Right off the bat there was very little about this episode I liked. It played into every cliché that exists about Dracula and vampires. It’s fantastic they got to visit such a legendary and quite frankly superstitious country, but come on does it really have to be like this? Vlad was a real man, not a vampire. He wasn’t evil, he was a mad protecting his home and country. He was outmanned and decided to show absolute determination to make invaders think twice about destroying his village. He’s seen by most in his home country as a hero. His overwhelming show of force lead to Bram Stoker using some of those elements for his story. And despite what Zak would like to think or interpret, Dracul means DRAGON, so Vlad Dracul is Son of the Dragon, not Son of the Devil. Stop making shit up to try and be sinister.
Aside from amateur mistakes like that, this episode was like watching 8 years run around an amusement park. It’s like Zak was channeling Shatner as he tried to make everything overly dramatic and dangerous. It’s a couple hours of overcompensating for things aren’t happening on the investigation.
They start of their Romanian trip by visiting the supposed birthplace of Vlad. Hey wouldn’t you know it, it’s a tourist trap. It’s now a café with a ridiculously cheesy display upstairs. To hell with the idea of putting out historical information, lets drape the room in blood red fabric and have a guy sit in a coffin.
With that bit of nonsense behind the real investigation begins. The trio decides to split up with Zak and Billy going to the Hoia Baciu Forest where people claim to see UFOs, Elementals, Balls of light and all sorts of spirits. The locals are so afraid they won’t enter the forest at night. Makes me think of Sherwood Forest from Robin Hood. But the locals take it quite seriously and refuse to enter the forest at night.
A lot is made of the "circle" in the middle of the forest where trees refuse to grow. Clearly this can’t be the work of toxic soil, rocks or minerals in the ground, it has to spirit work. And we soon find out when Zak and Billy enter the forest that there are forces they can’t deal with. Zak is struck silent as he stands stupefied – apparently in the grasp of some otherworldly force. As Billy comes to his aid, Zak nearly soils himself and has a bit of a breakdown. He’s nearly on the verge of tears as he tells Billy something is wrong. This bit of melodrama is only usurped by the glowing ball of red light coming from the center of the forest. Too bad they couldn’t focus on the ball long enough for us to tell it was the tail light of the ATV they drove up in.
Meanwhile Aaron and Nick scare the Dickens out of each other at Targoviste Castle where many of the death surrounding the Dracul legend took place. This is where many invaders were stuck on spikes as a warning to others. While in there Aaron believes he hears his name as well as the word "hello, Vlad and Flowers".
Next, they meet up at the Hunedoara Castle where they hear more stories including one where the security guard let in a band of Satan worshipers who performed their dark rituals. Well, clearly he didn’t think it was all that sinister since he let them in. But of course Zak and Nick make it out to be the opening of the gates of hell and it definitely means it’s demonic.
Next we have little imp and tour guide Anca who gives all sorts of tidbits to the American tourists about how haunted the place is and how much torture took place there. But then again, she is trying to sell tickets and bump up that tourism, so what else is she gonna say?
The guys investigate the place with Zak going into the cell/pit where Vlad was supposedly kept for a year. They capture what they believe is some women laughing (witches I’m sure) and then Aaron begins to have massive pains in his chest. After he gets mad at everyone over his "Charlie horse" Zak thinks he might be having a heart attack. Clearly that’s not it, it’s the work of evil spirits.
They next to go to the Chapel where the Satan Worshipers did their "messed up" rituals in the Chapel. So Nick lights a bunch of candles in a circle and lays down on the floor asking someone to blow them out. Then scary things happen and they hear a door creak. It’s Vlad!!
To add to their mysterious stay in the Castle and to emulate the feeling from the Dracula novel they claim something is making it to where they don’t want to leave.
But they overcome and visit an actual descendant of Vlad Tepes, Princess Brianna Caradja, who tells a story of making contact with Vlad. While using a Ouija, she makes contact and the spirit spells out Vlad. Odd, the Ouija is claimed by so many to be a surefire way to open a portal to hell and bringing forth demons you can’t possibly control. Yet, Zak doesn’t seem to chastise her. He was all manner of distraught in the Exorcist House, but doesn’t say anything here. Hmm. Don’t want to tempt the wrath of a descendant of Vlad eh?
Oh, nearly forgot, Zak decides to make a wild connection and say the word "flower" they heard in Targoviste has to mean the flowers in the garden where they talk to Princess Brianna. Obviously, that’s what it means. It couldn’t mean anything else, right?
It should come as no surprise that when the investigation is over the decree the entire area of Romania haunted. Every square inch. The spirit of Vlad permeates every nook and cranny of the place. Well, not quite that bad, but they do say it’s extremely haunted and charged with energy. We all knew they would say that even before the episode aired.
I don’t think Romania is any more haunted than any other place that has seen it’s share of death and war. The people of Romania are superstitious and believe in legends as part of their daily lives. Plus, they are steeped in the mystery that surrounds Bram Stoker and Dracula. And clearly they take advantage of that tourism dollar. It’s no surprise that everything is shrouded in the legend and over time people just come to believe that those stories are true. You can say the same thing about Savannah and New Orleans. It happens all over the place.
All that being said, I thought this was a great place to visit and show off, but this investigation was pretty damn cheesy.