Friday, July 22, 2016

Comic-Con Official Season 7 Trailer for 'The Walking Dead'

As per tradition, here is the first official Comic-Con trailer for the upcoming season of The Walking Dead and, needless to say, it's goosebumps-inducing. Aren't they always? I can type something about new characters, which character will meet Lucille, etc., but I know you just want to check out the intense action.

The seventh season premieres on October 23.

-Larissa Mrykalo

'Paranormal Lockdown' Announces Longest Paranormal Investigation Ever With Halloween Special

Courtesy Destination America
We realize it's only July and we're sweating off our orbs but it's never too early to start thinking about that glorious month of October and Halloween. Our friends over at Destination America are already rolling out the Ghostober announcements and we think you'll be pleased. So grab a pumpkin spice latte and check out the details from the press release they just issued about the "Paranormal Lockdown" Halloween special that will premiere on Friday, October 28 at 9 p.m. ET.

What notorious location will Nick Groff and Katrina Weidman be investigating? Read on.

Official Release via Destination America
(San Diego, Calif.) – This October it’s Halloween all month long on Destination America with a celebration of all things that go bump in the night. October – make that GHOSTOBER! – keeps the thrills and chills coming with week after week of premieres so spooky viewers will never want to leave the safety of their sofa. TV’s #1 home for paranormal programming delivers tricks and treats every night of the week during GHOSTOBER, culminating in a supernatural television event sure to scare socks off. From the network that delivered the first-ever live televised exorcism last fall, comes the two-hour PARANORMAL LOCKDOWN HALLOWEEN SPECIAL (wt), premiering Friday, October 28 at 9/8c only on Destination America.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

New Paranormal Comedy, 'Ghost Team' Available Early on Google Play

If you've ever been on a paranormal investigation, you know what an absolutely hilarious endeavor it can be. Well, maybe.

If you want a good laugh check out the trailer for Ghost Team then, on July 21, get an early exclusive look at the film on Google Play. It doesn't hit theaters or other OnDemand platforms until August 12. The Oliver Irving-directed film stars Jon Heder, David Krumholtz, Melonie Diaz, Paul W. Downs with Justin Long and Amy Sedaris.

Official Synopsis via The Orchard
Determined to catch some ghosts on film, a paranormal-obsessed man mounts his own investigation into the beyond with his depressed best friend, misfit nephew, a whip-smart beautician, a cable access medium and an overeager security guard by his side.

-Larissa Mrykalo

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Ghostbusters' Dan Aykroyd on reality-TV ghost shows


In case you hadn't noticed, a new "Ghostbusters" movies hit theaters yesterday, and early reviews and box office suggests that bustin' still makes some audiences feel good (though others opposed to the reboot think it's as bad as the coming of Gozer).

But  love it or hate it, the new film is connected to the original in many regards, perhaps none more so than the involvement of Dan Aykroyd. Co-writer of the original movie, and executive producer (and vocal cheerleader) of the new film, Aykroyd even returns for a cameo.

However, the erstwhile Ray Stantz enjoys a special connection to the spirit world. He was raised as a Spiritualist -- a belief system that communication between the living and dead is a positive thing -- and he also has an extensive interest in UFO activity. His father Peter, a renowned member within Spiritualism, wrote a book called "A History of Ghosts," for which Dan wrote the forward. And of course Dan Aykroyd's paranormal interest, and openness about them, extends to his Crystal Head Vodka -- a spirit of another sort that he says is made of pure Newfoundland deep aquifer vodka filtered through Herkimer Diamonds, or polished crystals that are supposed to emit positive energy.

With the opening of the "Ghostbusters" reboot, I wanted to revisit a conversation I had with Aykroyd some time back about the popularity of reality-TV ghosthunting shows -- which receives a little mocking in the new movie -- and how it was impacted by his 1984 film.

Even though he said there’s a big difference between mediums, channeling and other Spiritualist beliefs he holds and “ghost hunting,” Aykroyd thinks the overall effect of such shows is positive.

“I think it’s great that people are employed. It’s giving work to people, it’s enlightening the public and it’s opening the subject up to discussion and debate.” He also added there is a parallel between the current paranormal trend in the mainstream and how Spiritualism was especially en vogue in the late-19th and early-20th centuries.

