October. Sweet, spooky October. How I’ll miss you and your plethora of ghost hunting shows. Now, on to the recap.
October’s Paranormal Programming
This year, Travel Channel and A&E gave us a bunch of new-ish ghosty shows. I say new-ish because we got a lot of relaunches (Ghost Nation & Ghost Hunters 2019), and mini-series for existing shows (Serial Killer Spirits from Ghost Adventures). We also got to see “live” events more than ever.
By the way, I’ll focus on the ghost hunting shows here, not the re-creation shows (like Hometown Horror). Also, I’ll mix Travel Channel and A&E shows. Maybe Ghostober isn’t the best lingo to use because it belongs to Travel Channel? Anyway, let’s get to it.
Ghost Hunting Show Calendar
The Holzer Files
I reviewed this show shortly after it aired in early October. At the time, I was on the fence about it. After watching 4 episodes, I can say I’m not a fan.
The concept is a great one: A new team of investigators look into Hans Holzer’s most interesting cases. It stars a researcher (Gabe) and Holzer’s daughter (Alexandra), who helps the team with the cases. That’s the most interesting part. Otherwise, the team just gets creeped out, runs out of rooms, and never want to go back to the location again. They have a lot of personal experiences without showing much evidence. Cindy Kaza–the team psychic, paranormal history bits, and locations are the main reasons to watch.
Haunted Salem: Live
Haunted Salem: Live had to be the most ambitious event during Ghostober. You had 4 teams investigating 3 locations, live on TV and streaming on Facebook. Kudos to Travel Channel for trying it.
It looks like the producers used Haunted Live as Salem’s template. Jamie Kaler, Haunted Live’s host, even MC’d this event. The hotspots included Ipswich Gaol, Rockafellahs and Proctor House.
The investigation teams came from these shows:
- Portals to Hell
- Ghost Brothers
- Kindred Spirits
- The Holzer Files
Throughout the evening, special guests appeared to help out. They were the Newkirks (from Week in Weird), Michelle Belanger (Paranormal State), and Tim Wood (LiveSciFi.tv).
To me, it started out rocky. It looked like the Ghost Brothers and Kindred Spirits teams didn’t know how to use a couple of gadgets, and they seemed nervous. I get it: Live tv is intimidating!
Anyway, most teams settled down and focused on what they did best, like Kindred Spirits with EVP. The 4-hour airtime was a bit too much. I tuned out after hour 3. The evidence captured didn’t keep me watching. There were some garbled EVPs, psychics felt things, and sigils drawn.
Now for the breaks: There were too many commercials. Every time I turned around, there was a break! It killed the buzz. I still give Travel Channel credit for such an ambitious project, though.
I didn’t know what to expect when Ghost Nation debuted this month. Was it going to be like the early seasons of Ghost Hunters on SyFy, or jump-scare crazy like Ghost Adventures?
Thankfully, it’s more like the SyFy series.
Jason, Steve and Tango continue investigating private residences to help people understand their hauntings (or if it’s haunted). I still call the show the “Murder She Wrote” of paranormal TV: It’s always worth watching, even if you’ve seen it all before. As for tech, the guys keep it to stuff you can buy from a ghost hunting store.
Some of Ghostly Activities’ readers say the show is a bit boring. It makes me wonder if jump-scare ghost hunting shows have normalized bat-shit-crazy antics now.
Destination Fear follows Dakota Laden, Chelsea Laden and Tanner Wiseman on a haunted road trip through the South. They’ve got 10 destinations to investigate, and only Dakota knows which ones they’ll visit. If you remember, Dakota won the fan contest to be on Ghost Adventures a few years ago.
The show is all about jump scares, without showing much ghostly evidence. I’ve watched 2 episodes so far; the one at Old Pittsburg Hospital; the other at Brushy Mountain State Prison. Chelsea, Dakota’s sister, is the Aaron Goodwin of the show. That means she always gets sent into dark, scary places by herself. Screaming and running ensues.
