TV, Films, Books That Turned The Young You Onto The Fortean

Kellydandodi

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It was the early eighties and I was six years old when the 'Hamlyn' and 'Purnell' mystery books abounded, Uri Geller had been hounded from the states and taken up residence on UK TVs and the - retrospectively very cyncical actually - 'Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World/World of Strange Powers' was on the TV. All conspired to make me fascinated, slightly scared and always respectful of the weird, the paranormal, mysterious or Fortean. How about you?
 

Pietro_Mercurios

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Apart from all the science fiction I used to read, I was given a copy of a full colour guide to the Treasures of Tutankhamen's Tomb, when I was about nine, after my aunt visited the first major exhibition in London, back in the Sixties. There was a picture of his mummified head in it that gave me nightmares and sleepless nights, for weeks afterwards.

I remember finding a copy of Ignatius Donnelly's Atlantis: The Antediluvian World. Something of a classic of its kind. There was also Von Daniken's Chariots of the Gods and The Morning of the Magicians, by Pauwels and Bergier.

Come to think of it, Dennis Wheatley books must have had an influence and T. Lobsang Rampa's, The Third Eye, was a great read.

I bought my first copies of Fortean Times back in the late 1970s, early Eighties, when they were still A5 sized.

Long ago and far away. :lol:

Edit: Spelling. Not wearing glasses
 

OneWingedBird

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Definitely the TV shows with a high weirdness quotient, Doctor Who, Tomorrow People, Space 1999 and a bit later Sapphire and Steel and the early 80s rerun of The Prisoner, probably would have read a lot more weirdness if the local library had it in but that didn;t go past the odd ghost story or mysteries of the world type thing.

Arthur C Clarke's Mysterious World is the only factual show that comes to mind.

Introduced to FT late 80s by a school friend, i think it was still the A5 'journal' format then and a bit dry, liked it best when it first went mainstream and was alternate months, that seemed the best compromise on quality of content and a fun but regular fix of weirdness.
 

Stormkhan

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I had an inkling of an interest in the paranormal - my home was mildly haunted - but it was reading and collecting (avidly) the part-work The Unexplained that kicked me well into the genre.

Suffice to say that after over thirty years, I've still got my full collection in their binders.
 

Mythopoeika

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I read a lot of SF from an early age, so I was 'primed' for an interest in the Fortean...
At some point in the 70s, someone gave me a UFO book for Christmas. It was a book by Brad Steiger, but I no longer have it and can't remember the title (but I remember the cover picture). I can't find it listed anywhere, which is Fortean in itself.
Then I discovered Fortean Times back in the late 80s. Or was it the early 90s?

Edit: Oh yes, I forgot - I used to get a comic called Countdown (late 60s/early 70s). It had these wonderful little features about UFO sightings.
 

Cultjunky

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I had a big black book, the title was something like ''Witches and Ghosts of the Britich Isles", I'm guessing from Readers Digest. It also had that Cottingley Fairy pic with the elongated hands that still freaks me to today, so the title I remember might not be accurate. I remember reading it from being about 6/7. It told me all about the last witch hanged in Leeds, how her skeleton was still at Leeds Med School and I was sooooo hooked!

I wish I still had it. :cry:
 

Jerry_B

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For me it was 'The Unexplained' (I always remember the TV advert for the first issue, which had some EVP as there was a free flexi-disc), and also David Attenborough's Fabulous Animals. There are vague memories of a Hamlyn (?) book on UFOs and a Horizon programme or two about Nazca which I seem to recall before that.
 

Pietro_Mercurios

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BlackRiverFalls said:
Definitely the TV shows with a high weirdness quotient, Doctor Who, Tomorrow People, Space 1999 and a bit later Sapphire and Steel and the early 80s rerun of The Prisoner, probably would have read a lot more weirdness if the local library had it in but that didn;t go past the odd ghost story or mysteries of the world type thing.

....
That stuff, too. Special mention for, The Avengers, The Champions and Randall & Hopkirk (deceased). :lol:
 

dreeness

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So many things... When I was very small I had a toy flying saucer ("Jupiter Gyro") and also there was a board game called "The Green Ghost" which I never quite understood, and there were comic books, and little booklets from bubblegum machines, for a dime you could get weird little books about UFOs or monsters or whatever. It's funny the things we remember. On television, all the "Supermarionation" shows, and Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, Kolchak, In Search of Leonard Nimoy, and drive-in movie stuff like "The Mysterious Monsters" and "Legend of Boggy Creek".

My grandmother was a librarian, and I spent many unsupervised hours in the library, reading all sorts of probably age-innappropriate stuff, there was a room with boxes of old magazines, Mechanix Illustrated, Weird Tales, and across the street in the barber shop there were things like "Saga Magazine".

