(L-R) Adam Berry, Ben Hansen (Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files), Amy Bruni, Colin Ferguson (Eureka) and Jason Hawes
After an almost three-month break, Ghost Hunters returns to Syfy tonight (Wednesday, August 24th @ 9:00 p.m. EST/PST) with the first of 15 brand-new cases. In the season seven mid-year opener “Urgent,” Jason Hawes, Grant Wilson and the rest of the team assist a family terrorized by the spirit of a an elderly man they believe inhabit their home.
Other upcoming investigations include “Dark Shadows,” in which fans of the '70s classic cult daytime supernatural drama join the investigation of Seaview Terrace, the location where the long-running gothic soap opera was filmed, while in “Hill View Manor,” the team checks out the former nursing home in New Castle, PA and its turbulent and violent history.
Last week GH Investigator Amy Bruni and Investigator-In-Training Adam Berry spoke at length with me and other members of the press about their involvement in the series as well as interest in the paranormal. Enjoy!
Has your belief in the paranormal been with you since you were children and, if not, when did it begin for the both of you?
AMY BRUNI - For me, it’s been since I was a child. My dad and I used to investigate together starting when I was around 10 years old. So it’s been a long time. I grew up in a house that seemingly had paranormal activity and that’s when I became interested in it. I went with my dad to the library and we checked out all these books on spiritualism and paranormal investigations. The two of us used this really lousy tape recorder to try to get EVPs [electronic voice phenomenon]. From there we started going to places like cemeteries and local historical sites.
So it was really kind of a bonding experience for me and my dad. When I got older I carried on doing investigations and it was one of those things when I was in junior high and high school where some people made fun of me. Now, however, this type of phenomenon is a lot more out in the open, so it’s very different.
ADAM BERRY - I’d have to agree. When I was a kid I loved things that went bump in the night, anything scary, including movies, Halloween and all that sort of stuff. I knew something was out there but I didn’t have my first ghostly encounter until after college. So I had a late start, but I always had a drive for it and a passion to find out what exactly it is. It’s progressed from there and I can’t wait to find out what really lies behind that closet door.
What has been your scariest bump in the night moment?
AMY - Well, for me it wasn’t a ghost. We were investigating this old jail in New Jersey and I was in a series of tunnels where I found this kind of manhole cover. I lifted the cover and stood up in this room that we didn’t even know existed. It was, in fact, an old boiler room where a homeless man was living. He was there, I was there, we both looked at each other and I thought, “I shouldn’t be here.” I went back down [the manhole], turned to the camera operator and said "Let’s not go that way.”
That sort of thing doesn’t happen very often because when we’re in a massive complex like that, the buildings we’re investigating have been secured and there is nobody in there. This, however, was an area off the beaten path and that particular building had never been checked out. So that was a little scary; I’m more afraid of people than animals.
ADAM - I have to say that it was the moment Amy and I had upstairs at Pennhurst Asylum [in Chester County, PA]. We thought there were these crazy animals at the end of the hall. That was frightening because we didn’t know what it was, and we could even find any animals, either. So that was a freaky moment, and also when we were in Hawaii during the tsunami. That was the most terrifying experience. Sometimes it’s not ghostly things that freak us out.
AMY - I’ll take ghosts over any of that stuff any day.
ADAM - Yes, I will too, absolutely.
Is there anything in your real lives that you find scarier than the things you encounter on your investigations?
AMY - Some of our travel is pretty scary, like when we were taking the icebreaker ferry across the lake to Mackinac Island in Michigan and later realized that we were stranded and couldn’t take the ferry back. We had to fly out in this little four-seater plane and it took something like 16 trips to take all of our equipment back and forth. Another time we are driving across the country during the middle of these crazy snowstorms and almost went off the road. That’s the stuff that terrifies me.
ADAM - Just to add to that. A couple of months later we thought the worst of the winter was over and we were driving up to Maine to do an investigation. The drive should have taken us a couple of hours, but it ended up taking four-and-a-half hours because of the snow storm that happened.
I know you guys are never going to run out of places or things to investigate, but have you ever heard of the story of Robert the Haunted Doll and, if so, have you done any investigations on it?
AMY - I have met Robert the Haunted Doll [an allegedly cursed doll once owned by Key West, Florida painter and artist Robert Eugene Otto]. He was taken to a convention I went to a few years ago before I was even on Ghost Hunters, and this doll was creepy. The people who were carrying him around wore gloves and he was the celebrity. Jay and Grant [Ghost Hunters lead investigators Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson] were there, too, and it was like they were invisible. Everybody wanted to see this doll.
So they brought him in, sat him down on a display and there were people sitting next to him who were trying to do a radio broadcast. All their equipment kept malfunctioning and nothing would work. Finally they moved to the other side of the room and everything worked just fine. People also kept saying that they were taking pictures of this doll but that the photos weren’t turning out. I would have liked to have investigated him a little bit more but he was in a big convention setting. Still, it was really interesting to see him and a strange story for sure.
