When I was a kid there was a Holy Trifecta of holidays that everyone in kiddom eagerly awaited: Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. These three days existed as a sort of bastion for youth the world over and shaped our overall understanding and appreciation of life. Thanksgiving was all about seeing our weird Uncle Joey and gorging on an overabundance of turkey and mashed potatoes. Christmas was, of course, Mecca to all of us kids and passed before our eyes in a whirlwind of bright colors, joyful music and whichever presents we coveted that particular holiday season. And then there was…Halloween.
Halloween was sort of like the redheaded stepchild to Thanksgiving and Christmas; it was acknowledged and generally celebrated but also slightly looked down upon by our parents and teachers as being inferior to the snow-driven purity of what I like to call The Big Two. The primary issue adults had with Halloween, I think looking back over all of the years, was that it was a day that had been co-opted by children everywhere. It truly was an authentic kid’s holiday if ever there was such a thing. For many of us it was our first real taste of something that catered to and celebrated us. Think about it: Halloween as it has been celebrated for the last hundred years or so is a day where we as kids got to dress up as our favorite characters in comics, television or movies. We got free candy by dressing up in said costumes. And we all got to indulge our predilections towards monster movies and stories about things that go bump in the night. My parents, who always seemed to approach The Big Two with an uncomfortable zeal and make it about how many tube socks they could rain down on me while extolling the virtues of hearth and kinship all the while stuffing our faces with Aunt Edna’s questionable green bean casserole, seemed reserved in comparison when it came to Halloween. Perhaps because they knew it could be exclusionary towards adults who had actually dared to grow up and lose that spark of mischievousness and wide eyed wonder that we as children possessed in spades.
Now that I’m older I’m a little more balanced with how I view and celebrate The Big Two. I’ve learned to appreciate them and have aged comfortably around those two towering days of the year. With Halloween, however, I’m afraid to report that I still fondly gaze upon my vintage plastic Jack-o’-lantern mask, I still occasionally sneak a sumptuous Ferrara Atomic Fire Ball and I still walk a block out of my way to avoid that creepy, long-deserted two-story Colonial house that every kid in the neighborhood swears is haunted.
Which is why it was a happy day in my household to be for sure when the Travel Channel announced their Ghostober programming a couple of days back: Thirty one days of programming featuring terrifying debuts of new paranormal reality shows, the return of ghostly favorites and more tales of the unexplained and the supernatural than you can shake a witches broomstick at.
The lineup is creepily impressive and is headlined by the return of ghostly investigator Zak Bagans and the Ghost Adventures crew in two separate projects: Ghost Adventures: Serial Killer Spirits is a four part, weekly addendum to the regular Ghost Adventures show and premieres October 5 at 9 P.M. ET/PT. This cross-country journey into terror showcases the team checking out infamous locations tied to American serial killers.
The second offering from the Ghost Adventures crew is a two hour live broadcast on October 31 at 9 P.M. ET/PT. Titled Ghost Adventures: Curse of the Harrisville Farmhouse, this event focuses on the former home of the Perron family, immortalized forever in the Hollywood hit The Conjuring. This one sounds interesting, but I feel as if it’s the proverbial bridesmaid for the long MIA Amityville Horror house which I have a hunch Zak Bagans would trade in all of his skin tight muscle shirts to get a shot at investigating. Oh well, in lieu of the Mount Everest of haunted houses, the so-called Conjuring house will fit the bill quite nicely. One complaint: The show has never been quite as good since the departure of investigator Nick Groff. Travel Channel, get Nick a new show ASAP!
Want to see the paranormal reality show equivalent of a reunion of the Beatles? Look no further than the new ongoing series Ghost Nation (Premiering October 11, 9 P.M. ET/PT) which reunites three of the principals from the much lamented – and first of its kind to gain any real recognition – Sci-Fi show Ghost Hunters. Veteran ghost hunters Jason Hawes, Steve Gonsalves and Dave Tango (cool names all) return with all new members of their group to attempt to prove – or disprove – hauntings across the country. When I was a freewheeling bachelor I can vaguely recall passing out on my living room futon after a few too many, the sights and sounds of Ghost Hunters echoing from my tinny television set my only company. The description for the new show sounds good (all new ghost hunting equipment is extolled which I’m sure will probably underwhelm me) and I only have one question/complaint: Why the hell isn’t Jason Hawe’s better-half, Grant Wilson, returning?
