Something strange is going on in the Appalachian Mountains.
For hundreds of years, locals have reported startling run-ins with monsters that dwell in the area’s caves and caverns, mass sightings of unidentified lights in the skies, and contact with mysterious entities that seem to originate from beyond this world. Now, a new documentary from Planet Weird heads deep into the heart of coal country in an effort to discover the truth behind the latest outbreak of high strangeness, a search which brings them to Hellier, Kentucky.
Hellier is a five-part, cinematic documentary series that investigates a new and intriguing supernatural mystery. What began as a plea for help from a frightened man, oppressed by what he believes are extraterrestrial forces, leads a small crew of paranormal researchers to a dying coal town, where a series of strange coincidences uncovers a decades-old mystery with implications as deep and far-reaching as the caverns beneath Appalachia.
In 2012, paranormal investigator Greg Newkirk was contacted by a frightened man named David Christie, who claimed that small, humanoid creatures were emerging from a long-abandoned mine shaft on his rural Kentucky property. After enduring a series of nightly assaults by the strange entities, David shared a collection of stunning photographs of three-toed footprints – and even the creatures themselves.
“We were obviously hesitant to take the report at face value,” Newkirk said, “but the photographs were more than a little intriguing. We showed them to everyone we could think of, from hunters, to naturalists, even Bigfoot hunters. Everyone said they appeared to be real but no one could agree on what kind of creature made them.
Then, before Greg and his wife Dana – also a paranormal investigator – could put boots on the ground, David vanished.
In the years that followed, the case only became stranger for the Newkirks as they tracked down historical leads from Appalachian locals.
“We began to notice a pattern,” Dana says. “David’s case was so incredibly similar to the Hopkinsville, Kentucky Goblins case from 1955, and there were so many other cases of little creatures living in caves, harassing people, and they stretched all the way up the Appalachian Mountain chain. People were seeing and experiencing the same thing for hundreds of years, but they’d all given them different names. The cases weren’t isolated, and they were connected by the Mammoth Cave System, but no one had put that together.”
The two researchers had all but given up on tracking David down, until cryptic emails from a shadowy source prompted the duo to continue their search. The emails contained GPS coordinates, and the sender appeared to know intimate details about their investigation.
“We were freaked out, to be honest,” Greg says of the emails. “This person seemed to know where we had been investigating, and the only reference we could find to his assumed name – which was a play on the word ‘terrorist’, by the way – was in a really obscure occult text about UFOs and the Men in Black from the 90s. It was a little scary.”
The Newkirks followed the case to David’s town, even discovering what appeared to be his empty home, but never made it to the email coordinates. Job offers working for a busy internet startup coupled with the duo’s newly-opened paranormal museum meant less time chasing goblins and more time in the office, so the case was put on ice.
Then, in 2017, prompted by an impossible synchronicity, director Karl Pfeiffer, who had cut his teeth on Dark Zone’s Spirits of the Stanley series, approached the Newkirks with an idea:
What if we take a camera crew and go find David once and for all?
“I think everyone who actually studies paranormal phenomena finds old stories and cases that speak to them, and for some of us, we spend our lives hoping or seeking out our own experiences like those,” Pfeiffer admitted. “For me, the story was always The Mothman Prophecies. So from the beginning, upon hearing about this whole sprawling goblins case from Greg, there was a feel about it, a big feel, a feeling of scope, that clicked with me in the same way as Keel’s story. Only this one was still unfolding.”
A few months later, Karl, accompanied by fellow investigator Connor Randall, who worked with Pfeiffer as a Resident Paranormal Investigator at Colorado’s famously-haunted Stanley Hotel, met the Newkirks at their Cincinnati headquarters and geared up. Together, the team traveled into the shadows of the Appalachian mountains, to the source of it all, where a dwindling town named Hellier held the secrets of David Christie and his supernatural assault. It wasn’t long before the team realized they’d stumbled onto something much bigger than goblins.
“We had no idea what we’d gotten ourselves into,” Greg says. “As we started tracking down David, digging up decades-old reports of three-toed footprints and mass UFO sightings, locals were telling us to watch our backs, not to trust anyone, and to stay out of the hollers. But we couldn’t stop. We found a thread and we had to follow it.”
Aided by reluctant locals, cutting-edge parapsychological methods, and a trail of breadcrumbs left by occultists and UFO researchers decades before, the investigators uncover a mystery with frightening and far-reaching implications: the phenomena is bigger than Hellier, and someone – or something – has noticed them.
