Travel Channel host Don Wildman is famous for his intriguing and often spooky series such as “Mystery at the Museum”, “Weird Travels”, “Beyond the Unkown”, “Cities of the Unkown”, and “Mysteries at the Monument”. Now Wildman is taking us on a darker adventure with his new series “Buried Worlds with Don Wildman” which will delve into mankind’s darkest mysteries and legends.
I sat down with Wildman to talk about the new Travel Channel series that premieres on Monday, June 8th at 9 p.m. ET/PT. The premiere explores the history of the vampire.
Horror Fuel: “I’m such a fan I love so many of your shows. I can’t wait to see your new series, “Buried Worlds”.
Don Wildman: “Let me give you a little background. I come from this world of the paranormal realm, from the outside in. I’m like everybody else, I was raised on Edger Allen Poe and the great horror genre, I was a big fan when I was a kid. But my career has been primarily history, straight history. Along came this idea that we had about exploration into history storytelling and to apply it to the paranormal. In that time, the channel itself has become a straight paranormal thing. This show had to adapt to that reality, so we take iconic history, big history, all over the world. We’re exploring history around the world that has to do with the paranormal witchery, vampirism, occult curses, all sorts of things and we find out that when you scratch the surface, that it is a gigantic world. There’s many perspectives from which we can learn in that realm. And so we try to do that. There’s a sampler of aliens, curses, etc… in all these different locations, from Haiti to Bulgaria, to Germany, to Honduras. In the course of it every time I would be moving in to try to understand how our participants engaged with them.
In Peru, I was in sort of the mindset of a novice priest who ventured into an ancient priesthood and had to learn how sacrifices were done, all part of how they get closer and closer to their god, which I do through a sequence of events.
Over in Germany, we tell the story of how important it was for them to investigate paranormal history for the Nazis. They were very, very into witchery. They had a whole division called the SS Witches Division. We investigate the history of witches in Germany and how that would have come to the order of the modern age and why the Nazis were interested in it.
In Bulgaria, it is a vampire story. It’s around Bulgaria where the story of vampires comes from. I actually investigate a village in Bulgaria way up on a hill, crazy, crazy mountain top village. I go through this village and try to learn the reputation that this village has gained as a source for a vampire. It was that fly on the wall kind of experience that I had where I go from A: I’m an outsider to B: I’m understanding this world to C: I’m involved in this world. As a result, the viewer will learn the history of whatever we are doing. Then they’ll learn what it feels like to be in that world.”
Horror Fuel: “I think both fans of history and the paranormal will find “Buried Worlds” fascinating. I really enjoyed the premiere, I saw an advanced copy.”
Don Wildman: “I’ve been doing shows for a long time and every time I sort of relearn how to make a TV show because every one of them has been a very different experience, but in this case, by far, has been the biggest learning curve for me because I wasn’t really a paranormal person at all. My experience on the road and the well that we are dipping into and these people that we met are so unusual and so out there in many regards.
My mind as I’m talking goes to the experience in Poland there is a group that has actually secured a Nazi diary of a guy who was an SS officer that had been secreted away that is a record of where they put the gold in locations throughout Poland. When the Nazis went through Poland they had stolen so much gold and art. They buried them in different places. One thing, this is not paranormal, but the guy is probably haunting someone at this point. He writes about the fact that he went to this castle and there is a map to the location of a well which is where – according to this diary – tons of gold is put down there. In the diary, he explains that it is buried in an “x” amount of feet of dirt and that they shot the messengers who brought it with them, so these guys are down there too. And it’s so graphic and weird and so present. This is a relic, a brand new discovery. We go to this place. Those are the kinds of stories that we bump into constantly. That is the part of Heinrich Himmler trying to find the curses and witchery. He was obsessed about history and the occult as a sort of a source of strength. It was that kind of experience we see.
There’s Voodoo in Haiti, ancient Peruvian sacrifices, Bulgaria searching for vampires, It’s a sampler of the occult and paranormal.”
Horror Fuel: “I’m excited to see where your adventures take you.”
Don Wildman: “Thank you. I want to express how much respect I have for the paranormal. I went out there not knowing much but I came back knowing a lot. It’s an incredibly noble tradition, investigating the unknown, the paranormal, beyond the veil. It’s part of our culture because so many people have been so obviously curious for so many centuries, trying to understand it. When you get into it seriously, you realize that you’re in a world that’s not spooky, or potentially scary, but also scientific. It’s a realm that takes you into all sorts of thinking. That’s what interests me. Theology, you can’t have ghosts without it.”
Horror Fuel: “What was it like to walk those underground corridors, exploring the roots of the truth of Dracula, of Vlad the Impaler and vampires? ”
Don Wildman: “I went out with Dracula on my mind and I came home with a whole other perception of what vampirism is really all about. I realized that I was projecting. I’ve done a couple of different shows about Vlad the Impaler and all that stuff and you’re always imposing on that story for a western audience, its own version of what a Vampire is when the truth of it is that this has been an idea that sort of bubbled up for the ground from small villages and hilltop places far from civilization in the middle of Eastern Europe. Those same feelings, the fading impressions you get of that world are still there. You go there and it’s not long before you are talking to some elderly person and she’s telling me how her son came back as a vampire or strigoi. I came away with more of a spiritual thing, a source of malevolence, a source of evil, and a way of understanding it. They had to have something to identify the opposing force in their lives. The idea of vampires is almost like an infection, a spiritual infection of a place. It may or may not ever take the actual form of an entity. They definitely try to prevent it by piling rocks onto graves and rituals. I would venture to say that the vast majority of people that fear vampires never saw one. They use that idea as a label, a way of understanding their universe. You really have to take yourself of feeling you’re the superior American, which is never true anyway. When you immerse yourself you come to realize that it’s an entirely different culture. First I have to shed my own expectations and ideas and stop projecting and learn it from the inside out. As soon as you’re into that you’re in an open-mindedness that gives you a new perception of things that are far more interesting than your own. When you take that posture within the paranormal you’re on an adventure.”
We can’t wait to see where Don’s adventures will take him. Don’t miss the premiere of Travel Channel’s “Buried Worlds with Don Wildman” premiering on Monday, June 8th at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Be sure to follow Don Wildman on Twitter for news about upcoming episodes.
You can find this month’s Travel Channel Guide HERE.