Top Ten Ghost and Monster Reality Shows to Watch this Halloween

It’s the season for pumpkin spice, trick or treat, scary movie marathons, and ghostie and monster TV shows.  Especially ghostie and monster TV shows.  Don’t get me wrong, I love these shows for the sheer entertainment value.  It’s not that I don’t believe in ghosts, exactly; it’s that I don’t buy these ghost hunters for one moment.  Most people don’t realize these are heavily edited and scripted for maximum viewer impact.  That said, some seem more realistic than others, some are downright hilarious, and some just *may* make you wonder.  Here is a listing of some ghostie and monster hunting shows you may, or may not, want to check out.

Ghost Adventures

Follow the adventures of Zac Bagans and his crew, including the much-abused Aaron Goodwin, as they seek out haunted buildings that specifically feature nasty ghosties.  Zac must wear a respirator due to allergies when he is in old buildings, but more offensively, he wears it while investigating occupied houses, too.  No matter what the owners of the building claim, Zac is “immediately overcome by feelings of *fill in the blank*.”  He is constantly being “touched” by ghosts yet continues to challenge them despite his hilarious fear.  Poor Aaron is always sent to the most dangerous rooms, and usually shoved in from behind while Zac slams and locks the door behind him, lights off, alone, and against his will.  The show has a fair number of EVPs, orbs and other spooky happenings per episode.  Zak narrates the episodes with a dreary monotone voice that is somehow amusing in itself.

Boo Factor:  3 boos, for sheer entertainment value

Mountain Monsters

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you gave a set of self-professed hunters and trappers rifles and the freedom to track Bigfoot through the mountains while filming them bumbling, firing at trees, and falling over rocks in the forest at night?  Wonder no more; Mountain Monsters is classic goofy viewing for all audiences.  The crew chases a different iteration of Bigfoot (yes, apparently there are countless breeds of Bigfoot) each episode, creating elaborate traps to catch the monsters which, of course, they never do. The combination of stupidity and over-the-top dramatic acting, delivered in deep southern drawls (which, in any other context, I absolutely love), will make you laugh at loud.

Boo Factor: 3 boos, too funny to turn off

Ghost Stalkers

You may know Chad Lindberg from Fast and Furious as well as (ironically, perhaps) Supernatural (where, if you want to know, he played one of my fave side characters).  He teams up with author John Tenney to look not only for ghosts, but for portals that spirits use to travel from the beyond to our world.  Putting aside that Tenney will have you picturing Dragnet the entire time or that Chad can scream with the best of them, the entire premise is hilariously flawed as “portals” seem to be everywhere in every haunted location they visit.  Perhaps people should stop inviting these guys to parties?  They use a wide array of what looks like very expensive equipment but never really seem to catch any evidence whatsoever.  One person locks themselves into the location for half the night, then his partner does the same.  Each monitors the other from inside a van, with very dramatic narration delivered in such a monotone that it makes Zac Bagans seem like he is on speed in comparison. This show is a complete waste of time, unless men screaming and running through empty halls is your kind of entertainment.

Boo Factor:  1 Boo

Finding Bigfoot

This show takes a little more realistic and scientific approach to the hunt for Bigfoot.  A couple of researchers and one skeptic comb the US and check out potential clues, debunking several as they go while finding some compelling evidence as well.  This is a drama free show that may make you wonder if there is a big, hairy monster out there after all.

Boo Factor:  5 Boos for an intelligent quest without overacting and drama

Haunted Collector

What if it wasn’t your house that is haunted, but an item you have in the house?  That’s the premise with this show. It may be of interest to know that “Friday the 13th – the Series” had this idea years ago. I’m not saying that Haunted Collector stole borrowed the idea … just pointing out it’s been done. Anywho, these paranormal investigators somehow track ghostly activity to objects within the house.  At that point, Lead Investigator John Zaffis willingly takes on the burden of the haunted object, storing it in his basement full of other haunted objects.  Interestingly, the objects tend to be high value, rare, or of historic value. Go figure.  It’s still a fun and creepy romp, though.

Boo Factor:  3 Boos for the creepy premise

The Dead Files

If a show *might* make you believe, it *may* be this one.  At the very least, it’s a fun romp for an hour.  Amy Allan, psychic medium, and her partner the infinitely skeptical, tough, ex-New York homicide detective Steve DiSchiavi.  Amy Allan investigates the haunted sites at night, seeing spirits and filming what they are “telling” her, while Steve interviews occupants and researches the property.  The two supposedly never meet until the Big Reveal with the family after the investigation is over when, amazing surprise, all the facts from the two separate investigations add up perfectly.  Still, this is one of the better, far less over-reaching ghostie shows around and while you know it’s fake, well, what if it’s not?

Boo Factor: 4 Boos

Ghost Asylum

Hunky front man and lovable side investigators, these guys now have a live show presented every Friday night.  Known as the Tennessee Wraith Chasers, the team breaks out the usual equipment to investigate haunted locations live on TV, with watchers tweeting what they see as they monitor cameras themselves.  It’s kind of neat that the guys respond and investigate on things the viewers tweet to them in real time.  Prior to this, their show Ghost Asylum was a classic yuk-yuk fest, with them somehow miraculously catching spirits in home-made inventions to take back to their office and store in ghost chambers, just like Ghostbusters.  The show can be little other than ridiculous as it starts with a disclaimer that ghost hunting is dangerous and best left to professionals. Ummm… okey-dokey, guys.  Still, it’s a fun way to pass an hour.

