Tag Archives: drama

True Haunting: Reads Like Fiction… But it’s Not!

Today I want to tell you about a great book I just finished! True Haunting by Edwin F. Becker is the true story of the incredible experiences that Edwin and his young family experienced in Chicago in 1970. In a time before there were thousands of paranormal groups and Ghost Hunters on TV, this family had to make quite a few brave decisions to survive. It ended up being the first haunting and exorcism to be reported on and covered on the news. I shared the old video footage in a previous post, but I’ll include it at the end of this one as well. I’ve read that the house had been empty for quite some time, recently. But I also found a photo online of a clearly remodeled home… and it looked fairly current. One can only imagine what, if anything, still goes on there.

How often have you or anyone you know asked any one of these questions?

  • Can a ghost move an object? 
  • Do they hear us?
  • Can they hurt us?
  • Could they be demonic?
  • Should we be giving them attention?
  • Is it okay to show them off?
  • Can we get rid of them?
  • Should we move?

Most of these questions are still being asked today… and the “paranormal field”, for lack of a better term, has come a long way since 1970. Or has it? For sure, finding access to information, the ability to find and communicate with people having similar experiences, and finding help is a lot easier to accomplish today, but there are still individuals and families out there going through similar experiences. I know, because I get contacted often. They’ll sometimes ask for advice, they’ll often seem embarrassed, but most of the time they just need someone to listen… to tell them they’re not crazy. And that’s a good thing, because do I always know what to say? Of course not! But I sure try… and sometimes it’s just about getting them hooked up with the right resource.

Most of the paranormal books that I read tend to be more technical in nature. I try to learn as much as I can. This book reads like fiction… but it’s not! I clearly got into this book, because I read it in considerably less time than most of my recent reads. I have come to the realization that I can learn a lot from books like this, and there are a lot of them out there. It very much reminded me of Graves End: A True Ghost Story by Elaine Mercado. You’ll find it on my recommended reading list.

So check this book out! I heard in an interview that Edwin documented all of these experiences a decade ago and meant for it to be just for the family to have. Apparently there was never a goal of getting it published, until a loved one convinced him just recently. It was published in 2011. Also, the family’s story was featured on the SyFy show, Paranormal Witness. According to Ed, the producers predictably embellished some of their story, but for the most part did an “amazing job”. You can find the complete Paranormal Witness episode, named “The Tenants”, HERE

And as promised, here is the 1970 NBC footage.

 

Related: 

True Haunting (the author’s interview on Jim Harold’s Paranormal Podcast)

I Still Watch Ghost Hunters… So What? (BigSéance.com)


The Innocents…

There has been a lot of experimenting and evidence analysis lately… maybe too much. I needed a break. And so on a dreary, blustery fall day like today (which is my favorite, by the way)… a day that required me to put on the season’s first hoodie… what better time is there to grab a blanket, light a candle, and watch an old black and white psychological horror movie? You may remember that this was the first movie on my list of Movies I Plan On Checking Out This Fall.

I’m not sure this 1961 British film perfectly fits into that psychological horror category. It also lacks the blood and gore of what I consider a “horror” film. I decided not to include the official trailer for the movie in this post, though it is certainly available on YouTube, because its style just doesn’t seem to match the classy movie that I just watched.

 

 

The movie begins with a black screen and a creepy melody, “O Willow Waly”, which is sung in a cappella by a young child. Perfect, right?! I just knew I was going to love it. Much of the film is shot in beautiful outdoor garden-like settings, and the rest of the movie takes place in a beautiful large country estate (filmed on location at the Sheffield Park House in East Sussex, England). It really is beautiful to see on screen. And then, of course later, that same beauty creates the good old-fashioned spookiness that I love in a horror movie. No special effects needed.

 

 

From Wikipedia, here’s a bit about the story…

Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr) applies for a job as a governess. It is to be her first position, but the wealthy bachelor interviewing her (Michael Redgrave) is unconcerned with her lack of experience. He values his freedom to travel and socialise and unabashedly confesses that he has “no room, mentally or emotionally” for his niece and nephew, who were orphaned and left in his care as infants, and whom he keeps at Bly, his country estate. The previous governess, Miss Jessel, died suddenly less than a year ago. All he cares about is that Miss Giddens accept full responsibility for the children, never troubling him with whatever problems may arise.

 

Miss Giddens eventually discovers that the two children are being possessed by the spirits of the previous governess and the uncle’s former valet.

