Haunted Highway – Beast of Bray Road and Tonopah Mine – S02E03

image The Haunted Highway team heads out into some frigid temperatures in search of some odd creatures and some wild legends. First off we have the Beast of Bay Road which people describe as some sort of werewolf like creature  at least 7 feet tall. Jack and Dana head to Nevada to investigate an abandoned gold mine where they have the story of miners trapped in a fire, the legend of Bloody Babs, a prostitute that pistol whipped another woman and several other deaths caused by machinery and man.

Beast of Bray Road

The story of the Bray Beast sounds a lot like the stories of the Skunk Ape, Skinwalker, El Chupacabra or even the Jersey Devil. The residents claim there is some wild beast living in the forest and eyewitness claims it came up to her car and pushed it into a snow bank. Who knows what we have with this one.

As Jael and Devin trudge around in the snow they find all sorts of animals tracks and even leave out some meat for the beast. Oddly, their camera gets knocked over, but the meat remains untouched. The tracks they find aren’t big enough to belong to their beast.

For the second night of their investigation they head to the Kettle Moraine forest where they hear plenty of howling in the night. Using the thermal imager they find an interesting scratch mark on a tree. Could be evidence of their beast. As they lie in wait, there is something moving behind Jael. You can just make it out then it takes off. If you slow that footage down, it’s pretty much a deer walking around. Even the book author says they need to follow a deer trail. What are you going to find on a deer trail?

There’s plenty of animals out there, but I doubt there is anything more dangerous than a deer.

Tonopah Gold Mine

Jack and Dana freeze themselves solid as they investigate the Tonopah Gold Mine, the site of a mine fire  as well as the previously mentioned Bloody Babs. There is also the sounds of miners still working and seeing their apparitions.

Jack and Dana visit several locations trying to get a response. Everything seems to be pretty quiet overall, then they hear some noises on the walkie talkie and Jack hears a loud bang behind him as he asks if anyone is there with him. They both get quite unsettled over this. But let’s be honest here, they’re in a mine and it’s freezing cold. There is machinery around and it’s obviously metal. You have to expect creakings and bangs as it contracts in that cold.

There is also the matter of the walkie Jack had tied to a 50lbs test line. It has mysteriously broken off. I don’t know how far off the ground it was, could it have been an animal? We don’t know if it was transmitting data back so knows if we captured anything. Clearly the device is gone which is too damn bad. Maybe it captured something cool.

Unfortunately, I don’t feel they captured too much evidence on either investigation. As far as the Bray Beast, what they unearthed was nothing more than a deer. On the whole I think the entire story is simply mistaken identity. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re just seeing large deer roaming around. And as far as the eyewitness is concerned? People will say anything to get on camera. Come on…

While Jack may think the Tonopah Gold Mine is haunted, I have to disagree. I don’t think they captured anything that even remotely supports that claim. I don’t see anything tangible that shows there are trapped miners still working or the spirit of Bill Murphy still helping lost souls trapped in a fire. Both locations are neat, but I don’t think they walked with any real evidence.

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Killer Contact – Jack the Ripper – S01E01

image Because there simply aren’t enough paranormal shows on right now, SyFy has spun up yet another one. This one is titled Killer Contact and for their first outing they take on the challenge of solving the mystery of Jack the Ripper. I suppose if you’re going to make a splash you need to jump in with both feet and this intrepid band of never before seen investigators takes on the most infamous figure and most notorious location there is. So, what do they come away with?

First of all, it was hard to take this show seriously as the investigators refer to themselves as "the front man", "the antagonizer", "the role player", "the brain". It’s sounds like something you’d expect to see playing an online game with 15 year olds. It’s amazing to me how investigator say they need to be taken seriously and this is a serious field of inquiry and then we get this sort of lame crap.

But let’s move on and see what happens. The reason the team came to Whitechapel is because of some new paranormal stirrings at the Ten Bells Pub, a pub that was frequented by 3 of the Ripper victims and quite possibly Jack the Ripper himself. While visiting a friend who lives above the pub, a woman claims she was pushed down the stairs by some unseen force. She also claims to have heard the footsteps of someone just outside the door, but no one was there. Another report claims to have seen the full apparition of Mary Kelly standing in the room.

The team sets up to investigate the pub and soon learn that the fear and dread people feel in the basement is related to a slew of machinery that keeps turning on and off. They move to the main pub area to try make contact with one of the victims. It seems Catherine Eddowes is answering the call. As they ask questions their tri-field meter spikes multiple times. They go through the list of victim and only the name of Catherine gets a response.

