The History Channel gathers together five previously aired documentaries “ two of them episodes of “The Unexplained,” one an episode of “In Search of History” and all but one under an hour long “ for the “Haunted Histories Collection” boxed set. For those who prefer their Halloween to be more factual than frightful, this treat’ll do the trick.
Narrated by Harry Smith, “The Haunted History of Halloween” gives an overview on the holiday’s Celtic origins (including reading entrails of animals) and its often controversial nature among religious groups in America. It’s most interesting to learn how war shaped how we celebrate “ and, for some, fear “ the annual night of the dead.
“Hauntings” looks at accounts of homeowner horrors, from loud sounds to spirit stalkings, complete with cheesy re-enactments. “Poltergeist” does the same, only with a heavier leaning on poltergeist activity, of course.
“Vampire Secrets” may be the program with the most appeal, given their enduring popularity, but “Salem Witch Trials” proves the most entertaining of the bunch “ and, ironically, the most educational. More than 300 years later, we can still learn from our country’s grave mistakes, as this one shows. That we were ever this close-minded may be the scariest thing of all among all five discs.