When I was about seven I went to the Canadian National Exhibition with my sisters, and in one of the buildings there was a display of plaster bigfoot feet, and some old guy at a table with maps. Maybe Dahinden? I really don't remember very well, it was also the year they were handing out free cups of a new kind of tangerine soda, I had quite a sugar buzz going on, and probably a bit of heat exhaustion. But I do remember, there was some other old guy in the same pavilion with a crappy display of antique toy trucks, and as I was walking past his junk he said "Don't you like trucks?" and I said "No. Bigfoot."

Around that same time, I got into huge trouble at school for writing a story called "Nuclear Demon Whore". My teacher was apparently aghast, and she was good enough to rat me out to the psychotic nazi principal... such a charming experience. Me, abruptly dragged out of class by my scrawny neck, getting shrieked at in the office...

"Where did you hear this word?"

-- "N-nuclear?!?"

"NO! Not that word! THIS word! THIS WORD!!"

-- "The Book of Revelations!"

(I had no idea what "whore" meant, but it sounded biblical, I guess maybe I thought it added some flair, or gravitas or something.)
 

GNC

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Can't recall what got me interested, as far as I knew I always had been. Our library was well stocked with paranormal books which I borrowed, including Photographs of the Unknown, which I now have a copy of. Funnily enough while I liked sci-fi, I wasn't that interested in reading ghost fiction, etc, because I thought it wasn't as good as the "real" stuff if it was made up!
 

Analogue Boy

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I've mentioned here before that at junior school, I left behind the Secret Seven when I came across a penguin edition of the script for Quatermass and the Pit in my school library and then borrowed The Quatermass Experiment straight after. Meanwhile, on TV it was a golden age of surreal adventure. The Avengers, The Prisoner, Department S, The Champions, Doctor Who, Tomorrow People etc. I even dimly remember watching Adam Adamant.

As a reader of Smash comic, my favourite strip was Janus Stark, the victorian escapologist who seemed to be able to squeeze throuh a letterbox.

In my mid teens, we'd take a regular 10 mile walk into Durham on a saturday and hang around the head shop (mugwump IIRC) and flick through the underground periodicals of the time. I'm pretty sure I picked up my first FT around then.

While at school we were also dabbling with the ouija board and the laying on hands thing recently raised in mythconceptions.

So I guess I've always been interested in Forteana.


For those who want to know what the real difference is between TV then and now, news came from Vietnam every night. It was a continous barage of footage and reports. (I was more concerned about being 4 minutes from a much-hyped imminent nuclear destruction)
Now apparently we've been in Afghanistan for a while and there's relatively nothing but a sanitised documentary now and then.
 

Mythopoeika

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dreeness said:
But I do remember, there was some other old guy in the same pavilion with a crappy display of antique toy trucks, and as I was walking past his junk he said "Don't you like trucks?" and I said "No. Bigfoot."
Awww, bless! :)

dreeness said:
Around that same time, I got into huge trouble at school for writing a story called "Nuclear Demon Whore". My teacher was apparently aghast, and she was good enough to rat me out to the psychotic nazi principal... such a charming experience. Me, abruptly dragged out of class by my scrawny neck, getting shrieked at in the office...

"Where did you hear this word?"

-- "N-nuclear?!?"

"NO! Not that word! THIS word! THIS WORD!!"

-- "The Book of Revelations!"

(I had no idea what "whore" meant, but it sounded biblical, I guess maybe I thought it added some flair, or gravitas or something.)
Brilliant! That made my day! :lol:
 

amester

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In elementary school we could order paperbacks through Scholastic Books for about 50 cents a piece. I got lots of books that way, about Bigfoot, UfOs, the Bermuda Triangle, etc.
 

EnolaGaia

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amester said:
In elementary school we could order paperbacks through Scholastic Books for about 50 cents a piece. I got lots of books that way, about Bigfoot, UfOs, the Bermuda Triangle, etc.
Same here ... I believe we began to have access to SBS purchases when I was around 11 or 12 (which would correlate with the JFK years and the original run of the _Twilight Zone_). I specifically sought out and purchased all the compilations of 'strange / unexplained' (e.g., the Frank Edwards books) they offered.

But that represented fuel added to a fire that had already been kindled ...

About the time I turned 9 years old 'they' finally realized I was legally blind, and I got my first eyeglasses (as well my first reliable view of the world beyond my arm's reach). Up until then, the world had always been a strange environment in which many common things were experienced as unexpected, unexplained, or just plain weird.

