Reality Bites: Ghost Adventures

Categories: Reality Bites

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The "Scooby Doo" font really lends an air of authenticity.
There are a million reality shows on the naked television. We're going to watch all of them, one at a time.

The Travel Channel's Ghost Adventures, which I can only assume draws a somewhat smaller audience than No Reservations, begins with what is supposed to be convincing first-hand testimony from host/executive producer "Zak" Bagans.

My name is Zak Bagans. I never believed in ghosts until I came face to face with one.

Zak looks like the lead singer for Papa Roach, which is reason enough to hate him. And has apparently overcompensated for his hobbit-y last name by pumping iron and striking aggressive poses. It seems to be a hit with the ladies (more on that later), but how effective it is at riling up spooks remains to be seen.

The episode I watched was a season 4 entry about the Rolling Hills Sanitarium in Bethany, New York. Formerly known as the Genesee County Farm, a "home for homeless (how does that work?), drunkards, and the criminally insane." Sort of like Guadalupe Street in Austin during the 1980s.

This was apparently a crossover of sorts, as the "special guest investigator" was Dave Schrader, who hosts something called Paranormal State. This glut of ghost-oriented marketing is something we can blame on the Paranormal Activity movies. And all those people trying to contact Lady Di's spirit.

Formatwise, Bagans and his fellow investigators Nick Groff and Aaron Goodwin (Bagans is the non-bearded one) do a "walkthrough" of the allegedly haunted property, usually shown around by local experts or eyewitnesses (I'm not sure how it works for the entire show, but last night, at least, the eyewitnesses were almost entirely women). Afterwards, the crew goes on "lockdown," which entails three grown men performing that high school dare of staying on the haunted property overnight, complete with various ghost-detecting gadgetry, of course.

Considered the worst "work farm" in the state during the Civil War, the Genesee Farm became an infirmary, then an asylum. 1700 people are (allegedly) buried in unmarked graves on the site, which is also close to local ley lines (and if, like me, you know what those are, my sympathies). This is all according to Sharon, the far too enthusiastic owner of the property. Though whether she's excited about the possibility of paranormal encounters or basking in Zak's beefy presence is difficult to say.

Among the spirits haunting Rolling Hills are "Raymond," a child molester who still touches women visitors inappropriately, and "Roy," afflicted with giantism, who was left there by his banker father when 12 years old. Perhaps the creepiest part of the whole place is the "Christmas Room," a sadly decorated chamber where people read stories to the children's ghosts, if in fact they *are* children's ghosts and not malevolent spirits looking to lure humans to their doom. Or something.

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Abandon ratings, all ye who enter.
Of particular interest to Bagans and company is Emmy, an abusive nurse who also dabbled in the Black Arts. Unsubstantiated (and you'll hear that word a lot) reports say she actually conducted ceremonies with her coven in the hospital itself.

Having gotten the niceties out of the way, this show -- like all others of its ilk -- is Grade A bullshit. We must have seen two dozen clips of "digitally enhanced audio" which supposedly captures spiritual communication (the dead apparently like to mumble). It's all suspiciously like those backward masking messages Judas Priest allegedly put on their albums; listen to it enough times -- with helpful subtitles -- and you'll hear things like "Kill Zak" too.

The lockdown itself is basically a bunch of "extreme" night vision footage with more enhanced audio (Raymond tells Zak and company to "get out," which is something we've never heard before). Oh, and Zak's specialized temperature/electromagnetic measuring device (think the PKE meter from Ghostbusters) reads "666" for good measure. Considering we're never told how this particular device works, this is hardly illuminating.

Paranormal investigator Schrader shows up with "specialized" equipment, which conveniently fails to record anything of significance, even on the radio frequencies spirits allegedly speak through. Maybe they're all busy bitching about the Texans on 1560.

My favorite part is probably when Bagans rushed to the camera to show us his goosebumps, because surely there could be no...natural cause for those (say that in your best Bill Murray voice). In fact, speaking of Ghostbusters, I think the best way to watch this show is to actually imagine Peter Venkman is narrating the whole time.

I honestly don't have a problem with Ghost Adventures, or the eleventy billion other shows like it. Bagans may be a bullshit artist, but what he's doing is a mostly harmless re-creation of creeping through abandoned houses when we were kids. I don't believe in ghosts or poltergeists or Eskimos, but I'd like to. Supernatural evil would be a lot more refreshing than the kind practiced by politicians and the clergy on an everyday basis.

And it's certainly less offensive than frauds like John Edwards, who "enhance" their flim-flammery by duping the bereaved into thinking they can communicate with their lost loved ones. Give me a bulked-up goofball with Ed Hardy jeans and an Iron Cross belt buckle playing Blair Witch Project over that any day.


