November 22, 2008
GA: Northern New Jersey Asylum (Overbrook/Essex County)
The World Poker Tour and Ghost Adventures are both programs on the Travel Channel. On the World Poker Tour, we get to see professional poker players "go all in," meaning they bet all of their chips on a single hand. If they lose the hand, they lose all of their chips and are out of the game. Last night's episode of GA had several similar "all in" moments by Zak, Nick, and Aaron. In them, we are left with only two possibilities: 1) the GA crew captured some amazing evidence of paranormal activity, or 2) the GA crew brazenly perpetrated hoaxes and deception. There was no middle ground last night.
I'll let you decide whether last night's "all in" moments were on the level or not, although I will drop a few hints along the way as to my feelings.
At the beginning of the show, Zak explained they were keeping the exact name and location of the facility secret at the request of the owners and local police. However, they dropped plenty of hints all night—-such as the fact that some patients died there in the winter of 1917 due to a heating system failure—-so I employed the science of "internet forensics" and used a top secret research tool code-named "Google" to locate the following:
I can understand why the local police are eager to keep trespassers away; much of the facility is filled with debris and contaminated by abestos (Zak, Nick, and Aaron wore breating masks in some sections). Before the lockdown, Zak met with local paranormal investigators Judy Franklin and Rob Feinberg and got their rundown on the phenomena reported there, such as voices, orbs, apparitions, sounds, etc. Zak also got a daytime tour of the facility from a former firefighter assigned to the facility. Overbrook is a sprawling, mind-blowing site. It has several above-ground buldings linked together by a network of underground tunnels. The walls have 1950s Civil Defense signs indicate the tunnels were supposed to be used as fallout shelters in case of a nuclear war. And fromt he graffiti on the walls it's clear Overbrook still gets a lot of youthful trespassers. One recurring bit of graffiti was the word "death" with an arrow pointing in different directions. This helped me understand why the spirits at Overbrook are so angey and restless; I'm not even dead and I'd be angry if goofy kids from Tenafly were roaming through my home and writing stuff on the walls.
Overbrook has no electric power, so it gets really dark after sunset. Because of that, Zak, Nick, and Aaron agreed to stick together after "lights out" and investigate as a group. As soon as the lights went out, we were treated to an accidental (??) tribute to the Three Stooges, as Zak poked his fingers into Nick's eyes, just as Moe used to do to Larry. Fortunately, Nick was none the worse for the experience, and soon our intrepid trio set off exploring the building.
Zak produced a device which looked like a cross between a rave glow stick and a surge suppressor power strip. As he waved it around, he said it "attracts ghosts through electromagnetic resonance within the visible light spectrum." I've pondered that statement a lot, have parsed every element of it, and it still sounds like gibberish to me.
But moments later, we heard what the GA crew described as "an unexplained female voice." Well. . . . . . maybe. To me, it sounded far more feline than female. But it was followed seconds later by. . . . . .
All in moment #1: There was a clear, unambiguous female voice saying "hello." There was no doubt about it; it was definitely a woman saying "hello."
As you might expect, this got quite a reaction from the GA crew. Zak said he was shaking profusely, and went into some rant about how emotion produces sweating, and that releases energy, and that energy attracts ghosts, and that. . . . . . well, to be honest, my eyes glazed over at that point.
Zak, Nick, and Aaron continued down the halls to an area where patients were confined to individual rooms, and where the ghost of a compassionate nurse supposedly lingers. To attract this ghost, Zak dons a straitjacket, enters a room, and begins to call for help. I guess this was supposed to be dramatic and/or frightening, but it struck me as silly. But I suppose the joke was on me, because Zak had left a digital recorder outside the room and captured. . . .
All in moment #2: A man's voice whispering "help me." Again, this was clear and there could be no mistake—–it was a man whispering for help.
But all I could think of was the 1973 Clint Eastwood movie "High Plains Drifter."
"High Plains Drifter" starred Clint Eastwood as the avenging ghost of a town marshall murdered (he was bullwhipped to death!) by outlaws as the townspeople stood by and did nothing. A recurring motif of the film is the murdered marshall's last words—-a whispered "help me"—-which is heard just before Clint appears out of the darkness and subjects some ne'er-do-well to a violent but deserved death.
