I love anthologies and I love the Lore podcast. So when it was announced that Amazon paired up with Lore with the plan of creating an anthology TV series centered around stories covered on the podcast, I was already 100% on board. Our wonderful pal and contributor, Becky, already put together a list of 10 Great Episodes of Lore and folks have expressed their appreciation at getting some quick suggestions of which episodes to check out first. However, since Lore is an ongoing podcast and there have been many new episodes since Becky’s list (her list covered eps 1-26), I’ve decided to follow-up with some more great episodes. I tried to only pull from episodes 27 on but I decided to also include episode 21 because I just really liked it.
"Since the dawn of time, humans have pushed themselves to explore. When that adventure took to the seas, however, it was an invitation for tragedy. The ocean, you see, takes much from us. And sometimes it gives it back."
Ghostships are the subject of countless scary stories, local legends, horror movies, etc. It’s a rather unsettling notion; hundreds of travelers and workers aboard a ship that mysteriously disappears out on the ocean. Sure it’s easy to blame it on a shipwreck, but who really knows? Anything could happen out there -- the ocean is a terrifying place. Not only do those at sea need to worry about killer sharks, sudden storms, and 80-foot giant squids (those, maybe not so much…), but they also need to worry about mysteriously disappearing and then haunting the coast for eternity. That’s the subject of this aptly named episode -- and it’s main focus is the story and the tragic fate of the SS Valencia.
"Safety is a basic human need, and we build a lot of our life around achieving it. This is nothing new, really; humans have always sought safety in a dangerous world. And because of that, it’s those moments when safety is shattered that haunt us the most."
For all you lovers of true crime (my kindred spirits), this episode should definitely appeal to you. It may make you a little uneasy the next time you’re alone in your home -- which is always if you’re a loner like myself. It talks about the tragic case of the Hinterkaifeck murders. Yes, I know that’s a mouthful. This story takes place on the Hinterkaifeck farm, near Munich, Germany, and it ends with the mysterious and gruesome death of the Gruber family. There was no apparent motive for this murder -- money was found in obvious locations in the house meaning robbery was out of the question -- and there were all sorts of strange happenings around the farm. By no means the strangest thing, but quite possibly the most horrible, is that the murderer chose a mattock for his/her weapon. Probably my fault for listening to this by myself in my empty house, but this episode gave me some serious creeps.
"Stories leave a mark on us. They can act like scars or decoration, always there, always reminding us of things that happened. But in some cases, those stories leave behind literal, physical marks. Or do they?"
This episode focuses on stories that may or may not have left actual, physical marks on the world and how even if the physical mark has actually nothing to do with the story, as long as people believe it does, the story is given life and will continue to be told. This is explored by looking at only a few of the stories surrounding the area of Roanoke, NC. The history of Roanoke and the early settlers who went missing, is one of America’s oldest mysteries. But there are more tales and mysteries surrounding this area and they aren’t all involving the lost colony. Mahnke talks about Blackbeard and the pirates who roamed the coast, as well as the story of the Cora Tree, named after Cora the witch. I would love to hear a follow-up to this episode that explores other areas of the world that are teeming with local legends.
"We spend every waking moment surrounded by people. People who talk to us, who interact with us, and who are very much alive and breathing. Which is why it’s that much more shocking when we stumble upon those who aren’t. And it’s more common than you’d think."
I knew a couple kids in high school who found a dead body while in the woods behind one of their houses. I always tried to imagine what that would be like; you’re playing nerf guns or whatever with your friend when you notice a human skeleton, half-buried in the leaves and brush. It’s a crazy thought but it happens far more often than you’d imagine. This episode discusses multiple instances of people crossing paths with human remains and the eventual investigations that take place to determine the identity of the remains, as well as learning the story behind the person's death. It’s an episode that will either make you less likely to go playing around in the woods, for fear of finding a dead body, or more likely to go playing around in the woods due to the anticipation of possibly finding a dead body.
"Folklore has often developed as a response to real-world events, but the opposite has also been true. History has, upon occasion, unintentionally confirmed ancient tales. And nowhere is this more evident, or more bloody, than in the tale of one particular 16th-Century countess."
I have always been fascinated by the story of Elizabeth Bathory. How can one not be intrigued by the story of a young, Hungarian Countess, who has been labeled by the Guinness Book of World Records as the “most prolific female murderer”? Elizabeth Bathory is a perfect example of how family, nobility, and money aren’t enough to get away with murder. Sure, she wasn’t put to death in the same way her accomplices were, but I’d say that being imprisoned in solitary confinement for the rest of her life (which, ended up being only five more years) was not something that typically happened to Countesses. Honestly, I wish this episode was longer as I would’ve welcomed a lot more history on the dear Countess Bathory.
