About That Time Kenny Rogers Was Abducted by Aliens

When Kenny Rogers passed away on March 20, 2020, he left behind a legacy as a pop culture icon who was an actor, musician, restaurateur, and a gambler who knew when to hold ‘em, fold ‘em, walk away, or run.

But the country singer also made a mark in paranormal pop culture with “Planet Texas,” the second single from his 1989 album Something Inside So Strong. 

The tune is about a cowboy who encounters a trio of space dudes out of the sky with high-tech horses, domed helmets over their white hats, laser pistols, and anodized spurs. 

These cowboys weren’t common buckaroos of the human race, and instead - spoiler alert - came from Planet Texas. Throughout the course of the song, and the video directed by Julien Temple (known for his films featuring the Sex Pistols), the aliens take Kenny’s cowboy character on a horseback tour of Saturn’s rings, passing by John Denvers floating in space for some reason. 

They eventually hop on a tail of a comet and ride to Planet Texas, where Kenny signs his name on the planet’s surface, alongside other famous Texans Roy Orbison, LBJ, Waylon Jennings and, oddly enough, the fictional J.R. Ewing from Dallas. 

Annabelle, and Other Real-Life Haunted Dolls to Disturb Your Dreams

(Originally published at Den Of Geek)

Dolls are great companions for tea parties, sleepovers, adventures, and more. But for many people, they’re also creepy toys that watch you sleep and popular vessels for demonic possession. Basically, they’re homicidal effigies made of stuffing or porcelain. Unsurprisingly, from Talky Tina of The Twilight Zone fame to Fats from Magic, and the Clown from Poltergeist to Chucky in Child’s Play and Annabelle in The Conjuring Universe, dolls have long been go-to monsters in paranormal pop culture.

But millennia before Talky Tina told Telly Savalas “I don’t think I like you,” dolls have existed, going back to Ancient Egypt and Rome. Present in nearly every culture, they were placed as servants in a pharaoh’s tomb, were said to aid in fertility, teach a child how to parent, or be a listener to tell all your worries to. They could as much be items of art or religious significance as a child’s plaything.

Why, then, are they so damn scary? It turns out there is a scientific reason… and a paranormal one.

Dr. Margee Kerr, a sociologist who specializes in fear, says that while our childhood experiences with dolls may have been a source of joy, comfort, or even safety, seeing dolls out of context can freak us out as an “ultimate betrayal of innocence.”

Hans Holzer at 100: America’s First TV Ghost Hunter Still Haunts Paranormal Community

(Originally published at Den of Geek)

Born in Vienna on January 26, 1920, Hans Holzer was like many children, fascinated by the ghost and fairy stories he heard in his youth. But those tales, told by his Uncle Henry, which he retold at school to the disapproval of adults, stayed with Holzer. Ghosts became his life’s work as one of the world’s most famous figures in the paranormal field.

Before his death in 2009, at age 89, Holzer authored nearly 140 books on the paranormal, extraterrestrial life, witchcraft, and more, beginning with 1963’s Ghost Hunter. During a career that famously involved the “Amityville Horror” house case in 1977, Holzer also taught parapsychology at the New York Institute of Technology, and both appeared on, and consulted for, Leonard Nimoy’s late 1970s show In Search Of… And interestingly, actor Dan Aykroyd claimed an obsession with Holzer, which inspired him to write Ghostbusters.

The paranormal subgenre of reality television exploded around 2005 – a trend that continues today with numerous series on networks such as Travel Channel, and A&E, and which has expanded online. Four decades prior, Hans Holzer was one of America’s first famous ghost hunters, preceding Ed and Lorraine Warren.

“He was the king of all paranormal media,” says Dave Schrader, lead investigator of Travel Channel’s unscripted series The Holzer Files, which re-examines Holzer’s cases, and host of the popular paranormal radio show Beyond The Darkness. “He was like the Howard Stern of his time, and was on TV, wrote for movies, and wrote books.”

Aladdin, and genies, djinn, and jinn in folklore and pop culture

(Originally published on IGN)

If you’re hoping to find a magic lamp containing an all-powerful genie, be careful what you wish for.

Despite what Aladdin, I Dream of Jeannie or modern paranormal pop culture promise, tapping into phenomenal cosmic powers – contained in an itty-bitty living space – can lead to a world of hurt. Like the song says, you ain’t never had a friend like a genie, but millennia of folklore suggest you probably will wish you didn’t.

