Ghost Hunting Since 2007

Review | The Holzer Files

Dave Schrader and his team investigated the Knapp House (Rye, NY) in the premiere of The Holzer Files. In a nutshell, it’s a little bit Dead Files, Ghost Bait and Paranormal Witness. Get my take after the jump.


***SPOILER ALERTS ON***


Show Background

The Holzer Files digs deep into Hans Holzer’s paranormal cases from 40 years ago. If you don’t know Hans Holzer, many people consider him to be the father of modern paranormal research.

As for the show, 3 investigators re-open Holzer’s cases to see if they can solve the case or uncover new evidence. The show uses real-life recordings from Holzer’s research to give context to the investigation.

Investigators

Dave Schrader

Schrader is known for his radio show, Darkness Radio. He’s been involved with the paranormal for years and has appeared on shows like Ghost Adventures, Paranormal State and more.

You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Cindy Kaza

Kaza is a psychic-medium investigator. She’s studied at Arthur Findlay School of Intuitive Sciences in the UK. Her training involves evidential mediumship, which means the spirit gives the medium information to confirm its identity. I didn’t find much information about her as a ghost hunter, but I’m not sure if you would classify her work as ghost hunting.

You can follow her on her website, Facebook and Twitter.

Shane Pittman

Pittman is the tech manager. He leads a ghost hunting team called Fusion Paranormal and hosts a podcast, The Fusion Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter.

Note: I tried to put links to his paranormal team at FusionParanormal.com and ParanormalSocieties; they’re dead links at this time, October 6, 2019.

Format

The show’s broken into 3 different segments: research; investigation; and, the reveal. It’s all the same bits you see on other ghosty shows.

Research Segment

For research, Dave Schrader meets with Holzer’s daughter, Alexandra, and a paranormal researcher, Gabe Roth. All three talk about an upcoming case, which had piqued Hans’ interests in the past. It’s the Peck House in Rye, New York for this episode.

Next, Schrader talks to witnesses. They could be people who lived in the house or experienced paranormal activity. While Schrader interviews them, the editors’ interject Holzer’s real-life recordings. There are also recreations of the haunting or seance (by Ethel Myers).

The witnesses include:

  • Barbara & Tony Behrendt (former owners of the Peck House)
  • Sheri Jordan (a local historian)
  • Allie Copeland (a collections manager at the Knapp House)

Kaza now appears to get psychometric readings on a possibly haunted painting. She’s using her abilities to get more details about the ghosts haunting the house.

It turns out the ghosts have moved from the Peck House to the Knapp House. The Knapp House becomes the focus of the investigation at this point.

Kaza and Schrader do a walkthrough with Allie Copeland, and the investigation begins.

Investigation Segment

The investigation is about 20 minutes of airtime. Schrader and Kaza go to the haunt, and Shane Pittman meets them on-site. The 3 investigators get to work right away. This segment was shot in infrared and thermal imaging.

Kaza runs the show in the episode, not because she’s the lead investigator, because her psychic impressions kick into high gear. She also uses automatic writing at different points.

Pittman then runs an EVP session in a closet/tiny bedroom, where he has personal experiences. Kaza switches with Pittman later on.

Overall, most activity happens in the living room. Schrader has some heebie-jeebies, thermal imaging captures something interesting, and Kaza ‘sees’ a malevolent entity.

Reveal Segment

The reveal is about 5 minutes of airtime. Schrader and Kaza detail their findings to Sheri Jordan. They show physical evidence, and Kaza details psychic evidence. It reminds me of The Dead Files reveal to clients. Not much more to say about it.

Gadgets Used & Evidence Collected

Gadgets aren’t really a focus. For the most part, the team relies on audio recorders and a thermal imaging camera. Pittman does capture a hand print on a window. However, it’s really Kaza who gets the most compelling evidence.

But it’s psychic information.

Scientific investigators will probably groan at this. I thought it made good TV.