I like the access they have to these haunted hotspots, but that’s about it.
Ghost Adventures: Serial Killer Spirits & The Curse of the Harrisville Farmhouse
Travel Channel put a lot into its Ghostober programming schedule, and Ghost Adventures (GAC) was at the forefront of its advertising blitz. Viewers got a limited series about the nastiest killers with Serial Killer Spirits.
First off, the serial killers and haunted locations included:
- H.H. Holmes’ house in Irvington, IN
- John Wayne Gacy at the Old Joliet Prison in Joliet, IL
- Jake Bird at the prison in Council Bluffs, IA
- Ted Bundy’s murder house in Bountiful, UT
Anyway, GAC tried to get evidence that the killers’ spirits haunted the locations. It was a bit over-the-top for my liking. I mean, the Holmes’ episode started with Starbrite, ok?
Out of the 4 episodes, I thought the Jake Bird one was the most interesting, and I learned a few things about the killer. The Bundy episode was the creepiest and reminded more of a found-footage horror flick than a ghost hunt.
I think 2018’s Graveyard of the Pacific series was better than Serial Killer Spirits.
The Curse of the Harrisville Farmhouse debuted on Halloween night. The GAC investigated the house from The Conjuring. Again, it’s classic GAC with heebie-jeebies, energy draining, creepy EVPs and jump scares. I did like the Polaroids, though.
In a nutshell, if you don’t like GAC, then these episodes won’t convince you to start watching. It has all the over-the-top ghost interactions you’ve heard about.
Shortly after Harrisville Farmhouse episode aired, the previous owner came out to say it was all fake. You can get her story at NRINow.com.
Ghost Hunters (2019)
I reviewed Ghost Hunters 2019 back in August. Now that we’ve seen about 10 or so episodes at this point, I’m a bit mixed on the show.
Grant isn’t as involved with the ghost hunts, and I think they have too many investigators. If I compare it to Ghost Nation, Ghost Hunters seems to jump between teams too much and you don’t see each investigation area in depth. Part of that may be due to the size of the investigations. Ghost Hunters usually investigates big buildings and areas (like Pocatello High School and Worley Hospital). The investigators are spread out. Ghost Nation focuses on private residences, so the guys can stick together. Also, Ghost Nation investigates a place for 4 days or more. Ghost Hunters is in-and-out in a couple of days.
I still like Ghost Hunters quite a bit, but I put Ghost Nation one notch higher because we get to spend more air time with each investigator.
The World’s Biggest Ghost Hunt
This time, A&E had a 2-hour event just in time for Halloween. The World’s Biggest Ghost Hunt followed 5 investigators at Pennhurst Asylum. They spent 2 weeks on site with freedom to check out the safe buildings and tunnels. That’s what made this show interesting to watch.
Of the 5 ghost hunters, one was a hardcore skeptic, Max. He just poo-poo’ed most of the evidence collected. Nothing wrong with that: I’d do that, too. Zak, an engineer, also kept his cool during the investigations. He built a couple of gadgets during the investigation. Katie was on Ghost Lab for a couple of seasons. I didn’t find much about Austin or Ali and their ghost hunting experience. Overall, I liked seeing fresh faces investigating haunts.
It was a fun watch. They used ghost tech I’d reject (like spirit boxes) and relied on heebie-jeebies too much, but I got to say, I never turned away from the screen.
Recommended for Your Watchlist
If I had to pick a couple of these Ghostober shows or specials to watch, I’d say choose these:
- Ghost Nation
- Ghost Hunters (2019)
Why? Well, they’re not-so-over-the-top with jump scares and the cast seems like actual investigators (Ghost Nation and Ghost Hunters). They also don’t use ‘confirmation’ gadgets as much. Certain gear gives so many false positives, you can’t rely on them. These include K2 meters, SLS Kinect cameras, and spirit boxes.
If you want jump scares, fast pacing and screaming, then go with Ghost Adventures and Destination Fear.
Feature image created by Wendy Schindler of Mystic Moon Cafe