Zak Bagans

Ghost Adventures – Chinese Town of Locke – S12E05

imageFor this episode, Zak and team head to Locke, California, established in 1915 as a town built by the Chinese for the Chinese. Like other towns of the period, it developed a rough reputation of gambling, prostitution, opium dens and even the Tong mafia. But to be honest, most of these stories are legands. If you listen, the words, "the story goes" or "I believe" preface each one. The only story with supporting evidence is the cheat shot by George Shin. There is a newspaper article documenting the event. While the other stories could be true, there is nothing that says they are.

To get some background they talk with Clarence who doesn’t want to talk about the Tongs or the supposed violence of years gone by. He isn’t too forthcoming about the paranormal.

Next is Ellen, who claims she channeled a girl killed upstairs in the opium den. Ellen claims she was shoved while talking to the girls and has received information about the working girls getting overdosed and their bodies dumped in the river. Right on cue, Ellen claims she feels dizzy. At the same time Jay has two sets of red marks appear on his neck that Zak claims is someone trying to choke him. Following suit, Aaron begins to freak out, feel ill and wants to run away.

In the Tong building, they interview Evan who claims he was pushed as well. As they talk, right after Evan says the word Tong, they hear footsteps.

At the Star Theatre, Yovita, a volunteer for the town, claims she saw a woman resonating light and heard singing in the theater. That night they meet with Dustin, an owner of the worst Chinese restaurant around and longest resident of the area. In a very lighthearted and almost dismissive way, he says he believes in the stories about the town and that there are ghosts. Again, the only story to be confirmed is the shooting of a man trying to steal from the casino.

The final interview comes with Martha who is a bit frustrated with the town because they only focus on the Chinese history of the area. She says there is more to the history and it should be recognized. OK, fair point, but we then have someone who doesn’t want to be identified saying that Martha is certifiable and he has seen dark energy swirling around town. He’s seen evil manifest itself within people. We almost have the accusation that Martha is causing the negative energy and events in the town because she’s a non-believer.

As we start the investigation we have Dylan Dryer from the Today Show come on board. To begin, they bring out the Ovilus and SLS camera to take readings. They get, "killed, female, bet, be careful and I’m dead" as responses to different questions and actions. On the SLS camera, Dylan captures a stick figure in the window. When Zak asks for a name, he claims to hear, "It’s the Devil".

Zak then asks Dylan to investigate the top of the casino, the supposed lair of the opium den. To put it mildly, she is freaked out. Of course there are sounds of footsteps and flickering balls of light.

The guys continue the investigation on their own. Aaron and Billy head to the theater to try and hear Mei Ling sing. They gets some lights on the Rem Pods, but no actual singing. There is a squeak or two on the box, but no conversations. Zak goes over to the school where nothing really happens. He takes a recorder over to the Tong building, which asks questions in Cantonese, but no responses.

If there is any activity it seems to be within the casino. However, they certainly don’t get pushed, there is no singing, no cries of help from from the working girl in an opium den or anything else that would be solid evidence. And although Dylan gets freaked out, that’s not evidence. That is simply a reaction to walking around a strange building at night after you’ve been told there is dark energy around.

We are seeing a lot more orbs these days, but you have to judge what those are. The building is old and falling in on itself, as we hear Billy say, which explains the footsteps. The captured voices are interesting, but I don’t have the greatest level of confidence in how they’re captured. Further, didn’t see this mysterious dark energy the off-camera voice talked about. If the place is so haunted, where is that?

I also don’t feel these witnesses are all that reliable. Martha seems like a scapegoat and the townspeople seem at odds with each other. Is that jealousy? Anger?

When all is said and done, the evidence is sort of interesting, but it doesn’t really seem to support Locke as a wildly haunted town. Odd, yes, haunted, no.

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Ghost Adventures – Return to the Riviera – S12E04

imageIt took me a few minutes to understand why this was a "return" to the Riviera until I noted they visited in Season 6. For that episode they were trying to make contact with Frank Sinatra. If you recall, they were with Vince Neil and Frank Sinatra’s personal pianist. But times have changed and the hotel is quite literally ready to collapse, whether it wants to or not.

It’s scheduled for demolition and has been gutted of everything of value. It’s nothing but a rubbish filled skeleton and from what Zak says, this is the last investigation inside the hotel.

On their previous visit, they were focused on mob connections to the hotel. For this episode they’re all but obsessed with the dark energy surrounding people who come to Vegas to commit suicide. There is the story of a woman who just months ago leapt to her death from one of the rooms. She met with a very gruesome end which they have no hesitation in showing. On the cement is the sand put out to soak up and cover the incident. Then we have these over dramatized scenes that all but make this suicide attempt look sensual.

Moving past that, Zak has the idea of asking strangers of the street to come and join in the investigation. They are put on different floors and given the chance to walk around and experience the energy. There are some bumps, the sound of what might be a door closing, Victoria feels something walk past her and perhaps a man’s voice. All the guest investigators feel something is lingering in the hotel.