Not much else evidence was collected. Schrader and Pittman had some heebie-jeebies. Schrader felt breathing on his neck. Pittman had something touch him in the closet/tiny bedroom. But it looks like that was a bug or light switch cord. If you watch the video, you see a black dot moving behind him. I dunno.

There were a couple of EVPs captured, but I didn’t hear any words clearly. It seemed like a matrix.

Now, let’s examine the hand print. It’s clearly human temperature. The thermal imaging camera shows the team and camera crew with red-orange coloring to indicate the temperature as above 80°. The handprint was, too. I don’t see how a hand print could form as warm as a human when the team said it felt cold. Also, Schrader states during the reveal that the hand rolled across the window. But he didn’t provide a video clip, just a pic. This makes me doubt the authenticity of the clip.

There’s a mention of water in the ceiling like Lottie, a suspected ghost, would form when manifesting. But I didn’t see anyone reach into the floor boards to check if it was a leaking pipe. Who knows? It may have been edited out.

Ghostly Activities Conclusion

I’m on the fence about this show. I really liked the research element and Kaza as a media personality. But the evidence collection is a bit of bust for me. I watch the shows for the team’s interactions and visual evidence. I didn’t feel the chemistry between the team. And the evidence, well …

The strongest evidence consisted of heebie-jeebies, psychic impressions and a hot hand print on a window. The EVPs didn’t sound like anything, either.

Jake’s Rambling: I really hate it when the investigators have to suggest what the audience hears. Your brain will take the cue and trick you into hearing the suggestion. The recording should be clear or don’t present it.

Overall, it’s well produced and the pacing was crisp. Some people may want to see more investigation time and evidence analysis. From my side, I’d want more investigation time. This segment felt rushed, as if the team only investigated for a couple of hours. I bet they were on site all night.

I’ll give it a few more episodes to grow on me, but it’s not live broadcast viewing for me. I’ll catch it on-demand.

UPDATE (March 5, 2020): Now that I’ve watched all the episodes, the show really grew on me and I enjoyed watching it. BUT I like the historic investigation and debunking myths more than the ghost hunting. Dave & Cindy work well together, and the producers do a good job of stitching together Cindy’s psychic insights with Dave’s interviews and archival research.

The Holzer Files airs on Travel Channel every Thursday night at 10 PM ET/9 PM CT. Painless Productions produces it.

Feature image courtesy of Travel Channel press materials.

9 Comments

  1. Jacob Rice

    RATINGS UPDATE: The Holzer Files had 428,000 tune in for its first broadcast. That’s about the same as Ghost Bait from earlier in the year. We’ll see how it performs in later weeks. To put it in perspective, Ghost Hunters (with a better known franchise) scores 700,000+ viewers.

    Source: http://www.showbuzzdaily.com/articles/showbuzzdailys-top-150-thursday-cable-originals-network-finals-10-3-2019.html

