Nightmare Fuel: Unsolved Mysteries
had VERY high doses of Nightmare Fuel. Even, or perhaps especially
, the true crime segments were bone chillingly creepy.
- The opening combined a spooky theme song along with a collage of weird/paranormal imagery. Well, it eventually did. In the early years it largely featured large words floating down the screen.
- The faceless hitchhiking ghost.
- Woman and son terrorized while on a canoe trip.
- The entire David Stone segment. It was not a blood and guts story, but the creepy New Age music combined with Stack's ominous narrative of the desert is about as unnerving as live-action TV can get.
- The case where a lady comes out of a convenience store and find a Polaroid picture of a young boy and teenage girl (believed to be missing teen Tara Calico) bound and gagged in the back of a van.
- Especially chilling: the van in the photo had been in the parking spot next to hers when she went into the store.
- The Boston Shopping Mall Rapist
- Tallman's Ghost, a.k.a. The haunted bunk bed segment. Yes they made a segment about a haunted bunk bed. And it is scary as HELL.
- Let's be honest: anything a disembodied voice in a dark room can say is already hair-raising to the extreme, but "YOU'RE DEAD" qualifies as the ultimate Brown Note.
- As far as anyone can tell, after the family went out of their way to bulldoze it into splinters, the horrors ceased.
- The Blind River rest stop murders
- Allagash Abductions
- Missing Time: "Imagine for a moment that you go to the corner store for a quick errand. When you return home, thinking you've been gone for no more than five minutes, you find that in reality three hours have passed. And what is more, you find that you have no memory of it at all."
- The Dennis Depue case: Which some have accused the first half of the film Jeepers Creepers of partially ripping off.
- The Tina Resch case where a teen girl was supposedly haunted by a Poltergeist, or suffering from psychokinesis. Tina herself would later go to prison for allegedly being responsible for the death of her three-year-old daughter.
- Keith Warren's death. It was so obviously not a suicide, that it makes you wonder what was being covered up.
- Same thing for Tommy Burkett. He was found in his parents' house, sitting upright on a couch with a bullet wound to the head and a revolver in his hand. But there was no blood spatter from the shot and the revolver's cylinder was open. A later autopsy revealed he had several broken bones. The strongest theory was that he was an informant for the DEA, was killed by drug dealers, and the DEA convinced the local police to cover up their involvement and close the case.
- The Wacker case, where a seemingly innocent, nice elderly couple are harassed for years by someone who seems to know everything about them. Dorothy Wacker is physically assaulted twice in this segment, one time by someone that she didn't even see.
- The voice of the Circleville Letter Writer
- Satan worshippers. That is all.
- Dave Bocks. Probably murdered to prevent him from blowing the whistle on wrongdoings at a nuclear power plant. His body was dumped in a nuclear reactor, at roughly 1300 degrees. All that was left was a few chunks of bone and his eyeglass frames. As was said, hopefully he was dead or unconscious before he was dropped in, otherwise it would have been a horrific way to go. Whoever did it has never been found. Oh, and his remains are too radioactive to release to the family, they're stored at a toxic waste facility.
- I was always a little scared of Robert Stack. His creepy monotone and the fact that he never appeared to blink always guaranteed I was hiding somewhere safe when we watched this.
- The one where a woman claims she is being stalked and terrorized by a stranger whose face she is never able to see. The police think she's doing it to herself. Later she is found tied up and dead I think.
- It's nightmare fuel one way or the other. Either she was systematically antagonized, attacked and finally brutally murdered by a person she did not know over a period of YEARS, or she was so mentally ill that she kept up the charade for the same amount of time and ended up committing suicide in a particularly heinous fashion, for reasons that will never be known. Yikes.
- The man who picks up a hitchhiker who later attacks him and somehow ends up finding the man's house and murders his elderly mother. How'd the FUCK did he know where the guy lived!!??? I think the man said he deliberately drove in the opposite direction from his home so the man wouldn't know where he lived. But he sees the hitchkiker near his house any way. He brings the police and he finds his mother murdered. Was it all just some kind of bizarre coincidence? Just typing this one sent chills down my spine.
- Are you referring to the "Dorothy Donovan" murder? That one actually was solved on Forensic Files years later. The murderer was a drug-addicted drifter, who claimed that it was just a coincidence he showed up at the elderly woman's house, as he was merely looking for an abandoned house to sleep in.
- The case dealing with the repeated exorcisms of "Kathie." Robert Stack's hollow baritone reminds us several times that what we are seeing and hearing is not a re-creation but rather the real deal, which is pretty easy to believe because, compared to the usual actor reenactments on the show, it sounds entirely too goddamn convincing.
- Then there's the composite sketches, and age progression pictures Brr... The artists try, but those photos tend to dive full-force into the Uncanny Valley. It doesn't help matters that the photos in question are always straight ahead, meaning they're usually staring right at you.
- The case in which every member of a small church choir is late for practice; as they begin arriving, the church explodes due to a gas leak.
