Ghost Hunters and other Paranormal

DVD Review: Ghost Hunters Season One (2004) – Watch This and You May End Up Believing

Way back in 2006, I stumbled on this show on the Sci-Fi Channel. It was enough to hook both myself and my eleven-year-old daughter.

Grant has been married for seven years and has three kids. Jason has been married for fifteen years and has four kids. The two work together during the day as plumbers for Roto-Rooter. Their hobby has been investigating the paranormal. They formed The Atlantic Paranormal Society, a.k.a. “TAPS”. The organization has been in place since 1990 and is unique when compared to other organizations out there. This season they worked out of a trailer on Jason’s property.

Jason is very skeptical and approaches their investigations that he is trying to disprove the haunting and find logical explanations for what is happening wherever they are called. This is a somewhat unique approach when compared to other shows I’ve seen. They are looking for concrete evidence and although they might listen to people having feelings and they never seem to doubt the stories they are told, they are looking for good, hard evidence before they will say that a place is “haunted”.

The first season showed more of their personal lives as Jason and Grant interact with their wives and their “hobby” interferes with both their jobs and their family life. There was also a lot of conflict of personalities in the group. Some of this personal stuff took up more time than the actual investigations. Initially, each episode is also structured so that they are looking ahead to the next case at the end of each episode, instead of the episodes being self-contained. About a third of the way through the episodes became pretty much self-contained.

One of the pieces of evidence they look for is known as an EVP – electronic voice phenomenon. This is when people will be in a room with a tape recorder and not hear anything, but when the tape is played back, later on, there are voices on the tape. They also take temperature readings in rooms to show sudden drops in temperature or areas of rooms that are colder than other parts. It’s believed that a spirit will draw the energy from a room and that’s what causes the temperature to drop. They also take electro-magnetic readings, as sometimes a spike in those readings indicates a presence.

One thing TAPS discounts as evidence that other paranormal investigative agencies do not are “orbs”. These appear on film from time to time. Most of the time they can be written off as dust, but on occasion, they can’t. Jason and Grant still feel they are not signs of a haunting, but of excess energy present in the environment.

Besides Jason and Grant, this season the recurring personalities include:

Brian Harnois – Investigator, case manager, originally the head Tech Specialist as well
Steve Gonsalves – Investigator and Tech Specialist
Donna LaCroix – caseworker and investigator
Carl Johnson – demonologist
Keith Johnson – demonologist
Brian Bell – communications manager
Krystin Allen – Field Researcher,
Andy Andrews – Investigator
Heather Drolet – Pagan/Wiccan, knowledge of the occult
Sherry Toczko – investigator in training

The personalities are interesting, and in this first season, there’s a lot of conflict at times between the various personalities. The team has been together for quite some time and there’s a lot of drama between them. Some of the earliest episodes had too much personal time and not enough of the investigations. Later on, it seemed that the production company switched over to more focus on the investigation, although the drama was still taking place between the TAPS members. Some people feel all of the drama is a distraction from the investigation. I like it as it makes everything more “real”.

In particular, I can see that Brian Harnois seems to be the source of a lot of aggravation for Grant and Jay. They both like him – that is very evident. He has been a part of TAPS for a long time and Jay says a couple of times that he is like a brother to him. However, it seems inevitable that he forgets some crucial piece of equipment or somehow screws up the investigation.

Whether you believe that what they are doing is for real or not largely depends on what you think of the investigators. To me, Grant and Jay have a lot of credibility, largely because they really go in trying to find a reason why something is happening, not to prove that a place is haunted. There’s also the fact that with the number of people who have worked with them, no one has come out saying that anything was faked. This includes people who left TAPS on somewhat negative terms as well as the crew and people at the various sites. This season one included an armory where the military still uses the building, making what happened there very credible in my eyes.

A lot of what goes on seems to be re-enactments for the cameras, or sometimes Grant and Jason work out what they are going to say before they are filmed and they want it to appear as if it’s a casual conversation. I also can’t believe that Brian Harnois actually let himself be portrayed the way he is because he comes off really looking like a jerk sometimes. I’ve heard some people on the message boards say that’s the reason they think a lot of the show is a set-up.

I really like Ghost Hunters for the simple reason that they dismiss evidence that others would find credible. This is apparent when they are discussing one of the cases where Brian and Steve bring them a video tape of orbs, which they dismiss outright as being bugs, dust, etc. Jason sees orbs as energy that exists everywhere so orbs can be where there isn’t a haunting. However, the times when the evidence is overwhelming – and there are several this season – he will say that a place is haunted.

