The Dead Files – Evil in Erieville – S01E01

The travel channel has brought out another paranormal investigation show by the name of "The Dead Files". This takes a different approach than other shows we’ve seen. On the one side we have Amy Allen who starts off by saying she can see dead people. She’s a medium who can feel events that have taken place in a location as well as take on the feelings and emotions of those who have passed.

Stephen Dischiavi is a former New York cop who takes on the more earthly role of investigating the history of a location through record searches. He spends his time interviewing people, going to the records office and digging through paperwork. His job is to find tangible paperwork about a location’s history. If there’s no newspaper report, then maybe it didn’t happen.

They do their investigations separately then get together and compare notes.

It sounds like a really intriguing premise and for the most part it makes for an interesting comparison. For this premiere episode, we have Amy and Stephen visiting the house of Elvis (not that one) because he’s bought a bed and breakfast and he’s running into some problems. He’s seen apparitions and has experiences on the property. Now he wants to know if the place is haunted. Has he just made the biggest financial mistake of his life?

Apart from the visit from a woman in his bedroom (after having a few drinks mind you) he finds an old picture in the walls of the house. There’s nothing sinister about the picture except that it was in the wall. He’s also been building a massive table for no specific reason. He says he feels compelled to build a table that would seat nearly 20 guests. He’s also been compelled to make some wooden blocks with letters and numbers on them and seemingly cast lots with them to communicate with the dead. It’s not something he’s done before so who knows where he got this idea. The buildup is that unseen forces are pushing him to act a certain way.

Stephen talks with neighbors and Elvis seems to be a levelheaded guy. The house is extremely old so he tries to find out about the previous owners. His research takes him to the records office where he finds some sketchy details about the house.

Meanwhile, in the house, we have Amy claiming that she can see a spirit at the top of the stairs. She’s able to feel her emotions, understand her mental state and gather details of her past. She speaks of the woman being spiteful, vengeful, mentally deranged with the disposition of a sociopath. She says the woman has done some horrible things and has probably killed someone. Amy continues to pull out details of a murder, a suicide, perhaps a poisoning. Children were hurt. They were always sick.

Back at the record office Stephen, finds records of a murder – suicide that happened in 1898, where a mother tried to kill her husband and three children with arsenic.

We basically watch as these two stories collide with the same details gathered from two different schools of thought. Unsurprisingly we find out they both have the same story to tell. A mentally unbalanced woman has tried to kill her family and herself with arsenic.

For the most part this show is actually pretty interesting, but I have several production issues with how it all plays out. Amy babbles way too damn much. As she’s "feeling the room" so to speak, she’s basically rambling and incoherent. She makes wild statements and tries to create dramatic tension. Maybe that is the way these things actually happen, but watching her, she seems kind of nutty herself. It’s sort of like watching Rainman talk about the paranormal. The other part is the faux record window they keep putting over her like something you see out of Paranormal Activity. It’s a cheap gimmick and looks dumb. It’s supposed to give it that grainy, "Blair Witch" feel, but I don’t see the point. There are professional cameras there, why are we seeing this?

You also have to take a lot of this on faith. You have to be willing to accept the idea that the medium hasn’t researched all the same information ahead of time. I can hold my skepticism, but sometimes they just seem to be going for dramatic effect more than anything else.

It’s an interesting idea and I’m curious to see where this goes. I do have some questions though, if she can see dead people why are there no digital recorders running? Where are the digital IR cameras? Where is the FLIR? If it’s so easy for her to see the dead why aren’t any of the standard paranormal recording devices pointed at the spot she’s pointing at? If this woman was at the top of the stairs for so long it would have the prime opportunity to capture evidence in a fixed location rather than just walking around in the dark.

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Ghost Adventures – Ashmore Estate – S05E01

There has been some confusion over the numbering of the Ghost Adventures episodes. Season 4 had more episodes than previous seasons. From everything I read, this is Episode 1 of Season 5.

I loved this episode! I mean I really enjoyed the hell out of it! For the first five minutes, I couldn’t stop laughing. They were out in the middle of nowhere, there is a cow chained to a tree and Scott Kelly is standing by the old tree dressed as an undertaker. You can’t tell me that’s not the set up to a horror movie. And, just when I think that, Nick says it and rolls up the window. Scott is so calm and with the tone of his voice, you’re just waiting for him to do something sinister. That was awesome!

Here we have the guys investigating the Ashmore Estate, which sits 180 miles from Chicago with a population of 800. It used to be an alms farm to help out the poor and abandoned. From there it was turned into a psychiatric hospital. As you might expect the hospital had it owns problems. The patients had to suffer through poor living conditions and less than ideal treatment. It’s claimed that some of the patients were actually possessed. Over 100 people died on the property and the cemetery bears witness to lives lost.

In the present day, there are two distinct incidents of people getting attacked. In 2009, a meteorologist named Kevin Orpurt came to the estate on the day before Halloween to do a special for his new station. During the night as he was sitting in a chair he was violently thrown down onto the floor and the force of the impact broke his shoulder. After that, he says he wasn’t himself and had nightmares. Was he the victim of a spiritual attack?

Then there is Bret Smock who was attacked on the stairs when they held a haunted house event at the estate in 2008. He felt something go through him and right after felt violence towards the people at the haunted house. His job was to hold a shovel and bang it around. He claims he felt like hitting people in the head with it. His family also says there was a change where he would scream during the night and have conversations with people who weren’t really there.