Because the two children are supposedly possessed by spirits who were in love, this created some weirdness for me. In the movie there is talk of how these two spirits (while alive) would engage in sexual activity in clear view of the children. So now when the children act strangely or say in appropriate things, Miss Giddens begins to wonder just what the children know or what they saw before she took over as governess. At times, the young boy seems to be taken over by the spirit of the valet, and there is even an uncomfortable moment where he kisses his governess passionately. Of course, this weirdness is mild since the movie is over fifty years old… but I just thought I’d give you a heads up.

 

 

Below are two clips. The first clip is a scene that I think captures the style of most of the movie. I think it is beautifully shot. It’s also the video I watched that made me realize I needed to see the film. I quickly ordered it on DVD. The second clip is possibly the creepiest scene from the film.

Enjoy!

 

Unfortunately, the first video no longer exists on YouTube. 

 

 

 

 


I Still Watch Ghost Hunters… So what?

For several years now there has been a bit of tension and controversy regarding paranormal investigation and the hit SyFy reality show, Ghost Hunters. The production team and crew follow The Atlantic Paranormal Society (T.A.P.S.), founded by Jason Hawes in 1990, on their paranormal journeys. The series kicked off its first season in 2004, but I probably didn’t start watching consistently until the second or third season. I’ve since caught up on all of the episodes I’ve missed, and I’m still a fan that watches religiously. In 2008 SyFy even produced a spin-off series, Ghost Hunters International. Many similar shows on various networks have come and gone, but both of these shows are still going strong. At this point it would be pretty hard to believe that anyone reading this blog wouldn’t at least know something about T.A.P.S. or Ghost Hunters.

So where does the controversy come in?

I’m convinced that most of the negativity toward T.A.P.S. among many in the paranormal is due to a kind of jealousy. Paranormal investigation and “ghost hunting” (a term I actually despise) existed years before the hit show, but it has helped to create what I’ve been calling “The Great Paranormal Craze” of the 2000s. This craze seems to be slowing down just a bit (or at least shifting more to things like bigfoot and aliens), but is still very much with us. At one time, a paranormal investigation team may have been hard to find, but now there are thousands of organized paranormal investigation or “ghost hunting” (probably a name more appropriate for most of them) groups out there. Many, or most of these groups were inspired to do what they do because of what they were now seeing on TV. For better or worse, these newbie groups that I’ll call the “Ghost Hunters Generation”, have been demanding a place to sit at the paranormal table, taking away much of the spotlight and attention from all of the veterans.

I have to be honest here. I’m a member of the Ghost Hunters generation of paranormal investigation. The show inspired me and my family to form our own group, Missouri Spirit Seekers (MOSS). While it would have been nice to be able to say that I got my start before the craze, it would simply be a lie. I know that many great investigators out there are ashamed to own up to it, or afraid to admit to how it all influenced them, but chances are they’ll be home on Wednesday nights watching the latest episode. Is there really that much wrong with it? 

In a way, I really can understand some of the jealousy from veteran groups. After all, what paranormal investigator doing all of this hard work for FREE wouldn’t be jealous of the people who get to be in the spotlight, quit their day job, and make a living doing it?? Although maybe “concern” would also be an appropriate word to use here. We all have to start somewhere, but clearly there are groups out there that have earned a reputation for being nothing more than thrill seekers and rednecks that jump in a truck with a few meters they bought online, possibly bundled together in a flashy package named a “Ghost Hunting Kit”… groups that don’t take the time to read current research, read books by the pioneers of the field and current knowledgeable authors… groups that go out and have their fun, trash the site, and then you never hear from them again. Yeah… Ghost Hunters has definitely had its side effects.  Don’t misunderstand me. There’s room for everyone. I was one of those newbies. We just need to do a better job of educating and training each other, and making sure we work on our image and how we present ourselves. Maybe we shouldn’t show up in overalls and hop out of the window of our Dukes of Hazard car. 

But possibly the biggest piece of the controversy involve the claims floating around the internet that T.A.P.S. has faked evidence and overly staged experiences. In a very popular post from earlier this year, one blogger and investigator claims that they’ve even left a script lying around after leaving a location… and it’s all for the cameras (the SyFy kind). You don’t have to search long to find videos and blogs from people going out of their way to expose T.A.P.S. as frauds. Do I believe it all? Absolutely not. Like I said… jealousy. But… no one should ever expect to find evidence of the paranormal at every single investigation, but when you have a TV show and ratings, I can certainly understand where there would be the pressure and the temptation to keep things exciting. I often wonder though… who runs the show in these investigations? The production crew? Or are they just along for the ride and Jason runs the whole show? 