“Well now, with the digital cameras and all the electronic voice phenomena (EVP), people now have a lot more tools to go out and hunt this stuff. You know, virtually every county in America has a ghost hunting society.”

“But you know, as my dad’s book points out, there’s always been an interest in it because … it’s always been a part of our existence.”

A few years back, in 2010, things got pretty meta and mashed-up between real life ghost hunters and Aykroyd when the alter ego of the fictional Dr. Raymond Stantz joined his Spiritualist father on Larry King Live alongside busters Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson of "Ghost Hunters," and medium Chip Coffey.

Reflecting on that, Aykroyd said he sees a similarity between the gadgets, the special vehicles and the team dynamics of the reality-TV ghost shows and his own "Ghostbusters" characters.

“No doubt they’re inspired by us; I think so.” But as far as his own foray into the reality-TV ghost genre, Aykroyd will confine his work to fantasy, so there will be no guest spots on the shows.

Instead, you'll have to show up to the new "Ghostbusters" movie to see Aykroyd discussing strange happenings in the neighborhood.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Amy Bruni, a real Ghostbuster, weighs in on the all-female cast


In a paranormal event to rival the Philadelphia mass turbulence of 1947, and the Gozer the Gozerian attack on New York City in 1984, a new Ghostbusters film is arriving in theaters on today. And this time, the bustin' will come courtesy of a cast of four women comedians.

After an incredibly long development process, director Paul Feig confirmed the date and appeared to announce his cast of previous collaborators Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids, The Heat), Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids) and Saturday Night Live castmates stars Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones.

The new movie has largely won over critics, despite some fan push back. But original Ghostbusters Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, and Ernie Hudson make cameos in the film, and have thrown their support behind it.

But if the female cast gets a thumbs-up from a ghostbuster, how does the idea strike a ghost hunter? I reached out to Amy Bruni, a paranormal investigator on Syfy's 10-year-old series Ghost Hunters to find out.

Debuting in 2005, Ghost Hunters introduced many reality-TV tropes surrounding the paranormal, and remains one of the most popular. Bruni retired from the show last year following six years and 112 episodes as one of the only female cast members, and is still listed as an active member of the series on its Syfy site. She has also been a longtime organizer of paranormal conventions and is the founder of the Strange Escapes event company.

Bruni joined me in the interview below to discuss what she's excited about, or concerned by, with the new cast of Ghostbusters. She also offers some advice on busting ghosts, and how to do deal with being women in a ghosty boys club.


What was your initial reaction when you heard there was going to be an all-female Ghostbusters cast?

I definitely thought it was a stunt. Then I thought about it more and realized it was perfect. There was really no way they could fill the shoes of the original cast, or re-cast them with younger actors because they were just too iconic.

Would you prefer seeing these women as characters existing in the same universe as the other Ghostbusters, or as original characters in an entirely fresh reboot?

I think what would work, and what is most believable, is if this cast is in the modern-day and that the past team still exists. Some crossover of characters would be amazing. I'd of course love to see some sort of dedication to Harold Ramis. [Ramis died Feb. 2014, and Bruni weighed in with Huffington Post with how his death impacted the paranormal community.]

What are you most excited to see from this new cast, and are you hoping for some paranormal investigative authenticity?

I think some people would be surprised to know how authentic the original Ghostbusters movies were when it came to ghostly legends and theories. It is also sort of like Star Trek in that some of the things they used actually sort of came into existence later. ("PKE" meters in Ghostbusters = our EMF meters.) I would love if they actually took some of the devices paranormal investigators use today and put them in the movie. Let's face it, things like the Spirit Box, the Ovilus, Thermal Imaging Cameras? That could all be comedy gold. We're very easy to make fun of.

As a paranormal investigator, how are women typically welcomed in the field? Is it an all boys club?

I would say the paranormal field strongly skews female. When you attend a paranormal convention, you've usually got 75 percent ladies to 25 percent men -- keep that in mind, all you single paranormal enthusiasts! However, on television, the field is strongly represented by men and frankly, it's just not accurate.

In the years since the first Ghostbusters, there have been a lot of paranormal reality shows about ghosts -- with your show arguably being the most successful one. Would you like to see that genre reflected in the movie?