Another new series, Most Terrifying Places, also debuts on the Travel Channel in October and is apparently not set in the buffet line at a local Golden Corral (seriously dude, that is one scary joint, jus’ sayin’…). Premiering on October 1 at 10 P.M. ET/PT, this show endeavors to take us to cursed ships reputedly haunted by ghostly crews and other scary locales.
The Holzer Files (October 3, 10:00 P.M. ET/PT) sounds too good to pass up if you’re a student of the history of paranormal investigations. Named after the late and distinguished investigator Hans Holzer, this show aims to employ new investigations on all things eerie and out of place by using Holzer’s old case files provided to this new team of crack ghost hunters by Holzer’s daughter. This one caught my attention for the sheer fact that, as an eleven and twelve year old, I was fascinated by Holzer’s involvement in the Amityville case. Heck, the guy even wrote a book about the infamous house on Ocean Drive so I think this show is worth at least a cursory view.
Is all of the above simply not enough for you? Yeesh, alright! Try this one on for size: Hometown Horror – which debuts October 11 at 10 P.M. ET/PT – takes a closer look at those seemingly idyllic small towns that dot our country to see what really lurks beneath the white picket fences and the copiously mown lawns. The Pigman of Angola, New York is examined as is the specter filled air of Perryville, Kentucky.
If you prefer your paranormal with a little more X-Files and In Search Of and less The Haunting of Hill House and Topper, then The Alaskan Triangle (Premieres October 21 at 10 P.M. ET/PT) might just be for you. This new series examines a swath of Alaska that for years has reported UFO sightings, mysterious disappearances and strange creatures.
Continuing this “orgy of the damned” (special thank you to Tom Holland for that line) is the spic and span, all new show My Horror Story – Premiering October 21 at 11 P.M. ET/PT – where seemingly ordinary folks relate their own encounters with the occult.
Destination Fear (October 26, 10 P.M. ET/PT) is a quasi-Ghost Adventures spin-off that stars Zak Bagan’s former team member Dakota Laden. Here, Laden is on the road trip from hell as he and his sister and their best friend RV it from location to location in search of things that go bump in the night.
Not to be outdone by their good friends over on Ghost Adventures, Haunted Salem: Live is exactly that: A four hour live broadcast on October 4 at 8 P.M. ET/5 P.M. PT that is sort of a paranormal riff off of Scooby’s All-Star Laff-A-Lympics. Featured are such paranormal luminaries as Katrina Weidman (formerly of the much lamented Paranormal Lockdown), Jack Osbourne, Amy Bruni, Adam Berry, Chip Coffey, Dalen Spratt, Juwan Mass, Marcus Harvey, Dave Schrader and Cindy Kaza as they snoop around three of Salem’s most reputedly haunted locations. For four hours. Might want to make a pot of coffee for this one…
In a similar vein in the not-live Witches of Salem (October 6 at 10 P.M. ET/PT) which acts as one part traditional drama and one part documentary; hey, mash those two words together kids and what do you got? That’s right, a docudrama. This series will attempt to recreate the eight month descent into hell that Salem, Massachusetts underwent in the 1700s.
Alright, I told everyone at the beginning of this treatise that Ghostober lasts the entirety of October, so hang in there, I’ve got more shows to pontificate on, starting with the season two premiere of These Woods Are Haunted (October 14, 9 P.M. ET/PT). The perfect show to watch right before that big camping trip with the guys, this creepy show continues its exploration of the supernatural by collecting individuals who share with the camera their own haunting stories. Bring some cheese while watching this one, as the dramatic recreations with actors is award winning goofiness at its best.
Paranormal Survivor (Mondays at 9 P.M. ET/PT in October) returns with new episodes that demand Pat Benatar’s Invincible as its theme song.
Mountain Monsters returns as of October 30 at 9 P.M. ET/PT and if The Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction are your speed then this is your show. The show follows a determined group of researchers investigating mythical creatures in the Appalachian Mountains. More camo than you can shake a stick at.
Capping Ghostober off is one of the best paranormal investigative shows on the air – The Dead Files. This long running show about a retired New York City detective and a usually on the money psychic teamed up to solve ghostly mysteries returns on October 30 at 9 P.M. ET/PT.
And there you have it fellow Halloween lovers, a packed television schedule meant to indulge your paranormal sweet tooth. Enjoy it all…Trick or Treat!