  2. BT Polly

    I enjoyed the Holzer Files, mostly because of Cindy Kaza. If you watched every episode of Portals to Hell (like I did,) you were introduced to Cindy there – she shows up in 2 episodes as I recall, and she made both episodes 50% better, especially the investigation at Bobby Mackey’s. She’s both entertaining and believable – she comes across authentic and not rehearsed like many psychics seem to be. I’m guessing I wasn’t the only impressed by her, the Travel Channel producers probably saw her potential as a benefit to any new paranormal show they might produce. I also closely watched the Salem Live broadcast on October 3 and, again, she came out as the best thing to watch, making the investigation by The Ghost Brothers much more fascinating and productive than what we saw from the other 2 teams (and I love all three teams and their shows.) I already liked Ghost Brothers, not because they’re the best investigators in paranormal programming, but because they’re probably the most entertaining. I like Kindred Spirits, I hate the use of flashlights as an investigative tool, but I appreciate that Amy seems to work harder than investigators on some other shows at looking for logical explanations, like not immediately jumping on every “holding me down in bed” experience as genuine; like her, I think many of these, regardless of other evidence of a haunting in a location, are cases of sleep paralysis. I think people experiencing this condition might have different symptoms and visions, therefore, other investigators seem to readily accept the instances as paranormal, but I believe the condition can manifest differently in some people than in others – I wish more investigators would consider sleep paralysis, and maybe even show us the evidence of having a sleep study done on a subject – if they would spring for that (like Dead Files does to have pest control specialists inspect a house with noises,) maybe they could either rule out some “holding down” experiences as a health issue rather than a paranormal one. Likewise, if a sleep study shows no evidence of sleep paralysis, then they have a better case for a haunting experience. Just a thought! And, while I’m rambling on, I wish someone would wage a campaign to get the Travel Channel to quit showing the very obvious fake investigative shows, or at least label them as “dramatic demonstrations of what a haunting might look like,” as well as properly identified “victims” telling their stories as actors – the best example of fraudulent programming is “My Haunted House.” Mountain Monsters might be entertaining, in a hilarious way rather than interesting and/or frightening, but nobody’s ever going to convince me that anything that happens on this show isn’t scripted – I’d bet anything they even put out a casting call for the “hunters” – some look like they were pulled straight out of Sturgis and “costumed” as a good ol’ boy monster hunter. Just sayin….

  3. DL Lawley

    Another show with a macho-boy “leader” who hangs back in safety and bullies his team into doing the scary stuff. Really annoying.

  4. Jacob Rice

    Ratings Update: So far, the tv tune-in ratings haven’t looked good for the show. It started off with 428,000 for its debut. Now, it’s down to 368,000. I don’t think it will get renewed.

    Source: http://www.showbuzzdaily.com/?s=holzer

  5. Robbie

    Holzer files balg guy like the other dude said yes bullies the other 2 into what he doesn’t want to do. He’s pathetic. Ive been noticed that. Let mr bald Schrader or whatever to them rooms. He’s a bitch. Maybe the guy can watch the cameras. Noticed quickly. Then he demands them to stay. Carry your doof ass there if there freaked. Then u sit in the room. Frickin just dumb. Love Cindy…she’s gorgeous and believable. Think she’s real. Bald guy…waist of space

  6. shawn jordan

    The show to me is just another Johnny come lately with an already overfilled paranormal platform programming. Over dubbed background noises and sound effects to help over dramatic acting to help.push the scripting. Seems everyone is a psychic now, but if you look at her spouts of repeating the same fearful of this, and that, feeling uncomfortable ever this, wanna get outta here..it loses it for me..it’s kinda like a teaching on how to manipulate illusions of propaganda in The never ending spirit world..

  7. Levi

    Being a believer in the paranormal I’m hesitant to give many opinions on these types of shows. To truly take in the magnitude of these experiences one has to be present physically. There is no substitute for standing in these places and no matter the production values or scripting it can’t be captured.

    That being said I can see this team in their infancy and although stilted in the way they respond to each other, you see glimmers of realism come through occasionally. That being the key word, occasionally. This show feels rushed in its pacing, heavy handed chills delivered for the sake of scares that don’t exist.

    If they were to slow it down, examine the source material deeper, portray the works of Dr. Holzer in a more meaningful way. It could work. As it stands though it is shoving out of the gate with claims that many spend a lifetime to experience. Not every location will yield results, not every file and witness speaks truths. Show us those failures and blunders but tell the story on the hunt for something real.

    Is it perfect? No it is not. But following in Dr. Holzer’s footsteps can and will yield results. Be patient Travel Channel, stop being greedy.

  8. Jacob Rice

    Holzer Files got renewed for a second season. It fell to 335,000 viewers at the end of the season. The show had to kill it in delayed viewing and all those marathons. To compare, Ghost Bait pulled in the same ratings and has NOT been renewed. This may bode well for Trending Fear, which has similar ratings.

    Source: https://www.travelchannel.com/shows/holzer-files/articles/holzer-files-season-two-announced

  9. Kevin P

    For a big guy, Dave Schrader sure spends a lot of time getting “touched” and knocked on his sizeable tush.

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