Zak Bagans’ latest television show Deadly Possessions brings up serious spiritual concerns. I’m not going to critique the show as much as what is not being broadcast.
After all, he’s not the first to open a museum stocked with paranormal objects. John Zaffis showed the world his museum on The Haunted Collector. But Zaffis also revealed some precautions he took to neutralize any spirit attachments after removing them from where they were found. Not all of the objects he acquired were placed in an open-to-the-public museum. Some were considered too dangerous to display.
Bagans doesn’t appear to have the same level of concern. In Deadly Possessions, he invites owners of possessed items to come to his museum to investigate the validity of the haunting, then interviews those who have suffered harm from having come in contact with the objects. A couple of objects had deadly stories attached to them as if even looking at the haunted object could kill a person.
He says “I” and “Mine” a lot about the collection of haunted items. In my mind, he doesn’t own anything. Those things own him. It’s a huge responsibility to be the caretaker of anything dangerous. It means being responsible for any harm that might befall anyone while displaying an item in your care.
Which brings me to an episode about an English doll that supposedly killed people who had merely gazed upon her face. Before revealing the doll’s face (covered with a black bag), a disclaimer was displayed on the screen that warned viewing the object could be dangerous. Look at your own risk. All right. After a few seconds, they revealed the face. I chose not to view it. I never cared for dolls when I was a child. I certainly had no curiosity about them now. But when the program resumed after the commercial break, there was no warning. Suddenly the face of the doll was the first image to flash in the recap. Thereby, exposing the audience whether they wished to view it or not. Highly irresponsible if the claims of death attached to this doll are to be believed. Exposing millions in the television audience with any level of belief in the possibility of harm makes everyone involved in the production responsible.
What other precautions are taken (or ignored) for the protection of visitors to the museum full of Deadly Possessions? I’m sure there are warning signs before entering the museum, but the only disclaimer for the television viewing audience at the opening of each episode is that the producers don’t share the views of the program.
Now you might be wondering, why watch such a show at all? For me, the stories behind the items are the hook. Some might be nothing more than urban legends. But others provoke morbid curiosity.
I’m still alive.
Here’s an interview with John Zaffis on The Conjuring and Haunted Collector. Hope we keep seeing him in many places.
I was itching to see this film. I went with trepidation today worried that the subject matter would be polluted by Hollywood hands. My worries went unfounded. I was impressed by how well it stuck tightly to actual witnessed accounts instead of relying on over-dramatization and special effects. With Lorraine Warren riding herd over this project, I should have expected nothing less. She even made a cameo appearance in one scene, seated in an audience during a lecture.
This film educates while reenacting the story with professionals at the helm. The actors did a great job, the tension was built with good old fashioned suspense, and the effects that were used were not over the top.
This film chronicles a case investigated by Ed and Lorraine Warren (Uncle and Aunt of John Zaffis from The Haunted Collector). You may have seen Lorraine on Paranormal State episodes with Ryan Buell. She is a demonologist who deals with negative energies and a mentor to John.
The Warren’s have been both revered and disrespected for the nature of their work. Lorraine relies on her sensitivity more than physical evidence, so they were criticized heavily back in the day, as pioneers of any field often are.
The only fear I have about the perception of this film is that dabblers will think they can do exorcisms because Ed Warren did one. They did run a title card that explained that Ed Warren is the only non-ordained person sanctioned by the Catholic Church to perform exorcisms. Sadly, he’s no longer alive to do this. But this man must have had the heart, soul, and spirit of a man who could have been a priest to do this. It is not enough to read the words and boldly stand before a demon. A person capable of exorcizing demons must have his belief system firmly cemented in his psyche. There is no room for fear or doubt in the throws of such an act.
I recommend the film highly, while strongly urging – don’t try this yourself.
I had to repost the rant from John Zaffis this morning. He speaks the truth.
17 hours ago.
What the hell is going on? Ok if you don’t like the paranormal shows just don’t watch them. I can’t understand all the bashing that is going on. Before you post look into things, just don’t go by what someone has told you. I’ve been around for a long time and today it seems like it’s an epidemic of people who are out there who are putting up sites after looking at a book or a television show and now are paranormal investigators or even better a demonologist. These people are going into homes and are saying that the home is infested with demons. They don’t know the damage they are doing to these families. I am now not able to go in to these homes to try and help the families as there have been too many organizations in there. These groups do not take the time to find out any back ground in the home, they have not looked into the possibility of an underlying mental illness or not.
You also cannot go in and help people that are not willing to help themselves. The people must take an active role in ridding their home and lives of paranormal activity. Lately I am hearing is that I don’t know understand or I don’t know what I am talking about! My reply to that is then why bother emailing me or calling me.
This field is like any other field, you need education in it and you need to work with people and to build relationships, just like “us old paranormal folks”did.
I hear you, John.
People get a little piece of data and proclaim themselves experts. This can be dangerous, stirring a pot they don’t have a lid for. When someone with more than 40 years experience in a field offers advice, take it seriously.
The Haunted Collector has grown from previous seasons. I have to admit upfront that I came to this series well after its first season. I knew John Zaffis to be the nephew of famed psychics the Warrens, whose reputation leaned more toward psychic impressions than physical evidence. But I pride myself on being open-minded and gave the show a second look. After having the pleasure of meeting John and his team at Paracon this past October, and attending his presentation on Demonology, I fully understand why he is referred to as The Godfather of the Paranormal. He enters a location as a data-gatherer first, entertaining all logical possibilities, before exploring activity from a paranormal perspective.
I used to think that the dead didn’t have unfinished business. It was my belief that if the dead chose to communicate with the living, it was for the purpose of helping or hurting them, not to solve some lingering problem for themselves. Unfinished business was for the living. The Haunted Collector has chipped away at that belief. For they have uncovered items that appear to tether the spirit to their lives like anchors. Then those anchors shift as the ebb and flow of life’s tide overtakes the person’s previous territory like weeds reclaiming a neglected building. New occupants move in and displace everything from the past. Carelessness and disinterest causes valuable items to go missing. Things found to be worn, outdated, useless junk vanish. Life-saving tools and conveniences from by-gone eras hold energy imprints of those who relied on them. If those items are moved to an inappropriate place or dishonored in some fashion, a spirit might have something left to say about it.
Zaffis’s team not only learned from a master but mastered the research involved in uncovering the life attached to a physical item. In the most recent episode, they employed an old Polaroid Instamatic camera to capture an image of what appeared to be a woman in an empty men’s prison. Digging deeper, they discovered it had housed female prisoners prior to holding men. Something not revealed to them before. The team on this show usually hunts for an object that can be removed from the premises. But in cases they do not find such an item, they seek to honor the deceased, if only to acknowledge that they knew who was communicating and tell a portion of their story. The woman in the photo was honored at their request.
No one wants to be forgotten and we all want to be heard. Few of us get to do big, world-changing things. For many, ripples we make never reach farther than a few miles from home. How would you feel if, decades later, a stranger hammered your casket plate on the wall of his lovely Victorian bed and breakfast? Insulted? Used? Dishonored? The Haunted Collector team is sensitive to this and does what they can to respect the memory whoever might still be lingering. What more could the dead ask for?