Then Zak and team move in, but they have their own little guest which is Sophie. This is Billy’s dog who roams around the hotel with a camera attached. An interesting idea to be sure, and she end up getting anxious and growling at the same time Billy says he feels some sort of static energy. Aaron and Billy bring out the Ovilus and get the words, "observe", "saw" and Veronica".

In a different part of the hotel, Zak enters the room where the woman jumped. He feels a strong energy coming from it. But before they can get inside, the door mysteriously locks them out. It also mysteriously unlocks itself a few minutes later. They take note that the window is still wide open.

Inside, they pick up the words, "I jumped" and "you feel me". On the exterior camera there appears to be something dark in the vicinity of where this woman took her life.

Down on the casino floor, Zak feels cold spots and believes he captures a figure walking.

Like the previous investigation it really doesn’t feel like they capture much. Clearly the windows are open so a door closing wouldn’t be all that shocking. Not to mention the utter disarray of the place. Noises from the ceiling falling or animals running around would be common. A door getting stuck from expanding wouldn’t be that surprising. Zak and Billy can feel all the strong energy and static sensations they want, that doesn’t seal the deal of paranormal activity. And after getting their guests all hyped up and repeatedly using the word "isolation", I have no doubt they were all worked up and after bumbling around in the dark crashing into walls, who knows what they were feeling.

There is no doubt that Vegas has seen some dark times, from a mob perspective as well as people hitting rock bottom as they gamble more than they can cover. You can’t deny people have taken their lives in those rooms, but is it seething with energy as Zak tries to make it out? Doesn’t feel like it. It’s a hotel that seen both good and bad times. Their evidence is really open to interpretation. It’s interesting just like it was the first time around, but like that time, it’s a tepid investigation.

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Ghost Adventures – Bracken Fern Manor and Tudor House – S12E03

imageWhile in Lake Arrowhead California, Zak is going to investigate two locations at once that happen to be right next to each other. On one side is the Bracken Fern Manor and on the other is the Tudor House. These two locations were built during the 20s Prohibition era and were known to be a playground for celebrities who wanted to escape the public eye. They indulged in gambling, prostitution and bootleg liquor. There is even talk that Bugsy Siegel may have been involved with the operation. However, the local historian dismisses these claims and says the mob wasn’t involved. He does agree there was plenty of liquor, women and gambling. He also disagrees with Zak that there is a network of tunnels linking the buildings and fanning out in all directions. Zak is quite convinced of these tunnels and isn’t willing to take no for an answer.

As he talks with some of the local staff, he meets with a housekeeper who says she was grabbed while cleaning one of the rooms. They also speak with her son Robert who says he was scratched by one of the spirits and the experience has changed him, and not for the better. He insists the encounter made him violent and aggressive toward people. The mother happens to agree. As they take a tour with Robert, he becomes very agitated. At this same time, Zak and Aaron get an odor of sulfur which they say is the smell associated with negative and demonic energy.

They meet with another man who claims he was down in that same area and smelled rotten eggs. He also claims to have seen a Native American woman, and the spirit walked right through him.

Since Zak didn’t believe the local historian about the tunnels, he brings in a ground penetrating radar specialist and they scan the ground between the two buildings looking for the remnants of a tunnel. While GPR doesn’t actually show tunnels and the like, it does show ground disturbances. As they scan, it looks like there might be something that could form a tunnel between the two buildings. It seems to head in the right direction and be the right width. However, it’s a big if. Even the specialist says it’s only 50-50 to be a tunnel. He’s only able to show the ground is different in locations. However, as they continue, Zak feels they get the best evidence yet that something was dug and then caved in. This might be confirmed by some sinking home foundations in the path they are walking. The radar specialist is willing to up the percentages of a tunnel, but, since they can’t dig anywhere nor do they find any sort of entrance, they are still mostly guessing. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time tunnels were built for the purpose of smuggling liquor and women.

As they begin the investigation, they focus on the story of Violet, who is said to have killed herself after her lover was killed by the mob. We don’t really have a link to the mob, but the idea is certainly plausible. They investigate her room and Zak feels the presence of a woman come up to him. While working with the Ovilus, they get the words Gateway and Lasting. Zak feels strongly this refers to the tunnels they found earlier.

In another part, they set up the Rem Pod and with the help of the SLS they detect a figure moving around. They feel it is a woman sitting across from Zak. During this time they also hear footsteps and get the smell of rotten eggs again.

While trying to communicate with Violet and ask about the details of her death, Zak gets the words Axe for how she was killed and Money as the reason. It’s hard to say if that’s a mob connection, but it certainly sounds like their method and style. Along with this, Billy feels something sneak up on him while down in the lower part of the house. He also gets the words Found and Malicious on his device as though they have found a malicious spirit. The word malicious is coming up a lot lately.