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38 comments
cmarie59
cmarie59

Omg..~~ I say if you don't believe and you are not interested,  and don't open your mind... then you have no business cutting the show and the people in it down..There are too many experiences of people having seen or dealt with spirits..Keep it up Ghost Hunters.. We enjoy you and believe in you.. Keep up the good work!

Shannon Moore
Shannon Moore

WOW, since my first comment attempt was deleted...I'll try again, REAL CLASSY of you Houston Press!    I'll just keep reposting it every time you delete it too...I have it saved, hahahaha!

Thank you, Mrs. Coyle...I am so glad you spoke up!    It sure is easy for someone to say that this is all fake and planned "propaganda," but unless you have experienced it yourself, then SHUT UP!   This author is in no way an expert in this type of phenomenon because he hasn't experienced it his self.  It really offends me when people run their mouth about subjects they have no education or experience in.   I guess that ignorance really is bliss?  I have experienced hauntings through out my childhood and it's very offensive for someone to tell me that it was just my imagination or there was some reasonable explanation for it.   I KNOW what I saw, night after night after night!       I am glad that you shared your new home with GAC; that was a GREAT show by the way!   I am also a big fan of GAC and I have always gotten the impression that they truly are authentic.  I am sure, like any show, that there is a lot of editing involved, but the goal of any TV show is to get the highest ratings possible.    Keep up the good fight Ms. Coyle and never let these "writers" tell you what you've experienced in because you have your own experiences, facts and sources that actually speak the truth!    I thought writers were supposed to supply objective material...it's obvious that this writer only has his close minded opinions as his source.

Shannon Moore
Shannon Moore

Thank you, Mrs. Coyle...I am so glad you spoke up!    It sure is easy for someone to say that this is all fake and planned "propaganda," but unless you have experienced it yourself, then SHUT UP!   This author is in no way an expert in this type of phenomenon because he hasn't experienced it his self.  It really offends me when people run their mouth about subjects they have no education or experience in.   I guess that ignorance really is bliss?  I have experienced hauntings through out my childhood and it's very offensive for someone to tell me that it was just my imagination or there was some reasonable explanation for it.   I KNOW what I saw, night after night after night!       I am glad that you shared your new home with GAC; that was a GREAT show by the way!   I am also a big fan of GAC and I have always gotten the impression that they truly are authentic.  I am sure, like any show, that there is a lot of editing involved, but the goal of any TV show is to get the highest ratings possible.    Keep up the good fight Ms. Coyle and never let these "writers" tell you what you've experienced in because you have your own experiences, facts and sources that actually speak the truth!    I thought writers were supposed to supply objective material...it's obvious that this writer only has his close minded opinions as his source.

hellorglory
hellorglory

well, someone's jealous. Ghost Adventures is a great show, and I know some people that have met the crew. They told me the guys are genuine, kind, down-to-earth, and very enthusiastic and involved in what they do. 

Megan
Megan

I actually regularly watch this show (and many others about the paranormal, Ghost Hunters is my fave) and I just wanted to say that I giggled a lot through the whole article. The beefy comment about Zac was hilarious. It was all pretty much spot on, actually. I mean, they loop these weird noises over and over and soon, sure, yeah, it ends up sounding like SOMETHING, but I don't know. I prefer Ghost Hunters. I feel like they throw out a lot more of their evidence and at least TRY to come up with non-paranormal answers. You make EVERYTHING paranormal it kind of...cheapens it. 

Xhimary
Xhimary

They should fire you for writing such bullshit. Everything I wanted to say has already been said.

KAC
KAC

I see the show as entertainment. I've been hooked on it for about a year. What I like about it is that you actually get to "see" or "hear" what they are experiencing and they leave it up to you to make your own conclusions. I am a skeptic and this show hasn't changed that. I would in now way put it on the same level as Crossing Over. I find no overt fraud in it.

Jonah
Jonah

Lets see here... First off, you based the entire show off one one episode. And also Dave Schrader has nothing to do with Paranormal State, he is the main host of Darkness Radio. You obviously didn't watch the show with an opened mind, let alone even pay attention. You simply criticized the show at every point you could for no apparent reason. The thing that is so typical with skeptics like you is that even if somebody captured a full bodied ghost or appirition, you still wouldn't believe. And let me tell you about EVP's. Ghosts talk in higher and lower different frequencies then human ears can hear. Digital recorders pick up sounds in these frequencies, which explains why EVP's come out distorted or sound as if they are mumbling, while in reality they could actually be screaming. I challenge any skeptic to stay ONE night in a place like Rolling Hills Asylum, and not come out pissing yourself, or just get slapped in the face with reality; ghosts exist, whether you are too scared to realize it or not. And GAC is an honest organization, and Zak and the crew are amazing at what they do. I could go on and on about how flawed this article is. Its sad, really.

