Paranormal State – Season 1

Paranormal State chronicles the paranormal adventures of Ryan Buell and the Paranormal Research Society (PRS) located at Penn State. Ryan and his group of college friends help those troubled with paranormal or otherworldly phenomenon. Ryan had his own terrifying experiences, now he works to help others combat their demons, so to speak.

In a similar vein as Ghost Hunters, Ryan meets with clients and hears their tales of apparitions and unusual experiences. Many of the people he visits seem to be troubled by spirits who either aren’t at rest because of some tragic event in their past or may in fact be evil or at least malevolent spirits who simply wish to torment others. Of course the clients may be crackpots who just want some attention or people who see Elvis at diners across the country and the face of Jesus in pancakes.

Along with Ryan is the rest of his team, Sergey, Katrina, Heather and Eilfie to help conduct interviews, research and handle the tech equipment. And if something does happen to Ryan there is someone to call 911.

Their investigations center on discovering the “dark forces” that surround a home which normally involves investigating the history of the house, what kind of tragic events may have taken place there and in many cases a visit and consultation from Chip Coffey, psychic and medium. Just about every place he goes Chip gets bad vibes from the house and spirits that are still present in the location. His psychic senses almost always confirm the stories the owners have related and in many cases reveals a few things the clients have held back. When you say your house is haunted it’s probably a good idea to come forth with all the information.

We also get a few visits from Lorraine Warren, the medium made famous because of the Amityville hauntings. She shows up several times to give Ryan and his team advice on how they should proceed and what to look for. You also get the sense that Lorraine has seen some really strange stuff.

Unlike Ghost Hunters whose main goal is to debunk paranormal activity, PRS tries to rid homes of the unforeseen entities. This may involve the owners telling the spirits to get out during “Dead Time”, making an offering to the spirits to appease them, offering a ritual to help them pass over, blessing of the house by the clergy or even more extreme measures such as cleansing rituals and even exorcism. Ryan has indeed gone the exorcism route.

The evidence PRS collects may seems suspect. It certainly could be what they’re describing, such as a heat signature of a hand on the wall, the sound of a voice caught on tape or cold spots moving around the room, but in many cases there’s precious little evidence and after a three day investigation they may have only one small snippet they’ve managed to capture. Conversely, Ghost Hunters manages to rack up the evidence in their single day investigation. However, Ryan and his team use their tools for monitor, rather than sustained evidence gathering. The evidence certainly falls in the realm of personal experiences and making the home owners feel more comfortable rather than truly explaining the odd behavior. Banging of pipes could be the dead getting attention, but it could be a plumbing issue or the house settling.

It may be hard to justify these events as haunting, but the clients believe it is and to them it’s as real as it can be. It’s a strange reversal since the clients on Ghost Hunters want their houses to be haunted and those on Paranormal State want the demons out.

Many times the show feels amateurish with a touch of the Blair Witch, but considering this group isn’t actors it just gives it a unique look and feel. Ghost Hunters felt the same way for season 1, but with season 2 the budget was bigger and the look was more polished. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if there are true events or the people involved simply believe there are events. Many times there’s really is no evidence to support paranormal claims of any kind, but blessed Saint Michael medals are given to the clients and buried on the property. For a band of college students they certainly find themselves in some pretty wild situations. It’s still fun stuff to watch because what if it were real, what if you really found yourself in that situation, standing next to a priest as he commanded an evil spirit to leave a child of God? What if you were standing in a dark room asking a force to show its presence when pictures fall to the floor or loud bangs shakes the table? I mean holy crap, how would you not be unnerved by that?

I don’t know whether the show makes you any more or less a believer but I have to admit I would jump at the chance to go along on their cases and see the activity for myself.

I also give Ryan and his team full credit for pursuing their passion and if they bring peace to a family, whether the threat is real or imagined, then they’ve accomplished something.

There is no doubt I like this show and I’m excited to vicariously go along on their adventures.

Paranormal State – Season 1 (Amazon)
Paranormal State – Season 1 (Netflix)

Other Articles of Interest:

Paranormal State – Return of Six

Out of the all the episodes I’ve seen over the past three seasons this one really ventured into the absurd and ridiculous. The use of the Shakti Helmet and the Ganzfeld experiment left me feeling that PRS has gone off the deep end or that the show was lacking a dramatic element so they threw this in. As we see from the storming out of the room and flailing of arms using either device can be physically demanding, but of course using them together is ultra dangerous and who knows what the ramifications could be. We need to have Sergey and Chad walking out and the ultimatum of being kicked out of PRS because Ryan is doing something crazy.

Umm, what the hell?

From what I have read of these two devices they have been engineered to provide a mechanism for experiencing the paranormal (and here I thought drinking too much tequila would make you hear voices). The Shakti Helmet bombards the brain with magnetic fields and makes it more receptive to otherworldly activity. The Ganzfeld experiment causes a form of sensory depravation that heightens the ability to sense and experience the paranormal.