Why I continue to watch… 

After getting started in the field it didn’t take long for me to realize that the experience of it all isn’t exactly as you see on TV. Sure, at first many of us modeled our groups after what we saw. We have “founders”, “tech. managers”, “specialists”, “command central”, etc. We hear “disembodied voices”, investigate “fear cages”, “debunk” what we can, and classify some experiences as “residual”, for example. Some of us even have “reveals”. And boy do we all have our official sounding acronyms. Ghost Hunters may have been our first textbook on the subject, but we’ve grown a lot since then with real experiences and research. Well, at least I have.

The first couple of seasons were definitely a little more authentic, and in my opinion, more fun to watch. You’d see more of the behind the scenes activity, more of the investigating, not just the dramatic evidence and their reactions (“What the frig?!”). I don’t have proof that T.A.P.S. has or hasn’t faked or staged evidence for the cameras, but I want to believe it’s not true. I want to believe that when the crew or the cameras are absent, they take their work seriously. I want to believe that their analysis is more than just a couple of hours of sitting at a table with some headphones. I want to believe that they still help the desperate family in need on occasion. I get excited to come home from a long day and watch the personalities that I’ve become so familiar with. And yeah, I LOVE the good evidence and the great EVP! But when I watch now I’m not immediately sold on everything I see. I’ve picked up a few techniques and have learned to avoid some of the embarrassing ones. I take notes. 

Bottom line is… why do I watch Ghost Hunters? BECAUSE I LIKE IT… and it’s better than another cop show… 

This week’s all new episode for Season 8

For a lot of serious fans, this episode stood out as the first investigation without the longtime co-founder of the group, Grant Wilson. Before I watched I was curious to see if they would shake the usual pairs up and if any of their typical roles would change. Spoiler alert!! In general, it was a very exciting episode! They investigated the Old City Jail in Charleston, South Carolina. The jail is supposedly haunted by the spirit of the facility’s first female serial killer. Never before has an episode contained so much alleged physical contact from a spirit. A behind the scenes SyFy crew member continued to be scratched all over her body. Do I 100% believe it all? I’m not sure… but I couldn’t help thinking that it was a bit irresponsible to continue with the crew member as they seemed to encourage it to keep happening. Jason was even the victim of some scratches. Amy Bruni (who is pregnant) eventually decided to sit the rest of the investigation out due to feeling uncomfortable with the activity. And of course, the claims at this location were choking, scratching, rope burns, and bite marks, mostly reported by women. T.A.P.S. saw shadows, heard door slams, footsteps, and a disembodied voice. They captured a not very impressive EVP, but the big event and topic for the evening was all of the endless dramatic scratching. For a while I thought I was watching Ghost Adventures. I kept waiting for the demonologist to show up. 🙂

Here are some of the new and different things I noticed with this week’s episode. 

  • New graphics with lots of split screens (reminded me of Carrie).
  • New music and audio effects with a slightly different style.
  • Twitter handles displayed on screen during the interview sections.
  • A more relaxed “analysis” portion. They ditched the table and much of the equipment in favor of some more comfortable furniture. 
  • It appears Dave Tango may have moved into the tech. manager position. Jason and Steve Galves started the evening out paired together, hinting at Steve possibly taking the “Grant” role. 
  • Britt Griffith and Dave Tango were paired together. Is Britt now going to appear regularly? 
  • Amy Bruni and Adam Berry (who is apparently STILL “in training”) seem to be paired up again. 
  • A new shadow detector gadget.

 

DVR is already set for next week!

 

Peace!

 


House On Haunted Hill (1959)…


This evening I knocked another movie off of my list of
Movies I Plan On Checking Out This Fall. The last movie I watched from this list was The Changeling, which I absolutely loved and I can’t believe it took me so long to see it. I had so much to say about it. I was surprised to find so many spirit communication topics that fit right into this blog, and it just seemed to be a really good movie that I will watch again for sure. Tonight I watched the black and white original version of House On Haunted Hill (1959) starring Vincent Price. Before tonight I was only familiar with the 1999 remake that I saw in college.

I normally prefer classic old school spookiness to computer generated imagery and effects. However, the 1959 version is so very bland, a bit boring, and possibly even silly by today’s standards. Its length is pretty short and it ends abruptly. From what I remember, the remake seems to fix most of these problems, including having a real ending. 

