Five Dark Places Dark Tourist Takes Us

“Dark Tourist” was a Netflix show that was on for one season in 2018. Host David Farrier explored the world of “dark tourism,” and visited places around the world that were associated with death or tragedy. David’s button-down shirt and pink shorts, and his charm, and his adorable New Zealand accent play up the contrast between what we assume he’s used to and what he experiences on the show. And while some of the places he visits are really unusual tourist attractions, others have gotten him criticized because people say he’s exploiting other cultures and their practices. The show wasn’t renewed for a second season, although it’s unclear if that was why. Here are five of the places David Farrier went on the show – what do you think?

1. Episode 3: Jeffrey Dahmer Tour/Milwaukee

In this episode, David heads to Milwaukee where he tours the locations of several of Jeffrey Dahmer’s murders and meets with Dahmer’s defense attorney to learn more about the man. He looks at the industry that’s popped up around the horrific murders, and talks to Dahmer fans and the women who defended him in court.

Jeffrey Dahmer, in case he’s been forgotten, was a Milwaukee-area serial killer who murdered and dismembered 17 men and boys from the late 70s to 1991. He was killed in prison in 1994.

2. Episode 2: Aokigahara, AKA “Suicide Forest”/Japan

In an episode spent visiting Japan, David looks at the growing trend of nuclear tourism by going to Fukushima and Battleship Island. He then visits Aokigahara, commonly referred to as The Suicide Forest, which is known for the number of people who have committed suicide there. He, his guide, and a woman he talks to who says she intended to commit suicide there but changed her mind all say the forest gives them an eerie sense. They talk about stories of invisible spirits and other ghosts and generally try to impart a spooky vibe.

3. Episode 4: Semipalatinsk Test Site

This episode covers the ‘Stans and continues the fascination with nuclear tourism with a stop at the Semipalatinsk Test Site. The site was the primary testing place for the Soviet Union’s nuclear weapons but is now a ghost town. There are, of course, high radiation levels. David also swims in an “atomic lake” made after water fills a crater that was blasted in the ground by an A-bomb. This episode also heads to Opytnoe Pole, where the Soviets did more nuclear testing, and where again, radiation is much higher than average.

4. Episode 6: Indonesia

David visits a village in Indonesia where the tribe has a custom. They believe death is a gradual process, and so they dig up a villager who has been dead for two years in order to properly inter him. The rites also include the sacrifice of a buffalo and pigs, leading to a whole lot of bloodshed, and a look at how different cultures process death and losing someone they love. Is it an appreciation for other cultural practices? Just a voyeuristic chance to see something our Western eyes find shocking and strange? What do you think? One interesting part of the rites is when locals take selfies with the corpse on smartphones…a mix of old and new practices for sure.

5. Episode 3: Vampires in Louisiana

Here, David heads to Louisiana to meet some “real” vampires. Okay, they’re actually super-Goth humans who are obsessed with vampires and have realistic-looking fake fangs. Some even drink actual human blood (this was pre-Covid. I’m not sure what sorts of precautions vampires take during a pandemic). At least one person seems convinced he is an actual vampire and acts accordingly. David follows them around and learns about their activities.

There is one final episode back in the US at the end of the season, where David takes a “Helter Skelter” tour to learn more about the Manson family and the murders they committed. He looks at the people who are still obsessed with Charles Manson, including a YouTuber who is, quite frankly, obsessed. He also meets a friend of Charles Manson who is fighting for ownership of his body (Manson died in prison at 83, during the filming of this episode).

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