing in the days prior.
“Finally” I thought. “Finally I get to find out about this place and go inside!”
Alas it was not to be. The tour concluded on the bridge, with a ghost story of a girl who had been tortured in the Castle, walking across the bridge, holding her head in her hands. The story goes that only men of bad character can see her, so if you are able to see her, go and rethink your morals!
As the people on the ghost tour dispersed, my sister and I made our way to the entrance. It was after 11pm by this stage, and the gates were still open. We spoke to a lovely attendee on the gate, who advised us that the castle closed at midnight. Looking at the size of it we reluctantly decided that it wasn’t to be, and headed back to our hotel.
A few nights later, our last evening in Rome in fact, we discovered that our plans had changed. We were hoping to do the Underground Crypts, but they were booked out (always prebook where possible in Rome), so we had nothing to do. And then it came to us…. LET’S GO TO CASTEL SANT’ANGELO.
I have to say that in all of my 41 years I have wanted to visit Italy. In my mind, I have always wanted to walk around the Colosseum, visit the ruins at Pompeii, marvel at the Sistine Chapel and talk behind my hand about the wealth of the Vatican – but of all the places I visited in Rome, the Castel Sant’Angelo was BY FAR the best. This place is an investigator’s DREAM.
A bit of history about the castle…
Castel Sant’Angelo was initially built as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian (he of the famed Hadrian’s Wall in the UK). So to begin with, like so much in Rome, it is old. Really old. It is estimated to have been built around 123AD.
In its long life it has been a funeral castle, a prison, a papal residence in renaissance times and a museum. It was Rome’s most fortified area, and believed that those who held it had the whole town at their mercy.
Legend says that when the plague ravaged Rome in 590, St Michael appeared on the top of the fortification, heralding the end of the plague. This encouraged artist Raffaello da Montelup, in 1536, to create a marble statue of St Michael, brandishing his sword after the plague. Raffaello’s statue was replaced with a similar one in 1753, and that is the statue that calls out to you as you slowly wind your way up to the roof of the castle.
Pope Nicholas III was responsible for building the Passetto di Borgo (or Roman corridor). It is a wall with a passage inside it up the top, which leads from the Vatican Walls to the Castel Sant’Angelo. It was built so the head of the Church could take refuge in the castle in times of need. It happened! Pope Alexander VI (or Rodrigo Borgia as he was also known) used the passage to lock himself into the Castle when Rome was invaded by Charles VIII of France in 1494.
Pope Clement VII (Giulio de Medici) also used the passage in 1527 during the ‘sacking of Rome’ which was carried out by mercenaries.
The building holds the National Museum of Castel Sant’Angelo, which is fascinating! There are rooms recreated to look as they would’ve in days gone by. There are statues and hidden doorways all throughout the building. We spent hours there, and I’m sure we really only just scratched the surface.
The night we explored the castle, it was virtually empty. I would guess that perhaps there were about 15 people wandering around its vast hallways and staircases. The structure is massive, and you have complete freedom of access to much of it. It only cost us 10 euro to enter, and we could have stayed for hours and hours. In summer months it is open until Midnight, so all those who are visiting Rome – get yourself there! You can’t miss it! On the upper levels there is also a café/restaurant with tables seated along the battlements, facing St Peter’s Basilica.
As we were virtually alone we did conduct a few vigils. I was so adrenaline pumped at being there, surprised by the fact that I had never heard of it, and amazed at how wonderful it was that I didn’t fully concentrate on the investigation side of things. I was too busy staring around me in starry eyed wonder. My sister though… she was petrified! She did not want me to leave her alone. She wanted to walk up the stairways ahead of me because she felt like there was someone behind her, and she was absolutely on edge and kept expecting to see people walking through doorways that were firmly shut and calling out to her. I had never seen her quite that on edge, so I take that to be a good sign of spirit activity!
It would be a dream come true to return to the Castel Sant’Angelo with my full case of equipment, lock me in for the night and investigate! I know that there are so many stories those walls want to tell, and I look forward to the day I return.
Some more photos from Peet's visit to Castel Sant'Angelo
Written by Peet Banks
If you live in NSW, if you know anything about the Paranormal Scene, you’d know of Dan McMath – a paranormal legend in the field. Dan lives on the south coast of NSW with his awesome wife and 2 kids. He wears many hats – he is a Paranormal Investigator with G.H.O.S.T, a presenter with GOO and instigator of mayhem at the local club. Plus Dan is a huge Cronulla Sharks fan, in other words, patience is his biggest virtue! I asked Dan a few questions, just so those who don’t know him can see what a charming, funny man he is.
