Thursday, October 2, 2008

DESTINATION TRUTH - Haunted Forest; Aswang

History Channel - Original Air Date: 10/1/08

At the base of Mt. Fuji, in Japan, there is a forest that is Japan's most popular place to commit suicide.  Naturally, the forest is reputed to be haunted.  The thick woods and spectacular scenery are "the perfect place" to kill yourself.  It is also, apparently, a very easy place to get lost.  Ryder the researcher makes yet another of her ongoing appearances in procuring an undersized horse for Josh to ride.  (The forest is gorgeous and looks like something out of a samurai film -- and, in fact, it probably is.)  Josh and his crew pick a secluded spot and look for spirits -- which may appear as apparitions or even strange mist.  Ryder quickly gets lost in the dark, and the other folks struggle in the dense foliage, too.  During their trek, the crew encounters university students out looking for dead bodies; they also claim to have seen spirits.  The forest is dotted with suicide prevention signs.  Soon, lots of the crew are lost, and some are freaking out, and compasses seem unreliable -- the whole situation is very Blair Witch.  An abandoned campsite (perhaps from a suicide) becomes the focus of their call & response (and EVP) work.  Soon people are hearing and seeing things -- and even Josh freaks out when he spots something that looks like a person lurking in the dark.  (No one's there.)  They also find photos, cut-up credit cards, and other debris from desperate people's lives.  Josh describes their experience as a "long and terrifying night."  EVP work turns up a strange "voice," and the camera picks up a "human shaped" figure that appears and then seems to collapse into itself.  (Unfortunately, the show doesn't do a lot of video enhancement on this evidence to better show us the shape.)  Josh concludes that the best evidence is what he and Casey saw, people that weren't really there.  This is one of the crew's most unsettling investigations to date.

The aswang is a Filipino creature with stringy hair, long claws, and a thread-like tongue; the creature lurks in the trees and attacks people.  (Clearly the show spent a good deal of time in the Philippines.)  The creature is also reputed to be able to shapechange into a dog, a cat, or even a human.  (Which must make it very hard to pick out from normal fauna and folk.)  After the usual oddball trek into the countryside, the team reaches the center of the recent sightings.  A medicine woman gives Josh a strange blessing, and he then heads out to find a tree so haunted that a small church has been built next to it to counteract its evil.  The team sets up their equipment and then eats -- or mostly barfs -- a local delicacy of unhatched chicken.  They spot something on the infrared camera and hear a strange "ticking" sound (reputed to be one of the noises the aswang makes).  One of the infrared shapes turns out to be a cow.  In the church, they hear strange noises -- whispering and moaning -- from outside, but can't track down anything.  Something flies by a camera, and a cat and a bat appear in the church on their observation cameras.  When a dog appears (completing the monster's trinity of unholy shapes), Ryder freaks and retires from the investgation.  Once again, full-blown back-country superstitions are on display, and it seems convenient to me that the monster can appear as local small animals.  At the end of the show, Josh reaches the same conclusion.  Returning home, one analyst declares the ticking sound a probable bug, and the shadow on the camera a probable cat.  Josh points out that the aswang is a local boogie man based more in superstition and the natural noise and animals of the jungle than anything real.  He suggests that Ryder not buy into the legends so much in the future.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

The forest thing in Japan was so staged by the crew,they "Hollywooodized" it by letting Ryder wander by herself knowing that common sense dictates you dont go sightseeing in an unfamiliar place,in the dark by yourself!! What were they trying to do,bring back the blair witch scenario to boost ratings??The only thing missing was for Ryder to close up on her face while snoot was dripping out of her nose,LOL!!

Anonymous said...

Tricia, Grove, Oklahoma

When Josh Gates was going to talk to the Forrest Ranger, Josh enters between 2 pillars, if you freeze the frame you will see the trees form a face of Abraham Lincoln. Seriously, guys, pull up a picture of Mt Rushmore, then look at the face the trees are forming, and walla--presto, Abraham Lincoln..so cool man.

Chicka said...

We were laughing our butts off at the tik-tik sound. Through the entire portion of the episode I kept saying, "Sounds like insects in the woods." Heh...

Still, we love to watch Ryder freak out every time.

Stephen D. Sullivan said...

I find it amusing that Ryder seems to be combination of tough chick one moment and screamer the next. But it was nice to see Josh really scream in this episode. They may have set Ryder up, but Josh was genuinely startled/scared. And I immediately said "bug" about that sound, too. You should have heard the siren-like critter in the treetop outside my front door the other day! Bugs can make amazing noises. I think one of the interesting facets of DT is the prevalence of superstition in the 21st century and the fine line between mystery and muth.

Anonymous said...

Let me get this straight. Japanese ghosts understand English? "Is someone there..."

Does anyone else find it odd that Josh went to get protection from the aswang - went to a place where a church is built to ward off the aswang, and then expected one to come? I disagree that they spent anytime at all in the Philippines. They have a very superficial understanding of the folklore. I would be surprised if they were there for more than 3 days - tops!

The whole idea of the show is to 'freak out' audiences with editing tricks - pay attention to the music. I agree that it is fun, but sometimes it is hard to see Josh and his crew disrespect a culture as much as they did in the PH - spitting out and gagging on balot - why even try it (obviously for the audience)? Mispronouncing 'aswang, putting down anything unwestern. I'm not even Filipino and it ticks me off.

Oh well, he gets his ratings, I get a laugh and we all win :)

Anonymous said...

i like this show. the only thing that bugs is ryder for some reason. the other girl they had seemed more tough. but im sure running around at nite in places you have never been before can do things to you. sorry guys. but ryder needs to go.