If you're the sort who's skittish at heart and easily agitated or frightened, you should probably take a pass on Lore, the new fact-based horror anthology on Amazon that streams this Friday the 13th.
For the rest of us, who live for a good scare, we'll be there sitting in the dark, chain-bingeing past midnight on six brand-new disturbing tales based on the real people and events behind our modern-day myths and legends.
Anticipation in fandom is already running a fever that can only be cured with a shot of the good freaky stuff – and they'll get it with celebrated dread veterans Gale Anne Hurd, executive producer of The Walking Dead, and Glen Morgan, former executive producer of The X-Files, on board as the proprietors of TV's latest screamer-streamer.
"We are in the unscripted, alternative side of 'this is truth' – we want to do something that hasn't been seen before on streaming or TV," says Hurd, who also produced films such as The Terminator and Aliens early in her career.
Lore brings to visual life the podcast phenomenon of its narrator and creator Aaron Mahnke, who has seen his eerie audio grow to more than five million listens a month since it began in March 2015. Knowing he's such a meticulous researcher only serves to make it all the weirder and more unsettling as he explores the historical accounts that spawn our worst nightmares.
"When I found out about the podcast and started listening, I thought, 'Oh my God, this is a dream come true'," says Hurd. "The idea of being able to bring the true scary stories … to life, and to understand where these great mythologies came from, is fascinating."
One familiar face is actor Robert Patrick, who also stars in the TV series Scorpion and is fondly remembered as the T-1000 cyborg in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). He signed on Lore without hesitation: "With Glen and Gale involved, I knew it was really going to be a high-level project
. They're using different media, cartoons, archival footage, stills, film, narration and they're bringing it together," says Patrick, "and they're giving the actor the opportunity to create the live part, the re-enactment and the dramatic part of the story. It's really done very, very well. It's very creepy.
"My episode, Passing Notes, is about Eliakim Phelps, who's a reverend in the 1840s, true story. His wife dies, and he hears about séances and the spiritual world. He checks it out enough to understand 'that perhaps this is a way that I can actually prove the existence of God – and if there's a life after death. And I want to do it by communicating with my wife. I want to just tell her one more time that I love her.'"
Phelps discovers to his horror that if you do manage to pry open a door to the spirit world – you never know what terrifying entity may slip through it.
Other episodes will delve into vampires, changelings, werewolves, possessed dolls and more, with series stars: Kristin Bauer van Straten, known for True Blood; Adam Goldberg, of Fargo fame; Holland Roden, fresh off a six-year run on Teen Wolf; Colm Feore, from House of Cards; and Campbell Scott, previously seen in The Amazing Spider-Man.
One of Mahnke's favourite episodes is Echoes, "a story that exposes how mental health patients were treated … and the barbaric techniques that were used to help them find a normal life" including the lobotomy, in which a steel rod is hammered through an eye socket into the brain and "swished around". The resulting, horrifying brain damage was said to calm patients.
Hurd took a shine to They Made a Tonic: "What is the origin of the vampire myths? It's much closer to home. The people indeed 'made a tonic' which they believed would cure the disease. It is a ghastly cure."
Hurd says her storytelling goal is "to get the people who are watching this into the head space of the characters who are making decisions. We're making all of that relatable, which makes it even scarier.
When it's cold, hard facts – it's not scary," says Mahnke, also the author of The World of Lore book series. "When it's a real thing – with real connections – it becomes a lot more frightening."
"I've been drawn to tales of the supernatural since I was a kid. Probably fifth grade, writing assignment – the teacher wanted us to write a short story, for penmanship. I chose to write about a haunted graveyard where they were now selling pumpkins – and the pumpkins had bones in them. I've loved horror ever since."
"The X-Files fed that while I was in college. Then I was writing supernatural novels for a while but a lot of the research, the source material, never made it into the books. So I filed it all away – and there's some great stuff in there. Stuff I wanted to share with people. Things that really happened. And through a series of fortunate events, that turned into a podcast and television show."
Lore is available for streaming on Amazon Prime from Friday