San Diego’s Weird History Makes SDCC a Lot Spookier


San Diego Comic-Con is the domain of weirdos. What began in a hotel basement in 1970 as the one-day Golden State Comic-Minicon grew to become SDCC in 1973 and then Comic-Con International: San Diego (CCI) in 1995. It is the Super Bowl of

 pop culture fandom. It is a place where 130,000 ticketed attendees—not counting thousands more who will make a pilgrimage to the city during the con—will arrive once more after a three-year hiatus to let their geek flags fly. And over the course of five days, San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter is the worldwide capital of weirdos.

But what is a weirdo? The word has its etymology in “wyrd,” which means “fate” or “destiny.” And a weirdo is one who is in control of their own destiny. Hat tip to weird researcher John E.L. Tenney for reminding me of that. Yet “weird” also means “strange” or “bizarre.” There’s a bounty of that in “America’s Finest City,” too.

San Diego is considered a hotspot for UFO activity. One of the more well-known recent videos of a UFO is the “Flir1” capture, filmed by a fighter pilot in 2004 from the aircraft carrier Nimitz off the city’s coast. The footage—widely reported on by The New York Times in 2017 and part of the June 2021 “UFO report” by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence—was deemed unidentified. According to the report, four pilots observed a large object “submerged 10 to 15 feet below the surface” then “a white UAV, shaped like a large cylindrical butane tank, or a Tic-Tac candy, moving erratically back and forth, almost like a bouncing ping-pong ball making instantaneous changes in direction without changing speed.” But there was a previous “flap” in 1989—involving a triangular or boomerang shape with red lights—reported on by the San Diego Reader at the time, which noted the city had been on the UFO map since the 1950s.

But it’s not only potential extraterrestrial life that contributes to the weirdness of San Diego, it’s the afterlife. Built in 1857, the Whaley House in Old Town might be the most famous allegedly haunted location in town. According to ghostlore, that has something to do with settler Thomas Whaley building the home atop an old execution site. The stories say the specter of “Yankee Jim” Robinson, executed on the grounds, continues to clomp around, as do the ghosts of Whaley’s infant son, adult daughter, and countless others, including a little dog. The town lovingly refers to Whaley House Museum as the most haunted house in America, although it’s uncertain how they measured that.

But the apparitional oddness continues with the rumored hauntings at the Davis-Horton House, Horton Grand Hotel, Hotel del Coronado, Pioneer Park, El Campo Santo Cemetery, and the Star of India, the world’s oldest operational sailing ship. And the ghost stories in San Diego run the gamut of classic Victorian lady specters, Old Californian gamblers, horseback soldiers from the U.S.-Mexican war, a trenchcoat-wearing man, and even an enchanted piano.

The reputation for weirdness significantly predates the swarms of congoers who frequent every year. Rather, it’s been well documented in The San Diego Union-Tribune. “Remarkable Serpent Fish About Thirty Feet in Length Seen in San Diego Bay” read one newspaper headline in 1873. “Ghost Bride on Headless Horse is Riding Again,” declared another in 1934. And another asked, in 1991, “A chilling hairy query: Is Bigfoot lurking around Alpine?”

In fact, whether it was labeled the Borrego Sandman, the Wild Man of Warner Springs, Rancheti yeti, or the famous Proctor Valley monster, the Union-Tribune’s archives have numerous accounts of hairy bipedal beasts in the area dating back to 1876.

So those who join the domain of the weird at SDCC might not just spot a celeb, there may be an alien, ghost, or cryptid in their midst as well. 

For more deep dives into the supernatural, don’t miss Den of Geek‘s very own paranormal podcast, Talking Strange, which you can find on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and YouTube.

Discovery+ Tackles Roswell with The Final Verdict

Discovery+ is getting even more out of this world. While the ghost-focused unscripted paranormal programming has dominated the network, the streaming platform is still on the light side when it comes to aliens (with exceptions such as Paranormal Caught on Camera, Ben Hansen's UFO Witness, and older episodes of Ancient Aliens). 

But that's about to change with Roswell: The Final Verdict

The six-part miniseries, premiering with the first three episodes July 2 (the anniversary of the 1947 Roswell Incident), with the following three released on subsequent Fridays. 