For people who enjoy the paranormal, I think they will get a lot out of these DVDs. For those who are doubters, I think they will say a lot is staged or try to challenge the credibility. I feel the fact that they dismiss so much of what other paranormal investigators would say is credible evidence really speaks to what they are striving to do.

If you don’t believe in ghosts, Ghost Hunters probably won’t convince you, although it might challenge you. If you believe, there’s evidence here that will back up what you believe. The drama between the personalities can be a bit too heavy at times, but it also helps to get to know the people who are a part of TAPS.


Websites of interest:

Official TAPS website: http://www.the-atlantic-paranormal-society.com
Sci-Fi Channel Ghost Hunters site: http://www.scifi.com/ghosthunters/


EPISODE GUIDE:

Disc One

Episode 101 – A house in Altoona, Pennsylvania is investigated. They have reported having shadows in the house and their daughter has seen someone in the bedroom, even going as far as apparently playing with someone there.

Episode 102 – The Mishler Theater in Altoona is investigated as well as a Railroad Museum. Both have a reputation for being haunted by people who work there.

Episode 103 – The Lighthouse Inn in New London, Connecticut, and the John Stone Tavern in Ashland, Massachusetts are investigated. The tavern has an amazing history including being part of the Underground Railroad. There’s a story at the tavern of a child being brought in there after being hit by a train and being brought into the tavern to die.

Disc Two

Episode 104 – The Race Rock Lighthouse, an unmanned lighthouse in Long Island Sound off of New London, Connecticut. Heather brings dowsing rods and she and Andy compare how the rods respond to readings on the EMF detector. It’s worth watching for the reaction of Andy and Brian when they capture something on the videotape. They get some very good footage which they do take to a video specialist to be cleaned up which makes a very convincing argument that the place is haunted.

Episode 105 – The abandoned Eastern State Penitentiary is investigated. Brian and a cameraman have an experience with shadows which causes them to run from the cell block they are investigating. Later on, when they review the footage, they come up with possible evidence that is taken when all of the crew and staff were outside having dinner, so it couldn’t have been something someone tried to fake for them. Grant and Jay also express reservations about what is in the film. They go back and investigate a second time and it signals the end for one of the TAPS investigators.

They send the original footage to be enhanced. It still isn’t “hard evidence” but it is very convincing as they are unable to find a way that someone could have faked what is on that footage.

Episode 106 – TAPS investigates an old church that is now a home. The people residing in it are a goth couple who are horror movie fans and have all sorts of odd props. It really makes for a great contradiction of them living in an old church. The place is definitely eerie, but is it haunted? The investigation is hampered by a variety of things, including the couple’s cats and the amount of dust released when the team climbs into the cupola and rings the old church bell.

Disc Three

Episode 107 – TAPS travels to an armory in New Bedford, Massachusetts where people have become afraid to go to work because of mysterious happenings there. A death did occur in the building when a sergeant hung himself in one of the rooms.

They are getting some really good readings with temperature fluctuations and mysterious drains on the batteries of the various cameras when Frank, who is a sound man for the camera crew, is apparently attacked and thrown to the floor. And yes, it is caught on video.

Episode 108 – The TAPS team travels to Philadelphia where they investigate reports of paranormal phenomena at an apartment building housing college students. They are easily able to explain many of the reports of activity.

They also visit the Topton House Pub where there is a lot of reported activity. They manage to explain some of the phenomena and don’t find any other evidence of paranormal activity.

Back at TAPS headquarters, Grant and Jason talk with Frank, the sound man who was involved in the paranormal experience at the New Bedford Armory, and try to help him come to terms with the incident.

Episode 109 – TAPS is brought in by another paranormal investigative group to the New Boston Inn, built in 1737. There is a photograph the other group took that they believe shows the head of a woman who was shot and killed there.

They also travel to Pittsburgh where a woman and her daughter have had paranormal activity in their home for years, including scratches mysteriously appearing on the daughter’s belly when she was pregnant.

Episode 110 – In Albany, New York, TAPS investigates a reported violent haunting including attacks on the people residing in the house.

They then travel to the home of Adam Zubrowski who has been having a series of strange happenings in his home. The investigation includes the use of dowsing rods and comparing it to the EMF readings. The TAPS team collects some good EVP evidence.


BONUS MATERIAL:

• Deleted Scenes for each episode
• Interview with Jason & Grant
• Ghost Hunters Glossary
• Ghost Hunters Trailer
• The Triangle Trailer


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