I feel they have to address the paranormal reality craze because it has become such a game changer in the field. I would love to poke fun at the TV investigator versus the die-hard old-school investigators. And they can poke fun at our equipment, or the fact that we pretty much never find ghosts. Like I said, we're easily mocked and if you're going to embrace the paranormal field, you sort of have to be ready to be made fun of. A lot.

Are there any changes you'd like to see made to iconic Ghostbusters imagery or, conversely, anything you fear (like pink jumpsuits)?

I love the Ghostbusters imagery. One of the first teams I was on actually used an old ambulance as our gear truck -- mostly because it worked so well for storing everything. I'm sure the jumpsuits will get a bit of an update. I hope not pink! I mean, if we wanted to really mock the paranormal community, they could get matching t-shirts with a team acronym on them, right? [Bruni's investigative team on Ghost Hunters was The Atlantic Paranormal Society, or T.A.P.S.]

Do you know the work of these actors, and if so, what makes them suited for paranormal investigation?

I'm a huge Kristen Wiig fan and seeing her name is what really sold me on this idea. She has a dry comedic style that I think will work great. Also, if any of these ladies need to consult with a real life female paranormal investigator, I'm just saying, but I'm available!

What advice would you give to the women of Ghostbusters about entering the field of the paranormal?

Ladies, you've got big shoes to fill. Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis wrote the original Ghostbusters because Aykroyd has deep knowledge and respect for the paranormal, and it shows in the final product. Do your homework and joke about us, but get to know the reasons and theories behind our crazy hobby. I look forward to watching!

(A version of this post originally appeared in Jan 2015)

Four real-life Ghostbusters who appear in the new movie

IG: @smartestadvertising

From busting ghosts on TV, to ghostbusting at Comic-Cons, the following list all have a few things in common. The first is that all of them have been inspired by the original "Ghostbusters" films, and now they can all say they were on set as extras to shoot with the highly-anticipated reboot of this popular paranormal franchise. If you believe in the paranormal, you might say these are the ones you can call if there's something strange in your neighborhood.

Brian Cano
Location: Staten Island, NY
Best known from: "Haunted Collector" (Originally on SyFy, now on Destination America)
How I bust ghosts: I don't bust them, but rather, I share their stories when contact is made - often all they want is acknowledgement.
How long have I been…: I've been investigating the paranormal since 2002 (A short, fun Ghostbusters video I did)
Social media info: Website:  Facebook: Brian J. Cano  Twitter: @brianjcano
How do I feel about being in the new movie:  I told Paul Feig this when I saw him on set: "I was ten when the original came out.  It inspired me and today I'm a parapsychologist.  Prepare to inspire a whole new generation with your film."  I gave him my card and invited him to contact me about fact checking and for the word from the actual field.  I'm certain I was not the first to do so…
My favorite piece of equipment: Until a proton pack is invented for real, it would have to be my digital audio recorder.  EVPs have become my specialty

What part did you play in the new movie? In this film, I found myself
in the audience at the "Rock Revenge Fest," where the 'Busters make their first catch. It was a long, but fun, two days on the set. I'm going to have a hard time finding myself in the crowd, since I was put in five different positions, ranging from the balcony to the pit. It'll be like a paranormal, "Where's Waldo?"

How did Ghostbusters impact you? The original "Ghostbusters" inspired me to do what I do today and if you had told me back in 1984 that, not only would I be a parapsychologist investigating life after death when I grew up, but that I'd also be IN a Ghostbusters movie…that 10-year-old kid would have lost his mind! As an adult, I even worked within view of the firehouse used in the original movie and I always maintained, "If they ever do another one, I'm going to be a part of it." Mission accomplished.

At the end of my two days on set, I got a chance to briefly meet the cast and exchange a few words with Paul Feig. At first, I thought it best not to bother him, but when would I have an opportunity like this again? I told him that the first movie inspired me and is a big part of my life. "I am who I am today because of that movie, " I said, "Your movie is going to inspire the next generation. I hope you're prepared for that…" I then gave him my card and told him to feel free to contact me for any insight on actual paranormal investigations or for fact-checking on details to make it ring truer for a community that will be eyeing the film very carefully. He never reached out to me but he was very gracious about it and he seems a very nice man.