I’m not sure why, but they have images made of two of the suspects, rather than all of them, and ask if either of the men is the killer. They get no response. If you’re going to make a lineup how about you include everyone?

Adam and Austin take another crack at the basement and feel they get an EVP that says "leather". This coincides with the sound of a door shutting. I don’t hear the word "leather" but they run with it. They take the word, not the recording, to a Ripper expert and he says "leather" would refer to one of the suspects Leather Apron. They jump from there to Aaron Kosminski and are told they need to visit the Princess Alice pub which the prostitutes frequented.

At the new pub it’s Annie Chapman that comes through and she knows the name of her killer. When asked if there was a leather apron by her dead body there is a spike on the tri-field meter in response. They go through several names of suspects, but the meter spikes high at the mention of Aaron Kosminski.

This is where things get a little stupid. Molly, the Role Player, decides she’s going to try and seduce Kosminski to try and get a confession from him. So she dresses like some cyborg prostitute and wanders around the basement. Why the hell is she lurking down there? Why not in the main pub area? But this only last a few minutes as she scares the crap out of herself and changes out of her stupid outfit. They still want to talk to Kosminski, just in the main area and with Molly in regular clothes. So I have to ask, what was the point of all that?

Now that they feel they have their suspect they ask Kosminski if he committed the murders. The meter spikes in response. When they ask if he’s Jack the Ripper it spikes again. It appears they have a confession.

Interestingly, Kosminksi is almost universally dismissed as a real suspect as he has no connection to the murders. But here we have a team who believes it’s Kosminski admitting to the murders from well beyond the grave. Where does that leave us?

While the subject matter of this episode was intriguing, the investigators and their methods leave a lot to be desired. None of them really seem to know what they’re doing and sorry to be rude, but Molly just seems like baggage. Is her only skill to dress up in stockings for a few minutes then find something else to wear? They had some interesting ideas, but their approach is so haphazard. Why didn’t they take the actual EVP to the Ripper expert? I think they’re grasping at the word "leather" in that. They don’t capture any solid evidence the entire time and they come across as desperate to make this ground zero for something related to the Ripper murders. It’s hard to take anything they say and do seriously. SyFy seems just as desperate to repeat the success they had with the now controversial Ghost Hunters and will try anything to get some ratings. You don’t have to look any further than Deep South Paranormal to realize that.

While it’s not uncommon for the first episode of any series to have some flaws and growing pains, I don’t know about this latest offering. The idea was interesting, but I don’t know about these investigators. It’ll be interesting to see what the next episode brings us.

Who stuck around to the end to see the big reveal? What do you think? Does this answer the question of the identity of Jack the Ripper? Is Kosminski the man researchers have been looking for for the last 125 years? Does it turn the Ripper legend on it’s ear? Will authors of Ripper lore take this new evidence into account?

Oddly, I kind of hoped they would ask about H.H. Holmes and his new link to the Ripper murders.

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Haunted Highway – Manchac Swamp and Moonville Tunnel – S02E02

image For this investigation Dana and Jack tackle the Manchac Swamp which has the bizarre tale of multiple people dying at the funeral of Julia Brown, while Devin and Jael investigate the Moonville Tunnel located in an abandoned mining town and is said to be the location of 26 deaths.

Manchac Swamp

Supposedly there was a local woman named Julia Brown that said when she died she was going to take everyone with her. True to her word, those attending her funeral were killed. The town had another problem that when a hurricane came along, the town was wiped out. As bodies were found they were gathered up and put in a mass grave at the high point of the swamp. That’s were Jack and Dana head.

It’s a dilapidated shack where people claim to see the lady in white, hear singing and see lights. As Jack and Dana look around something quite mysterious seems to be lurking in the water. At first glance it looks like a bizarre mist. It might even be something swimming just under the surface of the water. It does seem to gurgle and bubble and when Jack mentions it could be methane gas, it really begins to make sense. There is another piece of the footage where the water is bubbling at certainly looks like gas escaping from under water.

Another interesting piece of evidence is from the GoPro that is scanning the area. It looks to capture some sort of ghost or figure in the trees. It’s there one second then gone the next. At first glance it looks quite bizarre, but if you step back for a moment it more lends itself to camera glare. It feels more like a trick of light than anything else.