"For as crowded as this world has become, most people feel isolated and alone. Perhaps that’s why so many of us believe that there’s another world, just beyond the veil. But when that veil is tampered with and pulled aside, it’s hard to say what might emerge."
“Some doors are closed for a reason.” We live in a day and age where Spiritualism and mediums are, for the most part, completely “normal” and somewhat accepted concepts. However, in the mid-1800’s, Kate and Margaret Fox (the Fox sisters) emerged on the scene as gifted mediums, with an impressive ability to speak to the other side via a series of raps and clicks. The Fox sisters became famous and conducted seances for hundreds of people (including many notable figures). The sisters continued their scheming for years until a family relative, on their deathbed, finally confessed to the fraud. In addition to the Fox sisters, Mahnke talks about the infamous Phelps mansion in Stratford, CN. and the events that took place, which would eventually go on to inspire all those “haunting in Connecticut” movies and shows. This episode is more interesting than the majority of those “ghost hunting” shows you see on TV.
"Humans have always wandered off into unexplored territory. It’s a key part of our identity to leave safety behind in pursuit of adventure. Those journeys, though, don’t always end in success. In fact, sometimes they end in horrible tragedy."
If you are unfamiliar with the Dyatlov Pass story, you should definitely follow the link and read up on it. It’s one of those unsolved mysteries that provides the perfect backdrop for horror stories. For you lovers of horror, you may have already seen the movie Devil’s Pass, which is loosely based on the Dyatlov Pass incident. Regardless, it’s a crazy story about a group of explorers who go missing in Russia. Clearly there’s much more to the story than just “explorers went missing,” but you’ll have to find all the details out on your own.
"The older the city, the more stories there seem to be. Some places are home to tragedy, while others have played host to disaster or war. Few cities have it all, though, and judging by the pain those stories often reveal, that might be a good thing."
With a title like “Everything Floats,” I sort of expected an episode about boats or deaths at sea. T’was not the case, however. This episode explores the history and mystery behind the city known as “The Big Easy” and one of its most infamous residents, Marie Laveau. If you’re unfamiliar with Mrs. Laveau, it’s important to note that she was a pretty well-regarded VooDoo Priestess -- she was even allowed to “work” out of the St. Louis Cathedral, which is the oldest cathedral in the United States. In addition to the story of Laveau, this episode also talks about Julie White (aka Julia Brown) and some of the bizarre stories surrounding the Manchec Swamp. It seems, in this case, the episode’s title of “Everything Floats” refers to the various New Orleans ghosts as well as the unfortunate occurrence of dead bodies floating to the surface of the Manchec Swamp.
"We’ve been taught since childhood to be honest, because our actions have consequences and our words can hurt people. But the events that took place in a Scottish village over three hundred years ago took that lesson to a darker level."
Mahnke starts this episode by briefly discussing the Cardiff Giant and the idea of “counterfeit folklore.” As long as there has been a thirst for folklore, there have been people looking to take advantage of that thirst. The main bulk of this episode surrounds the history of witch trials in Scotland and, more specifically, how the testimony of an 11-year-old girl named Christian Shaw lead to the deaths of seven supposed witches in the town of Paisley. The history of the Salem witch trials is fairly well known by those with an interest in America’s sordid history. However, the history of Scotland’s persecution of witches and the events which took place in the Bargarran witch trials of 1697, is arguably not as well known. History continues to show us how terrified people can be of the unknown and unexplainable - especially if they decide it is somehow a threat to their faith.
"Civilization was transformed the moment we discovered it. We’ve built it into our religions and use it to advance our technology. Whether we take it for granted or not, there’s a darker side to this tool, and if we’re not careful, we might get burned."
Spontaneous Human Combustion (SHC). This is a concept that most people have heard of. I remember first reading about it when I was pretty young and having a rather unnatural fear that it would actually happen (sort of like the John Mulaney joke re quicksand not being as big of an issue as he imagined it would be). However, maybe my fears were justified. This episode discusses multiple instances of mysterious fires, seemingly occurring from within the human body, and how modern science and forensics are still unable to provide a true scientific explanation for these bizarre cases. How is science supposed to explain a 3000° fire that doesn’t seem to have an accelerant and doesn’t destroy everything around it (mainly just the human body -- and not even all of it!)?
So that’s my list! For those who haven’t listened to Lore, I hope reading about these episodes will encourage you to check it out. For those of you who have listened to Lore and love it like I do, which episodes would you count among your favorites?
~ Jamie (@jamiestamp)