KD Nelson
KD Nelson

May I just say that your argument is invalid from the beginning. Because you are a skeptic, of course you think it's bullshit. It's a completely different story if you were a believer but didn't like the show. I was like you in the beginning. There was NO WAY I was going to take the show seriously with Zak being the lead investigator, but then I really watched it and I fell in love with not only the show, but the science. And also, before you write an article the way you did, first research what you're saying. As someone had stated, Paranormal Activity didn't come out until years after the ghost shows started. I hate opinion articles so much. I always will.

Sonny
Sonny

Maybe if you watched more than one episode of the show and actually looked at it in a way that wasn't cynical and superficial you would see that the guys of the Ghost Adventures Crew aren't out to try and "bullshit" people. They genuinely believe in what they do and if that makes them bad people then so be it. If you don't like the show, don't watch it. And if you don't watch the show on a regular basis, don't review it. Of course, real fans of the show are going to take one look at this article and laugh. 

Also, judging Zak because he looks like a punk rock band reject? What, are we still in high school? 

Lauryn W.
Lauryn W.

Though you make some great ad hominem attacks Pete, I regret to inform you that not only is Ghost Adventures Travel Channel's highest rated show, but their journey started way before Paranormal Activity. If nothing else, enjoy YOUR 15 minutes of fame behind the computer screen. Along with all these paranormal shows comes people like you who watch one episode and suddenly think that they are a paranormal expert and expert critic. As far as the guys go, they'll keep doing their job, proving you low lifes wrong, and enjoying it the whole way. The Ghost Adventures Crew does not let petty skeptic haters like you get them down. In fact, they welcome skeptics to go on a lockdown with them. I suggest you walk a mile in the darkness before you judge them.

Kslamartina
Kslamartina

Thought you should know the host of Paranormal State is Ryan Buell. You want to make a shit article, at least get your information correct.

Laura.
Laura.

Well, for one thing, Ghost Adventures came BEFORE Paranormal Activity, so how could it stem from said movie? They have had countless outside people come into a lockdown to participate and let them investigate. So they are proof also. I don't have to attention span to read this babble all the way through, but I'm sure it's stupider than you tend to think Ghost Adventures is.

Pinknation143
Pinknation143

Lol it's funny how this "MAN" cowering behind a computer screen is commenting about the show. I bet any money if this so called "man" was offered to stay in a haunted place over night. He wouldn't. Zak is very brave for what he does. oh also,manly man over here states "This glut of ghost-oriented marketing is something we can blame on the Paranormal Activity movies"  Ghost Adventures came BEFORE Paranormal Activity, this dickweed doesn't know what he's talking about.

Dave
Dave

If you are going to review a show at least show that you paid attention...lol, I am Dave Schrader host of the paranormal talk show Darkness Radio at www.DarknessRadio.com not host of Paranormal State, that was Ryan Buell, I did appear on a tv series Paranormal Challenge.  To convey your message effectively you should pay attention to details and actually watch the show you review.

Jbasstrak
Jbasstrak

Sounds like people are Scared of ghosts . Funny how they lash out at Gac's hard work. Keep it up guys ( were watching)

John Marc Carr
John Marc Carr

Your review as a skeptic is quite typical. In fact your whole attitude about the subject matter is a typical critic. Jealousy, and know it all about matter you have no clue about. Very typical. Hope they aren't paying you for this long drawn critique fill with hot air. That mumbling, is called a EVP, which I'm a specialist in. Maybe if you get the wax out of your ear and your pen out of your A## you would pay attention. But that's not really you....is it? My best advise is to 1) Stop being a pompous A-hole2) Pay attention to the subject matter you are watching3) If all else fails........ Fire yourself and quit. You are very good at your job.

Stacey
Stacey

@ba5ef171ef0a1395476366e48b848345:disqus .........my roomate's mother makes $70/hour on the computer. She has been fired from work for 5 months but last month her pay was $7232 just working on the computer for a few hours. Read more on this site http://nutshellurl.com/22i5

Gideon Alden
Gideon Alden

I have nicknamed this show "Three guys make sh*t up adventures." I watch it when I need a good laugh and eye work out. Yeah, this show is complete BS. Every time they go somewhere, they find something. They claim to see "orbs" where as anyone with any basic photography/videography knowledge knows how "orbs" work. Every time they say something about them, I roll my eyes. I watch this show just to laugh at them hype themselves up and freak out about nothing. I don't believe anything I see on tv dealing with the paranormal. It doesn't matter if it's ghost shows or that lady from Jersey who says she can talk to spirits.