Once I could see I began reading voraciously - starting with the entire World Book encyclopedia (whole thing; end to end ...). Natural science, ancient history, mythologies, shipwrecks, etc., became subjects I greedily ate up.

When it came to fiction, I'd immediately immersed myself in fantastic adventures and SF (first novels I ever read were _Swiss Family Robinson_ and the Jules Verne classics).

My entire paternal-side family (3 generations) lived together in 5 neighboring houses, and I had unrestricted access to all households' reading matter. Luckily, it was a family that proactively read.

The most Fortean-related subject matter I recall reading earliest consisted of UFO / unexplained books I'd run across, occasional articles in _Readers Digest_, and certain mens magazines like _Argosy_ and _True_.

I recall the mens magazines having the most detailed and extensive offerings on weird things - e.g., the most compelling photos of 'sea monsters' I've ever seen. These were available via my father and my uncles, and our preferred barber shop (operated by a family friend) always had a stack of them laid out for patrons. It was not unusual for my father to step across the street to get a beer or check the day's gambling 'scene' while I quite eagerly stayed at the barber's and read.

I also read every _Ripley's Believe it or Not_ or _Strange but True_ (etc.) column the newspapers offered.

Because I grew up in an active and conservative Christian environment, I also have to credit the Bible with attuning me to the possibility of strange and miraculous happenings. Portrayals of Biblical miracles probably did more to initially orient me toward the weird than any other film / television fare.
 

Mythopoeika

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EnolaGaia said:
About the time I turned 9 years old 'they' finally realized I was legally blind, and I got my first eyeglasses (as well my first reliable view of the world beyond my arm's reach). Up until then, the world had always been a strange environment in which many common things were experienced as unexpected, unexplained, or just plain weird.

Once I could see I began reading voraciously - starting with the entire World Book encyclopedia (whole thing; end to end ...). Natural science, ancient history, mythologies, shipwrecks, etc., became subjects I greedily ate up.
Yeah, this happened to me too...
I'm not 'legally blind' but I am very short sighted, so I didn't learn to read until I was 7. I learned to read in a day (pretty much), when my next door neighbour's 17 year old daughter took it upon herself to teach me. Having the books up close was the best way to learn. I ended up getting my first pair of specs at 8, which unleashed me upon the local library. They ended up running out of books I could read...
 

dreeness

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:)

It's been ages since I've remembered "Scholastic Books", or for that matter a time when books cost fifty cents!

Oh, here is a sort of online museum of various "esoteric" paperbacks of past eras, I thought this sight had vanished long ago, but apparently it still exists in some form:

http://dbr.nu/books/AbsoluteElsewhere/Elsewhere.htm
 

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The thought just struck me (ouch!!) did these books turn the young you into a fortean, or where you a fortean at birth and the books a natural step towards learning your real interests?
 

MrRING

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- The old In Search Of tv show with Leonard Nimoy
- The books Strange Stories, Amazing Facts & The World's Last Mysteries
- A number of the documentary films from the 70's that came out of the Shick/Sunn Classics line, like Mysterious Monsters.
- Project Bluebook tv show
 

GNC

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titch said:
The thought just struck me (ouch!!) did these books turn the young you into a fortean, or where you a fortean at birth and the books a natural step towards learning your real interests?
Feels like the latter for me, I can't recall a time when I wasn't interested. Didn't get that from anyone in the family, either.
 

Cultjunky

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gncxx said:
titch said:
The thought just struck me (ouch!!) did these books turn the young you into a fortean, or where you a fortean at birth and the books a natural step towards learning your real interests?
Feels like the latter for me, I can't recall a time when I wasn't interested. Didn't get that from anyone in the family, either.
Mmm, seems like the former for me. The books about ghosts and fairies and such were always there, I don't remember a time when I didn't have those books. I come from a family where we didn't have a huge amount of books in the house, I think a bit of a concerted effort was made for there to be books around for me. There were certainly more books in the house that belonged to me than to my parents. Stuff like a Verne anthology or the Blyton Magic Far-away Tree books. Maybe I did show a preference when bedtime books were read to me, but I have a sneaky feeling I was given a literary path so to speak.
 

thegreenknight1

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It's on another thread but the main one for me was "The Children of the Stones"....the magic and sheer spookiness of the standing stones themselves. I think it was then that I reconciled in my mind that the folklore I was reading in the books of Ruth Manning-Sanders could somehow be manifested on the physical plane.

(yeah man. )

I think this was better than Quatermass which explored similar themes a year or so later, (but which I'd missed because I'd been a very naughty boy and was not allowed to stay up watching it!)

And Doctor Who obviously. And the "Singing Ringing Tree".

In terms of books, the first fortean tome I saw belonged to my uncle - it was some sort of compendium of mysteries, I think it had an Escher painting on the front. I used to pore through it everytime we visited.