 

 

FromWikipedia: House on Haunted Hill is a 1959 American horror film. It was directed by William Castle, written by Robb White and stars Vincent Price as eccentric millionaire Fredrick Loren. He and his fourth wife, Annabelle, have invited five people to the house for a “haunted house” party. Whoever stays in the house for one night will earn $10,000 each. As the night progresses, all the guests are trapped inside the house with ghosts, murderers and other terrors.”

 

It may be that I’m being a bit hard on this film. After all, horror genre was in its infancy, I suppose. Even so, I’m not inspired to say much, so I’ll leave you with the trailer. 🙂 

 

 

 


The Changeling (1980)… Definitely a must see movie!

Last weekend I watched the first movie from my list of Movies I Plan On Checking Out This Fall. Before researching for my list, I guess I always assumed that The Changeling from 1980 was just an earlier version of the more recent movie with the same name (minus “The”), starring Angelina Jolie. They are completely different movies. I found the whole movie on YouTube. After some time there is a slight sound delay, but it didn’t both me too much. (By the way, I’ve discovered that some of these old classics are out of print and not even available… so if you can’t find them, search on YouTube.)

 

There’s a 36 year difference between the oldest and most recent movie on my list. The Changeling is the most recent, but it still has that classic spooky movie feel that I always prefer. I very rarely enjoy all of the computer generated imagery (CGI) of modern-day films. I get a much bigger scare out of some good sound effects, an emotional score, an incredibly spooky setting, darkness, a ball bouncing down the steps, or a secret dusty room that has been untouched for decades. This movie has all of those things. 

 

As far as spirit communication goes, this movie fits right into the subject of this blog! After seeing the trailer I knew there was a séance in the movie. But I had no idea, and was so surprised to discover that EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) also played a role… and a very important one! Most researchers credit 1959 as the year EVP was discovered… at least EVP as we know it. So, EVP existed during the time The Changeling was filmed, but it certainly was not a common subject of interest, and we didn’t know as much about it then. It seems that featuring EVP in a film at that time was probably risky. Well… I mean I was two years old, so I didn’t know anything… but you know what I mean. It was really cool to see it since I’m so passionate about it.  

 

And… George C. Scott was great in this film. Other than A Christmas Carol and Patton, which I watched in a high school social studies class, I don’t remember seeing him in any other movie. 

 

Watch the Movie Trailer

 

 

If you haven’t seen this movie, you should… then report back here! I’m also still taking suggestions on some good classics to watch for fall. They don’t necessarily have to be spooky I suppose. 

 

 

 


Everyone’s Waiting… Breathe Me…

Today started out as one of those horrible, no good, very bad days (as Alexander says… have you read that book? Good book).  When you get so caught up in the moment… so upset that you think the whole world is out to get you… when you want to start cursing, blaming, road raging, eating Reese’s peanut butter eggs (No? That’s just me?), etc… what do you do to calm yourself down? No really, that is a question I’m asking my spiritual friends and readers. The whole morning I kept saying to myself… “In the grand scheme of things, this experience is so small and doesn’t even matter.” When that didn’t help, I thought “You’ve learned so much about spirituality recently… you’re better than this… don’t get upset… I know you’re driving a car right now, but meditate… breathe… DO SOMETHING!” I failed miserably. I was incredibly upset and I was miserable to be around I’m sure.

To make a long story that I haven’t even told you short, the day gradually got better. When I was finally able to sit down and breathe, the final scene of the series finale of Six Feet Under (titled “Everyone’s Waiting”) popped into my head. To this day it is my all-time favorite show. I miss it. There hasn’t been anything like it since. Some people thought it was morbid… but I was moved and inspired with every episode. I remember crying watching the final six minutes and rewinding it over and over again. So this afternoon I pulled it up on YouTube. The song playing in this final scene is Breathe Me by Sia. My day is so much better now.

Since I’m not a word person (I usually don’t even pay attention to words in music) I decided to check out the lyrics.

Breathe Me

Help, I have done it again
I have been here many times before
Hurt myself again today
And, the worst part is there’s no-one else to blame

Be my friend
Hold me, wrap me up
Unfold me
I am small
I’m needy
Warm me up
And breathe meOuch I have lost myself again
Lost myself and I am nowhere to be found,
Yeah I think that I might break
I’ve lost myself again and I feel unsafe

Be my friend
Hold me, wrap me up
Unfold me
I am small
I’m needy
Warm me up
And breathe me

Be my friend
Hold me, wrap me up
Unfold me
I am small
I’m needy
Warm me up
And breathe me

So what am I talking about? I have no clue. But I know this song and the scene popped into my head and I feel so much better. 

But seriously, what do you guys do when you have days like this?

Peace!


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