Rachel Hoffman
Location: Boston, MA 
How do you bust ghosts?:  I am the lead paranormal investigator for an all female trio is based out of Boston, travelling across America in search of ghosts. We pride ourselves in using new age and old age equipment to seek out proof of the spiritual world.
How long have you been busting ghosts?:
I've been busting ghosts all my life, but I made it official in 2010 when I created an all-female crew to up the game in the paranormal. We bring a totally different approach in a predominantly all male field, which is why the new all-female Ghostbusters is my dream come to life.
Favorite Piece of Equipment: The Ovilus 4, programmed with phonetics, and the English and Spanish dictionary..but that doesn't stop the spirits from coming through in Latin or other old age languages. We are also in tuned with our spiritual side and as a Native American, I have made it a ritual to close every investigation with sage and prayers.
How do you feel about being in the new movie?
It is a huge honor to be a part of this legend because after all I was deeply inspired to be a badass ghostbusters from the moment I saw the first movie. 
Social media: #PXP @ParanormalXpeditions, IG: @RachelHoffman916
Anything else you'd like to add?
We are currently working on a true crime series, "True Crime Paranormal," where we seek out ghosts that have been murdered and try to locate missing people by letting the victims guide us to their resting place.

Tina Storer
Location: Boston, MA
How do you bust ghosts?: My team, Paranormal Xpeditions, likes to use a mixture of new scientific equipment and old age techniques (pendulums, dowsing rods, sage, stones) to bring forth the best paranormal evidence. We love to learn the history of each location and use it to our advantage to really connect with those on the other side. As women, we bring the softness and spirituality back to the investigation. We are able to capture some of the most highly credible paranormal evidence there is out there.
How long have you been busting ghosts?
I've had contact with the other realm my whole life, but I've been "professionally" busting ghosts since Paranormal Xpeditions was formed six years ago in 2010.
Favorite Piece of Equipment: My Pendulum. Nothing makes the hair on the back on my neck stand up more than when I ask a question and get a real response in real time. To know that someone on the other side is communicating with you is an indescribable feeling. My second favorite, and probably the most unusual, is my voice. I like to sing on investigations and we get some amazing responses! I'll sing traditional hymns in chapels, old jazz standards at clubs that once hosted the greats like Billie Holiday, lullabies in nurseries, and our equipment goes crazy! Music is timeless and universal.
Social media info:
Instagram & Twitter: @tinastorer
How do you feel about being in the new movie?
Being in the new movie is like a dream come true! Just to be part of the history that is "Ghostbusters" is truly an honor. How cool is it to be able to say that a real female ghostbuster is in the new female "Ghostbusters?!" I'm so excited to see a group of strong, diverse women kick serious butt and be represented as the leading roles. I can't wait to see that girlpower on the big screen!
Anything else you'd like to add?
When I'm not out busting ghostly activity, I'm out singing with my band, Super Fly, all over Massachusetts and working on recording music, vegan recipes, and makeup tutorials for my social media accounts.

Luna X Mars
Location: New York City
How do you bust ghosts?: Pizza traps for a Class V Full Roaming Vapor.
How long have you been busting ghosts?: 3 years
Favorite Piece of Equipment: My proton pack; It took me 2 years to build. It's my pride and joy! 
Social media info: @lunaxmars on Twitter and Instagram,
How do you feel about being in the new movie?: I think being in a Ghostbusters film is the highest honor I could hope to achieve. Being a part of "Ghostbusters" history is bananas. I'm so excited to share the fun we all had making the movie and I hope people have a good time watching it.
Anything else you'd like to add?: I've been invited to the Hollywood premiere of the film! I'm over the moon to be on the red carpet for the first time ever. It's nerve wracking and mind blowing, all at the same time.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Neil deGrasse Tyson: Is Earth a zoo for aliens?

Ever feel a little caged up, or like you're being watched? Do pellets of food mysteriously appear in front of you, compelling you to sit, stay, or speak? Don't worry, that may all just be because we're all exhibits in an elaborate zoo for aliens, according to Neil deGrasse Tyson.

As reported by Wired, at the Starmus conference in Tenerife, Spain, the celebrity astrophysicist Tyson said Earth could be a giant zoo for beings of higher intelligence. He added that maybe they were inflicting "weird politics" as a form of entertainment.

