Rank #1: Send In The Clowns | Episode 19
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!
Rank #2: A Haunting Winter | Ep. 18
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.
Rank #3: The Masque of the Red Death and A Memento Mori Halloween, Part 2 | Ep. 17
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.
Rank #4: A Memento Mori Halloween, Part 1 | Ep. 16
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.
Rank #5: Conjuring Magic and Murder: A Mystery in Motor City | Ep. 15
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, leaving it a perplexing, eternal mystery.
Rank #6: The Affair of the Poisons, Part 3 | Ep. 14
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)
Rank #7: The Affair of the Poisons, Part 2 | Ep. 13
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.
Rank #8: The Affair of the Poisons, Part 1 | Ep. 12
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 Nicolas Flamel.
Rank #9: Wolf In Sheep's Clothes | Ep. 11
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.
Rank #10: Grave Matters in Edinburgh | Ep. 10
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.