This is in no particular order, so I am not even going to number it:
The Halloween Episode of Facts of Life. Holy shit. This scared me to tears. Go ahead laugh. I know it's ridiculous. But this absolutely terrified me as a boy. See, the girls are told a story about a murder that occurred in the house years earlier by this weird dude.....then the think that Mrs. Garrett is possessed by the murderer. Tootie plans an exorcism but things go straight down the shitter when the weird dude disappears and dead bodies start popping up. The episode is narrated on camera by a guy doing his best Rod Serling impression....which is quite funny.....now. I'm not going to ruin the end of the episode for you because I'm gonna let you watch it........right.....................now!
See what I mean? That was horrifying to a single digit aged child! I had a closet in my room that couldn't close all the way and as I lay in bed, peering into the impossible darkness......I couldn't stop thinking about this episode. The terror got the best of me and I ran screaming from my room into my mother's arms, convinced there was a killer in the closet watching me.
Unsolved Mysteries. Robert Stack standing in a cemetery or some other God forsaken location at 3 o'clock in the friggin morning. Staring intently into the camera and telling me in his monotone voice that some poor slob was never seen or heard from again after vanishing mysteriously off of a small party boat in the Bermuda Triangle. Okay so I just made that up off the top of my of my head, but I'm sure if you consulted with an episode guide, you'd find something pretty damn similar. Of course then a year later there would be a special update where Mr. Stack would inform you that her remains have been found sealed in a refrigerator that was found underneath a giant oak tree when they were clearing out some woods for a new shopping center.
UM covered everything from unsolved murders, to ghosts, ufo's, bigfoot sightings and everything in between. Each case was given the same treatment....all would have interviews with victims families, witnesses, etc...there would be re-enactments with second rate actors who usually looked absolutely NOTHING like the actual person and of course Bob Stack giving us the low down, standing in some creepy location while wearing a suit and a trench coat. Now just about everything about UM was absolutely terrifying to me, but it was the soul destroying music that sent me running every time. This music still runs through my head every time I find myself alone at home.
Weekly World News. Yep the weekly supermarket tabloid that would inform us that
The President is an Alien!
Satan's Face Seen In Fire After Plane Crash!
Real Photo of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse!
I didn't understand that this was a fake newspaper as a kid....and as I would thumb through it's pages, finding more and more incredible stories about killer snowmen, psychics that can cause your brain to explode and monsters living in the sewers, I would wonder why the other newspapers didn't report this stuff. A couple of the guys at school had told me that the local papers weren't allowed to report this stuff. So I spent the better part of my single digit age thinking that Weekly World News was a special paper that reported all the stuff that the others couldn't. I can remember quite vividly a front page stating that they had received an actual photo of one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. At age seven, I was quite sure who the horsemen were, but that grainy photo of a skull-faced man on a horse haunted me.
There was one other that stands out in my mind and it wasn't about monsters, demons or aliens.....it was after The Challenger Disaster that a front page headline stated that the crew did not die instantly in the explosion, but rather lived for another two minutes as the crew compartment plummeted to the ground. Now this part may indeed be true. According to the Official Report by Dr. Joseph Kerwin, the astronauts may have very well survived the blast, but more than likely due to loss of cabin pressure would have very quickly lost consciousness and were not awake at the time of impact on the ocean. According to Weekly World News, the astronauts not only survived the initial blast, but spent the next two minutes in an agonized panic as they plummeted helplessly to the water below. The following is a snippet from the Weekly World News Article:
A secret NASA tape reveals that the crew of the shuttle Challenger not only survived the explosion that ripped the vessel apart; they screamed, cried, cursed and prayed for three hellish minutes before they slammed into the Atlantic and perished on January 28, 1986.
The tape is said to begin with a startled crewman screaming, "What happened? What happened? Oh God - No!" Screams and curses are heard - several crewmen begin to weep - and then others bid their families farewell.
Two minutes forty-five seconds later the tape ends. That's when the shuttles crew compartment, which remained intact after the vessel exploded over the Atlantic, hit the ocean at over 2,000 miles per hour, instantly killing the crew.