DGCmagazine
DGCmagazine

Well aren't you funny! Hardy Har Haar. If I didn't different know better I'd think David Spade has a day job in Houston. You're obviously not a young person because this show is very popular with the young crowd. Like it or not, you have to give a lot of praise to the three ghost adventurers, starting with just a few cameras and a cross country trip, they now have quite an empire and millions of followers (myself included). I'd say they are a massive success. They visit the most haunted locations in America, there is no disputing where they go. I personally would not want to get locked in for the night in Rolling Hills, that episode is very creepy and super entertaining. Furthermore I LOVE how they bring people onto the show in brief interviews about the properties and the area's past. You know if there were 10 shows on TV about finding the next pop dancer or singer(wait there are) I don't suppose you criticize them. As usual, the "ghost" shows get hammered. Hey, guess what, it's all TV and it's all entertaining for those who watch it. Paranormal stuff is popular today because people love the shows and watch them. What....you don't like the show...so change the channel and go back to that pop dance off. I don't like those shows, but I don't write rude things about them.

Robert
Robert

I am a non believer but i had came into a supposedly haunted house and being in only 2 others with me and not having any other people near where we captured several electronic voice phenemon (EVP) and a couple unexplain feeling of being in a spider web and not having any spider webs near us. but all three of us feeling it at different points near the same area. There was no expressing of what we felt til we was on our way home. Its easy to call stuff bull shit if you don't go out and hit a couple of these places up and spend the same amount of time as what others are so until you go out and do this calling stuff bull shit is just you chickening out. I have gone out and done some of this and still say i am a non-believer but have had experiences. And as far as GAC whether you believe that they are real or not thats on you but before you start making these comments on them see about going out with them and see how they do there investigations. Heck i say that about any paranormal groups weather GAC/Pananormal state/ GH or GHI/ or the groups that isn't on tv

Jordan32463
Jordan32463

You believe what you want to believe, and I'll believe what I choose to believe.  I find the show very entertaining.  We were watching Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures long before Paranormal Activity came out. They've both been around since 2004.  Your opinions mean jack shit nothing to me just as I'm sure mine do to you.  Maybe you should write about what you know? or maybe spend a week doing what Zak and his crew do, and then write about it?  I might find that I value your opinion a little more.

Helen Gale
Helen Gale

I understand people being sceptics, until you have experienced these yourself, well I am not on TV, I am no one special, but I have experienced paranormal, I have seen ghosts, smelled odors that have come and gone, I have been touched by something I did not see, and heard my name called out. so I believe. Ghost Adventures crew investigate highly haunted places, were paranormal events have been reported, I would like to see you do a lock down in one of these places with them, maybe then you will experience the paranormal, do not get me wrong it is in my books  always good to be sceptical and try to see if there is another reason for these occurrences, But do not knock Ghost Adventures until you go do this yourself.  Maybe Zak will let you go on a lock down.

Bree
Bree

..yet another lametarded ass trying to get his 15 mins of fame at another's "expense". pathetic. but do what you must, you matter about as much now as you did prior to posting. 

RollingHillsAsylum
RollingHillsAsylum

For those of you who'd like more information on Rolling Hills Asylum, it is rich history and about the paranormal activity, please visit http://www.RollingHillsAsylum....  If you would like to help preserve this beautiful property and would like to see some of the projects we are working on to help sustain the facility, please go to http://igg.me/p/56948?a=356555.  Thank you!  Sharon Coyle, Owner, Rolling Hills Asylum

RollingHillsAsylum
RollingHillsAsylum

Well, well, well are you just the expert in everything.  I am Sharon Coyle, the owner of Rolling Hills Asylum.  I am offended on many levels by your article. First, I came across so enthusiastic as I had just took over ownership of the property and had only been living here for two weeks, of course I'd be enthusiastic about my new home!

Regarding the stories told about Raymond and Nurse Emma (she prefers Emma not Emmy) those stories were perpetuated by people no longer affiliated (for a multitude of reasons) with Rolling Hills Asylum.  When this show was filmed, I was interviewed privately as were each of the other individuals.  And though I gave specific direction not to relate anything that was alleged or unverifiable, such in the cases of Raymond and Emma, certain people decided to do so anyway.  Since we do not know Raymond's last name it is impossible to be able to verify the allegations made. 