What is the most interesting piece of paranormal evidence out there, in your opinion, either historical or recent?
Hmmm. To be honest, I think places like Nazca in Peru and Puma Punku in the highlands of Bolivia defy rational thought. The ancient peoples from those areas built structures and created monoliths that were designed to be seen from the sky. Considering man could not fly back then, it's very intriguing. Many ancient civilisations believed in 'sky people' and 'sky gods', so it's not too much of a stretch to think that these ancient people were trying to communicate or signal extra terrestrial beings. I believe those structures are evidence of something many don't want to entertain.
What is your favourite venue to investigate?
My favourite location. That would have to be Berrima courthouse in the southern highlands of NSW. It holds a special place in my heart as it was the very first location i conducted my first real investigation. It's also the place where I got what I believe were a few class A evp's. My wife Kate was mentioned by name on an evp and was told to "Go home". On our second visit, Kate's name again appeared as an evp. We also engaged in 'knock once for yes' communication with a resident ghost. Yeah, it's definitely still my fav!
Now on to The Haunting Hours... this is the perfect medium for those who love the Paranormal. Not only are you a serious investigator, but you also play music to die for. What was your inspiration for The Haunting Hours?
I've always wanted to be on radio. I've always had a passion for music. Combine that with my love of the paranormal and experience of investigating, and you get The Haunting Hours. It all really came about by chance. I run promotions at my local club and was dealing with the local community radio station. One afternoon I spoke to one of the head honcho's of the station and expressed that I wanted to do a show on the station, possibly a late night time slot. I had my answer within seconds! And what more could I want? I get to talk about my experiences as a paranormal investigator, hear what others have witnessed, joke about a bit and also get to play the music I love! Quite simply, it's a radio show that I would listen too.
Do you find you receive some great feedback? The Paranormal is such an interesting topic.
Always great feedback from the listeners, or “deadites” as they’re referred to on the show. People with the same passion for the weird and same tastes in music.......mostly! They are loyal and best of all, a big part of the show. Their comments on the fb page during the broadcast are great to relay, and we always have a lot of fun.
Now to finish with some silly questions...
If you were a biscuit, which would you be? If I was biscuit?
Wow, that's quite a complex question. Hmm, let me see. Probably a scotch finger. I snap easily and fall apart when its hot.
If you could take one celebrity ghost hunting with you, who would you take?
I'd love to investigate with Scarlett Johansson. There shouldn't be a need to ask why.
You can listen to Dan on The Haunting Hours every Wednesday from 9:30pm to Midnight on Triple U FM. Tune in live online here (http://www.shoalhavenfm.org.au/).
Written by Peet Banks
It’s the weekend, you’ve worked hard the money (so hard for the money) all week, and now you want to do nothing else but sit on the lounge, eat pizza and binge watch some television... but what do you watch?
There are more than enough reality TV shows out there, coupled with CSI style shows and hospital dramas. But what about a television show that will give you the creeps, get your adrenaline pumping, and maybe make you feel a bit frightened to look down your darkened hallway at night?
Here are my pick of eight ‘paranormal/supernatural’ themed TV shows that you really should check out!
Synopsis: Apparitions is a BBC drama about Father Jacob Myers, a priest of the Roman Catholic Church, played by Martin Shaw, who examines evidence of miracles to be used in canonisation but also performs exorcisms. As he learns, Jacob's duties run deeper than just sending demons back to Hell; he later must prevent them all from escaping.
Unlike most portrayals of exorcism and spirit possession in fiction, Apparitions is more religiously accurate and fact-based, incorporating the nature of demonic possession as described by the Church. It also recounts historical events associated with Christianity and other Abrahamic religions, which may have been caused by (or directly influenced) Heaven or Hell, indicating that the War described in the Bible may not have fully concluded. (Wikipedia)
My thoughts: This TV mini-series is pretty old, airing in 2008, but I could not put this list together without including it. I watched it around the time it aired, or maybe a few years after, and it has never left my mind. Evil is everywhere, and it is trying to influence Father Jacobs in everything he says and does. His life is a constant struggle between good and evil, with his own church standing in his way at times. We watch Father Jacobs cross the line between redemption and vengeance and for the six episodes of this show I was glued to the spot and could not look away.
The only problem with Apparitions is that you won’t find it on free to air or streaming tv channels. If you google it, you may find other sites which will stream it – I did a quick search and found a few.