There seems to be plenty of things going on, what does GAC gather as evidence? Zak uses the Spirit Box to try to and communicate and gets the name "Adam". Adam seems to laugh at death. There is also the sound of a woman screaming. The voices continue to come through and lead the guys to the "upper" floor. For reasons I don’t understand, Zak then turns off the Spirit Box and starts using the digital recorder. Seems like he should have stuck with the box since it was talking to them. They hear lots of bangs and footsteps and the sound of someone coming down a ladder. It sounds like all sorts of stuff is happening.

They split up and each go to a separate floor. Nick feels like someone is scratching him, while Zak feels like someone is squeezing or pulling on his leg. There is even a voice that says, "don’t you dare touch him". Aaron is in the stairwell where Bret was pushed and he’s trying to provoke the spirits. He’s already felt something pressing down on his spine so he’s looking for more of the same.

After they regroup they get the EVPs, "don’t bring that shit down here" and "you’re gonna pay". They also capture a shadow using the digital camera. The shadow is a little dodgy for me, just because shadows really can be anything when it comes to photography. But, it does sound like they were getting plenty of responses and things were happening all around them. They didn’t get much in the way of physical evidence, but there seem to be a hell of a lot of voices out there. I’m not a huge fan of the Spirit Box, but if you believe what it says, they were having conversations with all sorts of spirits. The spirits don’t necessarily sound evil, but it does sound like they want to be left alone. They aren’t too welcoming to visitors. Quite frankly, it sounds like the perfect place to have a haunted house.

Again, I enjoyed this episode immensely and think we got a glimpse of a pretty active place.

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The Fades

I just watched a very unusual show called "The Fades" from the BBC. It combines a whole slew of elements, but the main premise is about a boy who can see the dead, specifically those who haven’t passed on. There is also a struggle going on, the dead can’t ascend because the ascension points have been covered by man and all his buildings. There are also some other creatures which are slipping through and getting stronger. Did I mention there’s an apocalypse coming?

Quite honestly, it’s very bizarre and interesting at the same time. The whole thing plays out like a very slow moving horror movie. There are lots of dark corridors, figures moving in the background, dead souls walking the earth, heroes and villains and even amusing sidekicks. I have no idea where the show is going, but I’m intrigued. It has some elements of "Priest" and "Underworld" with flavors of M. Night Shyamalan throw in. I’m really curious to see where this goes. Like most BBC productions the plot is the important thing. They’re building up the atmosphere with dozens of characters coming into the show and unraveling the story bit by bit. I can’t tell if this brand new or aired last year, but if you have access, it’s worth a look. It definitely has plenty of paranormal elements going on.

The Fades from IMDB

A teenage boy named Paul is haunted by apocalyptic dreams that nobody can explain. As if that weren’t terrifying enough, he begins to see spirits of the dead, known as The Fades, all around him. The Fades can’t be seen, smelt, heard or touched by other humans. When an embittered and vengeful Fade, Polus, finds a way to be human again, it’s up to Paul to stop him – and all of the dead – from breaking back into the world and destroying the human race.

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Paranormal Challenge – Jerome Grand Hotel – S01E12

For this episode, we head out to Arizona to the Jerome Grand Hotel, which is actually very exciting for me since a very good friend of mine lives in Arizona and we’ve been to this hotel. Ironically, we had no idea it was haunted. Too bad we missed out on that opportunity. I’m hopeful I can get back there sometime next year so we can have a look around for ourselves. For now, we have the SAGAPS team and the Living Proof of the Paranormal investigating this old mining town to see what they can come up with.

I have to admit a touch of disappointment that Chris Fleming is once again a judge for the challenge. I just can’t get behind his methods or interpretation. However, for this episode he seemed much more controlled and analytical about the results.

So how did the teams do? They both seem pretty calm and confident as they make their way around the site. There isn’t the usual swearing, yelling and confusion that so many other teams have displayed. In fact, compared to the chaos other teams cause these two seem positively sedate. Both teams walk into a room and listen and get a feel for it. They don’t just go in and ask a string of questions without waiting for a reply then storm out when nothing happens.

When it comes to the evidence however, I don’t think either team captured anything solid and in fact we see one of the blunders where a member of the team captures their own voice and mistakenly thinks it’s an EVP. It’s not a horrible mistake and we’ve seen it happen a couple of times. But, it does go to show that you have to be extremely careful with EVP sessions since any noise, whisper, rustle or footstep could be misinterpreted and considered evidence. The other audio evidence the teams present are unfortunately pretty weak as well. It’s really hard to make anything out of those noises. I’m not the only one, the judges aren’t on board with them either. As far as the visual evidence, I agree with the judges and believe the photo evidence to be nothing more than matrixing. I don’t see the head in the doorway and the face in the FLIR just isn’t good enough.

There were a lot of scraping noises, some rumbles and other bumps going on, but there is nothing to say those were paranormal. It could been the building settling, the wind (as they say there was a breeze), people walking around or something more earthly. They were certainly worth more investigation,but for now they don’t lend themselves to evidence of the paranormal. Since it’s a hotel, this would have been a prime opportunity to stay the night in the haunted rooms and collect evidence all night long. Two suicides took place in room 32 so spending the night in there could yield all sorts of interesting results.

These were some fun teams to watch and presented themselves in a calm and collected manner. I liked the Solo Cam where we see Jim from SAGAPS take the bull by the horns and step into the elevator shaft to look for Claude Harvey. He’s not skittish, he’s not jumping around at every sound he hears and doesn’t seem nervous at all. I think that’s impressive as hell. It’s kind of dangerous, but full marks for committing himself to the challenge.

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