Notorious People

Killer Contact – Vlad the Impaler – S01E02

imageFor this episode our new team of investigators heads over to Transylvania to investigate the legend of the most widely known figure in the world – Dracula. Their destination is the Hunyad Castle where Vlad was a prisoner for some time. This is one of the locations that the Ghost Adventures team visited on their less than impressive investigation of this same legend. Does the Killer Contact team fare any better?

In the castle they investigate the Bear Pit, The Chapel and Vlad’s Cell. The reports for all these locations include people getting hit with rocks. Some hear voices and others claim to have their hair pulled. It should come as no surprise in a castle that’s a couple of hundred years old that falling rocks can be seen or heard. I think we need to discount that sort of thing right off the bat. That’s sort of like going to the beach and getting stupefied over getting sand in your shoes.

While in the chapel they get one hit on their RemPod and then say for certain there is a presence in there. They get no other signs, just that one beep. For them that’s enough.

In the bear pit they hear mumbling and once again feel that is confirmation someone is there. And someone evil no less. Let’s discount the echo effect those high stone walls would have. We must skip all the logical ways of hearing a noise and assume every sound is the presence of evil. It’s Dracula’s castle, what else could it be?

During their investigation they feel they get an EVP of the name Llona. What a crazy random happenstance this happens to be the name of Vlad’s wife. That’s not what I hear, but thank goodness everyone else hears it that way or the next segment would seem silly.

In Vlad’s cell, Austin is fixated on this idea that Vlad is the undead and a Stragoi. He continually asks this question desperately hoping to see a spike. He eventually gets one, which to him is confirmation that Vlad has become the undead. While he’s asking these questions there’s a loud bang at the window which is of course proof of Vlad. There’s no way it could have been a branch from the trees right outside the window or a bird or yet another rock tumbling and hitting the window, it must be Vlad.

Austin feels he’s communicating with Llona and she confirms that Vlad is living beyond the grave.

Overall their evidence is incredibly weak. If you take the individual pieces you have rocks falling in stone castle, the sound of mumbling echoing in a stone castle, the sound of something hitting and old wooden door and finally a couple of spikes on a TriField meter. I think it’s a huge stretch to say any of this is paranormal let alone it speaks to Vlad the Impaler being undead or the legendary Stragoi. That is some insanely flawed logic right there.

Another part of the investigation that shows how unsophisticated this team is, is the yelling from Greg in Vlad’s cell. What the hell is that all about? What is he trying to prove? Despite what they think of Vlad he was fighting to save his people from an overwhelming army. He was outmanned and needed to instill fear into the oncoming enemy. If you were coming to get Vlad and saw that would you keep going? Vlad may have been desensitized to the death around him, but I don’t he should be labeled a mad man. And when did he start drinking blood? That’s part of the vampire legend of course, but I don’t think that extends to the real man. I think we’re getting carried away with legend and myth.

The location is of course interesting, but I don’t know if this episode was better than the first. I admit fully I’m jealous of the two places they’ve gone so far. For those of us interested in such things, it would be a dream come true. I guess we’ll see what the next location brings.

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Killer Contact – Jack the Ripper – S01E01

image Because there simply aren’t enough paranormal shows on right now, SyFy has spun up yet another one. This one is titled Killer Contact and for their first outing they take on the challenge of solving the mystery of Jack the Ripper. I suppose if you’re going to make a splash you need to jump in with both feet and this intrepid band of never before seen investigators takes on the most infamous figure and most notorious location there is. So, what do they come away with?

First of all, it was hard to take this show seriously as the investigators refer to themselves as "the front man", "the antagonizer", "the role player", "the brain". It’s sounds like something you’d expect to see playing an online game with 15 year olds. It’s amazing to me how investigator say they need to be taken seriously and this is a serious field of inquiry and then we get this sort of lame crap.

But let’s move on and see what happens. The reason the team came to Whitechapel is because of some new paranormal stirrings at the Ten Bells Pub, a pub that was frequented by 3 of the Ripper victims and quite possibly Jack the Ripper himself. While visiting a friend who lives above the pub, a woman claims she was pushed down the stairs by some unseen force. She also claims to have heard the footsteps of someone just outside the door, but no one was there. Another report claims to have seen the full apparition of Mary Kelly standing in the room.

The team sets up to investigate the pub and soon learn that the fear and dread people feel in the basement is related to a slew of machinery that keeps turning on and off. They move to the main pub area to try make contact with one of the victims. It seems Catherine Eddowes is answering the call. As they ask questions their tri-field meter spikes multiple times. They go through the list of victim and only the name of Catherine gets a response.

I’m not sure why, but they have images made of two of the suspects, rather than all of them, and ask if either of the men is the killer. They get no response. If you’re going to make a lineup how about you include everyone?

Adam and Austin take another crack at the basement and feel they get an EVP that says "leather". This coincides with the sound of a door shutting. I don’t hear the word "leather" but they run with it. They take the word, not the recording, to a Ripper expert and he says "leather" would refer to one of the suspects Leather Apron. They jump from there to Aaron Kosminski and are told they need to visit the Princess Alice pub which the prostitutes frequented.

At the new pub it’s Annie Chapman that comes through and she knows the name of her killer. When asked if there was a leather apron by her dead body there is a spike on the tri-field meter in response. They go through several names of suspects, but the meter spikes high at the mention of Aaron Kosminski.

