Combining heart stopping narrative drama with expert interviews, True Horror uncovers the inspiration behind three of our most thrilling, visceral and iconic monsters: Dracula, Frankenstein and the Werewolf.
We invite you to confront the true face of horror.
Are they just stories that have passed down through generations, through fiction, and later converted into horror by Hollywood – or is there some truth in these terrible tales? Each episode focuses on the likely origin of a specific monster that has haunted our nightmares for generations; uncovering the historic figures that helped create the stories, and ultimately the legends; and the possible inspiration for their weird and twisted behaviour.
Episode 1: Werewolf
We all know what to fear when the moon is full – but where did the wolfman legend come from? The villagers of 16th century Bedburg in Germany had always feared the forest that encircled them. But then the young girls of the village started going missing. Footprints in the snow led to trails of blood. Superstitious minds wanted to believe this was the act of a wolf – or even worse, a demonic half-man, half-wolf. But the villagers couldn’t find such a beast because the serial killer was one of them. A man-monster who believed the devil had given him a wolf’s girdle so he could perform his evil deeds. Part whodunnit, part inside-the-mind-of-a-monster, the true tale of Wolfman Peter Stubbe provided the blueprint for cinema’s Wolfman.
Episode 2: Frankenstein
The history of this tale goes to 19th century London, two decades before Mary Shelley wrote her acclaimed novel. Giovanni Aldini was a pioneering scientific showman, who used electricity to reanimate animals, severed human limbs and the corpses of recently beheaded criminals. But Aldini needed a whole body, very recently killed by asphyxiation, a strong, perfectly developed male specimen, to attempt a complete reanimation. Aided by Mr Pass, the man whose job it was to get bodies for the surgeons to cut up, an ideal specimen was found. A strong young man accused of murdering his wife and child. Evidence shows that George Foster was most likely innocent. But the doctor and his assistant were determined they would have their good clean hanging. And within the hour a rectal probe would be used to try to bring this unfortunate man back to life. Quite extraordinarily, and truly, by the end of the night the gentle giant would become a monster and kill for real.
Episode 3: Dracula
This brutal tale takes us to 15th century Romania, to the castle of Vlad Dracul, Voyvoyd of Wallachia. More commonly known as Vlad the Impaler. The most terrifying ruler of Medieval Europe, he was a psychopathic mass-murderer, and the only man who stood between Christian Europe and the advancing armies of the Ottoman Turks. Our story centres on the experience of three monks who found themselves chained to the wall of a dripping cell in Dracula’s castle. From the outset they were tested. Their final test was a trial of brutality in which they were called to answer truthfully whether Vlad would be warmly received in Heaven. Waiting for them was a forest of wooden stakes, ends rounded to stop them puncturing internal organs, prolonging their gruesome effect. The most appallingly slow, painful death imaginable was to be their fate if they chose the wrong response. History relates that at least one monk chose wrongly.
Physicist and author Brian Greene, brings us a mind-blowing new exploration of space, time, and the very nature of reality.
Acclaimed filmmaker Ken Burns chronicles the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history.
A fresh perspective on the birth of civilisation in the Near and Middle East and its dynamic influence on the West.