While a Speakeasy with mob connections makes for a good story, there are a whole lot of assumptions associated with this. It’s sort of hard to dispute a mob connection with this sort of place, but they are really reaching to make it happen. And of course, there is always the hard luck story of a prostitute who kills herself. How many times have we heard this snippet before?

As far as evidence goes, it’s pretty hard to latch onto anything solid. Phantom smells aren’t really evidence even if you do think it’s the devil showing up. That SLS camera is somewhat interesting, but who knows what the devil that thing is locking onto. And footsteps in an old building? I think we can come up with some earthly reasons for those like the ever popular expanding and contracting of wood. The scratches on Robert? It’s interesting, but the guy works in an old building, that could be from anything. His aggression? In today’s modern age, that too could be from anything and perhaps he should see someone about it. There might a simple medical explanation.

Again, paranormal is for things that don’t have a regular explanation. There is nothing in this investigation that suggest these events defy explanation. Hell, that sulfur smell could be from a bad lunch and someone just didn’t want to fess up.

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Ghost Adventures – Scientology Lab – S12E02

imageFor this episode, Zak and team are visiting Casa de Rosas which has been used as a school, housed soldiers during war time and for a short period was the compound for Dianetics author and founder of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard. It was built in 1893 and has now fallen into complete disrepair. The building is a wreck with broken walls, graffiti, vandalism and who knows how many animals now call the place home. But those who have paid the location a visit claim to feel dark energy, see figures, have a sense of dread, feel that the walls are closing in and feelings of claustrophobia. What started off as an experimental kindergarten has basically turned to rubble. It’s even said that a woman was found dead on the third floor.

The main hook for the location is the link to L. Ron Hubbard, who worked at the compound during the 1950s. To that end, Zak interviews Jeffrey Augustine, a former member of Scientology who has some revealing stories to tell. He claims that Hubbard was a Satanist and one of his main goals was to bring the Antichrist into the world. He accuses him of locking people into small rooms and emotionally abusing them with the intent of bending them to his will. He also claims that Hubbard borrowed many of his teachings from Aleister Crowley and Themela.

The investigation starts with the SB7 box. Aaron gets what he believes is a female voice at the same time that Billy feels cold spots above the bed. This could be the same location where Essie died. Zak also believes he sees an orb moving around the room. The activity seems to hit a frenzy and a mysterious doll appears out of nowhere which Aaron feels was thrown at him.

In another part of the house, Jay puts aside the handheld camera and instead puts on a GoPro camera around his neck with UV lights to pick up images. This serves to make it impossible for Jay to actually see where he’s going, so he will need to feel his way around in the dark. I’m not quite sure I understand the purpose of this method. I like the idea of the camera around the chest, but why put one of the guys in total darkness?

During their investigation they hear a lot of banging, a lot of knocks, the sound of what might be doors closing and when all is said and done, Jay walks out of the house with a large scratch along his neck. While it’s not that likely, the red streak points toward a tattoo with a pentagram in it.

While the idea that L. Ron Hubbard hung out at Casa de Rosas, when all is said and done they really don’t capture any evidence I would say is compelling. Regardless of how dramatic Zak is with his comments on dark energy and Hubbard practicing Satanism and trying to conjure up the Antichrist, let’s look at a couple of things. What did they really capture? An orb? Hmm, that’s usually headlights from cars out on the road. The voices? Garbled noise and could be anything. Having Jay wander around in total darkness? All that does is cause sensory deprivation and who knows what he is going to experience. That is hardly reliable and far from a scientific method of inquiry. And the red mark on his neck? You lock the guy in the dark and he has to fumble around. He ends up with a scratch on his neck? How shocking! How could such a thing ever happen? No one crawling around an abandoned building in the dark has ever scratched themselves before, this must be the work of the paranormal!

Let’s also not forget that right at the beginning, Zak not only says and shows the place is riddled with dead animals, what abandoned building isn’t going to be home for all sorts of vermin and small animals? I’m sure they have nothing to do with the noises they hear. It’s certainly not going to be boards creaking an expanding through heat or simply crumbling to the ground.

Another thing that was interesting is how the term "fun house effect" was thrown out. If you get a building that’s starting to sink, has crooked walls, cramped spaces, odd angles and strange slopes to the doors, you’re going to feel out of sorts. This has nothing to do with the paranormal and is something you can experience during the day. How interesting they bring up the idea themselves then completely ignore it.

Finally, before Zak even steps foot in the place, he has already convinced himself the place has dark energy, is the home of the demonic and buys into the idea that Hubbard was practicing Satanism. He doesn’t need any proof and because of his preconceived notion, everything he sees and hears supports his ideas. That’s the same as making the data and the experiment support your hypothesis before you even start. It might make for good television, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t bunk.

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