A vampire ate my goat

Is nowhere safe from our fascination with the supernatural? Marianne Macdonald lifts the lid on the Fortean invasion

Believe it or not, Britain is to be swept by Fortean phenomena, including a new magazine and an eight-part Channel 4 series dedicated to the unearthly, the incredible and the weird. Bizarre is on its way from John Brown Publishing, home of such unlikely stablemates as Viz, Gardens Illustrated, Fortean Times, 12 contract magazines and the new Spice Girls fanzine which starts next month. Bizarre targets men aged 18 to 30 - Loaded readers who also have a unhealthy interest in, well, the bizarre.

The magazine rose from the ashes of a discussion about possible new Internet titles between John Brown, managing director, and the new editor, Fiona Jerome, who invented the Sweary Mary Interactive Swearing Dictionary on the Viz website. "We couldn't come up with anything," Mr Brown confides, "and we spent most of the time talking about the bizarre stuff on the Net. I said they should go off and come back with an idea for a Net magazine and they came back two days later with the idea for Bizarre.

"When I read it I remember almost looking over my shoulder. I thought: `Christ! Why has no one thought of this before?'"

Why indeed? The first issue will offer what will be a regular slot of 10 pages of weird photographs - such as one of a stowaway falling from an aeroplane - and an interview with an Anglican vicar who does exorcisms, a feature on a private orgy in Holland, and a story about the curse of Superman.

This is not, of course, far from what is offered by the Fortean Times, which sells 55,000 copies in 65 countries. But the gentlemanly Mr Brown explains: "The difference between Bizarre and the Fortean Times is that the Fortean Times is for a specialist market - Bizarre is for a mainstream market."

Mr Brown sums up the magazine into which he has pumped pounds 400,000 as "full of bizarre but largely true stories and pictures from around the world". He continues: "The majority of things in Bizarre aren't inexplicable, just very odd. The stories will often be about subjects which we think are true, but we're not sure - such as exorcism. Also, we're investigating spontaneous human combustion. One of the main promoters of it is a Welsh policeman who was called in to investigate a case and is now one of the world's experts."

John Brown Publishing is exploiting its expertise in things Fortean (Charles Fort, the turn-of-the-century American writer, argued that science could not explain everything) in another venture, too. It is supplying material to Rapido Television for a Channel 4 series, Fortean TV, starting tomorrow at 9pm.

Fortean TV is fronted by Father Lionel Fanthorpe, a priest, black belt and motorbike fanatic, and aims to build on the success of The X Files to "look at the wonders of the natural world, bizarre beliefs, freak animals, strange phenomena, histories, mysteries and the just plain bonkers".

Tomorrow's line-up includes a feature on the vampire goat-sucker of Puerto Rico, which has purportedly claimed the lives of more than 150 goats and numerous other animals by sucking their liver out of two holes in their necks. This predator appears to be a cross between a kangaroo, a wolf and an ostrich.

Another focuses on a medical centre in Turkey where people afflicted with skin diseases can bathe in water from hot volcanic springs. Tiny fish in the water can cure patients with psoriasis by first nibbling the wound, then eating the dead skin. Also watch out for the world's first televised mermaid autopsy.

The link between Fortean TV and John Brown Publishing exploits, dare one say it, an awakening phenomenon. Mr Brown notes that "Channel 4 are keen to exploit the increasing fascination with the unexplained - as exemplified by the endless TV programmes of which the most successful is The X Files".

Fortean TV was commissioned by Peter Grimsdale, in charge of religion at Channel 4. He believes the interest in the unexplained is linked to growing freedom from conventional dogmas: "People are rejecting Establishment attitudes. There's a sense that lots of people can have different ideas - and that's OK"n

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
Voices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
News
Ireland will not find out whether gay couples have won the right to marry until Saturday afternoon
news
News
Kim Jong-un's brother Kim Jong-chol
news
News
Manchester city skyline as seen from Oldham above the streets of terraced houses in North West England on 7 April 2015.
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Guru Careers: Senior Account Manager / SAM

£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: A Senior Account Manager / SAM is needed to join the ...

Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Manager (EMEA) - City, London

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Manager...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?