Roswell: The Final Verdict will examine the infamous incident at a New Mexico ranch, which then engulfed the entire nearby community of Roswell. Most people directly involved with the event have died, but the show promises to analyze "haunting first-person accounts from the past ... in a totally modern way, using artificial intelligence (AI) lie detection software to test if the eyewitnesses are telling the truth." 

The miniseries is produced by October Films for Discovery+. For October Films, the executive producers are Chris Muckle and Mike Warner. For discovery+, the executive producer is Ron Simon. Ben Hansen also appears to be involved in some capacity, although it is not yet stipulated to what degree. 

Below is the official press release synopsis and episode breakdown. Will you be watching? Is there still a mystery to explore with Roswell, or has every question been answered?

Be sure to follow Paranormal Pop Culture and share this page. 

Did aliens really crash-land near Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947? As the world anxiously anticipates the release of declassified UFO secrets from the Pentagon, ROSWELL: THE FINAL VERDICT invades discovery+ on Friday, July 2, the 74th anniversary of the most notorious extraterrestrial incident in U.S. history. 

 The mini-series debuts on discovery+ with three episodes and then the final three will drop on Fridays. In 1947, a rancher near Roswell, New Mexico, claimed to have discovered mysterious debris on his property, triggering decades of official government denials, and countless conspiracy theories, about aliens. Now, tapes of haunting first-person accounts from the past are being analyzed in a totally modern way, using artificial intelligence (AI) lie detection software to test if the eyewitnesses are telling the truth. 

Although most of the witnesses are now deceased, AI permits truth to be separated from fiction and the most important UFO event in world history can be weighed in the balance with all the evidence at hand. Truth seekers will now decide ... the final verdict. "DNA analysis revolutionized crime fighting by reopening cold cases from decades past. Now another type of technological breakthrough is blowing the lid off the secrets the government has kept from the public regarding alien visitation,” said Ben Hansen, former federal agent and UFO expert. “Using new AI analysis, ironically developed in large part for the government, we can now quite accurately ascertain the truthfulness of statements and events as told by witnesses to the most controversial UFO event of all time.” 

Over six one-hour episodes, harrowing accounts drive an explosive and cinematic minute-by-minute exploration of the Roswell incident through the eyes of those who were there. Haunted by a string of sudden terror moments, this is a frightening new journey into the heart of the nation’s most disturbing alien encounter. Like voices speaking from the past, these Roswell witnesses now have science to back up the truth of their claims. 

 Episode 1 – “Crash Landings” – Begins Streaming Friday, July 2 On July 2, 1947, a rancher discovered otherworldly debris strewn across the desert near Roswell, New Mexico. When a U.S. Army intelligence officer investigated the evidence, he concluded, "It was not anything from this earth." Sophisticated lie detection software puts his bold claim to the test. 

Episode 2 – “Alien Invasion” – Begins Streaming Friday, July 2 In July 1947, visitors to the south of Roswell, New Mexico, described stumbling upon a crashed UFO. Some witnesses even claim to have seen the bodies of aliens. Their historic testimony has been dismissed for decades. Now, powerful AI lie detection software puts their extraordinary claims to the test. 

Episode 3 – “Silencing Witnesses” – Begins Streaming Friday, July 2 With mounting evidence of a UFO crash, a future four-star general ordered a press release to announce the news to the world. But just as the Roswell incident is grabbing headlines, the story is suppressed. Cutting-edge AI lie detection software probes the truth behind the cover-up. 

 Episode 4 – “Discredit and Humiliate” – Begins Streaming Friday, July 9 Eyewitnesses claimed to see strange debris and the bodies of aliens in secretive Hangar 84 at Roswell Army Airfield. As activity intensified, the U.S. government revealed its official version of events – a crashed weather balloon. An advanced AI program asks whether any of it can be believed. 

 Episode 5 – “Alien Autopsy” – Begins Streaming Friday, July 16 Did the U.S. government conduct an alien autopsy at Roswell? It has always been one of the most explosive claims about the Roswell incident. Now for the first time, the world’s most sophisticated lie detector probes the evidence to unveil the shocking truth. 

Episode 6 – “Extraterrestrial Truth” – Begins Streaming Friday, July 23 Decades after the Roswell incident, the U.S. government fights to suppress public interest in UFO sightings and extraterrestrial contact. Cutting-edge AI compares the government's account of the crash with what it has uncovered. After 70 years, are we getting closer to the truth?

'The Night House' [Trailer] From Director David Bruckner Looks Scary As Hell

"Do you guys believe in ghosts?"