This is where things get a little stupid. Molly, the Role Player, decides she’s going to try and seduce Kosminski to try and get a confession from him. So she dresses like some cyborg prostitute and wanders around the basement. Why the hell is she lurking down there? Why not in the main pub area? But this only last a few minutes as she scares the crap out of herself and changes out of her stupid outfit. They still want to talk to Kosminski, just in the main area and with Molly in regular clothes. So I have to ask, what was the point of all that?

Now that they feel they have their suspect they ask Kosminski if he committed the murders. The meter spikes in response. When they ask if he’s Jack the Ripper it spikes again. It appears they have a confession.

Interestingly, Kosminksi is almost universally dismissed as a real suspect as he has no connection to the murders. But here we have a team who believes it’s Kosminski admitting to the murders from well beyond the grave. Where does that leave us?

While the subject matter of this episode was intriguing, the investigators and their methods leave a lot to be desired. None of them really seem to know what they’re doing and sorry to be rude, but Molly just seems like baggage. Is her only skill to dress up in stockings for a few minutes then find something else to wear? They had some interesting ideas, but their approach is so haphazard. Why didn’t they take the actual EVP to the Ripper expert? I think they’re grasping at the word "leather" in that. They don’t capture any solid evidence the entire time and they come across as desperate to make this ground zero for something related to the Ripper murders. It’s hard to take anything they say and do seriously. SyFy seems just as desperate to repeat the success they had with the now controversial Ghost Hunters and will try anything to get some ratings. You don’t have to look any further than Deep South Paranormal to realize that.

While it’s not uncommon for the first episode of any series to have some flaws and growing pains, I don’t know about this latest offering. The idea was interesting, but I don’t know about these investigators. It’ll be interesting to see what the next episode brings us.

Who stuck around to the end to see the big reveal? What do you think? Does this answer the question of the identity of Jack the Ripper? Is Kosminski the man researchers have been looking for for the last 125 years? Does it turn the Ripper legend on it’s ear? Will authors of Ripper lore take this new evidence into account?

Oddly, I kind of hoped they would ask about H.H. Holmes and his new link to the Ripper murders.

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Dracula Season 1

image I’m sure it goes without saying that I’m a fan of Dracula. The real Dracula. None of this teen vampire drama or the other sad ripoffs that keep getting made. That being said I was quite leery of this new Dracula that NBC has brought to the small screen. I’ve actually waited for a few shows to air so I can get a feel for the overall story.

So far, it’s not too bad at all. It’s an interesting take on the story. We still have all the major players such as Dracula aka Alex Grayson, Harker, Mina, Renfield and Van Helsing, but their roles and relationships have taken an interesting turn.

We now see that Van Helsing and Dracula are actually working together. In fact, it’s Van Helsing who raises Dracula. Renfield is Dracula’s protector and confidant. And Dracula is a New World business man seeking wealth and power in the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

The setting is 1890s England. In fact, the Ripper murders are mentioned as a cover up for vampire killings. With Dracula working as an up and coming Industrialist we see some very interesting twist, turns and backstabbing. Interestingly, the main goal is to put the Oil Men out of business. Dracula uses leverage and perhaps a dash of blackmail to put himself into a position of power and influence wherein he can buyout his competition. This makes for some interesting and unusual powerplays. It also gives us plenty to watch and builds the list of enemies that are out to get Dracula.

But there is still another force at work. The Order of the Dragon, vampire hunters are working to find this new undead and put an end to him. Of course, there are more vampires roaming around so there is plenty to keep everyone busy.

I’m actually glad they didn’t bring Dracula into modern times. The story is much more suited for a less hectic and less Twitter oriented society. I also like the new roles the characters have been put into. We get to explore some interesting dynamics this way. The new Renfield is quite the protector and very level headed about his master’s business.

Really the only thing I’m not too keen on are the fight sequences. They are too much like Underworld and don’t with the rest of the tone of the story. They’re too flashy and the Matrix style moves feel very out of place to me. They’re infrequent, but are noticeably jarring to me.

But overall, I like this series. There is a lot of story to develop and plenty of outside forces to reckon with. This means there are lots of plot lines so it shouldn’t get tedious with the same thing over and over again. Plenty of companies need to be taken over so it’s not just about looting bodies. The first 4 episodes have me looking forward to when the next one comes out.

As an aside, Dracula sort of looks like Nick Groff and sounds like Christian Slater…

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Whitechapel Season 4

image I just finished watching the latest season of Whitechapel from the BBC and it was every bit as dark and ominous as the other seasons and then some. The whole crew is back again to face some very nasty foes such as a killer that is mimicking the deaths from the Salem Witch Trials complete with adding more weight until he gets a confession and burning at the stake.

We also have several stories about the teams personal side, such as Kent’s twin sister, Buchan’s new book and the unusual woman he meets at the book signing and multiple instances of DI Chandler in some putrid settings that make his OCD become nearly debilitating. Then again, if I was covered in raw sewage I can’t say my reaction would be much different.

This was a pretty dark series that had some very unusual storylines and some very interesting references to history. We even get the idea that Whitechapel may be sitting on a gate to hell, that’s why so many bad things happen out there. There is a pretty big supernatural element to this season and most of the team finds themselves dealing with their own personal demons in some way.

It was a pretty compelling season. I certainly hope there’s another one coming.

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