Ghost Hunters

Season 5 Episode 8

Garden State Asylum

Aired Wednesday 10:00 PM Apr 29, 2009 on Syfy
out of 10
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52 votes

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Episode Summary

Garden State Asylum

TAPS investigates the Essex County Hospital sanitarium in New Jersey.

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  • Will TAPS find more than I did?

    I've mentioned in previous review that this is the first time that TAPS has gone to a location after I've been there to investigate. It's definitely a different kind of viewing experience, because I can't help but compare my own experience to what was ultimately shown. For me, it was quite revealing, not only in terms of how the team reacted to the site, but how they interpreted certain events.

    Before getting into the "evidence", I wanted to summarize my observations of the site from my investigation. Unfortunately, I was brought onto an investigation conducted by another regional group at the last minute; as a result, I did not have the resources and personnel of my own team, which I would have preferred for such a large site. I had only handheld video, audio, and a flashlight.

    As seen on the show, the complex is massive. In many, many locations, the building was simply abandoned one day. Notices and pictures are still on the walls. Old medical supplies are all over the floor. Books, games, playing cards, letters from home, clothes, etc. are all still there, tossed around. It's psychologically off-putting, to say the least. That's not something that came through in the episode nearly as much as I thought it would.

    The lack of power and light, combined with the debris made it very hard to navigate. Again, this was not something pointed out nearly enough in the episode. There are sections where the paint has peeled off the walls, so it's incredibly loud when you walk around and the paint chips crack and crunch underfoot. And the sound carries like you would not believe.

    Underneath the buildings, linking them all together, is a vast and incredibly confusing array of passageways. There's no natural light down there, so turn off the flashlight, and it's absolutely impossible to see. And if you get lost down there? It could take hours for someone to find you. Some of the passageways are long dead-ends. Not for the faint of heart. Again, not something I think was entirely apparent from the episode. I think it's obvious that the team had someone around to get them from place to place (probably Tom, the client, who was also our guide at the time).

    There are also things living in the complex. rats, cats, dogs, who knows what else. The rats sound like whispers on audio. The other animals leave "presents" in the tunnels. You can hear them in the distance in the tunnels as well. The entire area is surrounded by woods, so small game is rampant. Not only is it very hard to see the animals, but since the sound carries, the animals can make quite a racket.

    When we were there, the main stories were about Shadow People in the main building (at least, the main building for us), both in the main room and in one spot on the second floor. Tom mostly talked about orbs in pictures (which I attributed to the massive amounts of dust). I don't recall being told about a blue light in the tunnels or a ghost nurse.

    I had one personal experience of note. It was in one of the patient rooms on the second floor of the main building. I noticed what looked like a wind chime hanging from the mesh over the window, and I thought it would be a good idea to ask questions. As I stood in the room, I felt something stroke my hair, right over the back of my neck, just behind my left ear. I called in another team member to conduct a more detailed EVP session and check for other readings, but there was nothing found.

    The window in that room was not broken at the time, and nothing was coming through the vent high on the opposite wall. If there had been a source of air currents, the dust would have pointed us to the source, since it would be visibly moving in the direction of air flow. There was no such indication. But it was a personal experience, there was no corroborating data, and so I had to discount it.

    Needless to say, I remember the locations that were shown in the show very well. I agree with the team that it was a creepy place, but I'm surprised that it affected them so strongly. I've only been actively investigating for a few years, and I was only occasionally unnerved (and mostly by how the place was just abandoned, with so many personal possessions left behind). Jason and Grant have been investigating for a lot longer.

    I can't help but wonder if their general level of discomfort had something to do with their reactions to the noises. Even the loud banging from the attic could have been from an animal (though, to be fair, it is a stretch). Most of the shadows and noises could have easily been small animals. I'm surprised that the possibility rarely came up.

    Both of the EVPs also strike me as a bit of a stretch. Either of them could have been the result of movement of debris or, in the case of the morgue, shifting on the stainless steel surface. The heat anomaly didn't impress me at all. It looked like a heat reflection on an object along the wall, which "disappeared" when the camera angle shifted slightly. If it looked like a figure at all, I think it's an example of pattern recognition.

    The "big moment" is the moving camera. One thing I noticed is that they never mention where the camera was located. That would have been good to know, under the circumstances. It's pretty much impossible to explain why the camera would move like that without being there at the time, but to me, it looks like the camera itself is just carried along as the tripod is lifted and knocked over.

    I certainly don't think that they presented nearly enough "evidence" to suggest that it was actually haunted. What I saw was a lot of misinterpretation of natural noises and a couple of oddities that couldn't quite be explained, blown out of proportion by the heightened anxiety caused by the location itself. My experience didn't lead me to conclude that the site was haunted, and TAPS didn't add anything to change my mind.

    As a final note, a lot of fans (and critics) have asked TAPS to start using helmet cams. I think it's hilarious that they chose to listen by coming up with the most ridiculous example of one I've ever seen. That's the best they could come up with? I think there's value in the idea, but something tells me they tried to make it look silly so they could have a justification not to use them.moreless
  • Things that go bump in the night...

    This episode brought together everything I love about Ghost Hunters except for that one crucial element? Where's the heavy skeptisism?

    Then again, looking back at this episode, if all of the experiences were genine I would probably lack my skeptisism as well!

    Although I normally loathe the episode where they do one big investigation as opposed to two smaller ones, this episode was great in that it was a unique and scary location, it featured the TAPs family that I've grown to love, and the evidence and experiences were intriguing. The only thing that kept it from being perfect was the lack of skeptisism that comes dangerously close to turning Ghost Hunters into Most Haunted.

    Still, I love this show!moreless

Featured Episode Clip

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (3)

    • Nitpick: One thing seems very strange about the reveal. When the footage of the camera falling over is shown, there's a part of the date of when the footage was filmed shown. But over half of it has been edited out. The footage has been severely cropped, and at the exact time that an apparent paranormal event was taking place. Is there something they don't want the audience to see on the left hand side of the screen, such as a natural reason for the camera to fall?

    • In the opening scene the camera shows the van that Steve and Tango are in driving along the highway. The car beside them swerves and almost hits the guardrail.

    • Also Appearing:
      Investigation: Essex County Hospital - Cedar Grove, New Jersey
      Tom Hamilton - Assistant Administrator
      Jim Chaffee - Essex County Fireman (Ret.)
      Louis Zuppardi - Eyewitness

  • QUOTES (4)

    • Tom: What I'm hoping for tonight is that TAPS captures solid evidence. Audio, visual, physical, I hope somebody gets grabbed. Every report that we've had I'm sort of hoping happens to these guys tonight.

    • Tom: I did have one patient that actually ate a bed.
      Grant: Wait, did he eat the whole bed?
      Tom: The whole bed. I don't mean just the mattress part of it. We're talking about the springs, the connecting things, all the metal parts.

    • Jason: Well, there's no lights in this place so lights out should be easy!

    • Steve: He ate his bed, his whole bed. Springs, the whole thing.
      Dave: Was he French?
      Steve: Mattress. What does that have to do with eating a bed?
      Dave: A lot.
      Steve: French people eat furniture?
      Dave: No, there was a famous French guy who ate bicycles for a living.
      Steve: He ate bicycles?
      Dave: Yeah, he loved the oily parts the best.

  • NOTES (2)