Doc Chat: Accursed Mountain State, Belgium deserted

The National Geographic collection “Atlas of Cursed Areas” manages to sneak in some sly political commentary less than the trappings of the normal sensationalistic tales of the weird and supernatural. In the episode “The Curse of West Virginia” host Sam Sheridan journeys to the Mountain State, where by the curse he investigates is the elusive Mothman, potentially ideal acknowledged as the subject of “The Mothman Prophecies,” a 2002 horror movie starring Richard Gere.

In November 1966, in Place Pleasurable, a town at the confluence of the Kanawha and Ohio rivers, two partners claimed to have been chased by a big winged guy with glowing pink eyes while they were driving in the vicinity of an aged army munitions dump. More sightings and other strange phenomena happened, these kinds of as a dog disappearing and strange adult males in black appearing in a diner who did not know how to use utensils. Then in December 1967 a sighting of the Mothman was claimed at the close by Silver Bridge just just before it collapsed, killing 46 men and women. Other disasters adopted, which includes a flood of coal slurry from a mine in 1972 that killed 125 people today in Buffalo Creek Valley.

Sheridan’s search for the real truth normally takes him to a scary bunker abandoned due to the fact Entire world War II, in which the creature was rumored to dwell. In pitch darkness (why not go to in the day?) he opens the creaky metallic door and finds . . . dank partitions covered with graffiti. No Mothman, but Sheridan details out that in 1983 the put was declared an Environmental Safety Company Superfund web page. He then visits an engineering pro who demonstrates how the Silver Bridge collapsed simply because of shoddy building and talks to activists who position out how West Virginia’s lax rules for the fossil fuel market have resulted in quite a few catastrophes.

Some attribute these disasters to the curse of Cornstalk, a Shawnee main treacherously murdered in 1777 in close proximity to Level Pleasurable by militiamen. Sheridan wonders no matter whether the serious offender might not be the curse or the Mothman but ruthless developers and mining corporations that have razed the landscape, polluted the drinking water, and poisoned the populace. The point that his tires are slashed and an individual chases him off a single spot at gunpoint as he searches for clues suggests that his rationalization might be nearer to the fact.

“The Curse of West Virginia” can be found as portion of the “Atlas of Cursed Places” collection on the Countrywide Geographic Channel Dec. 29 at 9 p.m. Go to set/reveals/atlas-of-cursed-sites.

Savage noble

The Belgian aristocrat of the title in Grace Wintertime and Luc Plantier’s The Marquis of Wavrin: From the Manor to the Jungle (2017) was not constantly a great guy. Robert de Wavrin (1888-1971) was born into a rich noble loved ones that could trace its lineage back to the 11th century. At 25 he induced a scandal when he blithely shot two boys pilfering nuts on his estate, seriously wounding them. Wavrin didn’t bother to attend the trial. Immediately after the prosecutor pointed out that the privileges of the nobility experienced been rescinded in 1789, the court sentenced him to a yr in jail.

Wavrin fled to Argentina, where a thing altered in him. He was drawn to the wilderness and unexplored spots, traveling to the pampas, having a little boat with his digital camera up the Paraná River into Paraguay, then on to Brazil and over and above, taking pictures the animals (sometimes basically heaps of photos of him with lifeless pumas and tapirs), the landscapes, and the indigenous persons together the way.

The journey took 3 decades. It was the initially of numerous, and he began filming as effectively as photographing what he noticed. The movies brought about a stir, in particular “In the Land of the Scalp” (1931), in which he captured the Shuar people today practising their rite of “tzantza” — shrinking heads. In 1938 he planned an bold expedition to uncover the supply of the Orinoco River, but he could not elevate enough funds. Entire world War II intervened, and his travels finished. He died in 1971, largely neglected, his films missing.

Winter and Plantier’s film tells this tale in Wavrin’s very own words and images — the previous verging on the magniloquent, the latter limpid and haunting. The illustrations or photos have survived since of Winter’s operate in the Royal Movie Archive of Belgium, recovering and restoring them, which the film also particulars. Nevertheless Wavrin verges at situations on the voyeuristic, he does not indulge as did some early ethnographic documentarians in a colonialist, condescending mindset to indigenous men and women but is as an alternative deeply curious, empathetic, and protecting. In one particular prescient scene he shoots a primitive village on stilts in a lake in Venezuela, and then cuts to the other shore to a contemporary model of the similar — rows of oil wells, the beginning of the exploitation and despoliation that will render virtually all of Wavrin’s beloved tribes extinct.

“The Marquis of Wavrin: From the Manor to the Jungle” can be viewed on OVID.television. Go to

Peter Keough can be achieved at [email protected].