Image Entertainment presents
Paranormal Destinations (2008)
"My heart was just coming out of my chest. Like oh my god, oh my god I can't believe this!"- Bigfoot witnessDirector: various
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 04h:11m:00s
Release Date: 2008-09-02
DVD ReviewSome may say I'm a little off, but when my wife, daughter and I take vacations it is typically to some unusual, weird or somehow strange locale. Haunted places are always high on our list of destinations, and we've wandered through some dark and creepy places in our time.
You can have a shiny happy place like Branson, just give us an old cemetery or a decrepit prison and we're on our way. So the idea of the Travel Channel's Paranormal Destinations DVD release seemed right up my proverbial alley, and given that we've been to two of the featured spots (Salem, MA and Gettysburg, PA) made it even more intriguing to me. The episode titles should clue you in on the content, and gathered here are Hunt For Dracula, Ghosts Of Gettysburg, Witches Of Salem, Lake Monsters, Bigfoot and Alien Encounters.
Consisting of three 41-minute episodes of Mysterious Journeys (presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen) and three 41-minute episodes of Weird Travels (presented in 1.33:1 fullframe), Paranormal Destinations should have been a dark, off-beat guidebook for weirdos like me—or at least that's what I was hoping it would be. What's here, however, is a fairly basic overview of history/rumor of a given subject, balanced by interviews with the occasional expert, witnesses and plenty of costumed dramatizations (including one unintentionally comic Bigfoot). The fact that Bigfoot, aliens, Nessie and Dracula don't exactly qualify as "paranormal"—that's typically reserved for ghosts, spirits, EVP, psychokinesis, etc—sort of fudges the thematic bent of this release, and if there's one thing I hate is when things don't match. But I'm a nut for Bigfoot and aliens, so I was willing to overlook the conceptual discrepancy to some degree.
Unless these topics are completely new to you, it is unlikely there will be any remarkable revelations found here. The cursory overview of Roswell, even with appearances by the always enjoyable and gruff Stanton Friedman, barely scratches the surface, and in some ways comes off a little too spartan to properly explain all the nuances. The alien-themed ep is, however, salvaged by a lengthy conversation with infamous abductee Travis Walton (of Fire In The Sky fame), as well as an appearance by alleged Area 51 employee Bob Lazar, whose reverse-engineer-an-alien-spacecraft claims have always seemed spotty. Of the six, ironically Alien Encounters is the most mysterious and fun, though a truly creepy EVP sequence in Ghosts Of Gettysburg comes the closest to hitting the paranormal nail on the head.
For me, it was sort of neat to see places we've visited, but that probably means little to you. The glossy explanations, weird visual effects and the frequent recreations try hard to make things sound more otherworldly than perhaps they really are, and there wasn't any substantive content that I didn't know before I popped the disc in. But I'm weird that way. Sure, I've had a Bigfoot expedition to the Pacific Northwest and a trip to Roswell, NM on my imaginary travel calendar for decades, and I wouldn't rule out a trip to see Vlad The Impaler's castle either.
If this kind of thing is new to you, then sitting through Paranormal Destinations might offer some moderate points of minor interest, though I would suggest prowling for these on the Travel Channel before shelling out $20 for the DVD.
Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: B-
|Aspect Ratio||1.78:1 - Widescreen||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes||yes|
Image Transfer Review: This single-sided disc carries three episodes of the series Mysterious Journeys (presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen) and three of the series Weird Travels (presented in 1.33:1 fullframe). Not an especially impressive set of image transfers—anamorphic or not—as edge details generally appear quite soft, with an overall lack of sharpness. Colors are decent enough, and at times often appear slightly too warm.
Image Transfer Grade: C+
Audio Transfer Review: Audio is provided in 2.0 stereo, and it delivers the trying-to-be-ominous narration cleanly, with not much in the way of any measurable dramatic separation. Music has a moderate punch to it, but the limitations of the stereo mix can only do so much.
As with many doc-TV-to-DVD product, it's plain, but certainly tolerable with substantial imperfections.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu with music
Scene Access with 30 cues and remote access
Packaging: clear plastic keepcase
Extras Review: Packaging is a clear plastic case, with brief episode descriptions visible when opened, printed on the back of the cover art. No content extras at all to be found here, though each approximately 41-minute episode is cut into 5 chapters.
Extras Grade: F
Final CommentsThis six-episode repackaging of two different Travel Channel series sometimes misses the point of the word "paranormal", though as mindless fold-the-laundry-and-pay-casual-attention programming I might have actually left this on had I stumbled across it on television. But as a DVD release it seems a little thin content-wise, and the sketchy image transfers and a complete lack of extras render this even weaker.
Call me when they visit Waverly Hills.
Rich Rosell 2009-01-09