We only get to see a short amount of what you guys do when you go to a location. What is an investigation actually like as far as length is concerned?
AMY - It’s long. Depending on the time of year, especially the winter months when it gets darker soon, we get there pretty early. We'll usually arrive at a location anywhere from 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. and are there until 5 or 6 the next morning. Some investigations are so big that we’ll do two nights, but you really can’t tell on the show. It’s usually played as though we were there for only the one night.
Again, it’s a very long process because we go in and while Jay, Grant and Steve [Gonsalves] are taken on a tour of the location, we unpack the van. When they come back, Steve tells us where to put the cameras, and that’s the longest part of the [prep] process, placing the cameras and the cables. It's at least an hour or two of set-up, and then as soon as it gets dark, we go in and start investigating. If it’s a large location we’ll all investigate at once. So it’s a bit of a process, but it’s a lot of fun.
ADAM - And, of course, it continues after that. It’s all about going over the evidence and you have days of reviews, too. It’s very, very exciting because each case it like a little Christmas present that you get to open and unwrap very slowly, and like Amy said, it’s really a lot of fun.
AMY - Each case usually takes a week or two, so we’re in a particular area for a week or two between the researching, the investigation, the analysis, etc.
Do you ever fear bringing something home with you when you go on these locations?
AMY - I can’t speak for Adam, but I know it hasn’t happened to me yet and I’m not really afraid of that. However, any time something weird happens around me, everybody wants to blame it on me. At one point there reportedly was this ghost of a little boy at a mill being investigated, and Jay said, “I have kids at home, so if you want to come visit and play with my son, feel free." So he actually invited this ghost home, but nothing happened. Nothing followed him home or anything like that.
ADAM - I don’t think anything has followed me home yet, knock on wood, but if something did, it would just be like an investigation. You’d tell whatever it was to get out, that they’re not welcome and to leave you alone. So I think it would be easy to get rid of something.
In your opinion what makes this season of Ghost Hunters stand out over previous seasons?
AMY - The evidence. We’ve been using some new full spectrum cameras and have gotten some crazy evidence this season. Even Steve has said as far as evidence that he’s seen since he started with the show, this season’s is the best. As the equipment progresses so does our ability to collect evidence. Also, this season we’re going to more locations that to us have consistent and constant paranormal activity. We’re really lucky in that we get to go to these amazing places and I just feel like the activity is really perking up this season.
Why is it better that an investigation is done at night and in the dark rather than during the daytime?
ADAM - There are a lot of reasons. Obviously ghosts are around at all times and you can investigate during the day. I was in Provincetown recently with a group of my friends and we were investigating during the day. At night, though there are a variety of things that will help you. It’s quieter, number one. Also, when you’re in the dark your senses are a little more heightened; you’re more aware with your eyes and ears as well as sense of smell. It’s really spooky, too, and much more fun to ghost hunt in the dark than it is during the day. But, again, it’s pretty much because it’s quieter and we’re more aware of what’s going on around us that we do our investigations at night and in the dark.
AMY - Plus there are a lot of light anomalies that are more easily seen in the dark, including shadowy figures, strangely enough. That’s a big part of it as well.
How much historical research do you guys actually do before you leave for a property and how much do you rely on stuff like that?
AMY - I’m the team’s researcher and what we usually do is have a general overview of a location before we go. We compile a very large amount of history on the location and the activity that’s taking place there. We go in with that information, and then after we do the investigation I do more hardcore research. I’ll go to places like the local historical society and the library in order to verify some of the stories that we’ve been told. This is the way Jay and Grant like to do things because going in we don’t want any historical information we already know to sway our investigation.
Many times we’ll get evidence that doesn’t necessarily correlate with what a client has told us, but then when we go back and do the research, we find out something new that they didn’t know. So it’s very intensive. The [research] process usually takes a day or two. I use a lot of Web sites like Ancestry.com, and I also interview people and try to get more information on the place.
Why do you think there is still so much interest in the supernatural, especially now in the 21st century where we know much more about the world than we used to?
AMY - Because things keep happening that no one can explain. Regardless of all the scientific advances we’ve made, people are still, for example, seeing full-bodied apparitions walk by them and are having things thrown across the room for no reason. Given the number of reports of such incidents, there is no way that they're not happening, and just because science can’t explain it, it doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Once people have these types of experiences, they want to know what the heck is going on, and science isn’t giving them answers in all cases. I think it eventually will, but we’re not there yet.
ADAM - I also feel that there is always an uncertainty about the afterlife and people want to know what’s happening to their loved ones and what they’re going to experience when they pass on. People are constantly looking for answers as well as solutions and hope that there is something beyond this [mortal] world.