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Anthony Head

Anthony Stewart Head - "True Horror" Documentary - A look into our nightmares

By Karina Foo Kuan Mei

Saturday 11 June 2005, by Webmaster

The realm of the unknown always intrigues and elicits both fascination and fear. Discovery Channel’s captivating new series True Horror attempts to unearth the truth through a series of scientific and historical investigations. KARINA FOO KUAN MEI has the story.

Pos Malaysia CREATURES of the unknown may trigger shivers down our spines, but do they really exist or are they just a figment of our imagination?

The answers may lie in Discovery Channel’s captivating new series True Horror, as it unearths the origins of our menacing childhood nightmares through a series of scientific and historical investigations.

Presented by British actor Anthony Stewart Head, who is well-known for his role as Professor Rupert Giles (“watcher”) in the hit series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the grisly documentary will attempt to unravel any possible truth behind vampires, demons, witches, zombies and werewolves.

For the documentary, Head travelled to Britain, Italy, Haiti, Romania and Syria and interviewed the head of the Vatican’s exorcism division, chief druids, theologians, archaeologists and even villagers. “I interviewed a criminal pathologist in a morgue in Romania. He said the symptoms and condition of a body after death can be mistaken for vampirism. The experience is so real yet unbelievable when you get to examine a dead boy to that extent,” said Head in a recent telephone interview.

ZOMBIFIED: Anthony Stewart Head discovered that zombies are a uniquely Haitian phenomenon

For a person who is no stranger to horror, Head admitted he was chilled to the bone at some of the strange things he experienced while filming the documentary.

“In Haiti, we were freaked out by a strange woman who uncannily smiled when she calmly asked me to pay her US$2,000 (RM7,600) to dig up a zombie from a grave so I can spend 30 minutes with it. While she told me that the smell would let me know whether it was really dead, I was more concerned that she could have easily whacked me over the head and after a few days of unconsciousness, tell others that I’m the zombie!” said Head.

In fact, some of the findings did bother him especially after an investigation of the Muti murders in South Africa where people were killed for body parts. “We learnt there’s even scarier stuff than the supernatural because of what people do in the name of their belief,” he said.

He also recalled a spooky visit to a village in Romania where some villagers had dug up a member of their family believing that he was a vampire.

Said Head: “We later learnt that the family of the dead old man had overstepped a Romanian ritual for the dead as they deliberately took out more of his organs than required so the villagers, who were mostly old women, were quite hostile and didn’t want us around as they were afraid that we might see and tell.”

Head, however, remains adamant that science will never be able to rationalise the inexplicable and unknown, stressing that he hates it “when documentaries try to be so balanced because there are far more things in our dreams than we’ll ever be able to disprove or prove and there’s still plenty of stuff out there to keep us going.”

True Horror has five weekly episodes. It premieres on Tuesday at 11pm on the Discovery Channel (Astro Channel 50).

Bloodthirsty facts

THE first episode of True Horror looks at demons as presenter Anthony Head travels to the ancient temple of Palmrya in Syria to uncover the history of fallen angels. The world of demons forces him to confront events and realities that can never be fully explained and which still has the power to scare us all.

From shape-shifting druids to modern-day killers, Head reveals the truth behind werewolf myth in the second episode of the documentary. Starting in ancient Greece, he shows us how the first werewolf stories date back more than 2,000 years and discovers that the impact of these early stories was so great that they even appear in the Bible!

No more are we terrified at the cackling laughter of flying witches, as the third episode will remind viewers that the power of black magic and witchcraft is even scarier and still very much alive.

The fourth episode sees Head travelling to Haiti, only to discover that zombies are a uniquely Haitian phenomenon and not only associated with voodoo (or more accurately vodou).

While Dracula will only want to “suck your blood...”, Head uses his Buffy knowledge and the help from scientists, historians and vampire experts to investigate for himself the origins and facts behind vampires.

He discovers that the fear of these bloodthirsty creatures is all too real in modern Romania and finds out about the recent slaying of supposed vampires that shocked the country.

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