Tag Archives: hoax

245 – T Is For Terror In The Aisles: Antrum and the Deadliest Movies Never Made

If you read any of paranormal or horror movie blogs this week, you might have seen an article about a new “documentary” coming out that contains a film from the 1970s that has recently been rediscovered called Antrum. It was covered by Bloody Disgusting, Mysterious Universe, Unexplained Mysteries, and even Forbes magazine, who did the original interview with the producer Eric Thirteen.

Thirteen says that the movie was lost after a terrifying incident in a Budapest theater in 1988 and that bad things kept happening to anyone involved in the production of the film, or anyone who even watched it. Indeed the trailer even says that the film is rumored to be “haunted” or “cursed” and that you shouldn’t watch it alone, it says that it absolves the filmmakers of all liability. (Ha, let’s see that one hold up in court!)

The new release of Antrum: The Deadliest Movie Ever Made will feature a documentary with people who know the history of the production as well as have experienced some of the curse effects from watching the movie. What? You’ve definitely got my attention, so this has to be fake, right?

Of course it’s fake, producer Eric Thirteen even compares it to Lovecraft’s Necronomicon, a mystical evil spellbook that only existed in Lovecraft’s imagination. That was, until the author’s admirers created it and sold their fan fiction in book stores across the country and some people got convinced it was actually a reprinting of an ancient spellbook. He’s dropping the clues right in the interview that this is going to be a mockumentary!

COOL EPISODE UPDATE

Eric Thirteen himself listened to this episode and left a voicemail for us, which you can hear in its entirety in Episode 246 of See You On The Other Side.

Now, this movie sounds like a lot of fun and I love the cursed film angle as marketing (Zak Bagans even used it in his own documentary Demon House when he suggested that just watching his film could be dangerous and get you a spirit attachment who wouldn’t leave you alone!) But none of these blogs, who normally write about real people’s paranormal experiences bothered to let us know that it’s not a real documentary.

We just thought it was interesting, that these regular paranormal platforms wouldn’t let everyone know that this movie looks cool, but it’s just a movie. So, we wanted to handle that straightaway. This is pop culture using the paranormal as a marketing hook, because of course, that kind of buzz is great for publicity, as shown by the incredible financial success of the grandaddy of modern viral movie marketing, The Blair Witch Project. That was another fictional documentary where they tried to make the media believe it was real, and for awhile it worked just as well as Antrum is.

In this episode, we go into the similarities between the marketing campaigns of Blair Witch and Antrum, we’ll dissect Eric Thirteen’s interview with Forbes (as well as the incredulous coverage of it!), and then talk about some other fake films that used the illusion of versimiltude to get attention and sell tickets (or in our case, video rentals in the 80s!)

  • Faces of Death
  • Cannibal Holocaust (so real that the director was put on trial for murder!)
  • Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction?
  • Mondo Cane

And we have bring up some other great films that deal with cursed movies as well.

  • In The Mouth of Madness (itself inspired by Lovecraft)
  • Masters of Horror‘s “Cigarette Burns” (written by a staffer of Aint It Cool News, a site that led the way in the success of The Blair Witch Project)
  • The real urban legend behind The Ring

For the song this week, it was a no-brainer. Just understand that you’re listening at your own risk and we take no liability for anything that might happen to you after you hear “The Deadliest Song Ever Made”!

And of course, to go with the deadliest movie ever made, we had to write “The Deadliest Song Ever Made”. You’ve been warned, listen at your own risk because we take no responsiblity for what happens after you’ve heard it.

Now that you’ve hit play you can’t go back
you’re cursed forever once you’ve heard this track
There’s just something so evil about this tune
It makes the listeners deceased way too soon

So listen at your own risk
you’ve sealed your fate
This is the deadliest song ever made.
Don’t plug your ears,
for it’s too late.
You’ve heard the deadliest song ever made.

It’s the world’s most fearsome melody,
just the sound of it will end your life early.
We’re not saying anything legally,
but you’re damned to Hell for all eternity.

So listen at your own risk
you’ve sealed your fate
This is the deadliest song ever made.
Don’t plug your ears,
for it’s too late.
You’ve heard the deadliest song ever made.

O is for Octopus (Tree): Unbelievable Paranormal Hoaxes

They say that seeing is believing, but that isn’t really true when it comes to the paranormal or supernatural. A long history of hoaxes and the prevalence of photoshop has lessened the ability of a picture to paint a believable thousand words. Today, witness testimonies and recordings of strange noises seem to inspire more belief in something not seen than a glossy 8×10.

