Haunted Histories Collection – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

DVD Release Date: September 25, 2007
Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 300 Minutes on 5 discs

The Movies

Stories of hauntings, ghosts, and unexplained happenings have been presented on different television shows for the past couple decades. Probably the best known series was Unsolved Mysteries which was on the air for fifteen seasons and covered everything from bone-chillers to miracles. But getting a different point of view to the same topic keeps things fresh because who knows what information one filmmaker may have missed while the other didn’t?

The History Channel and A&E have put together a great set that incorporates Halloween, hauntings, vampires, witches, and poltergeists. Each DVD not only tells of some experiences had by witnesses to strange events, but goes in depth into the history of each topic. My favorite disc out of the set would have to be “The Haunted History Of Halloween” considering it not only shows great scenes from my favorite holiday, but also tells its origins.

Each DVD isn’t only for believers either as it tells both sides of the story so that skeptics can see they are represented as well. Non-believers can learn what it is that those who believe in poltergeists and vampires see while also getting experts to negate all of it with facts and science. They are some really nice looks at either side of the coin so that the worlds of fact and fiction come together without ever leaving out the necessary points. Entertaining and also educational, the History Channel delivers another winner, but this time from the darker side of life.

The Haunted History Of Halloween

Harry Smith Narrator

Some three thousand years ago in Ireland, the long-honored traditional holiday of Halloween began. Ancient Celts began it as a celebration and memorial to those who have passed so that their spirits may once again walk the Earth. As the Celts moved from one location to another, their traditions went with them and others picked up on these celebrations. Like anything passed on though, things would begin to change.

For centuries, the pagan rituals of celebrating the dead were held each year in order to render their spirits eternal rest. But to every idea there must always be opposition. And in stepped the church with their Christian beliefs trying to oppose all the pagan rituals the Celts had began so long ago. The church even tried to make Halloween its own day by creating All Saints Day on November 1 to honor every saint that did not have their own day of recognition. Still, as hard as the church tried to phase out Halloween; the numbers of supporters for it continued to rise.

Around the turn of the twenty-first century is when the holiday went from an adult celebration to being more child-oriented. Parties with treats and bobbing for apples and dressing up in costumes were held so that good times could be held by all. After WWI, the kids took the celebration outside and thus began trick-or-treating. It also was the beginning of the mischievous Halloween traditions that stand today such as toilet papering, destruction of property, and sometimes arson.

It was after WWII that Halloween became a quaint and enjoyable holiday for all again, but that certainly didn’t last long. Come the sixties, the problems arose again as the holiday was again celebrated by adults as well as children which leads it to where it is today. Trick-or-treating, parties, vandalism, jack-o-lanterns, and costumes are a few of the ways people celebrate All Hallow’s Eve. But in some places, there are still those that gather to honor the spirits of those past and always remember the traditions started by the Celts so long ago in Ireland.

Hauntings

Peter Stacker Narrator

There are many different types of hauntings and this DVD focuses on a few cases and the many ways people can be affected by them. One of the most common cases is when a family moves into a home and hears noises, sees objects moving around, or simply is affected by a presence in the residence. The first couple shown are the Browns who were happily married, had two children, and finally reached their dream of owning their own home. But when they moved in, they were haunted by the spirit of the man who lived there and had killed himself in it many years ago. His spirit was in limbo and just couldn’t escape from the home so he tormented those that inhabited it.

Another type of haunting can occur just by who the people are. It doesn’t matter where they are or what they are doing, but they will continue to be haunted for their whole lives. The next example shows the Baetzels, a couple which moved into a home with their young daughter and was bothered by strange occurrences. Thanks to a séance, they learned that a man who bought that particular land in 1872 wanted them off of it. They obliged and moved, but the hauntings did not stop. Only thing is that it wasn’t the same ghost that followed them, but different spirits each time.

It isn’t always easy to get rid of those things haunting people because the world is full of skeptics and not always willing to offer their assistance. Sometimes all it takes is one experience though to make them believers. In the case of the Browns, they received the help of a skeptic turned “ghostbuster” that came in and was able to connect with the spirit and get him to cross over. The Baetzels on the other hand found it a bit more difficult since they themselves were the cursed ones. Moving eleven times in a fourteen year period never stopped the hauntings even when they built their own home from the ground up.

Hauntings will forever be disputed from both sides as the believers and skeptics continue to bicker about it. Believers don’t need much more proof then a person’s word that something happened and a spirit has appeared and a haunting has occurred. The skeptics want evidence and usually visual because a person’s word, or even the word of a number of people, just isn’t good enough. But as long as there are people believe; then there will always be unexplained situations that shock and astonish. Whether they be orbs in pictures or bright lights appearing out of nowhere; it all depends on if you believe or not.

Poltergeist

Norm Woodel Narrator

The idea of poltergeists exist mostly in the minds of believers and not in the minds of those who are doubters. They are sort of in the same boat as hauntings for they kind of go hand-in-hand to some extent. If someone were to see a poltergeist, then it would be their word against what someone believes unless the viewer can somehow prove it to them. Well, poltergeists can show up anywhere for they aren’t necessarily just haunting any particular place, but just want to be known. While most are known to be mischievous; it isn’t out of the ordinary for some to be friendly and helpful.

