On tonight’s creepy episode of After Hours AM/America’s Most Haunted (10pE/9c) with hosts Joel Sturgis and Eric Olsen, we survey the latest paranormal news from the @AMHaunted Twitter account and AMH site, then discuss Investigation Discovery’s macabre and titillating true crime series True Nightmares with host and narrator Todd Robbins, a legendary showman and offbeat entertainer in his own right.
True Nightmares airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery and digs into the real life crimes that have inspired nightmarish urban legends and horror characters, such as the tale of quiet, henpecked Wisconsin mama’s boy Ed Gein, included in “The Grieving Process” episode, who killed two women and exhumed nine more in the late-’40s and ’50s, dismembering the corpses and fashioning furniture, clothing, and accessories from their skin and bones, even an entire female body suit, made from — you know — female bodies.
All this was done as a kind of deranged tribute to his beloved, domineering, religious fanatic mother, who died in 1945. The bizarre Gein case inspired fictional characters Norman Bates (Psycho, Bates Motel), Leatherface (Texas Chainsaw Massacre), Buffalo Bill (Silence of the Lambs), Bloody Face (American Horror Story: Asylum), and many more – none stranger than the real Gein case.
What’s fascinating about True Nightmares is the unusual presentation, which involves well-acted and produced recreations of the true tales interspersed with participant interviews, with Robbins acting as on-screen narrator, appearing in and out of scenes, weaving the tales together with Hitchockian melodrama and dark humor.
The next episode on November 11, entitled “Overstay Your Welcome” looks into three more iconic stories of murder and mayhem: a doctor’s devotion to his patient causes him to spiral into a distorted reality; a string of disappearances connects back to an unusual residence; and a movie star proves that love off screen is unconditional, even when it comes to murder.
Todd Robbins is an award-winning New York City-based performer and artist who has spent decades specializing in archaic forms of popular entertainment, offbeat amusements and intriguing deceptions. Todd is renowned for his work in the shadowy world of Coney Island, is expert in stage magic, a veteran of tawdry traveling circuses, and a keen chronicler of the murky realms of con artists and spiritualist mediums and their scams. He is also one of the foremost authorities on ragtime piano and traditional jazz.
Robbins was recently seen in the acclaimed off-Broadway theater show Play Dead, a joyous evening of true ghost stories about real people and unholy resurrection that he created with Teller, of Penn & Teller.
Todd is also one of the partners in Magical Nights Inc., the producers of New York’s longest running magic show Monday Night Magic. He is the author of the cult classic book The Modern Con Man: How to Get Something for Nothing and the creator of the companion Modern Con Man DVD Collection. Todd is featured in the celebrated documentary American Carny: True Tales from the Circus Sideshow.