Hallowe’en Special – What is the appeal of Ghost Adventures?

All Hallow’s Eve is upon our mortal souls and I see this as a good opportunity to tell you about my new favourite TV programme that is currently being shown on ReallyGhost Adventures. Kat and I started watching it in May of this year and in all honesty, it didn’t really get off to a great first impression, I must admit. I even posted a Tweet regarding something the host narrated.

I wish to apologise for my ignorance because watching one episode’s apparent exuberance immediately wanted me to watch another, to see if it was exactly the same and it more or less was. So, the next week, we sat down to watch it again. And again. And yet again; we were becoming more and more hooked! I now understand that the narrator described it this way is because a lot of people believe this is the case with ghosts and hauntings and it took me while to realise that the way he explained it puts it into words that anyone can understand. I was intrigued so much that I didn’t want to stop watching. It has now become a habit and I must admit, Ghost Adventures – if you believe in ghosts or not – is good watching! The joke really was on me…

I have had a slight fascination with ghosts and the paranormal for quite a while now and I used to watch TV shows such as Most Haunted and surfed the web for ghost pictures and what-not. That was until Most Haunted was taken off air (there’s news that it’ll be coming back though soon) and the commercial response wasn’t what is once was. Most Haunted was great but the worst thing that I could see from it was it was a bunch of people in a darkened house asking for ‘can you make a noise?’ or ‘can you move something?’ and then running away screaming when they got something ‘making a noise’ or ‘moving something.’ The show used to end with Dr Ciaran O’Keeffe, a psychologist and parapsychologist, trying to debunk the evidence they captured and this was what made it a little bit more interesting. Dr. O’Keeffe was also responsible for outing famous psychic medium Derek Acorah for not being as in touch with the ‘other side’ as I thought he once was. Ghost Adventures is different and it makes the experience of watching three dudes who call each other ‘bro’ a little bit more engaging…

Nick Groff, Zak Bagans and Aaron Goodwin set out to capture the existence of ghosts and the paranormal

Nick Groff, Zak Bagans and Aaron Goodwin set out to capture the existence of ghosts and the paranormal

Zak Bagans (middle) and his fellow camera-operator Nick Groff (left) and equipment technician Aaron Goodwin (right) basically run around a supposed haunted location trying to capture ghosts and their existence. I know that believing in ghosts is six of one and half a dozen of the other. There are those who firmly believe there is an afterlife and there are those who think it is all entirely the mind playing tricks, akin to making faces out of clouds. But I love a good spook. Man always has. They have this strange interest in bloody events in history such as murders, suicides, executions and death. As we all fully well know, these are the basis of any good ghost story.  Bagans and his crew set to capture what they believe are ghosts. Armed with voice recorders, night vision cameras and a plethora of ghost-hunting equipment they explore abandoned hospitals, prisons, hotels, forts, etc. that been reported to be haunted. They start off with the stories of eyewitness reports as well as an initial investigation and a walk around of the property asking the witnesses where the most active places are and make note to come back and investigate later in the night, highlighting particular events such as seeing shadows, objects being moved or brutal attacks and they try their best to replicate these strange events. After talking and walking, they get ready to start their investigation, or as they call it the Lockdown.

The Lockdown is the main night vigil. Zak, Nick and Aaron are the only people on site with an occasional addition of guest, sometimes one of the eyewitnesses and they are locked in for almost twelve hours so there is really is no escape.  The investigating then gets underway as soon as they are in. They set up locked-off static night vision camcorders that film throughout the night and begin to wonder around with their own night vision cameras to capture the unknown. This is portrayed in many different ways, one of which is Electronic Voice Phenomena or ghost voices. They apparently sit below the frequency of human hearing and a special digital recorder which can record below these frequencies is used. Sometimes what they catch is very eerie as I’m sure hearing a disembodied voice is and they can be as simple as short words, short sentences and even more disturbing, outward threats. Other times it is hard to decipher but there it is usually something that cannot be explained. Occasionally, they capture poltergeist activity and one of the most memorable of which was from the very first Ghost Adventures documentary investigating a hotel in the Nevada desert called the Goldfield. Nick and Zak capture on camera a brick and a wooden panel taking flight by unseen forces. Cue chaos as both men flee out of the basement they’re in with terror in their voices. On other occasions, they capture figures, mists, orbs and other ghostly apparitions. They have used a full spectrum stills camera to take pictures of black shapes and even the static night vision cameras have captured figures walking behind crew members and appearing out of nowhere.

