Why is it that some people have a fear of hospitals? They’re places of healing and kindness, surely not somewhere to be scared of. But hospitals are also places where the fabric between the living and the dead is pulled taut, allowing one to reach into the other. This is why so many individuals have supernatural experiences in sanatoriums, clinics, infirmaries, nursing homes, and hospitals.
Haunted Hospitals, another Travel Channel foray into the paranormal, explores these stories from the point of view of the individuals who lived through them. Though paranormal experts do appear to share their opinions, the show carves a relatively original niche among its counterparts; Haunted Hospitals involves very little technical investigation.
Despite this attempt at something different, Haunted Hospitals seems to have gotten lost among Travel Channel’s myriad paranormal shows. Audience members are made up of paranormal fans and those who just happen to catch the show while it’s on, but hardcore Haunted Hospitals fans seem to be few and far between.
Does Haunted Hospitals add something unique to the genre, or is this just another Travel Channel attempt at buffing out its paranormal back catalog? Let’s investigate…
Haunted Hospitals’ Air Date
Haunted Hospitals first aired on the Travel Channel on October 12, 2018. The 60-minute episodes aligned with the standard for shows released in the genre, allowing a closer look at three different paranormal stories accompanied by reenactments.
The first episode, Demonic Invasion, Angel of Death, and Dead Man Rotting, looks at the wide variety of supernatural beings that can manifest in hospitals and introduces viewers to the relatively unique structure. The first series as a whole is highly rated by viewers, suggesting there was enough fresh material at that point to do something different and engaging.
Creation and Production
Bristow Global Media handled Haunted Hospitals’ creation and production, and Rolling Pictures handled its post-production. Both of these production companies have a decent catalog of paranormal shows and list Haunted Hospitals as an unscripted addition. This is interesting, considering Haunted Hospitals has a team of 18 writers and story editors tasked with turning paranormal experiences into scripted reenactments.
In terms of producers, Marlo Miazga and Julie Bristow handled the most episodes. Both these executive producers also worked on Paranormal Nightshift and Paranormal 911. Other producers include:
- Tara Elwood – Supervising Producer
- Tobin Long – Associate Producer
- Georgina Lopez – Line Producer
- Sarah Zammit – Series Producer
- Kate Kung – Series Producer
- Anna Sand – Production Executive
Given that much of Haunted Hospitals’ screen time is reenactments, the show has a huge cast of actors and actresses and costume and makeup departments headed up by Dawn Thompson and Megan Fraser, respectively. Graeme Scott handled set dressing, Chelsy Ubaldo gave art direction, and visual effects for the show’s entire run were done by Tom Hillman.
The editing department is the second largest, with 18 editors and colorists led by post-production coordinators Adam Dodd and Alison MacDonald. Finally, the sound department includes Patience Bradford as the main sound editor and Grant Edmonds as the re-recording mixer.
Haunted Hospitals’ Cast Members
Haunted Hospitals strays from tradition slightly, as it doesn’t have a team of hosts. Instead, certain paranormal investigators and experts appear to give their opinions on the supernatural stories presented. Some appear more often than others, and these are:
Christopher Allen Brewer
Due to his indigenous heritage, Christopher Brewer was familiar with a world beyond our own from a very young age. To him, “the paranormal was normal,” but he still found it scary and exciting enough to capture his attention. Citing Hans Holzer and Ed & Lorraine Warren as his inspirations, he began ghost hunting before attending middle school.
He co-founded TheSpiritChasers in 2006, somewhat tired of the paranormal shows of the era focusing more on the hosts than on the phenomena. As well as appearing as a paranormal expert in 14 episodes of Haunted Hospitals, he can be found in Most Terrifying Places in America, Paranormal 911, My Ghost Story, Paranormal Nightshift, and Scariest Night of My Life.
In the 1970s, Jack Kenna explored various haunted graveyards and listed buildings in his town of Troy, New York. His interest in the supernatural was strengthened by his mother, who was very open to spiritual experiences and had had paranormal encounters of her own. His interest in paranormal investigation, specifically the technical side of things, was inspired by Ghost Hunters and the scientific methods used by TAPS.
He has since become a tech specialist, is a part of the New York chapter of S.P.I.R.I.T.S, and founded Rensselaer Paranormal Research. He appears in 13 episodes of Haunted Hospitals and guest stars in shows such as Paranormal Survivor, Haunted Case Files, My Worst Nightmare, and Paranormal Nightmare.
Primary Focus of the Show
Haunted Hospitals focuses on, you guessed it, hospitals and the individuals who’ve had horrifying experiences within their walls. The show uses a mixture of talking head segments, stock footage, and reenactments to unveil these tales of terror. The stories may be told by past patients, or they are often relayed by doctors and nurses who’ve spent a significant deal of time around these spirits.
As mentioned, each episode contains three stories, usually focusing on slightly different paranormal beings such as ghosts, angels, and demons. Narration, story pacing, and high-level editing all help to make the 60-minute runtime feel like a breeze. Just as the accounts start to pick up, we get context from a paranormal expert. Generally, they give us some quick indication of the nature of the hauntings before the story’s peak.
However, despite hospitals being a favorite of ghost hunters and paranormal investigators, Haunted Hospitals has no real-time investigation. We usually learn a little about the history of a certain hospital from the storyteller, but never more than the main and most gruesome case that could’ve inspired the haunting and other people’s experiences with the phenomena. To finish the story, the paranormal expert reappears to give us some closing statements and leave us with something to think about.
Haunted Hospitals’ Impact on the Paranormal Community
In its first season, Haunted Hospitals earned relatively high ratings from viewers. On average, season one episodes have an IMDb rating of 7.5 or higher. However, the show seems to have made little impact with critics and doesn’t appear to have made a splash within the paranormal community either.