2. Stranger things
Synopsis: This thrilling Netflix-original drama stars award-winning actress Winona Ryder as Joyce Byers, who lives in a small Indiana town in 1983 -- inspired by a time when tales of science fiction captivated audiences. When Joyce's 12-year-old son, Will, goes missing, she launches a terrifying investigation into his disappearance with local authorities. As they search for answers, they unravel a series of extraordinary mysteries involving secret government experiments, unnerving supernatural forces, and a very unusual little girl. (Google)
My thoughts: I think I’m one of the few people in this world that didn’t think this show was the most amazing show ever! Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it! A lot. It was a great show. I just don’t understand why it got so much hype. My main problem with the show was that the big reveal, with the monster etc, happened three quarters of the way through the season, so the final few episodes were really just wrap up episodes, and there was no twist or extension etc. Still worth watching.
Synopsis: The series focuses on Lucifer Morningstar, "who is bored and unhappy as the Lord of Hell and resigns his throne and abandons his kingdom for the beauty of Los Angeles, where he gets his kicks helping the LAPD punish criminals". Lucifer runs a piano bar in Los Angeles called "Lux", with the assistance of his demonic ally Mazikeen or "Maze". After a minor celebrity whom Lucifer once helped achieve fame is murdered outside his club, Lucifer becomes involved with the LAPD when he takes it upon himself to assist Detective Chloe Decker in finding the one responsible so that he can "punish them". (Wikipedia)
My thoughts: This show MUST BE WATCHED. It is so fantastic! So basically, Lucifer Morningstar, aka The Devil, is bored with his job in Hell. He decides to live a hedonistic, indulgent life on earth and basically goes on strike. Together with his trusty side-kick demon Maze, they run a nightclub in LA, and he has the ability to make people tell them their deepest, darkest desires.
Step in the Detective Decker, an ex-Actress and someone who continually resists Lucifers charms. This show is consistently enjoyable with the right mix of comedy and drama.
Synopsis: Two brothers follow their father's footsteps as "hunters" fighting evil supernatural beings of many kinds including monsters, demons, and gods that roam the earth. (IMBD)
My thoughts: The first five seasons of this show were amazing! The end of season five was climatic and epic and heart breaking – and that is where the series should have ended in my opinion. Because of the eye candy and the general theme of the show I struggled on, and watched the next five seasons as well. There were a few stand-out episodes in those seasons, but as a whole, it was a constant chore to make myself watch it. I gave up in Season 10. They are currently showing season 12. Maybe one day I will try again, because you can’t help having a soft spot in your heart for Sam and Dean Winchester with their trusty angel slash puppy Castiel, but sometimes a show goes long past its expiry date and I believe this is one of those shows.
Supernatural has the biggest fandom of any show out there at the moment, and I understand why they want to milk this puppy for all its worth – but honestly, how much can two young(-ish) guys take?
Synopsis: James Hayes is a small town policeman. He is called to the local cemetery in the middle of the night, after six people have inexplicably risen from the dead in perfect health. With no memory of their identities, they are determined to discover who they are and what has happened to them. James and one of them recognise each other, and along with local doctor Elishia McKellar, James struggles to keep the case hidden from his colleagues, his family, and the world. The six people are all linked in some way, and the search begins for someone who knows the truth about how and why they have returned. (Wikipedia)
My thoughts: This show has it all! It’s creepy. It has mystery, it has darkness, and there is a secret out there just waiting to be exposed! I’m not normally a fan of Australian television, but this one was really enjoyable! It’s currently on Netflix if you want to check it out. In saying that, I did see a LOT of parallels between it and US shows, The Returned and Resurrection.
Synopsis: A young man searches for answers as to why he's been suffering from supernatural possessions his entire life. (IMDB)
My thoughts: Love The Walking Dead? Outcast is by the same brain! Instead of zombies walking around eating and infecting people it’s about a guy who has been surrounded by demonic possessions all his life and he wants to know why. His Mother, wife, friends have all been possessed and he’s not dumb enough to ignore the pattern. He seems to have some kind of supernatural power which assists in driving the demon out – but is this power a force of good or evil?
The cinematography for this show is glimpsed at in it’s opening sequence, creepy cities upside down, every day things given a paranormal twinge (who knew a supermarket could appear so creepy etc). I have only just started watching Outcast and I know it’s going to be up there on my list of shows to watch weekly! It’s creepy, it’s demonic, and most of all, IT’S SCARY.
Outcast was aired on FX, Foxtel in Australia.