But why don’t we believe in photos anymore? Is it because so many have been faked? Or is it because we have been so quick to believe them? To really understand the power a photo used to have, we need to look back in time, to simpler times…

In 1998, a hoax that is sadly forgotten today was launched–the story of the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus (Octopus paxarbolis). Now, before you roll your eyes and think that this was not a successful hoax (or else, you’d remember it) consider this: Snopes.org, once revered as the go-to site on the internet for debunking hoaxes and half-truths felt compelled, in 2014, to explain to the public that the Tree Octopus wasn’t real. That’s right, sixteen years later, some people still wondered if there really were Tree octopi—even though the webpage asking for help saving them explaining their major predator was Sasquatch.

What is a tree octopus? you might be wondering. Well, according to the official website (https://zapatopi.net/treeoctopus/) this gentle cephalopod hails from the rainy forests of the Olympic Peninsula, on the Eastern side of the Olympic mountain range, residing both in fresh water and in the wet canopy of the forest. Its natural predators include house cats, the bald eagle, and sasquatch.

Yes, sasquatch.

Okay, so now you might be wondering how could anyone believe that an octopus could live on land and in fresh water, and that the rainy season of the Pacific Northwest is what allowed its continued existence.

Before you judge a whole generation, take into account the era this took place in.

In 1988, the USAF revealed the existence of the F-117 Stealth Fighter, an “invisible” plane.

In 1989, Bob Lazar came forward, claiming to have reverse-engineered UFOs at the then-highly classified Area 51 military base at Groom Lake, Nevada.

In 1993, The X-Files premiered on television, bringing conspiracies, UFOs and the paranormal into the popculture mainstream.

In 1995, Ray Santelli presented his Alien Autopsy film, which purported to show the examination of an alien body recovered from a UFO crash. (This wasn’t revealed to be a hoax until 2006).

In 1999, the year following the Tree Octopus’ internet debut, audiences were terrified with the “found footage” film, The Blair Witch Project, many initially believing the film was based on true events.

And let’s not forget, the Internet was epically exploding onto the scene, worldwide, in the 1990s, allowing people to not only get information previously hidden in libraries around the globe, but to share reports of the strange and unusual. 1995, for example, saw the formation of the Bigfoot Research Organization.

You also need to remember a similar hoax, revealed in 1993, that was much older: the Surgeon’s Photo.

You might not know it’s name, but this iconic black-and-white image of the Lochness Monster’s head and neck sticking out of the water is known around the world, even today. Despite the fact that it was entirely a hoax, perpetrated by a conspiracy of three men, it is still cited when the Lochness Monster is discussed. The revelation it was a hoax did not diminished belief in Nessie.

According to the website The Unmuseum, Nessie’s most famous photo happened like this:

A man named Duke Weatherell wanted revenge on the London Daily Mail newspaper. This was because in 1933, they had hired him to find the Lochness Monster. He found footprints, made casts and size estimates and sent them off to the London Museum of Natural History. Later, it was discovered Weatherell had been hoaxed himself by locals—the footprints were frauds. The paper who hired Weatherell in turn ridiculed the man and humiliated him.

Fast forward to April 1934, and Colonel Robert Kenneth Wilson, a physician (and surgeon), presented the famous Nessie photo we’re talking about. This “proof” of Nessie remained contested, but believed, for decades. It wasn’t until 1993 that the full story came out, thanks to the work of David Martin and Alastair Boyd., who spoke to one of the men really responsible for the Surgeon’s photo, and who confirmed it was indeed a hoax.

Christian Spurling, stepson of Weatherell, admitted he’d made the “monster” out of some plastic and a clockwork, tinplate, toy submarine at his father’s request. Weatherell and his son actually took the completed faux Nessie out and photographed it. But they needed help disseminating the photo, since Duke had already been thoroughly discredited. They enlisted the aid of Maurice Chambers, who in turn contacted Colonel Wilson, who brought the photo forward and claimed credit for taking it.

Just five years after Nessie’s most famous mugshot was revealed to be a hoax, Lyle Zapato brought the plight of this Tree octopus to world attention with the creation of the website dedicated to saving it and used a similar methodology to fool people: he faked some photos (e.g. by placing a dead octopus in a tree and snapping some pics).

