11/25/2009Such Haunting Questions
Did you catch that first episode of "The Haunted"? If you're curious about the paranormal, you'll want to check out this Sunday's tale for more intrigue about animals. It's safe to say you'll be doing a lot of wondering and second-guessing as the series unveils new mysteries each week -- and you'll look at animals, from pets to wildlife, with new eyes.
Seeking some added 4-1-1, The Mole recently interviewed two of the show's producers about what goes into "The Haunted." George Plamondon and Betsy Schechter were glad to share their insights:
We produce other shows in the paranormal genre, and have long been aware of the notion that animals are more sensitive to spirits than humans. That idea became a great launching point for this series. As we looked into it further and talked with paranormal teams across the country, we discovered many amazing stories of people and their animals being affected by spirits.
Have both of you always been interested in the paranormal?
We're interested in exploring, and in telling good stories--and the idea of the "unknown" often delivers in that pursuit. The real drama in these shows comes from personal stories of paranormal experiences, and how lives have been affected.
Why do you think that people are so fascinated by the unexplained, especially as it relates to animals?
People are intrigued with things they can't explain. If one is open to the possibility of the paranormal or some sort of other dimension, then shows like this are entertaining. People do tend to have a trust that their animals can sense things that they cannot, which makes "The Haunted" work all the better.
The series illustrates how animals respond to what seems to be the presence of spirits. Did you find that any animal species is more in tune than others?
In the show, many different kinds of animals have allegedly sensed spirits--dogs, cats, horses, rabbits. As dogs and cats are more common house pets, we certainly hear most of those stories.
Please talk a little about some of the story lines in the episodes.
One of the things that always fascinates us is the historic references in the show. For instance, in the episode titled "Murder at the Black Horse," (airs this Sunday) both the paranormal team and the family that owned a historic tavern came to the conclusion that the ghost haunting the building was a former mobster. We also have an episode in which a possession takes place, and a priest has to be called in to help. Another includes a story of a building which used to be both an insane asylum and an animal testing lab.
There must be hundreds, if not thousands,of incidents like the ones we'll see this season. How did you determine which stories to feature for Animal Planet viewers?
The most fascinating have both animal experiences and human drama. And compelling paranormal evidence is something that always adds to the intrigue.
An episode description that made me laugh was the one about the screeching of monkeys terrorizing a candle shop. Such a tranquil place, bedeviled by something so unbelievable.
"Curse of the Candle Shoppe" is a great story. The owner was having frightening experiences that were affecting her new business. Through historical research and a paranormal team's investigation, the owner and her husband uncovered some truly dramatic revelations about their building.
In shooting these stories, did any of your production crew members get
at all freaked out?
We didn't have anyone leave the show because of paranormal experiences, but we did have some crew members who claim to have been mysteriously touched and heard disembodied voices. Most of these people have worked on a number of episodes of paranormal shows and are generally skeptical. So it's interesting if someone [like that] experiences something!
What surprised you most about the subject matter as you were
putting this show together?
It's usually how much families' lives are affected by the hauntings--
it's always dramatic!
Which story was the most challenging to illustrate?
Probably the one which involves rabbits. They're trickier to work with than dogs!
What do you hope viewers will learn from watching "The Haunted"?
We really just hope that people will find the show compelling and entertaining. These are some great ghost stories, with real human and animal drama.