"Cover up? Of course there was a coverup," declared Robert Hotz, a member of the Presidential commission that investigated the disaster." NASA can't face the fact that they put these astronauts in a situation where they didn't have adequate equipment to survive. NASA doesn't give a damn about anything but covering its ass," he said.
The official account released by NASA ends with shuttle pilot Michael Smith saying, " Uh-oh! " Some NASA employees have evidently heard more-much more. And they provided the rest of the account based on what they've discussed within NASA in the last five years. The astronauts had time and realized something was happening after the shuttle broke up.
"All shuttle astronauts carry personal recorders and the tape in question apparently came from Christa's (McAuliffe), which was recovered after the shuttle disaster," said Hotz. Jarvis was sitting beside her, and when he figured out what was happening he said, "Give me your hand."
"NASA insists there's nothing like that on tape but they're talking about the mission tape, not Christa's. So they're not lying, but they're not telling the truth, either."
A journalist with close ties to NASA was even more emphatic, "There are persistent rumors, dating back to the disaster, that this tape is absolutely bone-chilling."
The following transcript begins two seconds after NASA's official version ends, with pilot Michael Smith saying, "Uh-oh!" Times from the moment of takeoff are shown in minutes and seconds and are approximate. The sex of the speaker is indicated by M or F.
T+1:15 (M) What happened? What happened? Oh God, no - no!
T+1:17 (F) Oh dear God.
T+1:18 (M) Turn on your air pack! Turn on your air...
T+1:20 (M) Can't breathe... choking...
T+1:21 (M) Lift up your visor!
T+1:22 (M/F) (Screams.) It's hot. (Sobs.) I can't. Don't tell me... God! Do it...now...
T+1:24 (M) I told them... I told them... Dammit! Resnik don't...
T+1:27 (M) Take it easy! Move (unintelligible)...
T+1:28 (F) Don't let me die like this. Not now. Not here...
T+1:31 (M) Your arm... no... I (extended garble, static)
T+1:36 (F) I'm... passing... out...
T+1:37 (M) We're not dead yet.
T+1:40 (M) If you ever wanted (unintelligible) me a miracle... (unintelligible)... (screams)
T+1:41 (M) She's... she's... (garble) ... damn!
T+1:50 (M) Can't breathe...
T+1:51 (M/F) (screams) Jesus Christ! No!
T+1:54 (M) She's out.
T+1:55 (M) Lucky... (unintelligible).
T+1:56 (M) God. The water... we're dead! (screams)
T+2:00 (F) Goodbye (sobs)... I love you, I love you...
T+2:03 (M) Loosen up... loosen up...
T+2:07 (M) It'll just be like a ditch landing...
T+2:09 (M) That's right, think positive.
T+2:11 (M) Ditch procedure...
T+2:14 (M) No way!
T+2:17 (M) Give me your hand...
T+2:19 (M) You awake in there? I... I...
T+2:29 (M) Our Father... (unintelligible)...
T+2:42 (M) ...hallowed be Thy name... (unintelligible).
T+2:57 (M) You...over there?
T+2:58 (M) The Lord is my shepherd, I shall...not want. He maketh me to lie down in green
pastures... though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear
no evil... I will dwell in the house...
T+3:15 to end None. Static, silence.
I strongly recommend reading this article exposing the hoax of the final recording.
I remember not feeling right after reading that article. Something inside of me changed. I had trouble sleeping and all I could think of was the horror that these people experienced as they fell to their deaths. To this day, every time someone mentions The Challenger, WWN's article is the first thing that I think about, as a chill runs down my spine.
Of course I got older, WWN quickly became a weekly addiction with some truly great cover stories and of course the photos to go with it.
I mean come on! Alien Ghost Haunts Roswell?! Satan Captured in Iraq? This is tabloid GOLD! I'm telling ya, I shoulda been a tabloid writer! I coulda been like Zak McKraken!
As I write this article, I realize that this will go on forever if I let it. So let's call this article Part I and I will continue to exploit my childhood fears at another time! Hey, gotta get you guys comin' back SOMEHOW, right? So until next time, kiddies.....keep them sheets over your head!