November 22, 2008

GA: Northern New Jersey Asylum (Overbrook/Essex County)

by Harry

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:

http://www.weirdnj.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=230&Itemid=28

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!

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Comments on GA: Northern New Jersey Asylum (Overbrook/Essex County) »

November 23, 2008

worldharmony @ 12:12 am

I so enjoy these SV reviews! Yours had me chuckling. I have a few observations:

YOU SAY: "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."

I SAY: HA HA- I laughed at that incident, and then I laughed at your suggestion that it wasn't an accident. Poor Nick. I like that they kept that in the show and I'm glad Nick is ok. I did think it was an accident.

YOU SAY:"…attracts ghosts through electromagnetic resonance within the visible light spectrum."

I SAY: These"how to attract ghosts" assertions kill me (no pun intended). If the haunting is "residual" (?) (meaning non-intelligent) then how could anything attract the ghost? Luckily for us, there is a preponderance of intelligent ghosts ready to entertain us. If these ghosts are intelligent, though, why are they so easily drawn, puppet-like, to insults, straitjacketed TV hosts, electromagnetic thingamabobs and other gimmicks? I'm so disappointed in these ghosts.

YOU SAY: "I'm not saying the GA crew used the audio from "High Plains Drifter" last night… however, the audio heard really, really sounds like that from the Eastwood movie…"

I SAY: For real? I mean, did you compare the two? I'd love to hear the two audio samples. If they sound alike I will crack up with laughter.

Nick in the morgue: He must have been reading from Grant's playbook because he was absolutely uninteresting to me- he may as well have been in a tree house for all the anxiety he portrayed. Even his kicking of the door was lackluster in my opinion, so when he was pulled out and did his "whoa is me" head holding routine it just came across as overdone. He garnered no sympathy from Zak et al either- I think Zak might have even laughed.

The shadow hand: that seemed bogus. I don't understand how a clearly delineated shadow of a hand could be from a ghost. But I guess ghosts can be ANYTHING. Mist, solid, see-through with no shadow, shadow with no body, black shapeless mass, partial body or full body, intelligent, non-intelligent, able to move things, able to pass through things, etc. Sigh…

The "expert" Bryan Abel didn't seem the least bit skeptical of the evidence. He came across more as a fan rather than a professional.

Still, I have to agree that the show was entertaining. They'd better be careful, though, because they are starting to resemble the comical Scooby Doo crew (RUT ROH!!)

windwhisperer @ 12:28 am

Great review Harry.
I actually laughed out loud with the poke in the eye. That'll teach them to go around in the dark. :)

The shadow hand…it could have been anybody's hand that was hearby.

I always agree that there's no room for arguments about EVP's or slaps in faces.
Either it happened or it didn't.

Zak truly gets into his investigating by taking on the roles. The straight jacket was a little off the wall but I guess that's his methods.

For me the best part about Nick in the morgue locker was that Zak and Aaron couldn't find him. It actually looked like Zak was starting to panic because he couldn't find the room.

Again I was entertained and even a little creeped out here and there.
I still like their investigating methods and they're not afraid to be afraid.
Kudos to Aaron for hanging in till the end.

Depodan @ 2:21 am

The shadow hand was a left hand or perhaps a double jointed entity, he said it reached in behind him.Doesn't add up.

haze @ 7:38 am

Nothing like showing on National TV an abandoned place for New Jersey teens to take their least liked friends, lock them in a morgue drawer and forget about them.

I'll be expecting the CNN story – "New Jersey fraternity, hazing turns tragic"

-

Paul Anthony @ 9:59 am

Paranormal "expert" Bryan Abel video analysis and his conclusion was no surprise. He has a vested interest. I saw bugs or dust flying on many different locations during the investigation. I see bugs, not light energy or orbs.

Bryan Abel, co-founder crawley paranormal investigators and the inventor of the IR (Infrared) flashlight is a must for shooting night video or photography; the combination of IR technology adds just enough light in a room to shoot down a long hallway so the field investigators can increase their chances of catching movement. According to Bryan, Zak has just purchased three IR lights.

