We all know the rules. Someone has success with something, doesn’t matter what it is, there will always be people lining up to do something similar, whatever that success is.

It’s been happening in entertainment since the industry began. Just think of a surprise hit movie and you can bet your bottom dollar the rip-offs and cash grabs are never far behind. Two of my favorite movies, Jaws and Alien spawned decades worth of rip-offs and alike.

The same can be said for the paranormal.

Ghost hunting is perfect for television. Like other forms of “Reality TV,” it is cheap to produce and typically has a built-in audience ready to eat it up. Ghost Hunters was the first tremendous hit on cable. Naturally, every channel from History, Science, to Travel, etc. had to get in on it. The paranormal, ghosts, in particular, are typically popular subjects with people; believers wanting to see that some proof exists, skeptics looking to de-bunk, and people who just want to drink a few beers and hope for some scares.

I fall somewhere between the skeptic side and just hoping for a few jump scares and some entertainment. My kids, in particular, have fallen in love with ghost shows, Ghost Adventures in particular. They love it, it scares them and makes them laugh or scream “fake!” in almost every episode.

With that in mind, it gave me an idea: Let’s go to YouTube, track down some ghost-hunting channels and pick an episode at random and see what we think. My kid was all for it especially since it earned him a Dr Pepper. I grabbed a few beers and down the rabbit-hole we went.

There was nothing complicated about it. We looked around YouTube and then watched something.

This is what we found.

Mind Seed TV – 1+ Million Subscribers

“Evil Poltergeist Torments House Owner”

Well, this episode gets right into it. Normally you expect some kind of build-up of suspense and backstory. Not this time. Straight to Scare City, USA. It billed itself as the scariest video they’ve ever done. Maybe it is? It’s not bad.

These shows all seem to be filmed with just the lights from their cameras. No lights in the house appear ever to be switched on so they’re running around in the dark as you would typically see in this kind of thing. The usual ghost tech is used, like the SLS that helps spirits get out a word or two, that’s typically vague and requires some mental gymnastics to make any sense out of. There are some decent scratches on doors, knocks, bangs and all the assorted stuff you expect.

Glowing Ghost Paranormal – 22K Subscribers

“Villisca Axe Murder House”

This turned out to be the second of a two-part episode. I mention that to just establish the randomness with which we were picking these things. You might as well accept that lights in most houses, or haunted locations, probably only work during the day and that’s why they all film at night. I would assume that the first part of this double-header probably had some build-up and back story, but the Villisca Axe Murder House is a pretty well-known location and is frequently seen on the ghost chasing circuit. I got the impression based on this episode that the host is probably scaring himself more than there is tangible paranormal activity. There are some bumps and noises in the dark, and some voices picked up that my son and I couldn’t quite figure out on the Spirit Box.

This one got a reaction from my son, this is what he said:

“10 thumbs up. It was good I liked the light stuff.”

OmarGosh TV  – 3.6 Million Subscribers

“Demon Ghost Caught On Camera (Haunted Pennhurst Asylum) Part 2”

Another second-part episode. This one is at the Pennhurst Asylum, an abandoned former asylum in Pennsylvania. This complex has also made the rounds on the ghost-chasing circuit. This episode is certainly a more mainstream ghost show like you would find on TV. The production value seems a little higher and it takes advantage of some expensive editing software, I’m sure, since it has more flash and bang to it. There’s plenty of yelling and chasing noises and shadows. At one point, objects move in front of the camera, which tells me they’re really trying to make it entertaining.

Searching around the channel itself, this guy really seems to be a good human. There’s lots of stuff on helping the poor and homeless, etc.

This episode didn’t give me the impression that this was about any scientific approach to finding ghosts, not that I get that impression from most of them, but really focused on being entertaining and even scary, if it can pull it off. It worked on my kid because it scared him especially the wheel moving in front of the camera. It was also his favorite moment.

Sam and Colby – 4.4 Million Subscribers

“Our Life-Changing Experience In The Graveyard”

A Deceleration of Principles, if I might: I have no idea who these people are. Never heard of them. My kids, however, have heard of them, and seen some of their stuff. So we clicked on it because the mob demanded it.

My take: What the Hell was life-changing? Pretty standard take, I guess, on ghost-hunting: locked in a dark building (church in this case), equipment fails, people hear and see things, but not captured on camera. It goes on and on. Frankly, I ended up being more interested in the choices in wardrobe. Nothing life-changing stuck out to me.

Kids take:

“I liked it. It was fake so I enjoyed it.”

Glam and Gore – 4 Million Subscribers

“Two Nights Of Ghost Hunting At The Most Haunted Hotel In Flagstaff, Arizona”

This appears to mostly a channel about makeup and prosthetics. Some of it looks fairly interesting, so if that kind of thing lights your fire, this might be for you.

I like the title of the episode. It has the nice long title that somehow manages to invoke a Grindhouse title you’d find at a drive-in, drunk on Busch.

Mykie is the host and she does all the editing for her shows. That’s pretty cool, so I thought I would mention it. I’m not being critical, because there’s nothing wrong with the editing.

So, it’s two nights in the Monte Vista Hotel in Flagstaff, Arizona. Flagstaff is beautiful with some world-class breweries so be sure to visit the town before Californians do more damage to it.

Anyway, It’s Mykie and her two friends trying to find ghosts. They use Tarot cards, a flashlight and some night vision. That basically sums up the episode. They also drink some wine. During their two-day stay, they spent a night each in rooms 305 and 306, which are supposed to be the two most haunted rooms in the hotel. Sorry, not a lot happens.

Kids take:

“Everything is fake”

So, there you have it. Are ghosts real? I don’t happen to think so, but I don’t let that get in the way of a good scare. My kids and I ended up having a good time watching these episodes even if they sometimes ended up light on jumps. I’m pretty sure I am going to have to do this again and report back to everyone on what we come up with.