Today, the Tree Octopus is largely forgotten–a hoax when hoaxing was significantly harder to do. Hopefully, it and the surgeon’s photo have taught us all a valuable lesson: Don’t believe everything you see.

230 – Curses And Pranks: From The Rendlesham Incident To The Lost Franklin Expedition

We’re back for another round of paranormal discussion this week as we focus on our favorite new stories in the past week. Once again, Wendy and I are joined by Scott Markus from WhatsYourGhostStory.com and Tea Krulos, Milwaukee ghost tour guide as well as the author of books like Heroes In The Night, Monster Hunters, and the upcoming Apocalypse Any Day Now.

This last week I couldn’t stop thinking about “The Franklin Curse”, which was in the Canadian news right before the New Year. If you haven’t heard of Franklin’s Lost Expedition, it was a British expedition to find the Northwest Passage (a trade route through the Arctic where Europeans could sail to Asia without having to go under South America because the Panama Canal wasn’t built yet) launched in 1845. There were two ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror and they were both fitted with state of the art technology. It was supposed to be an easy mission beaus there were less than 300-some miles of Arctic coast to chart. But they disappeared and several expeditions were sent out to find what happened. There was even a bounty of Twenty Thousand Pounds (worth a hundred thousand US dollars at the time) to find them. The local Inuit people had contact with the explorers and said that the crew had resorted to cannibalism by the end, but the ships and most of the bodies were never found.

In 2007, Dan Simmons wrote a fictionalized version of the events called The Terror and AMC released a TV version of it in 2018. Interestingly enough, HMS Erebus was discovered in 2014 by accident and HMS Terror was found in 2016. The local Nunavut people who live near the shipwrecks on King William Island have long felt that the island has had spirits or “invisible people” and that the disturbing of the wrecks has disturbed those spirits. Some of the locals have blamed six deaths that happened during a two-week period in August in their small community of Gjoa Haven on the curse of the Franklin. Earlier this year, Inuit elders went to the site of the wreckage to bless it, in hopes the spirits would be appeased.

Wendy was excited to share the latest news of the Rendlesham Forest Incident, often called Britain’s Roswell. We were first introduced to this story at the Paradigm Symposium by the brilliant Peter Robbins who wrote the book Left At East Gate with the now-controversial Larry Warren. But in the original incident, several US servicemen had seen strange lights in the sky descending towards the Rendlesham Forest over a period of nights in 1980. When they went to go explore the area they saw the lights land, they found burn marks on nearby trees and indentations in the ground in a triangular pattern, they even called the police about it.

Since then, the incident has been hotly debated, and Peter Robbins’ book goes into detail about missing time, underground bases, and government conspiracies. But just a week ago, researcher Dr. David Clarke had claimed that he was told the incident was just a prank played by British SAS commandos on their American counterparts. That’s backed up a little by a story from our friend C.E. Martin’s book, Stranger Than Fiction, where he recalls meeting a serviceman who was stationed at the air force base and talked about an area of the forest where electrical stuff didn’t work and cars didn’t start, they used to take people out there and prank them. So, that culture did exist on the base at the time! Is Clarke’s story true? Well, that’s another one we’ll be debating for a long time. We discuss Bobby Mackey’s Music World in this segment as well and here’s a link to our episode with their official paranormal investigation team.

15251192137_380081b617_bTea talks to us about a New Year’s ritual he started doing last year and that’s watching the live unveiling of the Doomsday Clock. The Doomsday Clock was created in 1947 by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists to warn humanity about how close we are to destroying the planet through our own technology and hubris. While the danger used to be mostly nuclear war, they’ve included things like climate change in their determination. The closest it’s ever been is Two Minutes To Midnight, first in 1953 after the US and the Soviets both tested thermonuclear weapons for the first time and then again in 2018 mainly because they were shocked by the rhetoric of President Trump toward North Korea and what they consider to be an insufficient response to the temperatures changing throughout the world. Will 2019 bring us closer or further away from manmade destruction? Tea will let us know when it happens. And hey, here’s to hopinh we don’t blow ourselves up! Also, don’t forget that Iron Maiden wrote one of their best songs about The Doomsday Clock as well!