And maybe that's not so bad, he added. Responding to Stephen Hawking's statement last year that he believes aliens exists, but that we'd be in bad shape to contact them (not unlike the Native Americans were when they encountered Europeans), Tyson said, "I fear the day we come upon a species such as that."

He added: "Maybe I don’t fear it, I just hope that all they would do for us is create a zoo where we are happy. And maybe that is what they call Earth.”

Tyson went on to say that he sees the odds of humans discovering alien life to be extremely low, but if we did, we may not need worry about getting destroyed by a higher lifeform.

“A sufficiently intelligent civilisation would have positively no interest in us at all," he said. "In the same way as when you’re walking down a street and there’s a worm there.”. And even if you wanted to kill all the worms, he continued, you’d soon get bored and do something else. 
“Maybe our biggest protection against being killed by alien civilisations is their conclusion there’s no intelligent civilisation on Earth,” Tyson continued. “Suppose in fact intelligence has come to the galaxy. Who are we to then decide that we are intelligent? We define our intelligence. Of course we’re intelligent because we define it.” he said.
As Wired notes, SpaceX founder Elon Musk -- who, unlike Tyson and Hawking, is betting on putting humans on Mars in the near future -- said there was only a "one in a billion" chance we weren't living in a simulation.

So which do you prefer? Zoo or simulation?

-Aaron Sagers

In your bloody face: The potential of horror on VR

Virtual reality gaming (or "VR" as the cool kids say) is pretty much upon us, and that means that perhaps as soon as a few months from now we'll be looking at an entirely new form of in-home gaming entertainment.

No, VR headsets probably aren't replacing your PS4s and Xbox Ones (and, I guess, Wii Us), at least not in the early going, but they will be offering some incredibly exciting new experiences to get into. The fun part right now is figuring out what, exactly, those new experiences are going to look like!

More specifically, that means guessing at which genres of gaming will make the biggest impact on VR in the early days. One that gets a lot of attention is racing, mostly because of a few titles that have been announced. There's kind of an inherent value to a VR racing game in that it doesn't make you feel like you have to get up and walk around. In a VR shooter, one supposes, you'll feel a strong urge to take off running, ducking and tumbling. In a racing game you can be moving 130 mph without you needing to do anything but sit there, which seems pretty ideal for VR. An article by Jalopnik touched on this same idea while providing a few examples from existing racing simulators on VR, and frankly it all looks pretty great.

Another type of entertainment that's receiving a little less buzz but may also be ideally suited to VR is casino gaming. This is not just because casino games are inherently simple (at least in terms of graphics and gameplay), but also because existing digital casinos have already made leaps and bounds in approximating realistic experiences. At Gala's live casino, players can now choose to interact with, well, "live" dealers while playing games like blackjack, roulette, or Texas hold'em. That means that instead of cards simply appearing on your screen, a human being is facing you and interacting with you, dishing out cards and controlling the game. Cup your hands around your eyes and look ahead and it's almost VR already, so it's easy to imagine this sort of game thriving once the new headsets come out.

Aside from these clear picks to thrive on VR, it also seems absolutely inevitable that horror games will make their way to the new platform, and likely in spectacular fashion. And I don't actually say this because creepy and scary games have been popular on the best consoles for some time now. It's actually because of how similar games have thrived on mobile devices.

Mobile games require intriguing design and compelling atmosphere to really excel against their endless competition, and in a way this has helped some creepy experiences rise to the top of the heap. From Simogo's Year Walk to Phosphor Game Studio's Dark Meadow: The Pact, there are actually a lot of mobile gaming experiences for which it's commonly recommended that you turn off the lights and/or put in headphones! That's meant to be a way of fully immersing yourself in the spooky atmospheres these games present, and the result can be pretty genuinely unsettling. Basically, we've seen horror games move from those with scary storylines, dark areas and sudden dangers to experiences that make you feel like you're actually in a horrifying place.

And what could be more appealing for someone developing a new VR game? The whole point of this phenomenon is to take us out of our living rooms and basements and plop us into the environments of our video games. And that's not going to be more effective anywhere than it will be in horror. This is why it's such good news that there are already some intriguing VR horror games that have been announced.

We've still got a little ways to go before VR's takeover truly begins. The headset rollout is proving slow, and it's likely we won't see a particularly large selection of games for another year or two. But when the time comes, amazing horror experiences seem like a sure thing.

-Staff Reports