That's the first line in the trailer for The Night House from director David Bruckner, and starring Rebecca Hall. And it pretty much sets up the next two minutes of a creepy tease for the movie arriving in theaters July 16, 2021. 

As reported by Bloody Disgusting, the film debuted at Sundance last year, and was acquired by Disney Searchlight. The plot "follows a widow who begins to uncover her recently deceased husband's disturbing secrets."

The trailer sets up that Hall's character Beth begins to believe she haunted by her husband, who died by suicide. As she seeks to learn more about the potential haunt, she discovers what appears to be more to the house her husband built. 

Meagan Navarro's review of the film from Sundance said Bruckner (The Signal, the "Amateur Night" segment of V/H/S) "wasn’t content to deliver one well-done scare; Bruckner delivers back-to-back scares within a single sequence." Indeed, there is a great tease of a moment in the trailer that plays with the shape we see in a room that almost looks like a person — and maybe it is. 

Check this out, and let us know what you think. This looks like a fun one. And by "fun," we mean "scary as hell."

(Also, great to see Sarah Goldberg from Barry as Beth's friend Claire.)

-Aaron Sagers

Arnold Schwarzenegger first choice to lead Earth against aliens

Forget "I'll be back," because the Terminator himself has got our backs in the event of an alien invasion. At least that's the opinion of 2,000 British adults, according to a poll commissioned by the network BlazeTV, and conducted by OnePoll.

The study revealed the Top 20 celebrities and world leaders best suited to lead Earth if not-so-friendly E.T.s come knocking, which also tracked belief in life on other planets. After Arnold Schwarzenegger, Will Smith came in close second (he did show his alien ass-kicking chops in both Men in Black and Independence Day, after all). Interestingly, third place was British national treasure and natural historian Sir David Attenborough. But the desire for a calming presence, and great narration of the invasion, is short-lived because fourth and fifth place was Bruce Willis (Armageddon) and Tom Cruise (War of the Worlds). 

Indeed, Cruise's inclusion makes sense, not just because of his on-screen prowess, but his belief in Scientology, rooted in the idea that humans are connected to ancient extraterrestrial civilizations. Harrison Ford (Star Wars) and Sigourney Weaver (Alien) were next up, and The X-Files co-star Gillian Anderson coming in at Number 9 — right after former president Donald Trump.

Trump was the first politician to make the list at No. 8, with Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson further down, and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris rounding out the list (full list below).

The rankings, and rankings of politicians, would likely change for a U.S. audience — especially as the new president is in office longer — but a spokesman for the network noted a concern about the lack of real-world leaders in the list:

"Arnold Schwarzenegger is a strong choice for dealing with an alien invasion, bearing in mind he’s not only a screen action hero but was also Governor of California ... although it's worrying to see that so many celebrities with fictional alien experience are considered by many to be better candidates than our current crop of world leaders."

Beyond the celebrity rankings which draw headlines, OnePoll also included impressive statistics about eyewitness accounts of UFOs, and belief in alien life. 

Among the data collected:
  • 11 Percent (one in 10) of Brits: Believe they have seen a UFO. 
  • 56 Percent: Believe intelligent life exists beyond Earth.
  • 26 Percent: Think aliens exist in our solar system.
  • 33 Percent: Aliens could already on Earth, living among us.
  • 30 Percent (about a third): Aliens would visit the planet for scientific research.
  • 52 Percent: Would be frightened at the possibility of an alien invasion. 
  • 31 Percent: It is necessary to establish a dedicated government task force to address potential extraterrestrial threats.
  • 27 Percent: Humans need a battle plan now for invasions. 
  • 26 Percent: Would stock up on supplies if aliens landed. 
  • 20 Percent (one in five people): They would hide out at home until things settled. 
  • 20 Percent: Trust the experts to deal with the threat.
  • 11 Percent: Would try to reason with the aliens to secure peace.
  • 15 Percent: Earth will be dominated by aliens within the next 20 years.
Considering the year of the COVID-19 pandemic, and extended lockdowns, there is a lot of interesting parallels to be seen in these poll results. It's difficult not to think of toilet paper hoarding, anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers, when reading about stocking up on supplies, or such a small percentage of people who would trust experts. 

Nick Pope — who investigated UFOs with the British Ministry of Defense — commented that, "if one in 10 people think they've seen a UFO, that suggests there have been literally millions of UFO sightings in the UK ... Sadly, now the MoD has stopped investigating UFOs, there's no focal point for this and most sightings go unreported." 

