As a culture we’ve been obsessed with one kind of paranormal beast for the past decade—the fictional vampires of Twilight and True Blood—and yet right under our noses there have been bizarre creatures allegedly wandering the mountains of Appalachia. A new show on Discovery America, Mountain Monsters, which airs on Saturdays, is about trappers who have devoted their professional lives to tracking these mysterious critters and trying to prove whether or not they actually exist.
The investigators on Mountain Monsters look like extras from the Louisiana-based reality show Duck Dynasty. They all have enormous, bushy, gray-streaked beards and favor wide-brimmed, well-worn hats. The head monster investigator is a guy named John "Trapper" Tice, who has his own organization called Appalachian Investigators of Mysterious Sightings, or AIMS. He and his band of plainspoken coworkers say things like, "First thing is wolfman is a big son of a bitch," while they ride around the empty stretches of rural America in their truck.
Each episode is structured like a procedural, similarly to the paranormal reality shows Finding Bigfoot and Ghost Hunters. Initially we are introduced to the monster they’re seeking—in the first episode it’s a wolfman in the appropriately named Wolfe County, Kentucky. The investigators speak to a man who claims to have seen the wolfman, a trap shooter named R. R has a beard so long that it’s wrapped with several rubber bands, like an elaborate beard pony tail. Then the trappers spend the rest of the episode setting up cameras to surveil the wolfman, building a trap to catch the wolfman involving a baby goat as bait and wearing headlamps while being filmed with night vision.
Whether or not you believe a wolfman may exist—and I imagine most of you are skeptical that the wolfman, the wampus beast, the lizard demon or any of the other monsters featured on the show are real phenomenon—the show is sort of charming and strangely gripping. I didn’t believe in the wolfman before I watched the debut episode, and while I still am not checking my yard for footprints or wolfman scat, I was invested in whether the trappers found the wolfman, and concerned for the fate of that adorable baby goat. I won’t spoil the ending for you and tell you whether or not that baby goat met her end in the jaw of a marauding wolfman.
If nothing else, the show gives you a cursory crash-course into the folklore of Appalachian America, which is fascinating. Click through the slide show of mountain monsters and see what strange critters might be lurking in the woods, terrorizing your house pets.
[Images courtesy of Discovery Network]