December 7, 2008

GA: Idaho State Prison

by Harry

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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Comments on GA: Idaho State Prison »

December 7, 2008

Hal @ 11:52 am

Good job again, Harry! Though I've yet to watch my recording of Friday's episode, I'll only look forward to seeing it now in order to get even more laughs! :)

There are a couple of conclusions I've reached concerning all these paranormal shows, GA & GH (recently renamed "Grants Hoaxes") in particular. Other smart folks on this forum have already alluded to these same conclusions. They are:

1. Except for entertainment "affect" these shows ought to stop filming episodes only a night and do at least a few in the daytime once in awhile. Far more than not, the clients they interview almost always have their "experiences" in broad daylight! I know, I know the audio difficulties the investigators claim to have during the day, when more ambient noise is present, than at night. Too bad! Just deal with it! It seems more imperative to have an investigation launched during the same time periods that manifestations and noises have been reported. That way debunking might be more successful if something not paranormal, but only present during daytime hours, is the actual cause of unexplainable events.

2. My only other conclusion is: for evidence to be as close to overwhelming as possible, in order to leave us scratching our heads for a long time, it needs to appear far more convincing, especially video evidence, than it usually does. A single good example of that was mentioned by someone on this forum following the GA episode filmed in Scotland. In the scene where the teddy bear moved by tilting over a bit. That movement is just too supicious-looking to be impressive. However, if the teddy had left the floor a couple of feet straight up in the air, as when picked up by a small child, now that's some impressive evidence! Especially when the producers of the show know full well that the video imagery would be meticulously analyzed by people like us over and over until we were certain no strings were attached! Let's face it, whenever we see an object just tip over, fall from a shelf or a hook or slide a few inches along the floor it just won't cut it!

Oubliette @ 2:53 pm

Loved this review.

I really have to question the sanity of anyone climbing a hill surrounded by various snakes. There was absolutely no reason whatsoever for them to go up there in the first place. It was obvious some of the snakes were agitated by their presence. Snakes don't strike at humans except for defense, and unfortunately, jumping around or even walking too closely would be interpreted by a snake as a possible attack. Dumb and dumber on that one. Oh, I think the golf shoes comment was made because Zak thought that those types of shoes might provide better traction on the hilly terrain. Or something like that.

You are right about Aaron. My first thought was that he always gets the worst assignments. He seems to be the Curly of the team. I think he's funny and provides a lot of entertainment.

The EVPs were terrible. I could make out absolutely nothing and don't even think they were voices of any kind. Lately, we've been getting some very questionable evps–ones that IMO were manufactured by very living people, and those that are extremely unintelligible. After all these years, there are only about 2% of all evps I've listened to that make me go hmmm. These definitely did not belong in that category.

And that figure caught on the TV-War of the Worlds time. Looked like some alien straight from "Outer Limits". I'm no expert, but it would seem to me that hanging would produce very little stretching of the neck; nowhere near that thin as shown on the screen. What we need to review this evidence are video experts, not some "paranormal" experts (there really are none, as there are no agreed upon parameters in the field), who tend to want to see anything that might prove existence of paranormal phenomenon.

Don't have the actual stats to back it up, but my impressions from visiting various sites around the web is that people actually do like GA a lot. In fact, it seems that they are being chosen over GH, esp. since the Live show. We'll just have to wait and see if more is to come. I still like their simpler approach; it's a big plus after seeing the crews that make up the personnel of other shows of this kind.

Right now, all I want to know is where Zak gets some of his cool black t-shirts from. Would love to add some of them to my collection, alongside my Skeptical Viewer one ;)

December 8, 2008

Jacqui @ 8:29 am

"Don't have the actual stats to back it up, but my impressions from visiting various sites around the web is that people actually do like GA a lot. In fact, it seems that they are being chosen over GH, esp. since the Live show."

It doesn't surprise me considering posts like one I found under the Ghost Adventures link on itshaunted.com. The poster was a woman who wanted to know who the "cutest, smartest, and toughest" among them was. She called them the "perfect packaged deal" and ended her comments with a string of X's and O's. Personally, I've always thought that cuteness was a prerequisite for thorough ghost hunting, so I'm glad that at least one of these shows was able to put together the perfect packaged deal. Obviously, my point is that there are probably numerous fans who find these guys "cute." I, for one, do not equate "easy on the eyes" with "easy to watch." Then again, if Johnny Depp were hosting, I'd be glued to the tv set! Lol! Oh, and Johnny….XOXOXOXOX!

