Monsters have been with us from the dawn of humankind. The monster's history in our mythology and belief systems speaks to the many hidden needs and fears within the human mind. On this episode, we explore why the human mind has always needed monsters, through combat myths, Beowulf, an Egyptian creation myth, Greek tragedy, and more. And in homage to scary monster stories, it opens with a monster-under-the-bed tale I call 'Silver Eyes'.
Clowns, clowns, clowns! This episode starts off with a dramatized clown urban legend, before exploring the long history of clowning that stretches back to ancient times, with a special emphasis on Joseph Grimaldi, the first modern clown. The fear of clowns is also delved into, as the psychological reasons for this fear is explained, as well as the real-life and fictional examples of those who've inspired it, like John Wayne Gacy, Pennywise, and the clown doll from 'Poltergeist'. The role of the clown in society is analyzed as well, from his appearance in Shakespare's plays down to the killer clown panics that began in the 1980s. Send in the clowns!
The custom of telling winter’s tales is not known to most of us today, but it was custom that stretches back hundreds of years. And more often then not, these winter tales turned to horror.
The popularity of these winter ghost tales peaked to an all time high during the Victorian era and became a celebrated Christmas tradition. And this entanglement of ghosts and Christmas, ultimately lead to a ghost story becoming the most enduring Christmas tale of all, Charles Dickens, ‘A Christmas Carol’, a story in which the ghosts of past, present, and future, change a man’s life for the better.
Join The Strange and Unusual Podcast, as we explore the tradition of winter ghost stories and the reasons they meant to so much to our ancestors, and maybe ought to kept alive today.
A telling of 'The Masque of the Red Death' by Edgar Allan Poe, as well as the conclusion of A Memento Mori Halloween is in this episode. European witch trials, Macbeth, Irish and Scottish traditions, the evolution of Samhain and Halloween, and the Dance of Death is all a part of this fascinating and spooky story.
In this episode, Halloween, and its predecessor Samhain, is explored with the telling of the ghost story 'The Pale Man' and a dive into its evolving history, which includes a look at the Gaelic Celts, The Black Death, Danse Macabre, All Saints and Souls Days, the concept of Memento Mori, and more.
On July 3, 1929, Italian immigrant and occult mystic healer, Benny Evangelist, was beheaded with an ax in his home office. The killer than murdered Benny's sleeping wife, Santina, and their four children upstairs. The murders remain a mystery, but what kind of motivation could inspire such a frenzied and brutal attack? In this episode, we delve into occult practices, magic, folk Catholicism, magical healers, a suicide inspired by fear of the ax killer, Italian folklore, as well as a look at the misconceptions about immigrants at the time, and how that may have affected the case, and left it an eternal, perplexing mystery.
In the conclusion of this series about the Affair of the Poisons, the increasing accusations against those in King Louis XIV's royal court become more sinister, shocking investigators and the king. With black magic, human sacrifice, witchcraft, priests admitting demonic practices, orgies, love spells and potions, aphrodisiacs, and black masses, this investigation could not have become stranger. (WARNING: sexual function is discussed in this episode, using the actual stories, taken from documents from the time)
In February of 1677 the 'Affair of the Poisons' was launched in Paris, France. And King Louis XIV, who had named himself the Sun King, after the Greek god, Apollo, was being faced with possible poisoning murder attempts within his own royal court, as well as realizing that those within his own circle may have sought the services of the magical underworld of Paris. Fortune-tellers, alchemists, diviners, conjurers, magicians, and those accused of practicing both white and black magic were rounded up, as well as so many who were now being of accused of murder by poison within the highest ranks of Paris. King Louis would be faced with his childhood fear of betrayal and rebellion, all while building up the grand palace of Versailles. For the next several years those practicing magic and those within the Church said to be holding black masses, as well as sacrificing babies and more to the devil, would become the focus of fascination and horror of those within French society.
In 1672, mysterious poisons were found in the home of a recently deceased Frenchman. This discovery would eventually lead to a years-long murder scandal that would come to be known as 'The Affair of the Poisons', and before it done even those in the noble class would be accused of devil worship, human sacrifice, treason, murder and more. In this first part, Mme de Brinvilliers' murder of her father and brothers by poison will be explored, as this was the case that started it all. Also, explored in this episode, in relation to the world view and time period, is alchemy, the philosopher's stone, and the lives of Sir Issac Newton and Nicholas Flamel.
In 1873, three Norwegian women were murdered on the Isles of Shoals, off the coast of New England, by someone they thought they could trust. in this episode, we explore the uncertainty, fear, and the sometimes unfortunate results of trusting real-life wolves in sheep's clothing. Along with an accounting of this murder, the phenomenon is also examined through Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack the Ripper, ax murder, and more.
In 1836, seventeen tiny coffins were found on the hillside of Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh, Scotland, adding to the mystery and legends of that location. A new theory emerged in the 1990's as to their purpose, and it would center on the infamous 19th century West Port murders, perpetrated by Burke and Hare. Join me as we enter the world of body snatchers, and explore 19th century Edinburgh.
Dark tourism is explored in this episode, as my visit and history of the Catacombs of Paris is detailed. I am also joined by Alyssa Conary, historian and resident of Salem, Massachusetts, in a discussion of dark tourism, its history, and a closer look at some of the most popular attractions that fall under this category. The 19th century phenomenon of tourist visits to the Paris Morgue, current day bed and breakfast stays at the Lizzie Borden House, witch tourism both in Salem and Pendle, and more is detailed in this episode.
Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart" found its inspiration in a real life murder in Salem, Massachusetts in 1830. In this episode, we examine Poe's story of madness, guilt, and paranoia and the shocking murder case of Captain Joseph White, which would inspire it.
As we continue exploring the world of necromancy in part 2, we peek into how scientific advances and spectacle factored into the practice during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Frankenstein, Spiritualism, and the Golden Age of Magic created and entertaining, thought-provoking, creepy, and playful atmosphere for raising the dead, which was irresistible for millions. And today it's still irresistible, as we still make use of relics from those exciting and macabre times.
Listen to tales of L'lconnue de la Seine, the dead-raising magicians of the medieval clerical underworld, the Monkey's Paw, bells that woke corpses in their graves and more, as we explore necromancy in the first of this 2-part series on raising the dead.
On the morning of April 24th, 1891, the body of a mutilated woman is found in a New York hotel room. Immediately, fear that Jack the Ripper was now at work in America hit the headlines, and the newly-formed New York Police Department was under tremendous pressure to find their man and prove their competence.
Join Alyson for the mystery of the murder of Carrie Brown, a victim of Jack the Ripper or a copycat killer in Victorian America.
Curses, or the belief in them, has been with us for millennia. Join Alyson as we explore curses or hexes through history, fiction, and true crime.
On the morning of October 30th, 1928, Elfrieda Knaak was found with her head, hands, and feet burned down to the bone in the furnace room of the Lake Bluff, Illinois police station. She survived her ordeal with fire, but not for long. Before her death she claimed she did it herself, but then made contradicting statements that seemed to implicate others being involved. The evidence in this case is perplexing and it remains a fascinating mystery to this day.
Join Alyson as we jump back to the 1920's and look into the revival of the spiritualist movement during that decade. Welcome to our first Murder Mystery Minisode!
Speak of the Devil and the Devil will appear. The power and superstition of the spoken of name is explored as we delve into the stories of Bloody Mary, Beetlejuice, a real-life exorcism, and more.