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Saturday, May 16, 2020

Mystery: The Paris Catacombs Video


Today, I want to do something very different. You see, when I go about writing, I tend to try to do my best to cover stories in a way that hasn’t been done before. I believe I’ve failed to do so quite often, but I’ve been extremely happy with how I’ve really gotten a firm grip on a style in recent time.

Though I want to forego that a bit. You see, today’s story is one that’s been covered a fair bit by quite a few people; it’s also been talked about a fair bit. The reason I want to do that is I believe that the footage that’s become known as the Paris Catacombs Video is one that a lot of people tend to overthink and over analyze. So what we’ll be doing today is instead playing the role of the parrot and then playing the role of the armchair detective with five followers on his blog. So without further ado, let’s go spelunking.



The Story

If you’re not familiar with this story, it’s said that the Paris Catacombs Video was found sometime in the early 2000s. The camera that contained the footage was suspected of having been left there at some point in the early 1990s, but the owner has never been identified and if they’re alive, they’ve never come forward. Here’s the footage, which aired on ABC Family, for your viewing pleasure.


Definitely creepy and rather unsettling. In my eyes, it reminds me of the 1999 horror film “The Blair Witch Project”. A shaky camera, some really unsettling imagery, and an ending that leaves viewers with blue balls that could constitute as planetary bodies. This footage was also aired a few years after that movie, but more on that later. For now, let’s focus on this footage.

In the years since that footage was discovered and subsequently aired, there has been a lot of discussion on what happened to the owner of the camera and what the “truth” behind it all is. One man took it a step further though—albeit not long after the footage aired. Per a website called “The 13th Floor”,  Francis Freedland made a documentary that went over the footage and even investigated the catacombs themselves in an effort to find out the truth. He allegedly explored the tunnels where the footage was recorded, but found nothing. Years later, when Zak Bagans—the creator and host of the widely popular show “Ghost Adventures”—did an episode centering on the catacombs, Freedland said he would never return to the catacombs and that he couldn’t remember where the tunnels were located.

That’s the most abridged summary I can give to the events that transpired surrounding this footage, but as I stated at the start, I didn’t want to utilize my normal style; I wanted to merely parrot what I read (which primarily came from The 13th Floor). The reason for this is: a lot of what you’ve read about this story—if you’ve read anything about it—is all there really is to this story. Unlike many, many, many other stories online, the footage here is all there truly is. The rest of it is almost entirely speculation that has been parroted from person-to-person.

As for why there isn’t more to this story specifically, that can be explained with one simple statement: the catacombs are big. Ridiculously big. They’re a gargantuan labyrinth with narrow corridors and it’s incredibly easy to get lost down there. They served as something of a mass grave and as such, going looking for a dead body is as easy as looking at the walls. Searching for a specific body on the other hand is one of the hardest things you could ever do. However, I have a counter argument for this that I’ll present later.

With that stated, I must say that this story is by and large over. In my time of researching it, I found very little that presents itself as anything that really stands out; most of what we have is just theories as to what happened to the man, though all of those theories can be condensed into two: the man died or it was fake. So without further ado, let’s simply go over them.

Theories

1. The video was faked

For our first theory, we have the idea that the video was faked. While certainly a very popular theory among skeptics, there’s never been any definitive proof to seal that the video was faked by someone. No corpse was ever found in the catacombs and if the person ended up finding their way out of them, they’ve never come forward. Some have speculated that it was made by a prankster while others think it was meant to be a wannabe real life equivalent to The Blair Witch Project. However, without anything to really go off of, one can only speculate that the footage was faked for some purpose, which brings us straight into an off-shoot of this theory.

1b. The video was a marketing piece

The alternative concept to the above theory is the video was faked, but not by a wannabe filmmaker. Rather, it was made by Freedland for his documentary; a way to subtly advertise it without ever having to come free. Although he has repeatedly denied this, some believe it’s so his image won’t be tarnished and to keep the legend of the catacombs alive in the minds of those who are simply fascinated by them. There’s little more to it than that.