Pertaining to the over 1700 documented deaths -those are documented and verified via the local Historian. I do my best as the owner and as I see it, care taker of the memories of those passed, to provide accurate and verifiable information and details.  That being said, GAC did an amazing job with the information they were provided, though I now know enough not to allow anyone to be interviewed about RHA for any media without my being present. Live and learn.

GAC is very authentic in their investigations.  I personally locked them in the building and there was no way out unless I unlocked the doors from the outside.  Rolling Hills Asylum is one of the most haunted locations in the United States.  We regularly experience disembodied footsteps, voices, and whistles, doors slamming, shadow people and Class A EVPs (clear as you or I speaking). 

Its one thing you writing a review of a television show you watched, but another thing when you bash a location you have clearly never visited.  So that being said, I invite you to be locked in the building ALL ALONE in the PITCH DARK and lets see how long you last, you supercilious man.

Arabrabra
Arabrabra

Great review! I also think most of the show is bull shit, but for some reason every once in a while ill go...hmmm... but then I remember the host and say nope, def bull shit. But its kinda entertaining. If you REALLY want a laugh, read his book, Dark World! He explains when he came "face to face" with a female ghost. Its called night paralysis Zak, look it up. Its not paranormal.

Lauryn W.
Lauryn W.

Though you make some great ad hominem attacks Pete, I regret to inform you that not only is Ghost Adventures Travel Channel's highest rated show, but their journey started way before Paranormal Activity. If nothing else, enjoy YOUR 15 minutes of fame behind the computer screen. Along with all these paranormal shows comes people like you who watch one episode and suddenly think that they are a paranormal expert and expert critic. As far as the guys go, they'll keep doing their job, proving you low lifes wrong, and enjoying it the whole way. The Ghost Adventures Crew does not let petty skeptic haters like you get them down. In fact, they welcome skeptics to go on a lockdown with them. I suggest you walk a mile in the darkness before you judge them.

Pete Vonder Haar
Pete Vonder Haar

Dave, they never actually stated in the show the program you were affiliated with, and I made the mistake of checking the Wikipedia entry for the episode (which lists you as the host of Paranormal State) instead of doing a Google search. My apologies.

Pete Vonder Haar
Pete Vonder Haar

Someone obviously didn't read last season's American Idol recaps.

JB
JB

This comment wins the internet.  And kudos to David Spade for being the very symbol of comedy to our younger generations.  I had no idea.  A "massive success," forsooth. 

John Marc Carr
John Marc Carr

Are you 12?  Lametarded...wtf. Bree, stop being a troll and go play with your Barbies. I believe your parents didn't know how to spell... Brie (old smelly cheese that one could only tolerate by putting it in a oven till it's goo).

RollingHillsAsylum
RollingHillsAsylum

To Bree (who is too embarrassed to print her last name).

I could give a crap about fame - I'm trying to save an historic property.

I've worked in the film business on and off since the 80s (behind the camera) and honestly don't enjoy being in front of the camera.

My only concern and priority is saving & preserving Rolling Hills Asylum aka The Genesee County Poor Farm. 

Maybe you should check out the website at http://www.RollingHillsAsylum.... to see what the property is all about.

Sharon Coyle

Megan
Megan

Weird. I didn't see anything bashing the asylum just the show. Also, a note from someone who regularly watches those types of shows (and still found this article really funny...especially the descriptions of the guys), it's extremely unprofessional of you to come on here and start replying to like every comment you can in the manner that you are. People have their own beliefs. Coming in raging mad and showing it in your replies just makes you look...well, stupid. By the way, I'm not "afraid" to post my last name, I just don't want creepy internet stalkers all up in my shizz. Like you might be. 

Pete Vonder Haar
Pete Vonder Haar

"Emmy/Emmie" is how the nurse was referred to in the show, both by Zak and Suzie Yencer.Your exact quote regarding the bodies was, "About 1700 people, *they say*, are buried  here."I'm sorry you feel you were misrepresented, but that's what aired on the Travel Channel.

As for your PITCH DARK challenge, I'll take you up on that the next time I'm in upstate New York.

Pete Vonder Haar
Pete Vonder Haar

"Ghost Adventures" is not the Travel Channel's highest rated show (that would be "Man V. Food," followed by "No Reservations").

"Paranormal Activity" was on the film festival circuit in 2007 (though it's true, it's wide release wasn't until 2009). "Ghost Adventures" premiered in 2008. And over half a dozen "paranormal"-themed TV shows have debuted since 2009.

Dave Schrader
Dave Schrader

Sharon

Take a minute and read what Bree wrote...she is referring to the author of this post, not you. Think before you react.

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