However, viewers do praise Haunted Hospitals for having actual people on board to share their stories. “Programs that have the actual witnesses tell their stories are my favorite,” one reviewer said. Another reviewer commented that having highly educated nurses and doctors share eloquent stories adds an extra layer of credibility to the show.
Haunted Hospitals seems to win viewers over with its high quality. “The production value is great,” one 5-star review praises. “I’ve watched four episodes…and I’m hooked!”
Somewhat surprisingly, other viewers enjoyed the absence of investigation, stating, “This is kind of a refreshing take on paranormal where they don’t use soundboxes or any technical stuff that the other shows usually try to use.” Other reviewers called for the expert segments to be removed altogether, claiming “they are dry & for spooky fans,” and “It’s like they’re auditioning to be the next Captain Obvious.”
The Show’s Seasons and Episodes
Haunted Hospitals currently has four seasons. Seasons one, two, and three have 13 episodes each, while season four has 10.
The Most Popular and Well-Rated Episodes
According to IMDb, the top 10 most popular episodes of Haunted Hospitals are:
- Season 1, Episode 3 – Basement Terror, The Host, The Soul Healer
- Season 1, Episode 10 – Suspicious Haunting, Shadow Stalker, Christmas Terror
- Season 1, Episode 8 – Campus Haunting, Touched by a Demon
- Season 1, Episode 13 – Unwanted Visitors
- Season 1, Episode 4 – Nursing Home Nightmare, The Wailing Walls, Terror in Black and White
- Season 2, Episode 1 – They Have No Eyes, Dark Things and Celebration of Death
- Season 1, Episode 1 – Demonic Invasion, Angel of Death, Dead Man Rotting
- Season 1, Episode 2 – The Matron’s Revenge, Possessed in Texas, The Face Of Death
- Season 1, Episode 9 – Scared to Death, Deadly Encounter, Demon Within
- Season 3, Episode 11 – The Angry Chef, The Evil Sister, To Stop a Ghost
Famous Guest Appearances
As mentioned above, Haunted Hospitals doesn’t have a core team of hosts, so many of the paranormal experts featured only make one or two guest appearances. With that in mind, here are some other investigators who feature on Haunted Hospitals:
Knudsen is the great-great-granddaughter of Dr. Albert Durrant Watson, who founded the Association for Psychical Research of Canada a hundred years before Haunted Hospitals aired. So, a fascination with the paranormal runs in her blood, and she has since founded Paranormal Research & Teachings. Knudsen appears in 6 episodes of Haunted Hospitals’ third season.
Working mostly as a paranormal author, Estep has released 32 books on supernatural happenings worldwide. He began researching and investigating hauntings in the 1990s and founded the Boulder County Paranormal Research Society in 2006. Since then, he has appeared as a paranormal expert on Destination Fear and A Haunting, as well as 3 episodes of Haunted Hospitals.
Controversies and Criticisms
Of course, Haunted Hospitals has received accusations of fakery. “Every story has someone saying at least once: ‘all the hair on the back of my neck stood up’ and ‘the temperature dropped, and the room got very cold; it was ice cold in there’”. Everyone who says these same lines, speaks them word for word,” a piece of IMDb trivia reads. Interestingly, viewers seem to blame the Travel Channel for this obvious scripting rather than the storytellers themselves.
Another reviewer corroborates these accusations, stating, “[They] were dumb enough to have the same “actor” telling different unbelievable stories. In one he’s wearing a 3-piece suit claiming to be a federal policeman for homeland security and in the other he’s wearing a knit shirt claiming to work for a funeral home transporting dead bodies. Really??? This stuff is so fake it’s pathetic!!”
Other criticism targets sound effects and costuming, claiming over-the-top effects take viewers out of the interesting stories. “Why do all the ghosts gargle and snare like a choking cat? Really drags you right out of what could have been a potentially entertaining show,” one reviewer commented. Another shared “What is with the INCREDIBLY LOUD background music/effects?!? It completely drowns out the dialogue, and is more annoying than creepy. Tone it down and get rid of the Halloween screampark getups.”
Despite these criticisms, Haunted Hospitals has been renewed by the Travel Channel for a fifth season. This time, the producers hope to find individuals with stories relating to COVID-19 to give the new season a refreshing and modern twist.
Many casual viewers love Haunted Hospitals. Considering it came out in 2018, it has something of a comforting, retro feel, as if this was the step the genre skipped when paranormal shows started to gain ground in the early 2000s. The format and editing are top-quality and make episodes easy to digest. However, hardcore paranormal fans are often left wanting more, and this may be because the show has tried to cast too wide a net.
“We’re all familiar with that inevitable feeling we get walking into a hospital,” Stephen Joy, Haunted Hospitals representative, told Higgy Pop. “But this show shines a spotlight on the reasons why. Chilling, uncomfortable and spookily relatable…” Aiming for an audience of skeptics, believers, and people who aren’t interested in the paranormal leaves the show trying to relate to too many people simultaneously.
Haunted Hospitals focuses on witnesses to paranormal events without trying to prove or disprove their experiences with traditional investigative methods. Though this aspect of paranormal TV shows is often the most engaging, Haunted Hospitals doesn’t suffer in its absence and remains enjoyable.
Despite its misgivings in scripting, costuming, and slightly tired effects, the show easily became one of my new favorites. If you’re tired of bands of merry hosts running up and down dark corridors and screaming at EVPs, Haunted Hospitals is well worth your time.
But, if finding evidence and coming to conclusions on stories is the part of paranormal TV you love most, Haunted Hospitals might only be a way to tide you over until the next round of paranormal content hits TV and streaming services in 2024.