Also, Tea mentions that Josh Gates is going to be in Milwaukee at the end of January and he’s going (along with our frequent co-host Allison Jornlin from MilwaukeeGhosts.com) and hoping they can convince Josh Gates to finish looking for one of the prizes from the 1980s treasure hunt book, The Secret. That’s a puzzle book combining 12 short verses and 12 fantasy paintings. You would take the painting with a verse and try to determing the clues that would lead you to one of twelve boxes buried in various parks around North America. Each box contained a key that could be redeemed for a jewel worth $1,000. The author died in a car crash in 2005 and only 2 of the boxes have been found. So Josh Gates did a whole Expedition Unknown on the online braintrust that has been working on it for several years. Image 10 contains a clue that’s supposed to lead people to a park by Mliwaukee’s City Hall and Gates almost started digging there, but gave up because of the weather while they were recording the show. Tea is going to grab him and make him finish the job!

d57Finally, Scott talks about some new horror movie news that are based on real-life strangeness. One is the trailer for Followed which is about a YouTuber (they caller her a vlogger, but that word is kinda unwieldy) who decides to stay in a hotel. It’s probably based on the sad story of Elisha Lam, a young woman from Vancouver who was visiting Los Angeles and was seen acting strangely on security camera footage from the Cecil Hotel (former home of Richard Ramirez, the Night Stalker). Two weeks later, they found her body in the water tank on the roof and still have no idea how she got there.

He also talks a little bit about the new trailer for The Haunting of Sharon Tate starring Hilary Duff. This new film beats Quentin Tarantino’s Charles Manson film Once Upon A Time In Hollywood out by a few months, but it’s also going to focus more on the strange premonition of death that murder victim Sharon Tate had a couple years before her and her friends were attacked by the Manson Family in a crime that would be immortalized for its strangeness and brutality. 

One of the things that we talked about this week was the culture war between believers and skeptics, between the political Left and the political Right, between hardcore atheists and fundamentalists. This conflict has seemed to progress from just disagreeing about dogma and particular points of belief to “cancel culture”, the idea that if someone believes something you find offensive or has done something you don’t like, you want to take away their means of making a living.

It’s a scorched earth total war tactic that has become more and more popular in the world of social media (particularly in a space where hot takes are welcomed, like Twitter.) It’s no longer enough to “agree to disagree”, the other side is to be shunned and disrespected. There is no room for debate or discussion, you’re either with us or against us. We see this in the paranormal world all the time between the various factions of ghost hunters, UFOlogists, etc… And I guess, I don’t feel that’s very conducive to finding the truth, because things aren’t usually as absolute or black and white as we’d like them to be. Anyway, that’s the idea behind this week’s Sunspot song, “Us Vs. Them”

Us versus them
right versus wrong
Oh won’t you tell me
just what side you’re on.

It’s total war and
you gotta make a stand
you plant your flag and fight, down to the last man.

There is no middle
there is no excuse
there is no compromise
and there is no truce

Us versus them
right versus wrong
Oh won’t you tell me
just what side you’re on.

You’re either with us or against us
you’re on or off of the team
We don’t need to talk or negotiate with the enemy

no we don’t make no deals
we don’t cross the line
we made our choice, we picked our side , and now we’re ride or die.

Us versus them
right versus wrong
Oh won’t you tell me
just what side you’re on.

85 – April Fool’s Day: History’s Best Paranormal Pranks

April Fool’s Day. Just how did we get an unofficial holiday that’s based around making the people around you look stupid?

First things first, we have an update from our Zombie Apocalypse episode, because there’s been new research that about the parasite Toxoplasma Gondii that lives in the bellies of the little feline friends. This parasite has been said to manipulate the behavior of rodents to make them run towards cats instead of away from them!

We talk about the Gizmodo article last week that discussed how toxoplasmosis could be linked to the Rage disorder, IED (Intermittent Explosive Disorder.) Ever have a friend that blows up at the littlest things for no reason or that has completely unpredictable behavior that results in one or more of you spending the night in jail? It just might be the parasite. In the movie, 28 Days Later, the virus that turns people into cannibalistic monsters is called “The Rage Virus”. Coincidence?

So, April Fool’s isn’t just a Hallmark holiday, it’s been around for hundreds of years and we’re not quite sure the origin behind it. Some say that it has to do with the changing of the Gregorian Calendar to the Julian (when celebrating the New Year went from April 1st to December 31st). If you got the New Year date wrong after the change, then you were the April Fool!