Harry @ 10:31 am

Paul, I was being sarcastic when I said I was surprised by Abel's conclusion. The real surprise would've been if Abel had said, "Nope, none of this crap looks paranormal to me. I think you guys are just trying to pull a fast one."

worldharmony, I'm going to dig out my DVD of "High Plains Drifter" and do a comparison. When I heard that EVP, "High Plains Drifter" was the very first thing that popped into my mind—-I half-expected Clint to emerge from the darkness and gun down Zak, Nick, or Aaron! If this EVP was indeed faked, I'd bet anything "High Plains Drifter" was the inspiration—-Zak is a professional filmmaker, and he has to be familiar with that movie. (It's one of my favorites; it's very surreal, like "Shane" on acid.)

November 24, 2008

windwhisperer @ 7:23 pm

Hey guys, I'm getting confused. Why are there two separate posts for this episode?

windwhisperer @ 8:26 pm

Okay, I answered my own question. This is from Logisti's "preview" post for GA.
It's just a one-time thing. :)

Logisti's Preview GA post:
"Double Trouble!

It looks like you guys might have TWO GA write-ups coming at you over the next few days. I'm not sure how best to handle this Abundance of Awesomeness!

Harry is going to be the "main" writer for Ghost Adventures and Oubliette noticed we sorely lack *ANY* Destination Truth write-ups, so that job is hers if she is open to it, but since GA is getting a lot of folks excited — and due to popular demand — I've given Oubliette the go-ahead to write-up this week's GA as well.

I am concerned about keeping the discussion focused though, so we won't be having two posts (three including this one!) for the same episode like this every week. We just got two new Contributing Editors this week though, and I want them both to be able to show their stuff and have a little fun so everybody break out some digital applause for Harry & Oubliette!"

November 25, 2008

Learjet @ 3:45 pm

I think I enjoyed reading Harry's review as much as watching the show. Keep up the good work Harry.

November 27, 2008

RedBankGuy @ 9:44 am

The hand reaching out, looked to me like the light from the other camera filming Zak reaching for and grabbing his own arm when he felt like he was grabbed.
I didn't feel any of the EVPs were too convincing, except the lady singing when they were in the ward with the beds.
To me the "voices" were not as bad as Ghost Hunter's Halloween special.
I am very skeptical of Ghost Adventures, and will be watching them closely over the next few weeks.

January 24, 2009

BigD @ 9:54 am

Guys, I must say that I am a fan of Ghost Adventures NOT because I expect them to do a good job; just the reverse. I think those guys are the biggest pu##ies on TV. Zak runs into a new site in the daytime yelling, "We're going to stay here and take you ghosts on!" etc. But when they actually encounter anything out of the ordinary, they run around screaming, "Oh my God! Oh my God!" Funny stuff.

But on the subject of the shadow hand on the wall, I have to say I think you're way off base on your analysis. I just saw a repeat of that episode (TiVo'd and re-watched over and over) and have to say the shadow hand is really a mystery. Here's why:

If you watch when they take the footage to the fake paranormal guy in Arizona, you'll see that he has an enhanced video of the footage. The hand–yes a left hand–moves QUICKLY across in front of our brave hero Zak. In the debunking phase, they show the scene again from the 3rd camera. In this view you see Zak and Nick in frame, ergo all 3 of our guys are accounted for. When the hand appears, you can see Nick does not move more than shifting his body weight. Likewise for Zak. He is moving slowly when the hand appears, then he turns and bails with the usual, "Oh my God!" stuff.

This is where it gets interesting. You see, in order for Zak to have made that shadow himself, his left shoulder would've had to move or dip significantly. Enough so that we should have seen it anyway. The problem is that his left side is obscurred by Nick. Still, his shoulders seem to hold the same line as the hand appears. Then, as Zak turns IMMEDIATELY with the OMG! stuff, you see BOTH HIS HANDS are on the camera, both of his elbows are up, and both of his hands stay on the camera as he brings his arms in while squealing like a girl.

