Years ago, when I still had cable, watching documentaries and programs on the History Channel was a favorite pastime. Which is to say I’d turn the channel on mostly for background noise and pick up a few facts along the way. With the release of the 2 disc Haunted History DVD set, I felt like it was days of yore.
Eight episodes of the H2 series make up this set: Ghosts of Gettysburg, Salem Witch Trials, Murder Castle, Lost Souls of Pennhurst, Katrina Cannibal, A Deadly Possession, The Torso Murders and The Manson Murders. Most people would immediately flock to Salem or Manson, however, the first episode on the disc, and one of the most intriguing for me was Murder Castle.
Murder Castle tells the story of H.H. Holmes, a man who built a hotel in Chicago designed with a misleading layout specifically to kill people. While the generalized story of this specific serial killer may be well known, the History Channel episode includes the possible idea that Holmes was also Jack the Ripper, as they had many similarities. This is the basis for each of the episodes: a simple history of a location or person, which is then expanded on for an hour.
While these episodes tend to include some lesser known facts, they also have a tendency to ramble on and deviate from the title’s intended focus. There are a handful of supernatural experiences, yet the historical research part of the episodes seems to dominate. And yet, they are never thoroughly investigated as the runtime prohibits it. The main issue I would find with such a set is the re-watch value. Unlike films and television series, these documentary type of programs are normally a one time viewing. However, I very much enjoy learning the history of supposedly haunted locations. Even with the set deviating from the haunted aspect, having such knowledge about topics such a H.H. Holmes, to me, is extremely valuable and appealing.
The DVD set has no extra features and is simply presented in widescreen with 2.0 digital audio. It’s just a TV show on a DVD. Unless they are for educational purposes that would be repeatedly used, the value of this set would be left to benefit those who collect such memorabilia on certain topics. Yet, for those of us that enjoy being well versed on any of the subject matters presented, Haunted History is definitely worth owning.
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