- Some of the missing persons cases, in particular, that of Kari Lynn Nixon, who was a mere 700 yards from her home when she vanished into thin air. It took seven years to find out that she'd been forced into a car, driven to a remote site, then raped and murdered, all before her mother even realized she was missing. Or Jeremy Bright, who also vanished without a trace. After months of investigating, the police and his mother came to the very ominous realization that someone knew what had happened to him, but was keeping his mouth shut. Whether because he was involved, or too frightened of those who were is unclear.
- A lot of the cases have such a wrenching sense of "if only". If only Kathy Hobbs hadn't left her home late at night to go and buy a book. If only she'd turned back when she realized there was no one hanging out at the local pool to accompany her to the store. If only her mom hadn't gone to bed, assuming she was safe and not realized until the next morning that she never came home, thus giving her abductors—and killers—an 8 hour head start.
- From the short-lived Lifetime revival came the Harper's Ferry "steamer trunk corpse" segment, in which an elderly man had been murdered and stuffed in a trunk, which was dumped at a park. At the time of the broadcast, he was unidentified, so an incredibly graphic autopsy photo was shown to viewers in hopes that he could be identified. While he was identified later due to forensic science and the case was solved, the autopsy photo would remain as a point in the broadcast. This marks the rare time an actual photo of the deceased was used in the show, rather than composite sketches or actors in the reenactments.
- The exact name and nature of the case escapes me at the moment, but there was a case where a kennel full of dogs was purposely set on fire; apparently, it was because the arsonist had a grudge against the couple who operated the kennel. Most of the dogs died horribly in the fire, and to this day the arsonist hasn't been caught. It definitely doubles as a Tear Jerker if you're an animal lover.
- The I-70 Midwestern/Southwestern Serial Killer. He would go into dress shops, convenience stores, etc. with a .45 Automatic and would force everyone inside into the back of the store and kill them execution-style. He would pick his victims at random (although he mostly killed women) and to date, has had only two known survivors; a woman he shot and temporarily paralyzed (she was saved by a couple who found her after her co-worker was murdered and she was left for dead) and a man who came by a bridal shop after the murders and was able to convince him to let him go. He has never been caught.
- During a mid-90s episode, there was once a Sci-Med or The Unexplained story about spontaneous combustion. In the feature, it included a woman who survived it because she actually found it in time (to be specific, her back began to start smoking in a small but distinct circle without any provocation and while she could feel it, her obviously freaked-out husband saw it and was able to take off her sweater in time with only a small first-degree burn on her back as the only indication.) Another elderly man, however, wasn't as lucky. His son was interviewed and the re-enactment showed him coming across a large, gaping, burned-out hole in his father's bed that was once his father. Perhaps even worse, the re-enactment even showed an actor playing the deceased father suddenly catching on fire and being absolutely helpless to stop it.
- The Queen Mary episode. Not only does it involve gruesome death, but it's about hauntings in an actual tourist attraction/hotel many people have visited.
- The Mary Morris case. Two women, a Mary Lou Morris and a Mary McGinnis Morris, were found brutally murdered within four days of each other in Texas. With no obvious reason as to why the first Mary would be killed, they looked at the second Mary and found she was having both problems with her husband and a coworker. Adding to that the fact that the two Marys were of similar age, build, hair style and color, had almost the same name and lived in the same area, it was believed that the Marys were a victim of a contract killing. They suspect the first Mary was killed by accident and the killer was simply correcting the error (this theory was helped by the fact that the first Mary's wedding ring was taken, which happens in contract killings as proof, and a call from the second Mary's husband to her cell phone near the time of her murder, believed to be him calling the killer for confirmation.) This was dismissed by police and the case is still unsolved, but the idea that you can be brutally murdered out of nowhere because of a mistake can be absolutely horrifying.
- The Marlene Santana case is a textbook example for Adult Fear and Tear Jerker. Imagine being a young ecstatic Mother exiting the Hospital with your Aunts and your beautiful baby girl; you had also been approached by a seemly nurse who gushes over how your baby is the most beautiful one in the Maternity Ward. Later at night, when you exit the hospital with your Aunts and baby, the same woman threatens to blow your baby's head off if you three don't comply. She walks you 6 blocks away from the hospital, snatches your baby, and gets away in a car that has shown up to pick you up. You, your family, and the police keep looking and looking for your daughter to no avail. Indeed, as of Nov. 2014, Marlene Santana has yet to be found.
- The Monika Rizzo case. A woman goes missing and, after an anonymous tip and like so many other cases, suspicion soon falls on the husband, who swears they had a good marriage even though people can attest to seeing her sporting a black eye on occasion. Upon searching the backyard for clues, police find dozens and dozens of bones in the ground (and not just human bones; there was a jawbone of a cow), underneath a stack of tires and even inside of a barbeque grill. The bones were in such bad condition that police suspected that the body, whoever it was, went through a wood chipper. To make matters worse, there was even a bag containing human flesh found amongst the bones. The remains were eventually discovered to be her and to date, no one has been charged with her death.