I'm not saying the GA crew used the audio from "High Plains Drifter" last night, nor am I saying they were inspired by the movie to use that line. I am saying, however, the audio heard really, really sounds like that from the Eastwood movie, and if the resemblance between the two is a coincidence. . . . . . well, that's a most remarkable coincidence.
After Zak is released from the straitjacket, the trio make their way into the tunnels. Along the way, they capture video of what appears to be a "shadow hand" reaching for Zak and a small ball of light moving near him. These are caught by just one camera, however, and I suspect these were likely accidentally produced by Nick or Aaron. You are free to disagree, however!
Eventually they reach the morgue, and Zak comes up with an idea: they will slide out one of the body racks, Nick will lay down on it, they will close and lock it, and Nick will see what happens. In perhaps the most amazing, inexplicable video of the entire night, Nick readily agrees instead of responding, "Uh, if it's such a cool idea, why don't YOU do it, Zak??". In short order, Nick is shoved into the body storage bin and a camera is put into the body rack next to him. Disregarding their previous agreement to stick together, Zak and Aaron wander off, leaving poor Nick to endure a lockdown within "the lockdown."
Zak and Aaron find what appears to be a medical ward with several beds. They sit on the beds, and Zak calls out for any ghosts to make themselves known. They hear a sound Zak promptly claims is a singing woman, but to me it sounds like a howling cat. Bah! Meanwhile, poor Nick is on the cramped body rack, talking to the adjacent camera. when suddenly. . . . . .
All in moment #3: A male voice clearly says "die." There's no mistake about it; we definitely hear it.
As you might expect, Nick finds this somewhat disconcerting. He calls Zak and Aaron on his walkie-talkie, asking them to come and let him out. But the morgue body storage bin is metal, and absorbs the radio energy. He begins to pound of the door to the rack trying to get out.
Fortunately, Zak and Aaron decide it's time to go back and let poor Nick out. Unfortunately, Zak and and Aaron get lost in the pitch-black tunnels. They call Nick on their walkie-talkies, but they can't raise him. They start to run frantically in the dark, trying to get back to the morgue and Nick. Zak starts getting goosebumps on his well-pumped arms, and goes off into some spiel about how goosebumps are evidence they are being followed by spirits. Heck, I always thought goosebumps were evidence of true love.
Yeah, I guess this was supposed to be dramatic and frightening, but instead I found it buffoonish and funny. I found myself rooting for Nick to be stuck inside the body storage bin all night. But, alas, my hopes were dashed; they got back in range of Nick, their walkie-talkies could again work, and they soon located and freed Nick.
Nick seemed grateful to be freed and, much to my surprise, did no physical violence to either Zak or Aaron. As they make their way back from the morgue, they stop in a hallway, and we are treated to. . . . . .
All in moment #5: A small ball of light appears to crawl up Nick's back and move across his face,and Nick says he feels as if he has been slapped. They bring up full camera lighting, and—-sonofagun!—-Nick's face does appear red on the side of his face where the light was seen. Maybe the ghost was female and Nick was getting fresh. Or maybe a laser pointer, a self-inflicted slap, and some creative editing are to blame. I report; you decide. And soon it's sunrise, the lockdown is over, and Zak, Nick, and Aaron stride into the New Jersey dawn.
In the coda, Zak visits Phoenix, Arizona and Bryan Abel, who were are told is a "paranormal expert." He examines the video and audio evidence Zak presents, and in a major surprise concludes the Overbrook facility has some paranormal activity going on.
As you've gathered from this review, I have some BIG questions about the evidence gathered in this episode. There is no room to argue the EVPs/voice captures are the result of misinterpretation of other sounds or random noise our brains sort into patterns; they are either real or they are fake. The same is true of the "face slap" Nick receives toward the end. It was genuine or a fraud, with no middle ground. "All in" indeed!
This GA episode was fast-paced, interesting, and entertaining. Even of they are jerking our collective chains, I'm willing to grant (no pun intended!) a measure of forgiveness in return for an hour of enjoyable television. And GA is definitely giving us some entertaining television so far!
|^ Please Support our Sponsor|