Wes @ 9:24 am

Harry – your review was ten times as entertaining as the show!

These guys are getting hard to take with any seriousness (not that they were ever really high on the credibility list anyway) … it seems fitting that the show was book-ended by 10 minutes of snake wrangling and paranormal "experts" who I'm guessing would find the typical Most Haunted hijinks compelling evidence … UPDATE: The "experts" have a Web site, complete with, you guessed it, "orb" photos!

I'm still floored that the guy kept talking about a two-dimensional image on a TV screen as "holographic" — are paranormal "experts" not allowed to Google stuff?

December 9, 2008

Stephen @ 2:35 am

Nice one, Harry. You know, I'm starting to like this show a little more– the first step is to take a deep breath and abandon all rational thought.

They never fail to give us some new piece of equipment that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, from the ghost-attracting light to the utterly surreal gold-beryllium "subtle energy microphone" from Moundsville State Penitentiary (which I hereby dub "the bling-o-phone").

I'll say this for their EVPs: in general, I don't think they're faked. Digital voice recorders will make background sound into voices whenever they can, and that's what these sound like, when they sound like anything at all. Huzzah for honesty. I'll take it where I can get it.

The only mystery to me about the series is: are these guys serious? Does Zack actually believe what's coming out of his mouth, or does everybody crack up the minute the cameras cut? The world may never know.

Zack @ 6:18 pm

The whole "holographic image" comment was probably tho most absurd thing I have ever heard on television. If I was that guy I would be wanting to crawl in a hole and die after that…. I just dont see how these guys get on TV when they can't even grasp the equipment they use or the ideas they claim to base their investigations on. That goes for both GH and GA.

Learjet @ 9:39 pm

Don't worry, next they'll bring in Frank's box!

December 10, 2008

Edge @ 3:17 pm

Finally got to watch this episode from iTunes, and I really don't know where to start.

-Zack's overacting is getting old. In the beginning, I admired his enthusiasm in trying to provoke activity, now its just an annoyance. He sounds like a overactive ghost tour guide.

-The "snake climb" was one of the most pointless pieces of TV I've ever seen. Its interesting to see that he reacts the same way to snakes, as he does to ghosts. Kind of puts perspective on his previous "freak outs" at any possible paranormal activity he's encountered in investigations.

-The EVP's were crap, the TV/Camera thing was crap, and the "experts" were not experts. Want sound analyzed? Bring it to a sound analyst, not some unknown couple that claims to be "Paranormal Experts".

-The TV anchorman orb was considered rea; evidence at the beginning of the show, then Aaron catches a very similar one with Zack is in the rose garden, and its quickly dismissed by Zack as a bug. Duh. What was the point of going out to the rose garden again?

-We might get evidence of these shadows that they claim to be moving all around then if they actually had the camera faced in that direction, and not at Zack's dramatic facial expressions.

I really started out liking this show, it should be perfect. No camera crews, no sound guys, just 3 guys with night vision cameras. Now, its quickly becoming a gag real. I really hope they come back to their senses, and dial down the nonsense.

-

Oubliette @ 3:44 pm

OK, you won't believe this but-I had been watching VH1's series on Heavy Metal on my DVR last night and upon watching episode 1, lo and behold within the first 20 minutes or so there appeared the EXACT same blobby, slim-necked figure! One of the members of Black Sabbath was describing a nightmare he had. When he awoke he said he saw a dark figure at the foot of his bed. The outer limits type figure was used in the background to illustrate this point. It was the same figure that appeared on GA's TV screen in the prison. As Grant would say "What the Frig?"

Looks like that image gets around. I've been looking on YouTube for possible uploads of the VH1 show but so far no luck. I simply couldn't believe what I was seeing. If I do find it I'll post the URL. I know I'm not dreaming! (And no, it's not due to my meds, either)

blinddog50 @ 5:50 pm

O, maybe we are all on the 'Crazy Train'.

December 12, 2008

bullerspoke @ 6:44 pm

Ok, I've got one big problem with this episode, the Constantinos. I have heard them on a number of paranormal podcasts and boy, they are far out there. I'm not going to details, would be to lengthy but they are about as credible as The Warrens.

Other than that we get what we usually get, indistinguishable evps and shadows that I almost never can see, even when going frame-by-frame. Form an "evidence" point-of-view we rarely get anything at all ('cept maybe that teddy bear in Edinburgh).

