December 7, 2008
GA: Idaho State Prison
Last night was the "season finale" of Ghost Adventures, but it felt more like the "season suicide." At times, it was like watching an Ed Wood classic like Plan 9 From Outer Space; my jaw literally dropped at what I was seeing (or hearing). I think even the cast of Paranormal State would laugh at how ridiculous this episode of GA was.
The old Idaho State Prison is over 130 years old and was in use through the 1970s. It's a very creepy looking place. Last night's episode followed the usual format of Zak talking to locals who have experienced strange events—–mainly sounds and the sensation of being touched or pushed—–inside the prison. A tour guide named Ellen Haffner gave Zak a daytime tour, and we learned such cheerful details as the fact an inmate was gang-raped to death inside a shower room (wonder how Ellen handles that when she gives tours to local schoolkids??) and a serial killer named Raymond Snowden was executed there in 1957 by hanging, but because of a poorly-tied noose took 15 to 16 minutes to die. Zak then speaks with Shawn Bell, a worker at the prison, who claims that doors are unlatched and circuit breakers are tripped at night when no one is supposed to be inside the prison. Zak immediately proclaims that to be evidence Raymond Snowden and the other inmates are still there and stirring up trouble. Well. . . . . . maybe. On the tour, we see evidence of teenage graffiti on the walls, and I'd suspect local teenagers of tripping breakers and unlatching doors instead of restless spirits. But then, I'm a spoilsport churl. . . . .
Zak went into Boise and retraced the steps of Snowden on the night he killed his last victim, including stopping by a bar where Snowden met his victim and a smoke shop where Snowden ditched his murder weapon. Employees at the bar and smoke shop solemnly affirm they have heard strange sounds, seen moving shadows, and otherwise been plagued by Mr. Snowden's spectre. Zak, of course, is suitably impressed by all this.
During his daytime tour, Zak was told that execution were sometimes conducted outdoors, and that townspeople would gather on the hilltops surrounding the prison to watch the hangings. Zak and Nick decide to climb to the top to see what view the townspeople had, and this sets the stage for some of the most bizarre television I have ever witnessed, namely. . . . . .
The Snake Climb Of Death!!
Zak and Nick begin climbing what seems to be a very modest hill—-maybe a couple of hundreed feet in elevation, a gentle upward slope—-but within seconds Zak channels his inner drama queen and starts acting like he's free-climbing the east face of Mount Whitney. Zak babbles about how he wishes he had a pair of "golf shoes" (huh??) and is huffing and puffing as if he's at 13,000 feet. Just when you think Zak couldn't possibly be more of a fey little Nancy Boy, he starts rambling about whether there are snakes on the hill. Nick concedes that, yes, there could be snakes on the hill, and suddenly Zak sees snakes everywhere! He hears hisses! He hears rattles! They even photograph a couple of bewildered gopher snakes trying to find shelter in the rocks! In the most ridiculous moment of the night—-hell, of the entire series—-the supposedly snake-o-phobic Zak leans over, picks up a snake by its tail, holds it up, and announces to the world, "I don't know if this is a rattlesnake or not!" Uh, here's a clue for you, Zak: if it doesn't have a rattle on its tail, it's not a rattlesnake. Actually, it's just another poor gopher snake, but I was grateful anyway for the on-screen warning not to pick up wild snakes.
But that's not the worst of it. Seconds later, Zak blurts out, "The ground's moving! This is Indiana Jones!!" Uh, right, Zak. You're just as much like Indiana Jones as Elton John is like Charles Bronson.
Thankfully, we get a commercial break a few seconds later and are left to ponder the truly important questions concerning what we have just witnessed, such as What the hell was that supposed to be about? and Was Zak on peyote?
When we return from commercial break, it's time for "the lockdown." Shortly after it's dark, Zak says he hears "screams and laughter" outside (which, naturally, aren't recorded by their equipment). Zak runs into the darkness outdoors looking for the source and promptly trips over a rope. That was either an omen of what was to come or a methaphor for tonight's episode. Heck, maybe it was both.
Aaron really needs to get a better agent to represent him, because Zak comes up with the great idea of locking him in the shower room where the fatal gang-rape occurred and using him as "bait" (Zak's term) for any sodomy-inclined spectres. Aaron goes along with this. Once inside the shower room, Aaron say he hears noises, feels a tug on the water bottle in his rear pocket—-supply your own symbolic interpretation or wiseguy remark here—-and his night vision camera manages to catch a brief, poorly defined, and unconvincing shadow on a wall. Zak is unsuccessful in contacting any spirits in the shower room, even when he calls out, "You shouldn't have to go out in the shower and naked!" I'm sure Janet Leigh in Psycho would agree with those sentiments.
Meanwhile, Nick is back in the area used for solitary confinement and attempts to capture EVPs. He manages to grab something he claims sounds like "Hey, say what?" but sounds more like "myzxprelumpft" to me. Hey, you be the judge! Zak is off in death row, trying to bond with his new best friend Raymond Snowden. Zak calls out to him, and soon afterward starts reporting that he's cold, he feels ill, etc. But Zak also says he feels like something is touching him, and a still infrared camera manages to catch what appears to be a fuzzy gray stripe across his shoulders. This is actually an interesting bit of evidence worthy of further study.
Zak seems obsessed with getting Snowden's last words, and calls out for Raymond to say them. Unfortunately, no EVP results from these efforts. I dunno. . . . . . if I was hanging from a noose for 15 minutes, I think my last words would be Uuurrrrgggghhhhhhhllllaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh!!
Around 3:00 am, The Three Amigos go outside where executions were held and attempt to re-create a photograph in which an orb was seen hovering over a local TV reporter. To their credit, Zak, Nick, and Aaron show a bug or dust was most likely the source of the orb.
But that's enough reason and common sense! It's time for Instrumental TransCommunication!! Or "ITC," as Zak likes to refer to it.
ITC is a Larry Lightbulb scheme that uses a digital video camera and a television connected in a closed-loop system. The output of the video camera is fed to a TV, and the camera is aimed at the TV screen and records the image; in effect, the video camera is recording its own white noise output. Supposedly the spirits can manipulate the signals flowing around in the loop, much like they can manipulate the dreaded K-II meter, and can manifest themselves. (I report. You decide.)
Sonofagun! Success! On one frame, our intripid trio captures what Zak is convinced is the shadow figure of Raymond Snowden. Except this figure has a long, really skinny neck—-in fact, it looks more like a pipe than a neck. And its head is narrow, long, and oval-shaped. It looks more like the shadow of a UFO alien than the shadow of a person, living or dead. And because it's there for just one frame, it seems likely to be an illusion produced by a transient in the feedback loop.
In the coda, Zak is off to Reno to visit Mark and Debbie Constantino, who are supposedly experts at evaluating EVPs and video evidence. Debbie listens to the EVPs, and claims to hear several words, including a short conversation between two spirits. But I didn't hear a damn thing she claims to have heard, and I don't expect many (if any) viewers agreed with Debbie's "generous" interpretation of the EVPs. Meanwhile, Mark gets all gooey-eyed over the ITC "shadow entity" and uses the term "holographic" several times to describe it, even though it makes absolutely no sense in this context. It wasn't a 3D image, and it wasn't produced using lasers, so just how is it "holographic"??
And with that, the curtain came down on the first, and perhaps last, season of Ghost Adventures. To be honest, this show slumped badly in its last two episodes. If there is a new season of GA, Zak, Nick, and Aaron need someone who can tell them, "Guys, this is really lame and you need to leave it on the cutting room floor."
And until that day. . . . . . . beware of flying bricks in the basements of abandoned hotels!
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