The Accidental Ghost Hunter’s Review of “Most Haunted”

I’ll admit it. One of my favorite cable TV shows about the paranormal is the Travel Channel’s Most Haunted. While the ghost hunters in this British import are not as scientific in their approach to their investigations as I would like, this show can’t be beat for its pure entertainment value. I have to credit that to the hostess, Yvette Fielding, actress turned ghost hunting guide. Yvette has a lot of screen charisma and really pulls the show together as she guides viewers through each week’s haunted location.

Over the year’s this team has caught a lot of interesting paranormal activity on camera. One of the most spectacular was when cast member Stuart Torevell was physically attacked by a ghost. I’ve seen this episode several times, and the way he fell backward would have been a very difficult stunt to pull off had it been staged. In fact it’s interesting to note that afterward this incident he too developed alopecia, as did Dead Famous co-host Gail Porter.

I would like to see this team use less parlor tricks, like table tapping, and use more emf meters and tape recorders. The team also includes psychics who appear to be pretty accurate in identifying the spirits of real historical people who once inhabited the locales they investigate. And I particularly like psychic David Wells’ gentle, down to earth demeanor.

This show airs Friday nights on the Travel Channel, and it’s definitely a good excuse to stay home on Friday nights.

A Particularly Scary Ghostly Encounter

Most of my experiences as an accidental ghost hunter have been benign. In fact, many times I’m not even aware that I’ve had a ghostly encounter until I get my pictures developed. There was, however, one instance when I was very aware, and it was my most frightening experience to date.

This past summer I’d gone to Tombstone, Arizona, for a weekend event to do some storytelling and sign my books. Whenever I go there I usually stay at a motel in the nearby town of Benson, and being a frequent visitor to that part of the state has given me a wonderful opportunity to befriend some of the locals. I always look forward to seeing them whenever I’m in town.

I had just gotten settled into my room in Benson when one of my friends called. He’d borrowed a friend’s convertible and he wanted to take me for a ride. I was happy to accept the invitation.

One of the wonderful things about visiting small, rural Arizona communities in the summertime is the chance to do some stargazing. Most of us live in cities, and light pollution makes seeing the stars from our own backyards difficult, if not impossible. I told my friend that’s what I wanted to do, and he knew the perfect spot. It was along the side of a road near an old western movie set.

We had just pulled over and shut the engine down. I looked up at the sky and marveled at the billions of stars. It was like looking into an ocean of lights. As my mind began to wonder I thought about Star Trek, and I wondered if perhaps someday we really would explore the stars.

We’d only been there a few minutes when something very unexpected happened. I heard a strange sound. It was the sound of footsteps. Loud, heavy footsteps, and they were coming towards us.

I asked my friend if he heard them. He said yes, he did. We looked at one another in started disbelief as my mind raced with all the urban legend ghost stories I’d heard as a youngster about the young couple whose car runs out of gas on the back road in the woods…and then one of them gets murdered in a grizzly way by an unseen stranger. My friend said something to the effect of let’s get the hell out of here. He started up the car and we took off — fast.

My friend isn’t a man who scares easily, but whatever this was sure scared the bejeebers out of him. We racked our brains trying to figure out what we’d heard, but we’ve never come up with any reasonable explanation. The footsteps were too heavy to be human, and he said they didn’t sound like any animal that lives in the area. We can only conclude that whatever it was, it was inhuman, and not friendly.


The Accidental Ghost Hunter’s Review of “Dead Famous”

In recent years there has been a plethora of cable television programs about ghosts and the paranormal. While most of them are pretty good, and some are better than others.

One of my favorites was Dead Famous, which aired on Bio in 2005, and is still occasionally shown in reruns. What I liked the most about Dead Famous was its format. Each week they would feature a different dead celebrity, be it Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, or John Lennon, and they would attempt to find, and communicate with, the ghost of the celebrity.

A lot of time was spent telling the story of the celebrity’s life which I always found interesting. I also liked the balance and the chemistry between the hosts, psychic Chris Fleming and skeptic Gail Porter. Chris and Gail would take viewers to different haunted locales allegedly frequented by the featured celebrity. For instance, the Dead Famous episode about John Wayne had Chris and Gail visiting Tombstone, Arizona and featured Boot Hill Cemetery and the Bird Cage Theater.

While they would occasionally capture an EVP or a strange event on camera, I’m not convinced they ever actually contacted any celebrity spirit. I believe that spirit communication is a one way street–they can contact us, but we really can’t contact them. Still, the show was interesting, entertaining, and educated its viewers about the paranormal. Gail Porter also taught us a lesson in grace and dignity when she developed alopecia. Rather than try to hide her condition under a wig, Gail showed her bald head to the world without shame. The makes her an admirable woman in my book.

The final episode of Dead Famous had Chris and Gail in Lincoln, New Mexico doing a show on Billy the Kid. They too experienced strange happenings there.

I would love to see Bio bring back this show back. And if Gail Porter is no longer interested in Dead Famous, surely another co-host could be found. In the meantime check Bio for reruns.

An Accidental Ghostly Encounter at the Tunstall Store

Photo by Gayle Martin. Copyright 2007. All Rights Reserved.

The town of Lincoln, New Mexico has a reputation for being haunted, and after researching the history of the place it’s no wonder. In 1878, during the Lincoln County War, the single road that runs through Lincoln became one of the most dangerous streets in the entire county.

Ground Zero in the Lincoln County War would have been the Tunstall Store. Its very presence ended the economic monopoly held by shopkeepers Lawrence Murphy and Jimmy Dolan. And it was the murder of shop owner and rancher John Tunstall by lawmen loyal to Murphy and Dolan that ignited the Lincoln County War.

The Tunstall Store is now a museum, and today it looks very much the same as it did in the 1870’s when Billy the Kid walked the streets of Lincoln. But when I took this photo I had yet another bending light beam appear. It seems that I’ve had yet another accidental ghostly encounter.