REAL FEAR: THE TRUTH BEHIND THE MOVIES (2012)
Normally I don’t dabble too much in TV reviews but, I am a big fan of paranormal shows and movies and watch them frequently. Paranormal State was and is still my favorite paranormal investigation show and regardless of whether you believe or not, it was good TV. So when I heard Chiller TV was doing a paranormal investigation special where they were investigating paranormal cases that inspired some classic and well known horror movies AND the investigations were going to be conducted by Paranormal State‘s sexy spook hunter Katrina Weidman…I was definitely looking forward to it. And, for the most part, was not disappointed…
Katrina Weidman had spent 5 seasons as a Paranormal Investigator on Paranormal State and was inspired to become a PRS (Paranormal Research Society) member due to some supernatural experiences of her own growing up in rural Pennsylvania. So she has a natural and passionate interesting in the paranormal and Real Fear puts her experience to work to investigate the alleged real stories behind the films The Amityville Horror, Poltergeist, The Mothman Prophecies and Silent Hill. Katrina was a researcher for PRS and she does her homework here with a lot of fascinating history and background facts to garnish the team’s investigations. Along with Katrina are friends Chris Holt, John McGarry and Charity Winters. What results is a fun look at some supposed true stories that inspired, whether acknowledged or not, some very popular horror movies. The show also gives us some insight on what embellishments Hollywood added to these cases to make them more cinematic. Even if you do not believe in the supernatural, it’s an entertaining two hours of how Hollywood can turn real life ghost stories and urban legends into box office gold.
As a horror movie fan, I found the special a real treat and Katrina’s legitimate enthusiasm for her investigations comes through and helps pull you in just as her novice friend’s fearful reactions, especially when doing some actual investigations of supposedly haunted places, are fun to watch. That is also the only drawback with the special that I had. While it is fun to watch her friends get scared, it’s also disappointing that in a couple of spots when things get interesting, they retreat instead of standing their ground as more experience ghost hunters would do. I f they had stuck with the investigation instead of running, they may have gotten some even more intriguing evidence. So, if this fun special has it’s Achilles’ heel, it’s that her friends are not experienced investigators and are prone to flee just as things get interesting. We do get a lot of fun facts such as an interview with one of the Lutz children from Amityville who reveals that their step-dad George Lutz was actually a practicer of the occult, so that made moving into a house that was the scene of a multiple homicide a volatile mix. He also explains that things weren’t anywhere near as dramatic as the movie. Sorry folks, no blood on the walls or swarms of flies.
We also get a glimpse of The Herman case, a reported instance of poltergeist activity that supposedly inspired Spielberg and Hooper’s classic flick. Ironically both Amityville and the Herman cases both took place in Long Island in the vicinity of Indian burial grounds…which the team check out. Hmmmm…Guess I’m staying in Jersey…which has it’s own plethora of supernatural tales! We then get a look at the Mothman case from the 60s, which inspired the spooky Richard Gere movie, where a bizarre creature was seen by quite a few people in Point Pleasant, West Virginia for over a year and ceased after a tragic bridge collapse that killed dozens of people. The interviews here definitely give some chills and makes one question what really happened. What did people see? The show finishes up with a journey to Miss Weidman’s own backyard in Centralia, Pennsylvania where a mine fire that started underground in1962 still burns and has caused the abandonment of an entire town. Katrina’s family is from Centralia and her personal and emotional ties to the place add a very interesting dimension to the segment. The events here are very similar to the events from the video game based movie, Silent Hill and it’s hard to think there wasn’t some inspiration from this real life tragedy. This segment is rather spooky with the thought that there has been a fire burning underground for decades and it steadily causes cave-ins and slowly is claiming this abandoned ghost town, building by building. The team also does some investigating into tales of the spirits of miners who perished there that are said to still haunt the area and this combined with Katrina’s personal stories really resonates.
All in all this is a fun look at the tales that inspired some of our favorite horror flicks. Again, I do wish Katrina’s friends weren’t so easily spooked when they started getting some possible spirit activity, such as when investigating the wooded area that supposedly was home to the Mothman and the allegedly haunted mines of Centralia, but otherwise they are a likable bunch and they do handle themselves very professionally in the interview segments and get some interesting answers out of their witnesses…and watching them get scared and run screaming did give me a few chuckles, so I’ll cut them some slack…I probably would have been running right along with them.
As a horror movie and paranormal show fan, I overall really enjoyed seeing some deep digging into stories that have, or allegedly have, inspired some entertaining and classic horrors. The special is overall effective and spooky and very entertaining…and even surprisingly touching…when all things are said and done. Katrina seems like a very down to earth and accessible person as she did on Paranormal State and seems to be very comfortable, yet laid back, leading her group. That and her camaraderie with her friends makes us feel more like we are along for the ride then just an audience watching a show. If you are a movie fan…or a fan of ghost hunting shows…I recommend it, even if you don’t believe in supernatural events, it’s still fun stuff and is very entertaining, maybe more so then some of the movies these tales inspire. Real Fear is real fun!
3 and 1/2 spooks !