It’s that spooky time of year, when we turn our attention to all things creepy, scary, or even terrifying. So, why not indulge in a look at a genre of reality programs that boasts those characteristics all year round, i.e. ghost-hunting series.
I’ve always tended to believe in things that most people have not: the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, ancient aliens, present-day aliens, psychic mediums, ghosts, etc. Why do I believe in such things? Simply put, because I have no reason to doubt their existence, and I’ve seen evidence that has convinced me. To those stubborn skeptics who so easily dismiss such anomalies on our planet, with no real interest in keeping an open mind–well, I dismiss those people just as abruptly.
Ghosts in particular have been a hot subject, and targets of “hunters” on cable TV channels for the past decade or so. There is little sign of let-up in the airing of programs featuring teams of investigators who have been able to demonstrate, using hi-tech equipment, that ghosts do exist. The names of the programs might not sound familiar to you, nor the cable networks on which they air. But they’re all fascinating, and, to me, convincing accounts of capturing traces of energy of the deceased, in a wide variety of locations. On these programs, ghosts have been recorded, photographed, videotaped, and have even engaged in real-time “conversations” with investigators.
While it is not on the air anymore, you might be familiar with Ghost Hunters, which blazed the trail for this genre. It ran on what used to be the Sci-Fi Channel (now SyFy) from 2004 to 2016, as it followed the investigations of TAPS, The Atlantic Paranormal Society, co-founded by Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson. While the turnover of team members began to add up as the seasons progressed, the one constant that remained was the way in which they conducted their investigations, i.e. planning to debunk supposed evidence of ghosts inhabiting a given
location, be it a private home, restaurant, hotel, former prison, etc., then making note of the instances in which they had no answers other than to attribute the evidence to non-physical entities. While the team’s equipment was at first limited mostly to standard video and audio recording equipment, later additions included infrared cameras, motion sensors, and devices that detect changes in electromagnetic fields. Their investigations often yielded
fascinating–and convincing–results. In 2008, Ghost Hunters begat Ghost Hunters International which, as you might guess, featured a team of investigators at various sites throughout Europe, such as castles, taverns, and museums.
Two TAPS members, Amy Bruni and Adam Berry, left TAPS/Ghost Hunters to continue investigating cases of families troubled by paranormal disturbances in their own homes. Bruni had shown an astounding ability to carry on extensive “conversations” with ghosts during her stint on Ghost Hunters, and, with Berry, produced the series Kindred Spirits, beginning in 2016 on TLC.
The title derives from the duo’s belief that most occurrences in private homes are due to relatives of the homeowners who have passed on, but feel a need to make their lingering presence known. As with other programs in the genre, Bruni and Berry use hi-tech equipment, and sometimes their searches lead them to surprising twists in their investigations.
In 2008, the series Ghost Adventures first aired on the Travel Channel, which follows a team led by the rather intense Zak Bagans, who seems to have a strong physical sensitivity to the presence of an entity, and sometimes reacts accordingly. One team member, Nick Groff, left in 2010 to continue his investigations on the series Paranormal Lockdown, in which he and Katrina Weidman would spend 72 straight hours confined to a reportedly haunted location, in order to have uninterrupted exposure to whatever may or may not be inhabiting the house or building.
The year 2014 saw the premiere of Ghost Asylum on the Destination America channel, in which a group of investigators, known at the Tennessee Wraith Chasers, specialized in seeking out trapped entities in long-abandoned and decaying hospitals and sanitariums, most of which are from an era in which patients were often treated deplorably. When I first happened upon the show, I did snicker at this group of good-ol’-boys with twangy Southern accents referring to their sophisticated ghost-hunting equipment. But they got results, and took
their missions seriously, even inventing new devices to not only detect, but trap ghosts (especially the nastier ones). The group can now be seen on their current Travel Channel show, Haunted Live, on which they conduct their investigations live, each Friday at 10:00p.m. The show simulcasts the camera angles set up by the team, and invites viewers to message the broadcast in real time, in case they see an unusual occurrence missed by the team at the location. Unfortunately, some of the more fascinating moments, heightened by the live format, are interrupted by commercial breaks.
It can be tricky keeping these shows straight, even for me, as I write this post. Some investigators stand out more than others, but the real focus of each program is on finding and/or making contact with the entities in question. There have been several other similar programs that have come and gone in the past decade or so, and the sum total of their efforts are impressive. I don’t feel as if this is a matter of “believing” or “disbelieving” the existence of ghosts, but you may be far more skeptical. Even so, these programs are rarely less than interesting,entertaining and, of course, always very spooky. And that’s just the kind of show we can enjoy as Halloween approaches.
Until next time…keep your night light on!