Don Wildman interview: Buried worlds and hidden horrors

Buried Worlds with Don Wildman Image Courtesy Travel Channel
Buried Worlds with Don Wildman Image Courtesy Travel Channel /
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Don Wildman
Southern Rhodope Mountains (Photo credit should read DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP via Getty Images) /

Demons in the Rhodope Mountains

1428 Elm: The first segment of the premiere takes you to the Rhodope Mountains in Bulgaria to hunt vampires.  

DW: This is a subject that I have previously covered. I did two specials on Vlad the Impaler for different series. That story is really fascinating historically, never mind paranormally.

We met up with a group of vampire hunters or the Sabotnici. They are very serious about taking care of business. The vampire world is more of a spiritual thing and not necessarily an entity. It almost has a demon quality to it.

For a person like me, who doesn’t have a background in vampire hunting, it is very tempting to dismiss it, try to label it and project your own label onto it. I made an effort to leave myself at the door and open myself up to what was going to happen.

1428 Elm: When you were traipsing through those abandoned farmhouses on that mountain top, you looked like you had chills. Particularly when you did the Singing Candle ritual to cleanse the property of evil spirits. Did you feel anything?

DW: That scene was at the end of our 12 hours. It really was the last thing we did that night. We had a great deal of skepticism about that situation because we just didn’t know what to expect. It was just a set of GPS coordinates that we were going to get to.

The Sabotnici really turned us around. You aren’t going to see Count Dracula or even Nosferatu, which is always my preferred go to. You are going to see the malevolent force that is there.

Gateway to Hell

1428 Elm: In another segment of the premiere episode, you explored a cave known as the gateway to hell. What was really intriguing and eerie to us was the underground river that dead ends. It should flow into another body of water and yet it seemingly doesn’t so you could see why people would think it disappeared into the underworld.

What was shocking to us is that The GPS tracker vanished after it went a certain distance in the river. Did you reach out to anyone in the scientific community to find out what might have happened to it?

DW: That was a beautiful cave and a very famous one. If you have done any kind of spelunking (cave exploring), you know how these caves have all sorts of chambers and so forth…and that was certainly the case with this river.

The idea that it is a portal to hell is an ancient myth. In terms of tracking it, we wanted to know why someone would think of it as a gateway to the underworld. Sure enough, the GPS just went away, which was very mysterious. That was just a mechanical trick to show you what was so perplexing to people of another age.