Travel Channel // 2008 // 300 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Cynthia Boris (Retired) // September 5th, 2009
Can you handle the lockdown?
It's Ghost Hunters, only angrier. It's Ghost Adventures: Season One on DVD.
Zak Bagans and his buddies, Nick Groff and Aaron Goodwin lock themselves in some of the most haunted places in the world so they're forced to stay the night...no matter what...(insert ominous laugh here.)
There are eight one-hour episodes on this DVD and thus eight haunted locations.
* "Moundsville Penitentiary"
* "Bobby Mackey Music World"
* "Houghton Mansion"
* "Riddle House"
* "Sloss Furnace"
* "Former Psychiatric Hospital"
* "Edinburgh Vaults"
* "The Old Idaho Penitentiary"
Picture Ghost Hunters as that nice family on the corner who invites everyone over for a barbeque at the end of summer so they can sit around and swap scary stories by firelight. Now, Ghost Adventures, he's the scary old man next door who yells at the kids to get off his lawn and calls the cops when the party goes past eleven.
Zak Bagans comes with baggage. You can hear it in his introduction where he pointedly states it's just him and his two friends "with no big camera crew following us around." This is a guy looking for trouble, and he's not going to stop until some ghost rips his head off.
The basics are the same as you get on any ghost hunting TV show. Guys prowling around in the dark with night vision cameras, EMF readers, digital recorders, and temperature gauges. Bagans goes a little more high tech with some of his equipment, even using the equivalent of a ghost "bug light" that is supposed to attract the otherworldly creatures but hopefully not zap them once they arrive. It's after that where these shows all differ. While the Ghost Hunters set out to scientifically disprove hauntings, Zak Bagans goes for the emotional pull and doesn't seem all that interested in scientific proof. His style is to taunt the ghosts, shouting nasty things at them, provoking them to come and attack him. And, if you can believe what you see on the show, a couple of them do. Good for them.
When something does happen, Zak and his team are more likely to scream and run than stand and investigate. And that is usually followed by a string of bleeped out cursing. I'm not putting the guy down for being easily startled. Personally, I wouldn't go half the places he goes, so more power to him, but after a few episodes you get the feeling it's all a set up to evoke a startled reaction from the audience. It's all very The Blair Witch Project minus the cameras up their noses.
The background music and color palette on this show also appear to be designed to irritate. These visual and audio cues set the audience on edge so you're more likely to jump when they do. Even Zak's narration is heavy and clichéd, like an old noir novel. It's not necessarily a bad thing, it's more a matter of taste.
Ghost Adventures's biggest gimmick is the lockdown. As night falls, Zak and his crew are locked into the haunted structure with heavy padlocks that can't be opened before dawn. Okay, they can be opened if you have the key and since someone films the guy locking them in, there must be someone outside the house in case they really got into trouble and there are these things called windows. But it's the thought that counts. It's supposed to add that Houdini-esque element of danger, but what it really says is these guys would run for it if they could.
On the upside, they do visit some very cool haunted places and talk to some very interesting people. I don't know if you can believe every word you hear, but I thought the witnesses in the Moundsville Penitentiary episode were especially compelling.
As for the DVD itself, it's the standard audio and video. The box is a plastic case with a disc flipper inside, cheap but as it's only two discs, it's not terrible. The DVD has deleted scenes and two featurettes. "Scariest Moments" is a collection of short vignettes that were likely made to go on the webpage. They introduce you to a setting then zero in on the most paranormal event of the investigation. I wouldn't say they're the scariest moments but certainly the most thought provoking. Next is "Zak's Gear Guide," which is host Bagans introducing the audience to all of the equipment they use on the show. It's a good piece if you want to take up ghost hunting yourself.
If you believe in the tough-love method of ghost hunting, then you'll love Ghost Adventures.
This court finds Ghost Adventures: Season One to be in desperate need
of an anger management program.
Review content copyright © 2009 Cynthia Boris; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Travel Channel
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes
* Official Site