“Halloween Twenty-Fifteen”: A Guide for Destination America’s Paranormal Programming

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It appears that Destination America has taken it upon themselves to become television’s Ghost Channel. They already had a plethora of paranormal programming, and they are expanding even more by the week. Some of these are decent, while others are downright awful. This write-up is to give you the information you need to decide which shows you might want to try, and of course, which ones you should run away from screaming. Previous posts and reviews may not exactly be glowing, but not all the network has in store is atrocious. Continue reading below to find out more. All the shows mentioned have either aired in the last week or will air shortly.

A Haunting: It originally aired on the Discovery Channel from 2005-2007. For the most part, the original episodes were really good. Yes, the acting in the reenactments could border on abominable and the interviews with the actual witnesses telling their stores were not always credible, but at least the show entertained and gave you a good scare every now and then. Anthony Call’s narration is perfectly chilling. However, towards the end of the original run, ghosts starting being replaced with demons and evil entities. It seemed there could not be just a regular ol’ haunted house anymore. Everything was demonic and in need of an exorcism. The series was brought back in 2012 and continues to churn out new episodes, again, a large number having a demonic origin. The narration and production values are still the same, but the credibility twists ever downward. This series, though, is still worth a watch.

Amish Haunting: See here. As you can tell, I’m not exactly a fan.

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Castle Ghosts: A common theme here is that older is usually better. These were a set of four separately produced specials between 1995 and 1997 for the Discovery Channel that pop up on Destination America every now and then for whatever reason. Hosted by the calm, soft-spoken gentleman Robert Hardy, they may have the highest quality of anything else on this list. Filmed in the vein of the old History Channel series Haunted History, the effects are almost nonexistent, but man, there are some great stories and legends here, and beautiful shots of the countryside overseas. Look for all four installments: England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Sit down with  a cup of Earl Grey (or a Scotch) and enjoy.

Exorcism: Live!: See here. Just ask yourself: do we need a show like this?

Ghostly Encounters: These were old-fashioned even when they were first aired back in 2005, but there was something about them that stayed with me. Maybe the reliance on interviews and firsthand accounts than hokey and stupid reenactments. Coming in at only 30 minutes each, they were too short to become convoluted.

Hauntings and Horrors: This show just took the listings by storm over the last week and is aired almost daily. While the episodes might say “new” in your in-TV guide, research has shown me that they are actually from a Canadian series titled Creepy Canada, which aired from 2002-2006. They have been renamed for American television. Each episode presents us with four or five stories and legends from both sides of the border. Some are famous while others are more local. I find myself watching them when they are on, even though the production value is not particularly good. The narration and some interviews are a good source of folklore, but the acting and special effects are just plain awful. Not to mention the witnesses being interviewed sound like they have rehearsed their story beforehand or are reading off a cue-card. Its quite awkward. Still, give it a watch if you have the chance. There’s a good amount of history in with each story.

Inside Area 51 and Return to Area 51: One or both of these hour-long specials are aired nearly every week if you check the listings, though they were produced in 1997 and 2002 respectively. They are incredibly dated, yet still charming, nerdy, and informative enough to be the definitive Area 51 documentaries, if you believe in that sort of thing. If only modern editing could just go in and shave off Peter Merlin’s creepy 90’s mustache, these would be A-okay.

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Monsters and Mysteries in America: Just like Monsterquest which used to air on the History Channel, the first season or two were pretty good. Then they ran out of stories. Now, they are grasping. Its merely an updated and HD version of Hauntings and Horrors. The reenactments are just comical and the costumes the so-called “monsters” wear are something you would find on the clearance rack at Party City. Every other episode seems to be about a Bigfoot sighting in a different state. Give it enough time and aliens always make their way in as well. I think it was season one where they did an episode on haunted highways which I enjoyed, but other than that, its not worth your time.

UFOs: The Best Evidence Ever Caught on Tape: I probably shouldn’t even devote time to this because it was only a two-part series (unless there are more episodes I don’t know about). Star Trek fans will enjoy the narration by Jonathon Frakes, but this series is too dated to be relevant anymore. The basis of the show is to look at home videos shot by average citizens of UFO’s and alien phenomena (younger viewers may ask, “What’s a camcorder?”). Many of these clips have been exposed as hoaxes or simple mistakes since the initial 1997 airing and 2000 follow-up, but I will admit, the analysts spend more time debunking and defrauding the videos than they do trying to prove. Perhaps a reboot is in order?

Unsealed: Alien Files: It seems like almost every channel has an alien-themed series nowadays, so it is hard for them to differentiate from each other. I actually have high praise for this one, because unlike other shows out there, this does not feed on paranoia or outlandish theories. For starters, each episode is only a half hour, meaning they have to get straight to the point. They rely strictly on video evidence, analysts, and credible UFO researchers (we can debate such credibility all day, but I would take nuclear physicist Stanton Friedman over Giorgio Crazyhair  or David Childress any day). This is an entertaining and sometimes fascinating show and might be the most credible of all alien programming.

Project Afterlife, My Child Sees Dead People, and Mountain Monsters: They either have not yet premiered or I have not had a chance to view an episode, but do they sound like shows I would enjoy? Come on now, just give it a break. This channel has already established itself as the Ghost Channel (at the risk of its own credibility), so why must we go over the top? Then there’s Ghost Asylum, where redneck ghost hunters try to trap the ghosts they seek inside a box. Need I say more?

Hopefully this guide was helpful in assisting you on how you want to spend or waste your time this fall. I thought now was as good a time as any to put this out there, because such programming will only accelerate as October nears. More articles in this special “Halloween Twenty-Fifteen” column can be found here.

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