2. The video is real

The second theory we have—and one that’s very popular among those who ache for a story that has a much more terrifying answer to it—is that the video was real footage of a man who got lost and died. While this is certainly plausible given the incredibly large size of the catacombs, there are a few flaws. Namely: why the man would get rid of his camera if it was his only light source. Let’s face it, the catacombs are incredibly large and there’s no way this man would discard the only thing that allowed him to see. While people do stupid things when panicking, that’s such an unparalleled move in the department of stupid that I would consider it the greatest achievement since we went to the Moon.

There’s also the fact we’ve never had anyone come forward to say that they were the one in the footage. That could be passed off as evidence that the man died in the catacombs. Fair enough, but no one ever went to search for the man? Nobody ever went to see if there was a skeleton that was laying on the ground? Sure, there are numerous skeletons down there, but nobody went to see if there was one on the ground that was laying in a peculiar position? No one? No one whatsoever? Not a single soul? How odd; almost makes one wonder if there’s a cover-up.


2b. The man was sacrificed by cultists

Oh yes, indeed, that’s also a theory—a rather popular one that extends its tentacles into the realm of that good old Satanic Cabal theory. While the two don’t always go hand-in-hand with this theory, some suspect that the catacombs are the site of many sacrifices by Satanists and other occult members. That would make sense admittedly: they’re remote and filled with death. You can also pass off some of the imagery in the video as being occult in nature, but I cannot confirm if it is or not. However, even if it isn’t, some will say that it being “close enough” is good enough. I doubt those who dabble in the occult would agree, but I digress. There’s little more to this sub-theory than allegations of Satanic sacrifices and that some say it’s being covered up by the powers that be.

My Take

I could beat around the bush for about ten paragraphs and play coy with what I think, but I’m going to give it to you straight: I think this was a marketing ploy by Freedland that was inspired by The Blair Witch Project. While I can’t prove it, something that’s always struck me as odd is the image of the stick figure with their arms and legs spread out; it’s the header image for this write-up if you’re curious to look at. I want you to compare it to the stick doll that’s become a staple of the Blair Witch franchise. Here’s a picture.


While the two are far from the most creatively designed images in the world, I want to ask you: what are the odds that this footage was found in the Paris Catacombs—which are absolutely massive—and that the person who filmed it just so happened to stumble across this stick figure drawing on the wall? Now what are the chances that this footage was only found a few years—or perhaps a year after—that film was released.

Seriously, think about it. One of the biggest cinematic phenomenons in the world would be perfect to replicate for something. If this footage wasn’t just faked by someone who wanted to stir up a bit of controversy, then I would immediately pin this as a marketing ploy for a documentary on the catacombs. There is no lost man; there never was. Nobody died because they found something they weren’t meant to find. There was no scary ghost following this man, there was no monster, there was nothing. It was marketing—and admittedly some very creepy marketing at that.

This insipid desire for there to be so much more to a story is one of the biggest plagues on the Internet. These wannabe sleuths—which I much confess I fall into—ache for there to be so much more to these videos when there’s nothing. Critical thinking is one of the biggest assets to being a human and it seems that it goes away whenever a spooky video comes along. Immediately, the denizens of the Internet seem to lose all grasp on reality and think that there’s some grand mystery at hand when, in fact, the most rational explanation is likely the right one.

There’s nothing here. There never was and there never will be. Unless we find a corpse—which would be extremely difficult, but I imagine the man would have died in a fetal position (which if you ask me would likely stick out like a sore thumb down there)—then I’m labeling this story as being nothing more than viral marketing inspired by the aforementioned Blair Witch Project.

Conclusion

Some people may call me a buzzkill or overly harsh, but I’m adamant that what we have here is something explainable. Though who knows, perhaps I’m wrong. If you believe so, sound off in the comments below and tell me how much of a bully I am for raining on your parade. Just make sure you don’t get lost in the catacombs afterwards; that would be most terrible.

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