Boo Factor: 4 Boos for the live show on Friday nights

Deep South Paranormal

Remember our bumbling deeply southern Bigfoot enthusiasts from Mountain Monsters?  What if this same type of chaw-chewing, bearded crew hunted ghosts with equipment instead of Bigfoot with rifles?  You will be spellbound by the group’s use of southern rock guitar to draw out spirits (who apparently like southern rock; who knew?), ridiculous homespun sayings, and love of grits.  Sadly, this show lacks the overacting of Mountain Monsters, which let’s face it, is why we watch Mountain Monsters.

Boo Factor:  1 Boo

Ghost Hunters

I couldn’t have this list without including the plucky plumbers who started it all; TAPS.  Sort of like a Hydrox is the original Oreo, this show laid the groundwork for all the rest.   Millions of viewers tuned in weekly to watch this ghost hunting duo justify dust orbs caught on film.  Compared to the shows that followed, this one is stripped to bare bones like EMF detectors and thermal cameras.  At one time TAPS was the “real deal,” in a manner of speaking, but has been overshadowed by its descendants and lacks the nonstop “evidence” displayed by them.

Boo Factor:  2 Boos

Josh Gates:  Destination Truth and Expedition Unknown

Josh Gates is an explorer whose shows cover a wide array of subject matter, from monsters, near death experiences and ghosts to lost treasures and myths.  His approach is very light hearted and fun, and his investigations are free of dramatic emotion; very straight forward and sincere.  As far as great shows covering all kinds of spooky and fun topics, this one is a must see.

Boo Factor:  5 Boos

So there they are, my top ten ghostie and monster hunting shows to watch, or not. I urge you to give them a look though. Seriously, they are nothing if not fun. Oh, and if you do, be sure and come back to leave your own “boo rating” below!

 

Real World Views

In case you haven’t noticed, just about every television show nowadays is some sort of “reality TV” program. A cooking show. A travel show. A spouse finding show. A house flipping show. A rich-people-fighting show. Heck, there’s even shows about people taking their junk into pawn shops! Every channel is teeming with shows that peek into the (heavily edited and likely scripted) lives of our fellow non-celebrities or even would-be-used-to-be celebrities.

Believe it or not, despite how inescapable it is, I’ve never been bitten by the reality TV bug. My parents watch Big Brother and Survivor. They’ve been trying for years to get me hooked on them, but I just can’t. Not for lack of effort, though. To be fair, I did watch Survivor ONCE. What happened in that episode? Let’s see. If I recall correctly, one of the players stole all of the other team’s stuff before they even got to the island where the contest was supposed to take place. When that happened I said “screw this” and put reality TV in my rearview mirror. I just find that watching cheaters do terrible things to other people is more annoying than it is entertaining. As it turns out, that’s pretty much the entire foundation that reality TV is built upon. Not just Survivor, but all of them. Apparently, playing dirty is the norm and expected.

Sometime after the Survivor fiasco, I went back to the well and tried again. This time I chose Dancing with the Stars (after it had been on for a while). That one wasn’t too bad. I even made it through a couple of seasons. The first season I watched was okay, but I had my qualms. I didn’t like that the fan voting made it more of a popularity contest than a dancing contest, and the good dancers got sent home because of it. The second and third seasons kind of lost me when I realized some of the “celebrity” guests they threw in there were pretty much professionals themselves who had obvious dance expertise (a choreographer, an ice skater, a gymnast). How is that fair to the others? That’s like competing in a swim meet and the person you’re up against is a professional lifeguard. Plus, the one guest celebrity who had absolutely no dancing experience and yet was improving over time (which I thought was the whole point of the show) was treated horribly by the judges. I mean horribly. It was cringe-worthy. That turned off whatever interest I may have had in the so-called contest.

Even though I’ve been burned twice, I can’t say that I’ve given up on reality TV quite yet. Much to my dismay, actually. My daughter has turned me on to Project Runway and, to be blunt, it’s driving me insane. I get anxious. Then, I get angry. Then I get anxious AND angry, not to mention loud. And while the emotional roller coaster the show puts me through is not exactly a pleasant experience, I just can’t turn away. I must see who wins. And if it ends up not being the person I want to win, well, I simply can’t be responsible for my actions or what happens to my TV. The problem is that I get too invested. I feel attached to certain players. I become incensed over the rude comments made by the judges. I feel betrayed pissed off when someone cheats. I take offense when a player reveals they are two-faced. How annoying is all that!?  And hey, it’s only my first season of watching. So, yeah.

Watching reality TV just reaffirms everything I hate about people in general and I find it very frustrating that I now wait anxiously for Thursdays to roll around so I can see what the hell happens. I won’t be watching another season of Project Runway, I’m sure, but as it stands now, I just want to make it through this one with my TV and vocal chords intact.