7. The Good Place
Synopsis: When a tractor-trailer carrying erectile dysfunction products strikes and kills Eleanor Shellstrop, she's surprised to find herself in the "good" area of the afterlife. She quickly realizes she has been mistaken for someone else when her wise, newfound mentor tells her she earned her place by helping get innocent people off death row. She decides that she wants to shed her old foul-mouthed and hard-drinking ways and find a way to embrace the good person within -- at least when she isn't considering finding a way to return to her mundane existence back on Earth. (Google)
My Thoughts: This is my new favourite show! I’ve been a fan of Kristen Bell ever since Veronica Mars, so when I heard she had made a new show I immediately got on that and checked it out. And man was I not disappointed! This has a great cast, with Ted Danson playing the character equivalent to God – in a public servant kind of way. This is one of those shows that you wish was an hour long, and not 22 minutes. It captivates you so completely that when it’s over, you feel kind of lost.
8. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Synopsis: Buffy is a Slayer, one in a long line of young women chosen for a specific mission: to seek out and destroy vampires, demons and other forces of darkness. Unlike her predecessors, Buffy establishes a group of supportive friends who aids her in her battles with evil, including Willow, Xander and Cordelia. Her battles with evil are frequent, since Sunnydale, where Buffy and friends live, sits atop a gateway to the realm of the demons. (Google)
My Thoughts: I have loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer for a thousand years – well it feels that long. This show will always have pride of place in my heart and will remain to be my very favourite show. I discovered Buffy at an emotional time in my life, and watching it became escapism for me. That quickly turned into an obsession – and I had to know everything that there was to know about Sunnydale, Buffy, the Vamps and all the moral and life lessons those kids learned.
I guess you could say that Buffy and I grew up at the same time – although her character was younger than I was when it was aired – I watched her grow, and my life was changing as well. Buffy is one of those shows that kids and adults can enjoy together – except perhaps for the final two seasons which are a little dark (Buffy/Spike sex against a wall in an abandoned building, which promptly falls down around them – hot? For sure. But perhaps a little inappropriate for the younguns...)
Incase you need an extra push here is YouTube "Passion of the Nerd" reasons why you should watch....
Written by Peet Banks
Did you know that men in the Czech Republic move from house to house on Easter Monday, and whip women with braided willow branches called ‘pomlázka’ to ensure they are fertile??? This is just one of the strange customs that people observe from around the globe.
A custom, by definition, is a practice so long established it has the force of law. People don’t necessarily believe in what they are doing – but as they have been doing the same thing for so long, and normally, so have their ancestors before them, they just continue to do so. Like us celebrating Christmas. We don’t actually believe that Santa Clause leaves presents under the tree (well, most of us don’t – if you did believe, sorry to burst your bubble), but it doesn’t stop the excitement of waking up on Christmas morning and seeing those presents!
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Written by Peet Banks
You can’t call yourself a paranormal investigator, and not have heard of Bobby Mackey’s Music World! It is up there as American’s ‘Most Haunted’ night club. Located on the banks of the Licking River, in Wilder, Kentucky the venue itself has a very colourful, and highly publicised history full of gambling, violence, music, prohibition and all kinds of ghosts, spirits, demons and portals to hell!
It is said that in the early 19th century, the area was originally used as a slaughterhouse. Following this it was a roadhouse with various different names One of the stories attached to the venue is that two men, who are said to still haunt the building, murdered a young, pregnant lady named Pearl Bryan. They held a satanic ritual which involved decapitating her and throwing her head down a well. Years later this well was uncovered by the caretaker, and it is said that when he opened it, he claimed to be possessed by the evil entity he had unwittingly released.
The basement of the venue is another extremely haunted area. It was where the dressing rooms used to be for the performers. A story told is that in the 1940’s there was a dancer named Johanna who fell in love with a man her father did not approve of. Her father was a gangsta, and he and his fellow criminals ‘got rid’ of the suitor. Johanna, in her grief, ingested poison in the dressing room. All of this was recorded in a diary which the caretaker also claimed to find.
Bobby Mackey himself has never experienced anything paranormal at the venue, but hundreds of others have, including his late wife Janet. She was allegedly attacked by an invisible entity. Others claim to have been thrown across the room, seen full bodied apparitions and shadow figures, heard disembodied voices, and, of course, Zak Bagan’s belief that he was possessed by a demonic force there.
Over the years it has been said that there are over 40 different spirits who inhabit the site, including a particularly dark entity who is dangerous to women.
Author Douglas Hensley spent five years researching the background of the nightclub, the land it is located on, and the sordid history dating back to the 1800s. “Hell’s Gate: Terry at Bobby mackey’s Music World” contains 29 sworn and signed affidavits from club employees, patrons, Wilder Policeman and more, attesting to the paranormal happenings at this den of iniquity.
Their official website states “Come for the ghosts, stay for the music!” – well okay then!
