Paranormal

Paranormal Activity 2 – Do we really have to do this?

I have to say, I’m a little disappointed by this. I knew it was coming, you can’t have a success in Hollywood without the follow up sequel which then turns into a trilogy, but I was really hoping this was just going to stay a decent, "low budget" thriller. I thought this was a great movie except for the ending. I just hated the way the movie ended. I think there were dozens of betters ways to finish it off that would have been more mysterious and more compelling. But that aside, do you think this movie can capture the thrill and success of the original? Since the first movie was touted as being a real haunting which we all knew was false (you did know that right?) will this follow up actually have any suspense? We’ll certainly have to suspend A LOT of disbelief for this second go round. This could be a fun movie if you pretend the first one never existed…

 

 

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Eastern State Penitentiary with the Ghost Hunters

After writing so much about Eastern State Penitentiary, I went back to the first season of Ghost Hunters to watch their original investigation of the site. This is perhaps their most infamous, dare I say notorious episode. It’s been several years since I’ve seen it and I forgot that not only was it the episode where Brian comes running down the hall yelling his famous "Dude, Run!" line, but it’s also the episode where they capture a figure walking around in cell block 12.

In looking back it’s pretty clear they were trying to build drama and tension into the show since they weren’t sure the paranormal angle was going to stick. We have the petty bickering between Steve and Brian, as well as the drama of whether Sheri is going to stick around. There’s the trouble with Brian Bell and his oversleeping and abandoning his post of watching the monitors at Command Central. Plus, there’s the general trouble of just trying to get everything set up and knowing how to use their equipment.

But the big topper is how Jason is an arrogant ass to everyone he runs into. He’s pushy, rude, condescending and seems to want to pick a fight all the time. He’s even pushy with Grant, telling him what to do and how to deal with Brian Bell. Just to prove he’s got a pair, he spouts off to Brian Harnois, "Yeah, we want to talk with you, you got a problem with that?" It’s actually surprising the show made it out of the first season. What’s more surprising is that Jason could walk down those narrow halls with an ego that large.

On to more important things of Brian and a cameraman tearing down the hallway screaming, "Dude, Run!" after seeing something pass right in front of them. The odd thing is, the whole episode leading up to this event has been about keeping calm and not running when you see something. How strange for them to spend so much time talking about not running from ghosts and then all of a sudden that exact thing happens, as if on cue. They certainly wouldn’t have planned something like that would they? That’s just pure coincidence, right? When you do that sort of thing in a novel it’s called "foreshadowing" but this is "reality TV", there’s no script… Right? Right?

The next big piece of excitement is the apparition they catch while everyone is off at dinner. Supposedly when everyone has left the cell block and no one is paying attention or watching the monitors or making sure someone isn’t playing around an apparition appears on camera. Of course we’re all familiar with the footage which now looks like someone with a cape over their head, wearing jeans and tennis shoes walking toward the camera then turning to run away. Strangely, that’s exactly what Jason says it is. He says it looks like someone is playing a prank on them. But try as they might, this brain trust can’t seem to replicate what they saw. Apparently it’s too dark for Stumbling Brian to walk with a cape over his head and no one else thinks to try it for themselves. So obviously if Brian can’t do it, it must be paranormal. Since Jason thinks Brian is a incompetent boob, I’m surprised he even let him try. Considering his ego in this episode I’m surprised he let anyone do anything. Odd though, I figure he would have tested it out himself. Or had Grant do it.

What I find funny is that they’ve all but admitted how it was done. Jason comes right out and says it looks like a person with a cape over their head. He admits to seeing a pant leg. He admits no one was actually up there paying attention. He admits readily it looks like a prank. So is this one of those "wink, wink, nudge, nudge" moments, that if he completely dismisses the obvious then it has to be something else. The answer is so obvious we’d be stupid to believe it?

Looking back on this episode, the entire thing feels staged and rehearsed. The comments leading up to Brian running seem so contrived. Jason saying the whole apparition is a hoax, then slyly laughing it off seems downright bizarre. The forced drama with Brian Bell and Sheri was just stupid. And Jason picking fights with everyone is painful to watch. For not having a script they sure do seem to be putting a lot of things in place.

After watching this one again, I’m not entirely sure why I found this show appealing.

 


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Ghost Hunters International – Duran Sanatorium/Rose Hall – S02E13

Costa Rica – Duran Sanatorium

For the first part of the investigation, GHI heads down to Costa Rica to investigate the Duran Sanatorium. This location has gone through many changes, from tuberculosis hospital, to a mental ward, to a minimum security prison, to a maximum security prison. It’s certainly seen it’s fair share of troubled patients and ill deeds. Not to mention, many of these patients and prisoners were mistreated.

First thing to note: Perhaps Paul could find a big boy shirt with sleeves on it to wear? Maybe this is the macho Costa Rican biker look, but it looks so tacky visiting a client dressed like that. I guess he was trying to show off his tattoos. Remember, you can’t be a true ghost hunter without them.