But damn, these guys make good tv. It is about as stringent as MH (although they have no resident psychic… yet) but much more entertaining, they have drive and conviction and good camera skills. As regular guys eager to catch ghosts they are a treat, like MH on steroids and yet more likeable and furthermost less pretentious.

As they keep going maybe they will develop more skepticism, especially towards the eyewitnesses and their stories, and lose a lot of the naivety ( I mean portals to hell, catholic priests, medium and the Constantinos, come on… :) ) they still have, and then we will get an even better show where we might get some good evidence. As for now, I'm content with being wholly entertained.

One thing that strikes is that almost all evps are really bad, I don't think I made out more than one or two of all the ones they showed us during the season (even after they texted what it was supposedly saying). It's a dramatic difference to what GH usually show us, fakeish or not.

December 13, 2008

Edge @ 10:48 am

Well the "snake climb" ended up on the The Soup on E channel. The host said something to the effect that it must be the pilot to Zack's new show, "Snake Pussies". Terrible.

Ron T @ 5:18 pm

I was NOT impressed with Zak climbing the hill full of snakes! IMO, he was trying desperately to add much needed anticipation and needed extra excitement.

I mean NO disrespect; however it is my opinion Aaron is the follower and maybe the patsy.

It is very convenient for GA and GH to almost immediately capture images (shadow hands). I would think for any PN investigator to capture these images during an investigation is like hitting the mega millions. LOL.

Ron
http://www.itshaunted.com

January 21, 2009

Lar @ 9:05 pm

These Morons came on like the "next coming," but have come & gone. It's obvious their infamous brick flick is fake. They're bullying tactics while at one time refreshing is fresh out of new-ness. They now stretch to "create,' the least believeable evidence. This show had promise. But like many a promise it is broken, not haunted, just broken.

February 20, 2009

whbcio @ 2:09 pm

I love watching night TV especially Leno – Conan.

I turned on the TV late last night. At first I thought I
was watching some comedy skit on Conan and thought it was
really funny then I realized that it was a paranormal show.

I was laughing so hard. They were trying to make the show
scary but all they did was to make it funny.

I bet all the ghosts and demons got together after the
clowns left and made fun of them.

I bet these same ghosts and demons were laughing
at the clowns which made it impossible for them to appear.

After all even demons and ghosts have a reputation to uphold.

Nosfer @ 8:01 pm

Did anyone else notice a striking resemblance between the nurse's "hello" and the "hello" that Jason and Grant heard in the tunnels down in the Stanley? Perhaps, just perhaps, simply a cat?

February 21, 2009

Oubliette @ 8:54 am

I agree with Nosfer. Can't remember the nurse that well but the "hello" in the Stanley sure did sound like a cat. The "meow" of most cats consists of two syllables, and like us, they have a question mode, for want of a better phrase. It's like a verbal question mark. Our ears could very well hear it as "hello". This wouldn't be the first time that I believe they picked up on a cat.

I take with a grain of salt any and all sounds they pick up in large buildings, whether abandoned or not (ditto for any captured outside). In this case, it was a tunnel, which any number of animals might call home. It seems GH has never gone through great lengths to truly analyze sounds. The Stanley one could have been played back to an expert in animal vocalizations who would have given a more definitive explanation. But the debunkers don't like to be debunked, do they?

Nosfer @ 10:01 am

This is the case where DT shines…Josh would definitely have let some animal expert listen to the sounds. Unlike GH/GHI, GA at least lets outside folks look at SOME of their "evidence" but I must say that the bias of the "experts" they use is questionable.

April 30, 2009

Richard Halvorson @ 9:42 pm

I totally agree with you on this, I'm amazed people buy into this show- one thing I always get a laugh at on Zak is how he is saying hes not afraid of the spirit, and is saying stuff to get a reaction by the spirit, then he jumps like he heard something and sometimes say hes real scared that he heard something blah blah blah lol, I must say this show is a joke! They could use STRONG lessons from TAPS.

May 2, 2009

Richard Halvorson @ 12:36 am

I think one reason they do it at night (other then the one stated) I noticed all the shows do "lights out" turn off all the lights and have only the camera and whatever other toys they might have brought. I just think they like the dark better as it gives a more of a wow factor, if you know what I mean, also a lot of times activity is greater at night, specially at cementary's.
I dont know what show is worse, this one or Most Haunted. Travel Channel should stick with shows like Bizarre Foods with Anthony Zimmern and No Reservations lol. there 0-2 so far on Paranormal shows IMO.




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