Written by Peet Banks
The beautiful Hydro Majestic Hotel can be seen atop a breathtaking ridge near Katoomba in Australia’s Blue Mountains.
It was built by a captain of industry, Mark Foy, a retailing magnate who owned the biggest department store in Australia. Mark was very wealthy, and very well-travelled. He was a big fan of ‘the water cure’ – a craze around the world where the rich and famous would spend copious amounts of money at Hydropathic Health Retreats. Mark’s favourite was Smedley’s Hydro in Derbyshire England. Smedley’s was a beautiful Victorian sanatorium surrounded by beautiful acreage. Mark often spoke of the lack of such a Hydro in Australia. Mark started scouting for locations in the idyllic Blue Mountains, and eventually purchased three adjacent properties in Medlow; the Belgravia Hotel, a small cottage that was home to local solicitor Alfred Tucker, and a beautiful estate owned by William Henry Hargraves, a government official and Deputy Registrar of the Equity Court. Using stunning architectural designs, Mark joined these three buildings together with long galleries, over 90 metres in length, making the structure form a linear design. Upon completion, the hotel measured 366 metres of beautiful, richly carpeted luxury. The entire building was heated and powered by a boiler from an exhibition building built in 1879 which did not succeed as it was hoped. The final touch on the hotel was the inclusion of stunningly ornate Italianate Balustrading so guests could immerse themselves in the panoramic view. In 1903 Mark somehow managed to have the name of the suburb, Medlow, altered to Medlow Bath, in order to attract clientele. The Medlow Bath Hydropathic Establishment was a totally immersive affair, with detailed expensive furniture, artwork and every mod-con known at the time. He even employed physician Dr Baur, believing that he would give the sanatorium the European authenticity that Mark believed was crucial for success. Mark had a deep love for America, and so set the official opening date of his sanatorium for 4 July 1904 – which unfortunately coincided with one of the worst snowstorms on record for the Blue Mountains – this didn’t stop Mark though, who transported his VIP guests through the snow in a fleet of specifically imported De Dion Bouton motors – which were some of the first cars in the country at the time. The group met at Penrith Station to make the 9 hour journey in convoy.
After a glamerous opening party, all the guests went to bed, to be woken to a strict regime of heath treatments, including mustard cloths, liver packs, warm enemas, eye baths and ear douches, fomentations ‘as hot as can be borne’, spinal packs, oil rubbing, nose baths, bowel kneading and much, much, much more – including the very risqué naked sun baths.
After a few years Mark noticed that the fashionable trend of hydropathy was on the decline, and reluctantly renamed his hotel the “Hydro Majestic”. All heath treatments were removed from advertising, but still available upon request.
With the mandatory ‘health’ element taken off the menu, the Hydro Majestic became an escape for a privileged clientele, offering lavish entertainments and great feasts. The notorious Cat Alley earned its name during this period (it was previously called The Cloister). This section of building was located directly outside the male dominated billiard room and was occupied by waiting wives and mistresses who gossiped about everything and anything whilst waiting for their partners.
Some famous people to stay at the Hydro Majestic included Dame Nellie Melba, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Nellie Stewart (actress), Governor General Sir Isaac Isaacs, Canadian world heavy weight boxing champion Tommy Burns.
In 1922 much of the hotel was destroyed in a fire, which was in all likelihood, arson, which led to Mark refurbishing the establishment and making it more family oriented.
During World War 2, when the hotel was being managed by Bud Macken, Mark’s nephew, the US Army requisitioned the hotel for use as the 118th General Hospital. The Army gave Bud less than a week to store or remove valuable art and furniture and any remaining guests, and then the US flag was raised on the roof.
The Hydro Majestic stayed in the Foy family until 1984 and was then sold to several different people and organisations, until finally being sold to the Escarpment Group, who restored it to its former glory.
But is it haunted? Apparently so! ·
One website, “Castle of Spirits”, talks about her stay at the Hydro Majestic, and how she was woken from sleep to see the figure of a ghostly woman enter the room, wearing a gown. ·
There is also a tale associated with the hotel, that in 1912 a young woman was being harassed by a man, and in an attempt to escape him, boarded a train and fled to the Hydro Majestic. It is said that her pursuer followed her, where he strangled her with her favourite silk scarf. ·
The hotel also has two resident spirits who have been seen by quite a few staff members. There is a little girl in a blue frock with a white lace collar who likes to run through walls, and a boy who sits in the dining room chandeliers.
A notable death in the Hotel is that of Australia’s first Prime Minister, Sir Edmund Barton, who died suddenly or heart failure on 7 January 1920. I don’t know if his ghost has been seen, but I thought he was worth an honourable mention.