I think another interesting question would be, at what age was your interest in all things esoteric kindled? I can't ever remember NOT being interested in all things weird. For example my very first TV memory is of the Sea Devils walking out of the Sea, juxtaposed with an image of Marty Hopkirk vanishing.
 

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My late father collected books on UFOs and practically every other form of phenomena. I read them continually from time I could take a book down and turn a page. One of his flying saucer books featured the story of Snippy, the pet pony which was found dead with its head and neck neatly stripped of flesh.

The name of this pony came up as a question in Saturday night's Uncon Fortean pub quiz. Wow, ta, Pop! :lol:
 

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escargot1 said:
One of his flying saucer books featured the story of Snippy, the pet pony which was found dead with its head and neck neatly stripped of flesh.

The name of this pony came up as a question in Saturday night's Uncon Fortean pub quiz. Wow, ta, Pop! :lol:
But wasn't 'Snippy' a mis-reporting it's real name being Lady. Under the circumstances though Snippy suits it far better.
 

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Mostly British TV shows made for teens - shows that featured during after school hours on the only decent channel of two available in my outback Aussie village - the ABC. Things like Catweazle, Tomorrow People and Chocky. All quite spooked up enough for a boy whose parents didn't allow him to watch Dr Who until I was 13 or so.

There was one Aussie TV production called The Nargun and the Stars, about a supernaturally-charged billabong where a froglike bunyippy creature named Potkoorok, an acid-tripper's rendition of Kermit, played tricks on the local kids and kept them out of harm's way. Harm being the Nargun, and the Nargun being a 20 foot tall blackened stone which moved about the landscape causing mayhem. Patricia Wrightson authored the children's book, which was a smash hit in the 70s but I never read, having seen the TV show instead. Can't find anything online to attest to this TV production's existence. There have been theatrical productions since, but no photo of of the staged Potkoorok shows anything near as bizarre as the hopped-up muppet of my young imaginariation. It was cool.

ed: in searching for more on Mrs Wrightson, I found this quote of a letter she wrote in response to a disapproval by a school principal of a phrase in one her published works. She said:
Dear Mr XXXXX

Thank you for your letter of July 11th regarding the phrase ‘wipe your bottom’ in the June issue of School Magazine Part 2.

I am sorry you found this homely phrase objectionable. It must be pointless to indicate that it was written by one of our leading poets and writers who is now Chairman of the Literature Board; or to ask whether ‘smack your bottom’ or ‘wipe your nose’ would have been so offensive; or to ask for a clear explanation of what is offensive in the phrase. I can only say that we cannot possibly undertake not to be offensive.

We continually offend. We offend by failing to keep in touch with the fast-moving world of young readers and by being too contemporary; by a rigid adherence to syntax and formal style, and by our disregard of them. Our verse is both too classic and too unclassic. We offend by speaking with respect of the church and the theory of evolution; the plight of captive nations and the achievements of communist countries; Anzac Day and the laws relating to Aborigines. We can only follow our usual policy of holding a balance between these things while still aiming for honesty and life.

As to your use of School Magazine in the future, that is always a matter for your decision. Withholding the magazine from children is another matter. It is produced for the children, and those who wish to read it are entitled to receive it.

Yours faithfully

Mrs Patricia Wrightson
Editor
School Magazine
 

Yithian

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In the mid-80s, our school library had a series of books about unexplained mysteries and ghost photographs. I forget the series, but a few people have discussed and posted links about them here over the years. Similarly, Tintin was probably an influence, as were odd 80s Sci-fi series for children.

I've been thinking back recently to an October evening in the cubs, when a physics undergrad came to speak to us about astronomy and generally introduce the heavens. After the talk, and lots of bickering over the use of binoculars, we got to ask questions, and the topic of aliens came up. He trotted out the old argument: if there is any chance of extraterrestial life whatsoever, then the fact that the universe is probably infinite means that this tiny chance must be found to obtain in some part of it - albeit a far-distant part. Moreover, and head-explodingly for a young me, it must obtain on infinite other worlds. Further, as life on Earth shows life to be possible on one planet, we must assume it is possible elsewhere.

We were literally stunned to silence, as much by the display of logic as the conclusion. Flag-down, caps off for prayers, Taps, then running off down the lane into a bigger world. That evening has stayed with me for over 25 years now, so thanks 'Mark', wherever you may be.


As a teenager, it was all the usual Lovecraft/Wheatley/Tolkien books, plus role-playing and Black Sabbath albums that never really went away and ultimately led to my touching on Fortean topics as part of my university work.

Tiny acorns, and all that.
 
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