Hellier isn’t just aiming to up the ante when it comes to showing how strange anomalistic investigations can really be, it’s also changing the game for what paranormal television can look like. Shot in an anamorphic vérité format – a first for any paranormal-based documentary television series – director Karl Pfeiffer has made Hellier look as beautiful as it is riveting. Utilizing cinematic lenses and a methodical pacing that’s more akin to film, Hellier is a paranormal series that feels like True Detective meets The X-Files, with plenty of Catfish vibes for good measure. You wouldn’t know it to see it, but the project is also fiercely independent.
“One of the driving reasons behind staying indie with the Hellier project was in order to maintain control of the style and presentation,” Pfeiffer says. “Stubbornly, we all sacrificed a lot of possibility with Hellier in order to maintain our creative integrity, because you can’t truly tackle high strangeness by playing to the widest possible audience. So we threw out the television formula. We stayed weird and cerebral, but tried our best to present lofty ideas in simple ways, and we did it in a documentary format that stays true to storytelling and thoughtfulness rather than jump scares and low-budget recreations. We wanted to explore the spooky with wonder rather than terror.”
All episodes of Hellier premiere, free of charge, on Friday, January 18th at 12:01AM ET on Amazon Prime, YouTube, Vimeo, and Hellier.tv. Check out Hellier.tv on launch date for episode descriptions, downloads, detailed series information, behind-the-scenes looks, and special features.
Be sure to subscribe to Planet Weird on YouTube to be the first to see Hellier when it drops. Follow Planet Weird on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and use the #HELLIER hashtag for more exclusive content and updates.
Hellier is produced by Planet Weird. Executive producers for Planet Weird are Greg Newkirk and Dana Newkirk. Hellier is directed by Karl Pfeiffer and co-produced by Connor Randall.
About Greg & Dana Newkirk
GREG NEWKIRK (Executive Producer, Cast) is one of the world’s only full-time paranormal researchers, and has spent the last two decades tracking down and investigating cases of the strange and the supernatural, and conducting groundbreaking research on everything from alien abduction phenomena to poltergeist hauntings. Greg is also the co-founder of The Traveling Museum of the Paranormal & Occult, the world’s only mobile museum of the unexplained, and his work in the fields of cryptozoology, parapsychology, and paranormal research has seen him featured on hit shows like Travel Channel’s Mysteries at the Museum and Animal Planet’s Finding Bigfoot.
DANA NEWKIRK (Executive Producer, Cast) is a practicing hedgewitch with well over two decades of experience in seeking out the strangest cases of the unexplained. Dana began her career by forming the first-ever all-female paranormal investigation team in the late 90s, the subject of SPACE’s Girly Ghosthunters series. In 2013, she co-founded The Traveling Museum of the Paranormal & Occult, for which she serves as head curator. When she’s not conjuring up conversations with phantoms on hit television shows like TLC’s Kindred Spirits or Destination America’s Paranormal Lockdown, Dana can be found giving tarot readings, interactive lectures, and hands-on workshops to packed houses across the country, sharing her expertise on everything from divination, to conjure & rootwork, to practical magic.
About Karl Pfeiffer & Connor Randall
KARL PFEIFFER (Executive Producer, Director, Editor, Cast), has always been passionate about the mysterious, uncanny, and supernatural in the world around him. In 2009, he won the first season of Syfy’s Ghost Hunters Academy and went on to appear on Ghost Hunters International. While serving as the Resident Paranormal Investigator of Colorado’s famously haunted Stanley Hotel for five years, he directed and edited the web series Spirits of the Stanley for the Dark Zone web network and conducted 250 investigations on the property. He is also a portrait and conceptual photographer based out of Northern Colorado, a freelance filmmaker, and he’s the author of two fiction books.
CONNOR RANDALL (Co-Producer, Cast, Score) is a musician and paranormal researcher. When he’s not working his seasonal job at the Colorado State Capitol, he’s often found touring the country and banging his drums in the downtown Denver scene with his punk-rock band, The Ghoulies. As a Resident Paranormal Investigator for The Stanley Hotel, he was also featured in Spirits of the Stanley and, alongside Karl, became iconic for his work seemingly channeling spirits through their original viral experimental Spirit Box technique they dubbed The Estes Method.
MORE GREAT STORIES FROM WEEK IN WEIRD:
This content was originally published here.