Tales of the Unexplained DVD Review

Written by Sham

DVD released by Crescent Entertainment

Created by David McKenzie
Directed by Susan O’Leary
Region 1 (NTSC), 198 minutes, Not rated
DVD released on June 28th, 2005

Starring:
James Romanovich
Patrick Macnee

Review:

Tales of the Unexplained is a four episode documentary running just under 200 minutes. It discusses some of the most legendary and unsolved mysteries of the world, and even the lesser known ones, as well. So why discuss legends that everyone knows about without solving them?

Because it sells.

Crazy stories plus reality equals instant cash, and I think the crew behind this lengthy documentary is aware of this. Even so, Talesreveals some stories that I had no previous knowledge of, one in particular involving a haunted railway, which fascinated me. I’m going to be completely honest and say it took me three days to finish Tales. Yes, it’s long, and that’s one of the factors, but the first episode is also the worst, and extremely tough to sit through. However, if you stick out the first forty or so minutes, you’ll be in for a real treat, as host Patrick Macnee reveals some of the creepiest and most intriguing stories ever witnessed.

Let’s get the bad out of the way. The first episode, “UFO Chronicles,” concerns the sightings of aliens and flying saucers. There’s also a quite boring outlook on the story of the infamous Roswell, where the military had announced the capture of a real UFO, only later revealing (or, maybe, claiming?) it was a weather balloon. Odd. There’s also a segment where a bunch of folks claim to be the offspring of aliens, and while some may believe what they say, I found it to be completely laughable. Maybe it’s because I do not believe in extraterrestrials that made me dislike this episode, but, regardless, it really is a tedious bore.

The next episode, “Creatures of the Night”, is the best, illuminating the tales of haunted Hollywood hotels, ghostly railroad incidents, and a special kind of mushroom that has the power of working miracles. There’s more, ranging from werewolf people to sightings of the Virgin Mary, but I found these three segments to be the most intriguing. The segment on haunted Hollywood hotels reveals actor Montgomery Clift (1920-1966) being witnessed walking the halls of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel by the employees. The railway incident concerns a 1940’s tragedy, in which a school bus carrying ten children was hit by an oncoming train, killing everyone inside. To this day, the children’s spirits remain at the tracks to help push cars over the hill that the railway rests on. The miracle worker bit relates to theKombucha mushroom, which is made into a special kind of tea that has the power to heal people with AIDS and other incurable diseases. If you believe in miracles, the supernatural, or are just interested in strange occurrences, then “Creatures of the Night” is the ticket you’re looking for.

Jack the Ripper is the focal point of the third episode, titled “London Underworld.” The segment reveals three of the suspects who were believed to have been the Ripper himself, and an extended analysis of the way he killed his victims. There’s also a segment, which is my personal favorite from the entire documentary, where a woman brings a family back together by the use of reincarnation. The rest of the episode concerns out of body experiences, and one brief bit that discusses the origin of horror’s most famous character, Dracula.

The final episode, “Mysteries of Life,” is a hot little segment – literally! It discusses everything fire related, from a woman being burned alive in a plane crash (and surviving) to an analysis of walking on burning coals. However, when it shows everybody walking on the burning coals, it’s too dark to see anything, and when director Susan O’Leary attempts it, the coals are just black and hardly visible in the dim lighting. There’s a huge difference between burning coals and burnt coals. Nice try.

In the end, you’ve got to be primarily interested in all of this before you watch it, because that’s the only way you’ll find yourself liking it. As such, Tales would make a great rental, but a purchase is a stretch. If you can find it for a cheap price, then definitely get it.

Video and Audio:

Tales is presented in a 1:33:1 full screen aspect ratio. The night scenes are full of grain and artifacts, but the day scenes are quite vibrant and clear. Decent enough, but it could’ve been a lot better.

The sound isn’t too bad, but not great either. There’s practically no use of the back speakers, and the music overpowered the dialogue a couple of times, but, for the most part, I could understand what everyone was saying, and in films such as Tales, that’s what matters.

Special Features:

There are no special features. Zip. Nadda. Goose egg.

Grades:

Movie: 3 Stars ─ Interesting and informative, Tales is worth a look.
Video: 3.5 Stars ─ The picture is decent enough for a film like this.
Audio: 3 Stars ─ Gets the job done.
Features: 0 Stars ─ Seriously, is it that hard to find something to put on the disc?
Overall: 3 Stars ─ Worth a rental; I only recommend a purchase if it’s cheap.

Conclusion:

Tales of the Unexplained is a decent documentary of the mysteries of the world, and it’s worth a look if you’re a foremost aficionado of these tales. As mentioned earlier, only buy it if it’s cheap. Definitely worth a rental, though.

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