Forgive me, then, for being surprised at the sheer volume of TV shows regarding the supernatural/paranormal/spooky/haunted/etc type of stuff. My wife, who really isn't into scary movies much at all, is far more into these kinds of tv shows, which is cool with me. I try to record at least 1 or 2 episodes of each one so I can give them a shot at bringing the creeps. Some of them succeed to varying degrees, and some are just sad.
Before we moved to San Diego in 2001, I remember watching episodes of MTV's Fear on TV and thinking they were super rad. If you've never heard of it, I think it's fair to say they were a precursor to a lot of these paranormal shows of late. A group of (usually) young and (kinda) dumb people are taken to a supposedly haunted location and set up in a safehouse/command center type of place. They are each assigned a color and a computer then sends them out into the scariness in order to complete "dares" - usually involving provocation of ghosts, using a ouija board, completing some halfassed type of rite or getting in a mirror box, you name it. What really makes it work, though, is the setup that the show provides for each of the locations. There's a lot of detail about grisly events, about the ghosts that are supposed to be there, about how all these psychics who have been there practically shat themselves when they walked through in broad daylight...and then these poor saps have to go in there in pitch darkness and do some stupid dares so they can make a couple of thousand bucks.
|Uh, no thanks|
Well, MTV's Fear came and went pretty quickly, and as cool of a show as it was, they couldn't leave well enough alone. God forbid that they just play up the wretchedness of a locale and let people scare the poo out of themselves bumbling around saying Bloody Mary in a mirror or whatever...no, they had to fake it. Histories of locations were made up from whole cloth (as in supposed satanic rituals at Camp Spirit Lake, which was bullshit and not even the place's name - if memory serves, it was the filming location for Friday the 13th for Pete's sake), equipment was rigged to malfunction, there were production assistants making noises in the background, stuff was painted on walls and props carefully placed. In other words, they fucked up a beautiful thing. If they had just left well enough alone, who knows how big the show might have gotten?
|It's enough to make you puke|
I guess it says a lot for my love of the creepy setup, though, that I watch a couple of these shows all the time because they subscribe to the concept. Ghost Adventures and Destination:Truth probably are the most consistent when it comes to setting the stage, but what's starting to get disconcerting is that the "stars" of these shows are starting to act like they're the reason people watch their shows - which is not the case. Speaking for myself, I'm watching it because it helps me imagine how scary it would be to do what they're doing, as in wandering around an abandoned prison/mental hospital/deserted village/Chernobyl listening for spooky shit. I'm not watching it because Josh Gates is so hilarious or Zak Bagans is so EXTREEEEEME.
|which he is.|
I guess with a subject matter as absurd as "real life paranormal occurrences", there's an impossibly fine line between scary and stupid.