'The Curse Of The Highgate Vampire' Documentary Lands On Discovery+ This Halloween
This article is more than one year old and was last updated in April 2022.
'The Curse Of The Highgate Vampire' lands on Discovery+ this Halloween and delves into the hauntings of the infamous cemetery including tales of vampires, satanism, occult rituals involving sex, and the conjuring of dark entities.
Ghosts, zombies and vampires are commonly associated with Halloween. We get plenty of ghosts each October and the occasional zombie - see Derren Brown's 2012 Halloween special and Charlie Brooker's 'Dead Set', but vampires don't come round too often. However, this Halloween in a new instalment of 'Shock Docs' investigator Andrew Gough and Vanessa Woolf re-examine one of the most famous real-life vampire cases of all time, right here in the UK.
If you love a good ghost story wrapped up in true supernatural mystery, then this in-depth examination of an iconic paranormal case is a must-watch for you this Halloween.
The hour-long Discovery+ original documentary features previously unseen tapes and fresh evidence. It drops on Discovery+ on Friday, October 29 and examines a wave of vampire hysteria surrounding Highgate Cemetery in North London, including the chaos that ensued when the story made the tea time news in the 1970s.
The documentary begins with a message on-screen telling viewers, "scientists say paranormal experiences can be explained by natural changes in electromagnetic fields, sound and light or as a result of psychological suggestion. Others believe in the supernatural and film their encounters. The investigations conducted by the paranormal team featured are for entertainment purposes only."
After this very prominent and oddly specific disclaimer we meet Vanessa, a local author, who has been fascinated with the story of the Highgate Vampire for as long as she can remember. She tells us, "I grew up in North London and I feel like I have always known about the Highgate Vampire, it was just a bit of a local legend, especially when I became a teenager."
When Vanessa started investigating the case of the vampire, she found that vampires weren't the only things reported around the cemetery. The gothic graveyard has been the resting place for the capital's elite since 1839 and has stories of strange goings on associated with it for almost as long.
It all started in 1970 with a man named David Farrant, who told the local newspaper "on three occasions I've seen what appeared to be a ghost-like figure inside the gates of Highgate Cemetery."
We learn from previously unseen footage of an interview with Farrant, who died in 2019, just how much the curse of Highgate took over his life. There's also new interviews with a life-long friend and his son, Jamie, who said, "I'd go far as to say it took his life over, my dad had seen something in the cemetery, frightened the hell out of him."
Farrant became one of Britain's most controversial paranormal investigators, but it wasn't just the cemetery that he claimed was haunted. Although geographically the nearby pubs The Flask and The Gatehouse aren't in a straight line with the cemetery, David believed they were some how on a ley line that the entity could move along to these locations.
Farrant maintained that an entity haunts Highgate until his death, but he is adamant that he doesn't believe in vampires. In an old television clip featured in the documentary, he told the interviewer what he thought roams Highgate, "I believe that sometimes there can be ghosts, if I must use that word, that can remain earth bound that are extremely potent forms of psychic energy."
So if Farrant didn't believe in vampires, why is Highgate so well known for its blood sucking resident? Later in the documentary we meet Sean Manchester who made the bold claim that the figure seen by Farrant and countless other witnesses at the cemetery was a vampire and the media quickly latched on.
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We see an old news clip in which Manchester tells us, "our first reports indicated there may be a vampire in Highgate Cemetery," but not just any vampire... "the king vampire of the undead." According to Manchester, this being had the face of a wild animal with glaring eyes and sharp teeth - a man with the face of an animal.
Manchester, who declined to take part in the documentary, claimed that he slayed the vampire in 1974, something Farrant disputed which threw them into a bitter feud.
Talking about Farrant, paranormal investigator, Andrew Gough said, "Highgate Cemetery itself really drew his attention, like a magnet." He questioned, "what if David, whose life was a hundred percent Highgate Cemetery, what if he is now part of the story but in a different realm?"
Well, this is the question that the gang of paranormal thrill-seekers we meet in the documentary hope to answer.
At the start of the doc we see what happened when the paranormal YouTuber, known simply as Alex, got himself deliberately locked inside of the cemetery at night in order to conduct a paranormal investigation, despite the fact that ghost hunts have been banned there since the 1970s.
Alex says in the clip, "we know we're not allowed to be here filming. We paid for a tour and waited for the perfect moment to sneak off and we started our investigation."
Photo: © Discovery+
The YouTuber managed to capture something very strange on camera, even as a skeptic it's hard to debunk the moment when something seems to fly past Alex's face from behind. I wouldn't like to say for sure that it's paranormal, but it's certainly weird.
Alex also captured a voice through one of his ghost hunting tools, a device called a spirit box that rapidly scans through radio frequencies, it's believed that spirits can manipulate the white noise in these frequency ranges to form words and sentences. Amongst the static, Alex believes he heard the name "David" come through the device.
Alex thinks that the voice he heard was Farrant warning about the entity moving behind him - this seems like a little bit of a leap as the object didn't seem threatening in any way. Could this not just have been David Farrant trying to show himself? Or perhaps the voice was that of the entity that haunts the cemetery calling for David?
Either way, Alex went back to the area to search for answers with fellow investigator Tony and medium, Claire, who for someone so spiritual had quite the potty mouth. Alex said, "we'd like to find out more about David and what he was investigating at Highgate Cemetery."
Armed with common ghost hunting gadgets like the REM-Pod and K-II they head to North London. Since Farrant had said that the entity can move from location to location, the trio investigate several locations including the Gatehouse pub, where Claire said, "I did start to feel like an entity being there, a really strong evil presence."
There didn't seem to be an understanding of who or what this entity was, let alone where it usually resides, but the encounter was enough for psychic Claire to conclude that Farrant was right. She said, "I can definitely confirm that whatever is in Highgate Cemetery is definitely travelling to the Highgate pub as well."
'The Curse Of The Highgate Vampire' will be made available globally on Discovery+ on October 29, as part of the platforms Ghostober programming event, which sees a whole host of Halloween shows land on Discovery+ as well as its sister channels, Really in the UK, and Travel, Food Network and HGTV in the US.
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