Not much happens during this investigation, but shock of shocks, the team actually does some debunking. Apparently the clothes line is mistaken for ghostly apparitions. The movement of the clothes can cause odd flickers and shadows in the room.

The investigation is pretty quiet, but at the reveal Robb and Barry spring some new evidence on the client. They have a picture of a blob in the window of the Administration building. For heaven’s sake, that could be a moth, a bird, a flicker of light or a flying squirrel. Ok, maybe not a flying squirrel, but it’s hardly gripping evidence of the paranormal.

The next photo is one featuring a blob out in the courtyard. Yes, there is something in the photo; a shapeless white, fuzzy, streak. It could be something paranormal, but it could just as easily be a bad reflection, the camera picking up the flash or even humidity. It’s interesting, but to say it’s paranormal is quite a reach.

But reach they do…

And finally they have the picture of a little girl sitting the steps. If you really want to stretch your imagination you can almost, sort of, maybe, create an outline of a little girl. It looks more like wishful thinking to me.

It should come as no surprise they say the place is haunted.

Jamaica – Rose Hall Great House

Next up is the Rose Hall Great House. Annie Hall, the "White Witch", practiced voodoo and apparently treated her slaves quite badly. She is also believed to have cast spells on them. Annie is also noted as killing her husband with arsenic.

First thing to note here is the sheer volume of noise coming from the jungle. You can barely hear them during their little side interviews and while they’re walking around. No EVPs for this location, which to me, makes the outcome somewhat interesting. She sounds like the sort who would stick around and raise some Cain.

Once again, I’m in shock as GHI kicks in the debunking gear! They debunk the idea of people capturing Annie sitting on her bed as people capturing their own flash. They also debunk the idea of people capturing Annie in the mirror. Kathy (the client) is skeptical so Robb does a live demo. He even goes so far as to show the image in the "evidence" photo was of a vase on the shelf (Bad camera angles will get you every time!). Finally they uncover the rattling bottles as a giant rat roaming around. I haven’t seen them do this much debunking the entire season! Robb was on fire! As an aside, I hope the Health Department wasn’t watching that bit with the rat.

It almost comes across that when Robb and team can’t be persuaded by bangs, pops and those damnable EMF meters they can really get to the root of the paranormal. They dismiss Rose Hall as being haunted, but Kathy doesn’t agree. She still clings to the idea the place is haunted.

So is this the last episode for the season? Why was it so short? Last season GHI belted out 23 episodes. For this season they bailed out at lucky number 13. They had such a huge break I figured a whole lot more episodes were coming. Do they not want to compete with Ghost Hunters and the new season or is there something else going on here? Are we going to see a lineup change on Ghost Hunters?

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Paranormal Cops- Messages from Beyond – S01E06

A fellow Police officer calls Ron and team in to help him uncover the mysteries surrounding his night job as a security officer at a banquet hall.

The Park Place banquet hall has been experiencing shadow figures, hearing footsteps and getting the sense that someone is there. Most of the activity seems to be taking place in the ladies bathroom, however, since the banquet hall is built on the site of three former homes there wasn’t always a ladies restroom there.

The evidence captured is extremely slight. Like previous episodes pretty much everything is coming from Moriah. She has a police artist sketch the spirits she feels are still in the building. Even though Moriah feels a presence they don’t capture evidence to support that. They don’t get any shadow figures, or capture footsteps or any unusual behavior in the restroom which is supposed to be hotspot of activity. As the client states, at least four people have seen a figure in there. There are also no EVP fluctuations, no bangs or strange sounds.

The big piece of evidence is a massive temperature drop they experience as they’re trying to talk with Frank (the police officer) to see if there is a message they can deliver for him. The part that bothers me here is that they don’t focus on the temperature gauge at all. They show one shot of it, but it’s from way off to the side. Why couldn’t they focus on it and show us all what’s going on? It almost seems like they’re hiding the thermometer from us.

In the final analysis they claim to get two EVPs. One is a voice saying "Thank You" and another is "Take the gun back". As always, they’re garbled and could be interpreted dozens of different ways. I don’t agree with those findings but I guess it’s all subjective.

But when it comes down to the final disposition I’m actually quite shocked with how they rate this location. They give it a Code 4 or basically they feel 100% sure there is a haunting going on. I understand this episode involves a police officer, but I seriously think they let their sentimentality get in the way of their analysis. The only truly tangible thing they get is a cold spot, and once again, due to the camera angles and not letting us see exactly what’s going on and what the reading is being taken from even that could be suspect.

I don’t think CPD stuck with their mantra of basing their decision off hard evidence.

And that’s the end of the season…

As a side note, I hope Paranormal Cops is coming back for another season. They have some interesting techniques. I don’t feel they captured anything that is going to make someone a believer, but I do like their more level headed approach to things. Based on my previous post I think the future of Paranormal Cops is still up in the air.

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