Pope, who is working with Blaze on its UFO Week, added: "There are some fascinating findings in this survey, and I was particularly intrigued to see how many people thought not only that we're being visited by aliens, but also that they're already living among us — and that they'll dominate Earth in the next 20 years."

However, for his part, Schwarzenegger is ready to lead, according to his Twitter reaction to the poll.

Check out the entire list of Britain's preferred leaders against aliens, and let us know who you think should have made the cut.


1. Arnold Schwarzenegger (former governor of California, Terminator)
2. Will Smith (Independence Day, Men in Black)
3. Sir David Attenborough (Planet Earth)
4. Bruce Willis (Armageddon)
5. Tom Cruise (War of the Worlds)
6. Harrison Ford (Star Wars, Air Force One)
7. Sigourney Weaver (Alien)
8. Donald Trump (former president)
9. Gillian Anderson (The X-Files)
10. Nicola Sturgeon (Leader of Scotland, First Minister)
11. Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy)
12. Boris Johnson (Prime Minister)
13. Piers Morgan (TV host)
14. William Shatner (Star Trek)
15. Simon Pegg (Paul, Star Trek)
16. Tommy Lee Jones (Men in Black)
17. David Duchovny (The X-Files)
18. Mel Gibson (Signs)
19. Kamala Harris (Vice President)
20. Joe Biden (President)

-Aaron Sagers

Britney Spears' House Was Haunted, According To Her Makeup Artist

So it looks like in addition to supporting the #FreeBritney movement, we here at Paranormal Pop Culture need to launch #ExorciseBritneysHouse because her Sunset Strip home allegedly has a ghost problem

In the Feb. 24 episode of the We Need to Talk About Britney podcast, Spears' friend and former makeup artist Julianne Kaye shared that the Sunset Plaza home Britney lived in was haunted. And apparently the haunting was disturbing enough to force the musician to leave the mansion.

Kaye told the podcast Britney called her up and shared she had a reiki healing at that house after a "crazy partying weekend and needed to relax."

"He left, and she swears to God that he opened some spirit portal or something, and these bad spirits had come in…and they were trying to, like, push her down the stairs or something crazy," said Kaye.

The makeup artist said the spirits included a man and woman, who were "very disturbed."

The Ghost Brothers are Flipping the Switch in New ‘Ghost Brothers: Lights Out’ Series

"What do you get when you combine a celebrity barber with two fashion designers, all with a strong curiosity in the unknown?"

That's the question posed by discovery+ about the new series Ghost Brothers: Lights Out. The show follows the Black paranormal team of Dalen Spratt, Juwan Mass and Marcus Harvey, and premieres April 17 on the streaming platform.

According to the network press release,  Dalen a.k.a. “The Bad Boy of Paranormal” is the risk taker; Juwan a.k.a. “Paranormal Poppy” is the suave, pretty boy of the group; and Marcus a.k.a. “The Soul Brother” brings a combination of heartwarming soul and comedy. 

Together, these guys are entertaining and unique in their approach. Plus, the trio has enjoyed longevity in the paranormal TV world going back to their first series in 2016, on Destination America, and most recently on Fright Club with Jack Osbourne.

According to the press release, the approach of Lights Out is as follows: 

Video: Primatologist Dr. Mireya Mayor of 'Expedition Bigfoot' on Unexpected DNA Results

Expedition Bigfoot is currently airing its second season on Discovery+, and the show is touting mysterious evidence of a "non-human primate presence in the Appalachians." This possible discovery is based on eDNA evidence collected by researcher Ronny LeBlanch and primatologist Dr. Mireya Mayor. 

This is going to be explored in the March 28 Season Two finale of Expedition Bigfoot, but I recently had a chance to talk with Dr. Mayor for Den of Geek. She is the real deal when it comes to her scientific work. Dr. Mayor is a Fulbright Scholar and National Science Foundation Fellow, and for nearly two decades, she has been a wildlife correspondent, reporting on wildlife and habitat loss while advocating for solutions to the alarming trends. Her explorations have led to several scientific discoveries, most notably her co-discovery of the world's smallest primates, a brand-new species to science. 

In the following video, we discuss what eDNA evidence is, and why it matters. Additionally, she opens up on the reason she thinks Sasquatch research should be taken seriously.