I’m sorry, but I have to say this all comes across as a complete load of crap. I cannot for a second believe that either of these gizmos would create any pathway to the paranormal nor do I see either one as actually being dangerous. Stupid yes, dangerous no. If we are to believe anything about high EMF it’s that it causes hallucinations, paranoia, and the feeling of the paranormal even when it isn’t there. So this is basically creating a situation which causes a faux-paranormal experience.  And the Ganzfeld experiment is nothing more than a way to disorient yourself, which can effect everything the body interprets and feels. I don’t really see how this can be considered anything different than someone getting high and saying they had an out of body experience or they touched the paranormal. This is a complete false positive and to say this is paranormal investigation is truly bizarre. After that point, I kind of just gave up, that whole episode was just a farce to me. I can accept the show as entertainment and accepting some of these crazy stories without actually trying to debunk anything, but this was too much. And we thought the K2 meter from the Ghost Hunters was a little suspect?

So after a failed exorcism, and abandoning another family five hours away, Ryan and his team  face the devil himself – or at least something that calls itself by multiple names of the devil. After being knocked around and sticking salad bowls on their heads and ping pong balls over their eyes the PRS group turns to the Internet for prayer. What? That’s it? That’s your big master plan to rid the house of evil? I’m not going to dismiss the power of prayer or get into some debate about it, but come on.

And then the devil disappears. Really? That’s all you have to do? Band some people together on the web and evil is dispelled? Damn, I need to try that on my Ex!

I have to say, I’m not too impressed with this episode for corny antics, this totally suspect equipment and misguided over dramatization.  Most of the episodes haven’t been like this so perhaps they were just trying to expand their horizons and see what the reaction would be.

Shakti Helmet:
Ganzfeld Experiment:

Other Articles of Interest:

Amityville – The Haunting

amityville_house I doubt there are many who aren’t familiar with the Amityville Horror, the story of Ronald DeFeo Jr., who shot and killed the members of his family and George and Kathy Lutz who bought the house for a bargain basement price and then left 28 days later fearing for their lives.

But are these events the work of the paranormal? Was Ronald DeFeo coerced into killing his family by a dark force or was it just an abusive father and drug use that sent him over the edge and to prison for the rest of his life?

As with all good stories that deal with the paranormal and strange events, the house in Amityville is rumored to be located on, or right next to an Indian burial ground. And not just any burial ground, but one where the inhabitants were buried face down so they could stare into the abyss of hell for all eternity. These souls were apparently cast outs, misfits and perhaps even the mentally disturbed. Whatever the case may be, these spirits do not seem to be at rest.

The problems start when Ronald DeFeo and his family move into the house. Turbulent times are in store for the family as disagreements come to the surface, strange events begin to occur, and Ronald DeFeo begins to surround the house with religious icons. He had the feeling something was going wrong and tries to ward of some unforeseen evil. His moods became dark and violent and he begins to violently lash out at his family. His son Ronnie Jr. eventually tries to escape the house and his father. Multiple times he disappears only to have his father drag him back to the house.

Ronnie starts a downward spiral of drug use and erratic behavior. He begins to hear voices in his head and feels he is being driven to act out. At one point he even takes a loaded rifle and points it at his father. He goes so far as to pull the trigger, but the gun doesn’t go off. Ultimately, Ronnie will fire that gun and kill everyone in the house. Six people are murdered while they sleep and he is found guilty of the crime. But there are all sorts of questions, such as why no one heard the shots and why didn’t anyone in the house wake up?

In 1976 the Lutz family is looking for a new home and the Amityville location is offered at an exceptional price. They are informed of the troubling events that took place, but they discuss the matter and take the place anyway. Almost immediately they begin to have their own problems. A priest is brought in to bless the house and he feels cold spots in the sewing room (which is a former bedroom of one of the victims) and a voice say "get out". From there, the family hears banging noises, door opening and closing, shadows moving in the house and glowing red eyes. George feels cold all the time as though he is wrapped in a cold spot and nothing he does makes him warm. George also claims that the family is starting to sleep in odd positions reminiscent of the way the murder victims were found. There is also the infamous swarm of flies that occupies the room. Even in winter the flies fill the windows.

The Lutzes try their own form of house blessing and go from room to room saying the Lord’s Prayer. They claim to hear voices saying, "will you stop that?" The family is also suffering from the same outbursts that Ronnie suffered from.

Voices, shadows, noises, rocking chairs moving and voices from nowhere prove to be too much and the family decides to leave the house. They leave all their possession behind and turn over the house to the bank. All the contents are sold off at auction and the family moves to California. Even though they’ve moved across the country they claim some of the paranormal activity has followed them.

During the time of crisis, many investigators are brought in to determine the nature of the problems. Even Ed and Lorraine Warren come to investigate the house. They feel the house is occupied by a malevolent spirit.