One gadget they use called a SB7 Spirit box is one of our favourites. Basically it is a radio that sweeps through different frequencies and they ask questions and sometimes, amongst the white noise, they get responses and capture voices that way. It is described by the team that it sweeps through 4 channels a second and that capturing something that not only responds to their questions but is also longer than a quarter of a second is un-normal. Whole words and names have been found to come out of this Spirit Box. During an investigation of the house said to have inspired ‘The Exorcist’ in St. Louis, Missouri, they used a Spirit Box in conjunction with a Ouija board. The box then preceded to utter words such as ‘Ouija board,’ but more terrifying ‘Devil,’ ‘Come in Demon’ and even ‘Diablo’ in horribly distorted voices came through. Another occasion where a gadget has picked up something notable was when the Ghost Adventures Crew visited the creepy, abandoned Tuolomne General Hospital located in California. They used the three-dimensional mapping XBox Kinect camera and it appeared to be mapping a person that wasn’t there whilst Nick was lying on one of the hospital beds. It mapped a head, torso and arms and appeared to be working on Nick.

It’s remarkable what these three dudes capture but what sets it out from other ghost busting programmes on TV is that they look do try and debunk what they find. Orbs have been routinely debunked as dust or insects but sometimes when they capture them on camera moving in an odd way, like moving towards someone else whilst they feel something isn’t right, they highlight this further. Because it is Zak’s show, Zak normally has the most control. Although his methods may appear unorthodox, it usually gets results. He normally uses provocation and confrontation on supposed spirits who have attacked and harmed others, especially if they’re malevolent or violent but insists only if that is the case. The consequences however can be chilling. During season one the team visited Bobby Mackey’s music bar that is claimed to be haunted by an evil ghost. After asking for things to happen down by the buildings ancient well, three large scratches covered Zak’s back. Whether this was a ghost or not is up for debate. Nick and Aaron tend to end up as bait in some of the worse areas of the location. It is not uncommon for them to get put in morgue cabinets or even locked in padded cells. But what makes them good is that they all seem to gel together. Most Haunted had a big crew but Ghost Adventures is only Zak, Nick and Aaron and Zak mentions this at the beginning of every show. It’s a formula that seems to work a lot better as there are less people to contaminate the evidence. What they do capture is impressive. They have been known to travel all over the world, through to Venice, Edinburgh and even a location not too far away from where I currently reside; Fort Horsted in Chatham. However, they mostly stick to America. It is, after all, an American show. I honestly don’t think they’re doing it in a mischievous way and they never really say ‘this is a ghost,’ they say they believe it is or they conclude with the evidence is unexplainable. They leave that for you to do. And in a way it if it gives themselves and others comfort that an afterlife does exist then I see no reason why they should stop. It’s horribly addictive and it is worth watching. I can only commend these guys to continue what they’re doing because it is a fascinating insight.

Please note: I am fully aware that Ghost Adventures and the like are made for entertainment purposes and must be taken with a pinch of salt. I’m open-minded to the concept that there could be afterlife but sceptical about what is presented; it’s half of the fun. You see around on the internet “ghosts exist!” or “no they don’t!” and the resulting arguing is amusing at best; they both equally have supporting evidence for and against. I happily sit on the fence waiting to be proven right or wrong.

Check out the Ghost Adventures Crew Website

As it is Halloween, Ghost Adventures is broadcasting a special two hour long episode tonight from Transylvania. Unfortunately, I will have to wait until Sunday to watch it. However, if you are reading this from America, make sure you catch it on the Travel Channel at 9/8c! If you’re in the United Kindom or elsewhere, then I’m sorry but you may have to wait too… but none the less, enjoy your trick or treating!

Happy Halloween!

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Or Jimmi