In modern entertainment, such as Disney’s new live-action Aladdin based on the 1992 animated film, genies are powerful beings trapped within a lamp, and relegated to granting wishes to masters. Jafar’s fate in the animated film also suggests a human can be transformed into a genie. But that’s not at all how things started for genies…

The Origin of Genies

What we see in Aladdin doesn’t reflect the pre-Islamic Arabian origins of genies, or “jinn,” and “djinn,” which date back to at least 2400 BCE. Although their precise beginnings are unclear, they are mentioned multiple times in the Quran. The word (meaning “to hide”) may be rooted in an Aramaic label for pagan deities that were downgraded to demon status, but Muhammad’s teachings said the jinn were created of smokeless fire.

As opposed to angels, and existing long before Allah created Adam, the jinn were entirely separate entities.

“The jinn are neither angels nor demons,” said paranormal author and researcher David Weatherly, who writes about jinn in his book Strange Intruders. “According to Middle Eastern lore, they are something in between, a third race of beings created by Allah.”

Within Islam, they are not inherently good nor evil, and can live a life of free will that involves eating for sustenance, getting married, having children, and observing social customs. Though possessing magical abilities, when they die they’ll face judgment for their sins.

Paranormal Investigator Lorraine Warren Dies at 92

A legend in the world of ghosts, on this plane of existence and perhaps the next, has passed on.

Lorraine Warren, purported medium, ghost hunter, and author involved with cases popularized in paranormal pop culture films The Amityville HorrorThe Conjuring, The Haunting in Connecticut, and Annabelle, has died at age 92. According to her son-in-law Tony Spera, Warren passed away in her sleep last night. 
Lorraine -- along with her husband Ed, who died in 2006 -- founded the New England Society for Psychic Research, and claim to have investigated more than 10,000 paranormal cases. The duo became celebrities who appeared on talk shows, and gave lectures on the topics of ghosts, and demonology. 
Born January 31, 1927, in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and raised Roman Catholic, Lorraine stated she could see auras around people from the age of seven. Along with Ed, she said she relied on her faith as they worked with clergy on cases involving spirits of those who passed on, as well as demons who possessed people, homes, and objects. Though they did not charge for investigations that took them across the United States, and to Europe, Asia, and Australia, they gained notoriety through books, speaking engagements, film consulting, and at one point, tours of their Occult Museum in Monroe, Connecticut (which contains the actual Annabelle doll).
The Warrens were most famous for their involvement with the 1976 Amityville case, and the haunting allegedly experience by the Lutz family in Long Island, New York. The “spook sleuths,” as they were called in one newspaper cover story, did not appear as characters in the 1979 film The Amityville Horror,nor in 2009’s The Haunting in Connecticut -- loosely based on their version of the Snedeker House case from 1986. They were, however, portrayed in the 1991 made-for-television movie The Haunted, based on the Smurl case in Pennsylvania. 
Although she appeared on television discussing their cases (and both took part in series such as Road Rules: All StarsScariest Places on Earth, with Lorraine appearing on Discovery Channel’s A Hauntingand on A&E’s investigative series, Paranormal State), they became famous for 21st Century audiences as fictionalized characters in 2013’s The Conjuring
Directed by James Wan, the film adapted the story of the Perron family, supposedly tormented by the ghost of a witch who had killed her infant, and pledged herself to the devil. Portrayed by Vera Farmiga (with Patrick Wilson playing Ed), Lorraine’s psychic abilities are used to stop the entity, and assist in an exorcism.
The massive success of the film (which earned $319 million on a reported $20 million budget) launched the The Conjuring Universe, which involved a sequel based on the Enfield Poltergeist in England, and the Annabelle doll spin-off franchise. 
As far as their personal history, Lorraine and Ed met when they were 16, and he was working as an usher for The Colonial Theater in Bridgeport. After entering the Navy at 17, Ed’s ship sank in the North Atlantic in 1945 during World War II. He had saved the life of a fellow sailor, a moment Lorraine later told Patch.com was the proudest moment of her life. The couple was married on his 30-day survivor’s leave, and later had a daughter, Judy. Together they sold Ed’s paintings, which (literally and figuratively) opened the doors to haunted houses owned by those who bought his work. 
Although Lorraine and Ed Warren were the subject of criticism, and accusations of fraud, their impact on the field of paranormal investigation is vast. From a paranormal pop culture perspective, Lorraine and Ed will be remembered alongside other famous ghost hunters such as Harry Price, Hans Holzer (and yes, even Zak Bagans). Their legacy within the field continues with nephew John Zaffis, who was a protégé of theirs and is now a paranormal celebrity in his own right, and demonologist David Considine.