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Dan Aykroyd

'There are stories here that truly defy belief': Dan Aykroyd on his 'Unbelievable' new show

Dan Aykroyd spoke with Sky HISTORY about food floods, spiritualism, and reprising his role as Ray Stantz in the new Ghostbusters film.

Image: The UnBelievable with Dan Aykroyd

Q&A with Dan Aykroyd, the legendary actor, comedian and screenwriter about his new Sky HISTORY show.

The UnBelievable with Dan Aykroyd reveals the strangest-but-true stories in human history. The series airs Mondays at 10pm on Sky HISTORY as part of Mystery Season and opens up a cabinet of curiosities to reveal the most unbelievable stories in human history. From Boston’s Great Molasses Flood to a man who survived being struck by lightning seven times, these seemingly tall tales all really happened. It’s a bizarro barrage of people, places and events that prove just how weird our world can be.

Sky HISTORY sat down with Dan Aykroyd and talked food floods and spiritualism and found out why he's not looking forward to putting his proton pack back on when he reprises the role of Dr Raymond 'Ray' Stantz in the new Ghostbusters movie, Frozen Empire.

Can you describe the premise of the show?

It is a compendium of some of the weirdest things that have ever happened to human beings. There are stories here that truly defy belief like the Mexican island of the dolls that is so haunted that people have died after visiting; the London Beer Flood of 1814 that killed eight people when 700 tonnes of fluid came gushing into the streets of St. Giles; and the Great Molasses Flood in Boston in 1919 when a wave of syrup demolished an entire neighbourhood. Then there are the stories that we all remember like Mike the headless chicken plus stories of survival and athletic feats.

The series is full of the bizarre, but the true. That's what appealed to me. It's not fantasy, it's not fiction, it all happened. It's true.

Would you like to visit any of the locations featured in the series?

None of them! Some of them are absolutely hellish. Who would want to go anywhere near them? I love the show because I'm an armchair viewer myself. This is for the armchair viewer to sit back and say, 'Wow, this show is taking me to places that I'm fascinated about but never want to visit'.

What's the most unbelievable fact you learned from taking part in the series?

There is so much great stuff. For instance, I learned that governments are interested very much in the unusual and the incredible. The Japanese government was looking for the serpent that was harassing fishing fleets off the coast of Japan. Between 1946 and 1951, nine ships disappeared in the Sea of Japan and it was due to this feathered underwater serpent that was apparently something like some kind of a Kraken.

There are paranormal incidents explored in the show, but viewers might not know that you have a family link to spiritualism and the paranormal.

My great-grandfather was an Edwardian spiritualist and seances were held frequently at the old farmhouse north of town. It was all passed down as a family interest.

The belief that spiritualists have is that the soul or soul energy survives after death and that the consciousness of the deceased survives to be able to reach back and contact those of us who are living. I believe that.

Have you ever had a paranormal experience?

I've never seen a ghost but I have seen what I believe were tubes of ectoplasmic light. There is a great picture of my dad and me, in the old farmhouse. It's quite a vivid picture of an ectoplasmic tube.

Speaking of ectoplasm, how much did your spiritualist background influence you to write and star in Ghostbusters?

No doubt. I'm from a family that believes in the afterlife and so that's what led me to eventually write it. I can tell you that the world did not know what ectoplasm was until that movie came out. Ghostbusters acquainted the entire world with the term 'ectoplasm'. And for that one reason alone, it's great the movie exists.

How much of an influence do you think Ghostbusters had in raising awareness towards the paranormal?

I believe that most of the ghost-hunting societies throughout North America are because we opened the world's consciousness to the real professional research that was done with ghosts over the centuries.

Next year will see the release of Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire. Are you looking forward to putting your proton pack back on?

No. It weighs 150 pounds! It's a terribly arduous thing to wear that thing. I would rather they wrote a part where I have the smaller equipment. I've got the combat boots on and got the proton pack on. It weighs on the back, and it crushes the spine but I'm happy that people are still interested in what happens to the GBs old and new. I will not complain too much about getting into the jumpsuit, but you'll be hearing me moan if I do I have to put the pack on again. It's heavy.

Which of the stories featured in the series would make a great film?

The island of dolls. That could be a beautiful horror story. That's so creepy. There's a great survival story in 'Surviving the Impossible' with a guy who's trapped on an upside-down ship at the bottom of the ocean for three days.

Watch The UnBelievable with Dan Aykroyd, as part of Mystery Season from 19 February only on SKY History.