One of the things that’s so unique about poltergeists is the fact that there is a connection between them and adolescents. Younger kids are said to be able to feel the presence of poltergeists and know when they are around. The entities would usually feel more comfortable showing themselves to children because they don’t see them as a threat and know they believe in them. The big problem is whether to believe a child’s story as make believe or the blunt honesty they are known for at times.

Ghost hunters are often brought in to help deal with poltergeists, but it seems that the bigger weapon to use against them would be psychics. Psychics are known to have the ability to talk to the deceased and find out from them what they want. It isn’t always easy because sometimes the spirits don’t wish to speak or cooperate, especially if they are of the mischievous kind.

There are numerous skeptics when it comes to poltergeists as there are with any type of paranormal activity or beings. Scientists and experts always have some type of explanation as to what the sounds in a building were or how a door opened on its own. Even architects have their own theories as to why things happen. Some people would believe that lights flickering are a ghost in their presence while the architect might believe it is simply a short in the electrical wires. It all depends on your beliefs and if you feel we are not truly alone.

Salem Witch Trials

David Ackroyd Narrator

Witches were never given much of a chance hundreds of years ago in Salem, Massachusetts and it was all due to fear. When word first got out about witches and what they were capable of; people got so afraid of who may be a witch that they started taking no chances. If any female showed the smallest sign that they were a witch, then they were put through the tests. These tests usually resulted in death so if one was not a witch, then it was simply an innocent being killed. But the townspeople cared not because it was one less possible female that could get involved in witchcraft.

Witchcraft led to relationships with the devil and the practices of magic, dark spells, and other evil doings that were not accepted by the people. The exercises used to snuff out witches were horrible and torturous events that were cruel and inhuman no matter who you are. Hangings, burning alive, and being dunked into purifying water were just a few of the methods the townspeople and Puritans used to determine whether a woman was a witch or not. If they were, then they would save themselves. But if the woman was not a witch, then their undeserving penalty was death.

Back in the late 1600’s, massive witch hunts were organized to find those witches that were in hiding or simply not living in the villages with regular townspeople. Witchcraft had turned into the greatest crime that a woman could commit and that word alone would condemn them to death. Bridget Bishop went before the courts in the Witch Trials and due to the suspicion of her involvement in the forbidden practice; she was hanged and became the first victim of the trials.

Vampire Secrets

Corey Burton Narrator

Vampires have haunted humanity for centuries from one end of the Earth all the way to the other. It isn’t just in castles in Romania that the bloodsuckers run rampant and torture the people of the countryside drinking their blood and raising their numbers. Vampires lurk in the shadows of every single city around the world and will continue to torment those that walk past them for eternity.

All vampires have some of the same qualities even though many believe that Hollywood has simply changed it and glorified it all for their box office numbers to get bigger. Vampires are immortal beings that can never die and stay alive off of the blood and living spirit of those they take control of and sink their teeth into. There is also the trait of being able to appear dead when they really aren’t. This allowed them to more easily get hold of their prey instead of having to sneak up on them or overpower them.

Dracula and Elizabeth Bathory may be two of the most famously known vampires of all time. Dracula you know well as the Eastern European count that is at the top of the vampire list and will forever be remembered as the most popular vampire to ever exist. Bathory on the other hand is infamously remembered for her sick ritual of bathing in the blood of young virgin girls. It is said that her lust for blood led to the murder of over 600 virgins all for her own enjoyment.

The modern-day views of vampires has transformed a lot over the years thanks a lot to novels and films such as The Lost Boys, Interview With A Vampire, and the Blade series. Many people idolize vampires today and actually want to be like them even going as far as playing a role-playing game called “Vampire: The Masquerade.” It is compared to “Dungeons & Dragons,” and is used to get in contact with other types of people such as themselves, vampires. These kinds of games though have proved dangerous as serial killers sometimes will disguise themselves as “vampires” so that they can get more victims presented right to them.

Vampirism is no longer the myth that simply used to scare townspeople and have them pull drastic measures to stay safe. It has become a lifestyle that hundreds of thousands of people live everyday all over the world. Associated mostly with the gothic subculture, these people live outside the norms of everyday society and enjoy the easy-going and life-loving image that gives them feelings of power and being more special then normal people. It is real, and it does exist whether it is for power, sexual ecstasy, to live differently, or to really get involved in everything that a vampire is.

The Video

The films are each shown in Full Frame format and look good. They are presented as they were when first aired and colors are bright and sharp while the black & white scenes look great as well. Nothing to complain of here because there are many formats on each disc with interviews, old and more recent news footage, and still frame photographs. For documentary presentations, they are nicely done.

The Audio

The films are each heard in Stereo Sound and like the video; it’s also a more then capable job for the material being shown. Sometimes the older footage has a bit of a scratchy sound, but that is to be expected. Other then that, everything can be heard loudly and clearly with no real volume problems.

Special Features

None

The Inside Pulse

The Haunted Histories Collection has no special features, but they aren’t really needed. This collection is the special feature. All the documentary footage is what you’d usually find in the extras section but just turned into hour long features. For entertainment purposes alone, this set delivers on every level. It is the educational value that gives it the extra value which most people would never even realize. The whole time you can enjoy being entertained by the haunted things in life while learning about them. After the set is over, you’ll be smarter without even having a clue that things were being poured into your brain.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for Haunted Histories Collection
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE MOVIES

7.5
THE VIDEO

7
THE AUDIO

7
THE EXTRAS

0
REPLAY VALUE

5
OVERALL
6.5
(NOT AN AVERAGE)

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