Haunted Highway – Lake Murray Beast and The Donner Party – S02E04

image Lake Murray Beast

Devin and Jael head down to South Carolina to investigate the South’s own little Loch Ness. There are reports of something large swimming in the lake. People report it’s hit their boat and has scales the size of your hand. There are multiple sightings, but nothing concrete.

The investigation yields a few interesting things as Jael and Devin head out onto the lake and ultimately end up in it. Their trip to the island where there have been sighting shows a large shadow in the water as the seagulls hover just above it. As they set up camp, there is the distinct sound of splashing in the water. When they take to the water something does indeed bump into the boat. Whatever it was gives the boat a pretty good knock.

Since they’re getting activity, they break out the scuba gear and head down into the lake to have a look around. While it’s pretty murky, something passes in front of the camera. And while they’re under water something hits the boat again.

The creature on the camera turns out to be a sturgeon, which makes sense. But, they’re told the sturgeon in that area several hundred pounds. Are people just mistaking a damn big fish for some aquatic beast? This would also explain the hits on the boat. A fish that large could certainly give the boat a good nudge.

So what do we have here? Is this mistaken identity or is the Lake Murray Monster still elusive?

The Donner Party

A grim story to be sure, Jack and Dana try to make contact with the Donner party. People report seeing lights and shadow figures. It’s a cold and bleak night, not unlike the conditions the Donners would have faced. With multiple cameras running, Jack actually gets an interesting hit on the FLIR. There is a large mass standing next to a tree. It’s there one second and gone the next. It’s possible that was a hunter or someone else out there, but the heat signature seemed wrong. They also capture something in the woods as Dana and their borrowed investigative hound scout the area. Might just be a small animal, but it has the dog all riled up. In fact, the dog has been distressed through the entire investigation.

But it’s more than just a thermal hit when Dana feels something scratch her on the neck. Immediately after she’s consumed with nausea and becomes physically sick.

And finally they get another thermal hit of a figure by the trees. This coincides with some lights they see off in the distance.

Jack and Dana come across some interesting evidence from their investigation, but it’s hard to tell what they’ve got. They capture a figure, but they’re in the woods so it could have just been another person out there. It’s not like they roped off the area or anything. Was Dana scratched by an insect or something falling or did something reach out to her? Were the lights something paranormal or a reflection from a car, house or campsite? They had some interesting experiences, but as Dana says, are they letting their imagination get the better of them?

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Killer Contact – Vlad the Impaler – S01E02

imageFor this episode our new team of investigators heads over to Transylvania to investigate the legend of the most widely known figure in the world – Dracula. Their destination is the Hunyad Castle where Vlad was a prisoner for some time. This is one of the locations that the Ghost Adventures team visited on their less than impressive investigation of this same legend. Does the Killer Contact team fare any better?

In the castle they investigate the Bear Pit, The Chapel and Vlad’s Cell. The reports for all these locations include people getting hit with rocks. Some hear voices and others claim to have their hair pulled. It should come as no surprise in a castle that’s a couple of hundred years old that falling rocks can be seen or heard. I think we need to discount that sort of thing right off the bat. That’s sort of like going to the beach and getting stupefied over getting sand in your shoes.

While in the chapel they get one hit on their RemPod and then say for certain there is a presence in there. They get no other signs, just that one beep. For them that’s enough.

In the bear pit they hear mumbling and once again feel that is confirmation someone is there. And someone evil no less. Let’s discount the echo effect those high stone walls would have. We must skip all the logical ways of hearing a noise and assume every sound is the presence of evil. It’s Dracula’s castle, what else could it be?

During their investigation they feel they get an EVP of the name Llona. What a crazy random happenstance this happens to be the name of Vlad’s wife. That’s not what I hear, but thank goodness everyone else hears it that way or the next segment would seem silly.

In Vlad’s cell, Austin is fixated on this idea that Vlad is the undead and a Stragoi. He continually asks this question desperately hoping to see a spike. He eventually gets one, which to him is confirmation that Vlad has become the undead. While he’s asking these questions there’s a loud bang at the window which is of course proof of Vlad. There’s no way it could have been a branch from the trees right outside the window or a bird or yet another rock tumbling and hitting the window, it must be Vlad.

Austin feels he’s communicating with Llona and she confirms that Vlad is living beyond the grave.

Overall their evidence is incredibly weak. If you take the individual pieces you have rocks falling in stone castle, the sound of mumbling echoing in a stone castle, the sound of something hitting and old wooden door and finally a couple of spikes on a TriField meter. I think it’s a huge stretch to say any of this is paranormal let alone it speaks to Vlad the Impaler being undead or the legendary Stragoi. That is some insanely flawed logic right there.

Another part of the investigation that shows how unsophisticated this team is, is the yelling from Greg in Vlad’s cell. What the hell is that all about? What is he trying to prove? Despite what they think of Vlad he was fighting to save his people from an overwhelming army. He was outmanned and needed to instill fear into the oncoming enemy. If you were coming to get Vlad and saw that would you keep going? Vlad may have been desensitized to the death around him, but I don’t he should be labeled a mad man. And when did he start drinking blood? That’s part of the vampire legend of course, but I don’t think that extends to the real man. I think we’re getting carried away with legend and myth.

The location is of course interesting, but I don’t know if this episode was better than the first. I admit fully I’m jealous of the two places they’ve gone so far. For those of us interested in such things, it would be a dream come true. I guess we’ll see what the next location brings.

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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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