But are the hauntings real? Is there paranormal activity going on in the house or are there just stories of trouble youth who got tangled up in drugs? Is the house plagued by evil spirits or rather is it old and settling and noises and creaks are to be expected? Considering the excitement and media coverage that ensued over the original murders, was the whole story cooked up to take advantage of a tragic set of events that happened previously. Did George and Kathy take the events of the past and give them a demonic spin and claim dangerous events with the intent of their story being sold for movie and TV rights? There’s quite a few breach of contract lawsuits out there and George even put a trademark on the name Amityville Horror.

And what of the residents who have lived there since? What do they experience? There is very little evidence that says any more activity has occurred since the Lutz family left the home. Did the entity move on to another location? Did the Lutz family let their imaginations and knowledge of the previous murders get the better of them?

In many ways the entire affair has been debunked and claimed as a hoax. There is so little real evidence that many simply discount the whole affair as a work of fiction between a story writer and some actors who were willing to play along. Others however, feel the activity was real and forces within the house were acting out. That the area is restless with Indian ritual and even demonic overtones going all the way back to the Salem Witchtrials and John Ketchum.

While the house will live in infamy with a hose of Hollywood, the town of Amityville isn’t so keen on the publicity. The real house has had the exterior look changed while the address has been changed to keep away curious visitors. It’s one of the most well known haunted houses in the country, but is it real?

Regardless, it’s a great story. Some decent movies out of it at least.

Learn More:

Amityville Horror on Wikipedia
History’s Mysteries – Amityville: The Haunting (History Channel) – Amazon
History’s Mysteries – Amityville: The Haunting (History Channel) – Netflix
Amityville – Horror or Hoax?
Official website of the Amityville Horror
The Amityville Murders
Amityville on Snopes
Interview with Lorraine Warren

Other Articles of Interest:

Death of a Ghost Hunter

In 2002, renowned Ghost Hunter, Carter Simms, was offered $5,000 to conduct a 3-day and 3-night paranormal investigation of the infamous Masterson House. Twenty years earlier, Minister Joseph Masterson and his family were brutally murdered inside their home. With the aid of a videographer, a reporter, and spiritual advocate, Carter set out to prove or disprove claims that the Masterson House was haunted. What transpired is the most terrifying and tragic paranormal investigation in the history of modern Ghost Hunting.

Basically, a family was brutally murdered in the home and Carter with the help of a cameraman and journalist will try and find some evidence behind the supposed haunting.

Presented as a quasi documentary, Death of a Ghost Hunter feels a lot like watching an episode of the Ghost Hunters TV show on SciFi. Carter Simms explains why she is going to the house, the activity which has supposedly taken place there, the people involved and how she plans to document the activity. There is the quick overview of EMF, EVP and using the night vision cameras to record evidence.

The first part of the “movie” is pretty interesting and is just like watching the TV show. As we progress further we uncover that, Mary Young, is someone who isn’t actually supposed to be a part of the investigation. She is more concerned with protecting the family’s reputation and to make sure their name isn’t soiled by these Godless creatures.

So on with the investigation. Things start happening, figures are seen on the IR cameras, objects actually move. The team becomes unnerved and edgy, but they press on. As they go through the next night they focus on the kids’ rooms and hear and see parts of the crime that took place there. Their nerves are shot and everyone is at their wits end. Tempers flair and Carter and Mary Young come to blows over the family that lived there.

Mary is cast out and sent packing while they prepare for their final night in the house.


What’s starts off as a documentary turns into a horror movie for the final 30 minutes. The evil character is presented and the facts of the case are revealed. Through a slow narrative the details of the crime are presented on-screen, with the true nature of the family being revealed.

I won’t give away what happens specifically, but let’s just say history repeats itself and no one makes it out of the house alive. The evil presence that caused the first murders has returned to complete the cycle.

And in the midst of it all Carter Simms finds herself trapped as one of the ghost she has been previously trying to contact, her ethereal image speaking to the IR camera about the events which have happened.

The ending was only somewhat satisfying because quite frankly it’s a 20 minute narration on what really happened in the house and you have to be force fed the details because there is no way you’re getting this information from the movie itself. And in that big epilogue the whole atmosphere of the ghost hunting and paranormal is totally lost. So basically we shift modes and movie genres mid-stream and then trying and pull it all back together in a separate monologue right at the end. It all works together, but it’s not really seamless and considering the big lead up to the paranormal it’s somewhat of a letdown.

A bit too heavy on the horror movie aspect (but for hardcore horror fans this will be a Disney flick), it’s still atmospheric and creepy, with just enough of the paranormal to keep things interesting. It’s not high dollar or big budget special effects, but it is entertaining and worth renting.

But the big question is, is it a real story?

The movie presents itself as being pieced together from the journal of Carter Simms. From everything I have found and read there was no such person and no such investigation. There is no evidence to support that the story is real in anyway. Once you get to the end you will see it’s a pretty generic storyline with man simply being evil towards man. There is a very slim chance there was a Carter Simms and she met her death while on an investigation, but as you will see it has nothing to do with the ghosts and spirits she was tracking and was more earth bound.

If you scan through the web you get the sense that Death of a Ghost Hunter is film making in the finest tradition of the Blair Witch Project.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Other Articles of Interest:

Recent Comments