There was even an April Fool’s Day prank about the origin of April Fool’s Day when a Boston University professor suggested that it came from a day when the Holy Roman Emperor decided to let a court jester rule the land for a “day of absurdity”, the only catch is that he made the whole thing up and Associated Press writers didn’t catch it for a couple of weeks. You can still find that origin floating around the Internet (of course!)

But it seems that it’s not a Western Civilization phenomenon, because they have something similar in India as well for their Huli festival and people have traced this kind of celebration all the way back to Roman times.  The  best guess is that humans have been celebrating the Vernal Equinox for thousands of years and part of that celebration of new life is playing jokes on each other.

According to the Witchology website, even though we’re not clear on the origins of April Fool’s Day, there are some superstitions behind it:

  1. Pranks are to be performed before Noon, otherwise it’s bad luck for the person doing the tricking.
  2. If you don’t respond to an April Fool’s Day prank with good humor, then it’s bad luck for the person being tricked!
  3. If you’re fooled by a pretty girl, then you’ve got a good shot at marrying her (that seems to be the “wishful thinking” rule…)
  4. Speaking of marriage, men who get married on April Fool’s Day will be ruled by their wives (that seems like a relic from a much more misogynist age)
  5. Children born on April Fool’s Day will be lucky… except for gambling!

But throughout history, people have used this time of year to pull paranormal pranks, from “discovering” the Loch Ness Monster to landing a UFO in London.

  1. The Fox Sisters – these Victorian Age preteens became world famous with their spiritualism by hoaxing (which all began as a bit of fun on April Fool’s Eve), but it’s that fame that ended up being their undoing.
  2. Virgin’s Richard Branson takes his love of ballooning to a new level as he flies a UFO-looking balloon over London, causing quite a hullabaloo in the process!
  3. An April Fool’s day prank in a small German newspaper in 1950 where they pretended to have captured a “Martian” gets discovered by Roswell researchers three decades later and ends up in the non-fiction section of the library.
  4. In 1972, a zoological expedition claims that they’ve found the Loch Ness Monster in a story that gets sensationalized writeups all over the world, only ending up being a prank pulled on them by their co-worker, who had no idea it would be one for the ages.
  5. This one’s not paranormal but it’s close to where we are (in Madison, Wisconsin) the Capital Times publishes a story on April Fool’s Day in 1933 about the dome of the capitol collapsing, angering a sensitive reader base. It’s one of the first photo manipulations that today we’d just say was an “obvious Photoshop”.
  6. This one isn’t as paranormal, but it’s brilliant. In 2014, NPR posted a story called “Why Doesn’t America Read Anymore” with explicit instructions not to respond on social media because it was just a way to see who’d actually been clicking through and reading on their stories or just commenting on the headlines on Facebook. It ended up getting thousands of comments, showing that next time you see people make enflamed and angry comments on a story on social media, you better read it before checking it out yourselves. (And that’s a topic we broach in our new EP release, “American Monsters”, which is coming out THIS WEEK!)

The song this week is the Sunspot song, “Fool”. A track about being unafraid of getting your heart broken again and again. It’s better to have an open heart that is vulnerable to the evils of the world, than in the words of John Lennon, to “hide your love away”.

I’ve been hurt more times than I can count
I’ve had my head smashed in and my guts pulled out.
I’ve been cheated on, mistreated some, my heart held for ransom,
I’m the jerk, that piece of work, who just can’t figure out
that
this big bad world is cruel,
so bury your soul deep and they never can hurt you,
I know that it might be uncool, but
I ain’t got time to tow the line on trust issues.
I’ve got a body made for working,
I’ve got a heart made for abuse,
I’ve got a penchant for fast living,
and I’m stretching out my youth.
I’ve got a mind to keep on loving,
Don’t care the ugly truth,
Well we’ve got all the cynics we need,
so I’d rather play the fool.
I’ve been wrong more times than you’d believe,
I’ve had my faith tested, my kindness deceived,
I’ve been betrayed and led astray and the victim of foul play,
and you might mock this laughingstock who won’t concede naivety,
because
I know this big bad world is cruel,
and if you bury your soul deep then they never can hurt you,
well I might sound just like a tool but
I ain’t got time to tow the line on trust issues.
I’ve got a body made for working,
I’ve got a heart made for abuse,
I’ve got a penchant for fast living,
and I’m stretching out my youth.
I’ve got a mind to keep on loving,
Don’t care about the ugly truth,
Well we’ve got all the cynics we need,
so I’d rather play the fool.