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Review: 'Lore' reels you in with terrifying true tales from history

By Chelsea Tatham, Times Staff Writer
Published: October 11, 2017
Campbell Scott in an episode of Lore, which chronicles the Great New England Vampire Panic in the 19th century.

Some of the most popular and terrifying legends have their gnarled roots in history. Amazon's Lore brings those tales to life.

The six-episode series is inspired by the wildly popular podcast of the same name, which boasts about 6 million listeners every month. Now up to 70 episodes, host Aaron Mahnke weaves tales of terror and urban legends with the true history that inspired them.

Ever wondered about the origins of werewolves, vampires, changelings, elves, demonic dolls, hauntings and the like? Mahnke's series delves into it all.

Previous Coverage: Lore is a beautifully thrilling way to explore the darker sides of history

Podcasts moving to the small screen isn't a new phenomenon (WTF with Marc Maron, Chris Hardwick's Nerdist, Comedy Bang! Bang!, to name a few) but it can be a risky venture.

By nature, podcasts thrive on quality audio storytelling. Hosts and voice actors must have strong, emotional range in order to deliver solid impact. A television show adds visual and more character elements that can either distract or enhance the story being told.

Lore makes this transition flawlessly.

Mahnke still provides the episode narration in his trademark style that makes you feel like you're sitting around a campfire swapping ghost stories. But the episodes then mix in documentary elements and dramatization with actors like Campbell Scott, Holland Roden and Colm Feore.

Scott stars in the first episode, which explores Lore's inaugural episode on global origins of vampires. "They Made a Tonic" zeros in on the Great New England Vampire Panic in the 19th century, where citizens were convinced their relatives were returning from the grave to feed on the living.

The second tale delves into the horrific treatment received by the mentally ill during the mid-20th century. Notably, it tells the story of Dr. Walter Freeman (Feore), who coined the "ice pick lobotomy" as a cure for mental illness.

Then Holland Rodan (Teen Wolf) plays Irish woman Bridget Cleary, who was killed by her husband in 1895 after he was convinced she had been abducted by fairies that left a changeling in her place.

With its blend of reenactments, animation and bits of history, Lore reads like a monster mash of Unsolved Mysteries, Supernatural and a bit of the book series Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.

The hope for Amazon and Mahnke seems to be that Lore will be the catalyst for the trend of podcasts-turned-TV-series. There are still talks of a Serial show and Gimlet Media's Homecoming and Reply All are being developed into a show and a movie, respectively.

Based on the three episodes provided to critics, Lore is off to a trendsetting start. And it doesn't hurt that this haunting new series premieres on one the spookiest days of the year -- Friday the 13th.

Contact Chelsea Tatham at [email protected] Follow @chelseatatham.



The six-episode series premieres at midnight Friday on Amazon Prime.


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