HK and Cult Film News's Fan Box

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

GHOST HUNTERS: SEASON 7: PART 1 -- DVD review by porfle

If you're one of those people who like to make up drinking games at the drop of a cork, here's a good one--watch Image Entertainment's 4-disc DVD set GHOST HUNTERS: SEASON 7: PART 1 and take a swig every time a member of The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) says "Wuh-wuh-zat?"  You'll be bombed out of your skull in no time.

Regular viewers will know that this SyFy Channel series follows the supernatural adventures of TAPS founders Jason Hewes and Grant Wilson, who, along with their team of investigators, visit some of the most haunted spots in America and have plenty of opportunities to utter their ubiquitous catchphrase.  Episodes often begin with a dramatization of Jason and Grant going about their day job as plumbers and receiving a call from case manager Ami Bruni, who lays out the facts behind their next exciting exploit.  (It's kind of like "Mission: Impossible" meets Roto-Rooter.) 

Their clients can be employees, tour guides, or other interested parties who work in a haunted building, or they can be homeowners with unwelcome houseguests.  The latter are usually the most compelling, since these people and their families have to live with some pretty scary goings on every day and night, and their stories are the closest the show ever comes to anything like "Poltergeist" or "The Amityville Horror."  (Although nothing even nearly that extreme ever actually happens.)

Besides Jason and Grant, who are a couple of regular, likable guys, the core team consists of case manager Ami, tech guy Steve Gonsalvez (who sets up all the cameras, recording devices, and other equipment), investigator Dave Tango, and trainee Adam Berry, who is pretty much Ami's sidekick for most of the season.  A new canine addition to the team, Maddie, proves valuable due to her innate sensitivity to things that go bump in the night.  After learning the background of each case, the team enter the location in question and it's "lights out", after which they wander around in the dark for several hours inviting any ghosts in the vicinity to interact with them. 

The first episode, "Haunted Town" (mislabled "Alcatraz" on my DVD), gets things off to an interesting start since TAPS' client in this case is the entire town of Alexandria, Louisiana, including the mayor.  Apparently many businesses on their main street are haunted and the citizens of the town want our heroes to get to the bottom of it all.  The climactic "reveal", in which Jason and Grant offer the evidence they've gathered to the client, takes place at an actual town meeting.

"Pennsylvania Asylum" is, as described in the episode, "one of the world's most nefarious madhouses" and the sort of place where you'd expect one of those mockumentary horror movies to be filmed.  Shadowy figures and moaning greet the team within its darkened halls.  "Century of Hauntings" concerns a Massachusetts family in a centuries-old house whose renovations reveal odd things behind the walls and under the floorboards.  After that, we visit the U.S.S. Olympia, whose interior is so cramped that only shoulder-mounted and stationary cameras are used during the investigation.

"French Quarter Phantoms" takes place at the Old U.S. Mint in New Orleans, a creepy, crumbling old ruin said to be haunted by the ghost of a man who was hanged there after the Civil War.  "Hotel Haunts Unleashed" is Maddie's debut, as the team visit a hotel near Mt. Rushmore and manage to debunk most of the claims of ghostly encounters there.  (One of the nicest things about "Ghost Hunters" is the extent to which the TAPS team go to try and offer logical explanations for things instead of automatically accepting them as supernatural.)

"Frozen in Fear" takes place on frigid Mackinac Island in Michigan, where a lamp will turn on by itself in the hotel room Jason's sleeping in and disembodied voices are heard.  The most suspenseful part of this one is whether or not Steve, who refuses to fly, will be stranded on the island if the ice around it gets too thick for the ferry to take him back to the mainland. 

"Residual Haunts" concerns an old military fortress in Maine where people are said to sense the "presence of evil."  Then we visit a family in North Carolina who keep seeing Grandpa standing on the porch of his house even though he's dead.  In "A Soldier's Story", the sorta-blah investigation of an old opera house in Connecticut is followed by another North Carolina family living in terror because their house seems to be infested with apparitions. 

"Pearl Harbor Phantoms" finds the team wandering through a couple of huge hangars at the Pacific Aviation Museum in Honolulu, Hawaii, where all sorts of cool stuff happens including running footsteps, rooms illuminated by mysterious floating lights (captured on video), voices speaking entire sentences (saying things aircraft mechanics might say such as "Come over and weld this wing!"), and, best of all, spirits seemingly turning flashlights on and off at the prompting of team members (one flashlight also rolls around on its own). 

The episode ends with Steve, who didn't come because he's afraid to fly, urgently calling Jason and Grant to return to Rhode Island to help a family whose four-year-old daughter Hannah is being terrified by apparitions and other domestic frights.  "Urgent!" continues the story with the Pearl Harbor reveal and the investigation of the Rhode Island house, in which Jay and Grant make a discovery about the house's electro-magnetic field which may prove to be a breakthrough in dealing with Hannah's fears.

Maddie the dog returns just in time to get the wits scared out of her in the final episode, "Hill View Manor", about another one of those big old decrepit institutions that just seem to breed otherworldly malevolence.  It's another lively mission in which the flashlight trick is used once again to impressive effect and the team have a wealth of mindboggling personal experiences with the unknown.

The 4-disc DVD set from Image Entertainment is in 1.78:1 widescreen with Dolby Digital stereo sound.  No subtitles.  Disc four consists entirely of bonus footage and extended scenes. 

Of all the methods used by TAPS on GHOST HUNTERS: SEASON 7: PART 1, the flashlight game is my favorite.  There's simply no other explanation for the phenomenon besides one of two possibilities: either the show is rigged, or the spirits are real.  Skeptics will no doubt choose the first without question.  As for me--having once heard footsteps in an empty room myself (and thinking, "Wuh-wuh-zat?"), I tend toward giving the TAPS gang the benefit of the doubt. 

Buy it at

No comments: