Aaron Mahnke was really onto something when he began his podcast, “Lore”, a couple of years ago. Right away, he was picking up a huge amount of followers, and he won the “Best of 2015” and “Best of 2016” awards on iTunes and currently has 7700 5-Star reviews and 91 million listens.
The podcast delves deeply into folklore, mythology, and the stories that keep us awake at night. Mahnke’s matter of fact delivery draws his listeners in and the engaging stories do the rest. The podcast soon expanded to three books which feature fan favorites from the podcast and now, it has been adapted as a series for Amazon Prime.
Much like the podcast, each episode focuses on a specific story of the strange and unusual with a smattering of related short blurbs that fall under that particular episode’s theme. The stories are told through a series of beautiful animations and full scale reenactments of the featured story with a few surprising faces in the mix.
With Executive Producers from shows like The Walking Dead and The X-Files, the series is certainly in good hands. They’ve brought together a magnificent cast to tell these stories and the production values are stellar.
These are not “scary stories”…these are what “scary stories” read to their children to frighten them into behaving.
In the first episode, Campbell Scott stars as George Brown, a father in the 1800s who watches each of his family members slowly die of consumption, the common name for tuberculosis at the time. When doctors are unable to help, another man comes to see him and urges him to consider that the family might be under attack from a demon, and the only way to end the plague is to determine which of Brown’s deceased family members is host to the demon by opening their graves to see if any of the bodies appear to be healthy and aren’t falling to the ravages of decomposition. It’s only then that they can burn the liver and heart of the host and end the Brown’s plague.
Episode two features Colm Feore as Dr. Walter Freeman, the man who developed the so-called ice pick lobotomy and the vast array of horrors that developed in its wake. Kristen Cloke stars as Freeman’s wife, Dr. Marjorie Freeman, bringing a beautiful and haunting face of humanity to the barbaric process her husband created. This episode has one of the most harrowing and dark endings of the series and must been seen to be believed.
Episode three takes us to Ireland with Holland Roden of MTV’s “Teen Wolf” as Bridget, a woman suspected of being a fairy changeling. Her husband, played by the handsome Cathal Pendred, will stop at nothing to have his wife back. The case is famous to this day in Ireland where nursery rhymes and storytellers relay the tale of Michael and Bridget Cleary.
Episode four tells the story of Reverend Eliamkim Phelps, played by Robert Patrick, a minister caught up in the spiritualist movement of the late 19th century after the death of his wife. While telling the central story, Mahnke also relates the tale of the famous Fox sisters and of Harry Houdini’s attempts to discredit the spiritualist movement all on his own.
Werewolves take center stage in episode five with a central story about one of the beasts killing women and children in the village of Bedburg, Germany at the end of the 16th century. The episode beautifully weaves together the tale of these terrified villagers with the story of the Beast of Gevaudin from France. The Beast is possibly the most famous of all the werewolf stories at the time and was immortalized in the film Le Pacte de Loup (Brotherhood of the Wolf).
Mahnke saved one of the most disturbing tales for the sixth and final episode of the first season of the series. It’s the tale of Robert the Doll, one of the most terrifying dolls in the world. The episode reveals the history of Robert, and how he seemingly took on a life of his own. Robert brought havoc and misery to the Otto family and the young boy who had been given the doll as a gift. To this day, the doll resides behind glass with warnings that no one should take his picture without asking permission. Those who don’t pay heed to the warning have often found themselves with a rash of bad luck and Robert has received hundreds of apology letters in response.
“Lore” is available for streaming to Amazon Prime members and I cannot recommend this series enough if you are interested in folklore and the history of the strange. It won’t let you down!
For more information, check out Mahnke’s website for all the latest updates!