And thing that happens is Jack and Dana try to contact Julia Brown. Dana lights a series of extremely large candles. While asking questions, every one of them gets blown out. This could be a gust of wind or some gas heavier than air drifting through the swamp, but it’s pretty odd and interesting on it’s own.

Moonville Tunnel

Devin and Jael investigate and old train tunnel associated with coal mining. The tunnel is quite literally all that remains. The entire town has disappeared. As Jael and Devin discover, the only thing left are a couple of moss covered cement slabs.

The tunnel was used as part of the railway during the coal mining days. 26 deaths are attributed to the train including two trains that collided. People claim to see apparitions, strange sounds, rocks being thrown, the feeling of being watched and the smell of something sweet. These are each connected to one of the deaths that took place.

As Jael and Devin investigate the do hear rocks falling as well as smell something sweet. Devin also feels some presence get very close to him and brush in front of his face. They also feel they see some figure walking around. There is a story of Baldy Keaton, a bully apparently, and when the team tries to speak with him they get the sound of rocks falling. When reviewing their evidence they also feel they get a voice saying "murder".

Both of these locations make for some interesting stories, but do they contain paranormal activity? The swamp has a pretty bleak past and certainly some odds things happen out there, but are people mistaking natural occurrences for the paranormal? And when it comes to the Tunnel are people letting their imaginations get the better of them? Falling rocks and phantom smells certainly have more earthly explanations.

Are these locations haunted or do they just have some interesting tall tales associated with them?

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Haunted Highway – Island of Lost Souls – S02E01

image It’s been a long time since we caught up with Jack, Dana, Jael and Devin. In fact, I wondered if Haunted Highway was going to come back. But they are indeed back for another season and their first stop is Fort Jefferson in Florida.

Fort Jefferson was used as a prison in the late 1840s. It was home to many inmates such as Samuel Mudd, and it should come as no surprise the fort had a lot of deaths. Some would say that you if you got sent to Fort Jefferson, you were sent there to die.

They speak to a couple of witnesses who claim to hear voices, see figures, hear scream and have been touched by something. Some say they’ve been pushed. There is also talk of some mysterious lights that people see coming from the island.

One of the odd stories related to that is the underwater cemetery. Fort Jefferson buried prisoners on their own land, but since this is right at sea level the tide would quite literally wash the bodies away. As they come to discover, the graves have drifted out to sea.

The team decides to investigate together and Jael scouts out the underwater grave. She comes back with an impressive old, rusted chain that looks like it would have been attached to a ball and would have the classic "ball and chain" prisoners would have shackled to their feet.

Jack and Devin launch their helicopter to get an aerial view of the place. Not sure what that’s really going to tell us. I think Jack likes messing with RC toys.

As night falls Jack and Jael head out to the water cemetery for some EVP work while Devin and Dana head into the Fort. Jack begins to see lights off in the distant. First there are two lights, then one disappears, then the other. Dana and Devin seem to capture some sort of mist rolling across the tunnel.

In conjunction with the lights on the water they capture footage of what appears to be someone shutting the shudders on the lighthouse door. The light is there and then suddenly gone. Problem is, they don’t go check it out. I would have been all over that, but they accept it and move on. How do they know someone wasn’t in there?

Another piece of evidence is Jack hears someone whispering in his face and gets pretty shaken up about it. Not long after, Dana and Jael check out the lighthouse where Dana gets stuck inside. The door she goes through gets jammed and neither she nor Jael can push it open. Jack however has no problem pushing it open. Of course the first reaction is that the door was simply stuck. It’s warped in some way and just doesn’t fit right. Was there some sort of spirit trying to trap her there?

And finally, as they wander the grounds they come across part of the cemetery that’s still in tact and see what looks like a figure on the thermal imager. Is this the image of one of the prisoners? Does this belong to the voice that whispered to Jack and perhaps stuck Dana in the lighthouse?

So what do you think of Fort Jefferson and the return of Haunted Highway? Jack and the team had a few interesting things happen to them such as the whisper, the mist, the door getting stuck, the odd lights (perhaps even someone snuffing it out) and the image on the thermal. Does all this culminate in the place being haunted? Do they have evidence of strange and unusual paranormal activity going on? Some of does indeed seem quite odd, yet some of it seems very ordinary.

And by the way, was it just me or were there some interesting cleavage shots going on? Not that I’m against paranormal investigations being done in swimsuits.

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