With all 3 guys accounted for and the size of the hand relative to Nick and Zak indicating it was near to, or forward of, Zak, I have to conclude that–although I think these guys are first rate morons–they may have captured a good one here.

Feel free to review the footage for yourselves.

Harry @ 3:29 pm

BigD, thanks for your comments.

My big problem with GA is that so much of the "evidence" of the original documentary and this season's episodes is obviously faked—–and not even competently faked at that. All three are film professionals and are more than capable of producing visual effects that seem convincing at first glance. (And please compare the "Help me!" EVP to Clint Eastwood's "High Plains Drifter"!!)

My attitude is hardcore: when I catch someone in a lie, I disbelieve everything they have to say—-or anything they may have said—–without independent verification and corroboration. In other words, there is no shade of gray between "honest" and "dishonest." You're one or the other. And Zak, Nick, and Aaron are the latter.

I don't think the GA crew "captured a good one." Instead, I think they perpetrated a hoax that, like the flying brick in the Goldfield Hotel, looks like "a good one" at first glance.

The Doctor @ 5:55 pm

BigD –

There is a problem with attempting to compare the two different shots – In Zaks close shot, HIS shadow touches the "toothed" edge of the wall on the right, just seconds before it backs off and we see the claw shapped shadow emerge.

Yet, on Arron's shot supposedly taken at the same moments, Zaks shadow never gets close to the wall.

September 5, 2009

Erin @ 11:57 pm

There is this so called device that the GA crew uses now that I don't think has a name. Supposedly it takes the energy from the spirit to help the spirit speak, using key words. The fact that they get so excited and stuff over the smallest things sometimes makes me agree with the title "Jackass: Paranormal"

Erin

November 15, 2009

Britt @ 4:18 pm

After reading this review I quickly went to Youtube to take a gander at the episode. I'm not sure if anyone has pointed this out, but at the beginning of the investigation, Zak is using his dodad to "attract" spirits and they hear noises. Right after they hear a voice it shows Zak clearly smack the wall with one of his devices and then quickly say something along the lines of "there it goes" and looks down the hall. Seriously? Why did the editors of that episode leave that in for all to see? Here is the link. It occurs at 1:56

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpe8cOHhowM&feature=related

April 28, 2010

Eintopy @ 6:18 pm

I'm wondering if anyone else on this site has checked out the link Britt posted above? This is the first time I'm seeing it and have to admit I'm pretty surprised. I've never believed everything on GA is paranormal. I know it's just TV entertainment so I try to keep an open mind about everything they present on the show. But this little incident by Zak just makes me wonder how many other bumps and loud bangs on the show were just the result of Zak hiding in the shadows, smacking the walls. And like Britt said, why would the producers leave this in there?

April 29, 2010

HollyDolly @ 12:15 pm

Maybe they didn't leave it in on purpose.It's possible somehow someone on the crew
missed it when they were editing the tapes.That happens sometimes, they get sloppy and miss things. Now, as for why the production company might deliberately leave the scene in, that I can't answer.Would it be to generate contraversy,ala Grant's Collargate, and there for more publicity for GA, maybe, but really hard to say.

May 3, 2010

Revenant @ 12:59 am

Hmmm…very interesting indeed.

First off, a very belated thanks to Britt for the clip. That is a slam-dunk without question. Obviously things DO go bump in the night…and it's only Zak banging his recorder on a wall. Britt gets 5000 Revenant points!

Just my opinion but…I don't think there's any way, shape, or form that the clip was "intentionally" left in. It was a huge mistake that got passed them. If they are anything like GH…it should be edited out of the re-run's without any explanation (see the GH Manson Flir threads and articles for info on that kind of course of action…or inaction…).

Wow. Again…great catch. If Logisti is still about…maybe he could write up a very brief "this is what could be making ghostly noises" type of article with that link and throw it in the Skeptic's Library section. I mean, it's that good. Or bad…depending upon your point of view.




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