Delve Deeper

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Dead Files (review)

**UPDATE** WOW... I can't believe this is my most popular/searched for blog post. People love them some crazy, don't they?

So I've seen every episode so far of a new show on the Travel Channel called Dead Files . I had some high hopes for this show because I've been interested in the paranormal and spirit communication since childhood. But I was pretty disappointed. Is it entertaining? Sure, it's entertaining (or amusing?) enough to sit through but there are enough problems with the show that I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend it to anyone.

The most glaring problem I have with the show is the so-called psychic Amy Allen, if that's even her real name. She is completely over-dramatic and annoying to boot. I hate how she scrunches up her face in feigned agony and shakes her hands wildly like shes trying to shake spirits off of her. It just looks like a cheesy act. So unbelievable the way she lays it on so thick. Learning body language will help you catch those micro expressions she makes (and can't control) that give her away. She's playing for the cameras. I love/hate how she's completely calm but the second she notices the camera is in her face she has to make an extreme facial expression or say something profound. Give me a break, lady! Also, I find it odd that there's a guy they show videotaping her, yet there is also an invisible camera crew taping him. What's the point of this? This tells me that it's all set up.Unlike Ghost Adventures where the only cameras are the ones the guys bring in-- no camera crew (read more about that below). [I have a degree in film and video production so I tend to notice things like this.]

Also, something the more logical viewer will probably have asked themselves is: how do we know for sure that the "psychic" (or "paranormal researcher and physical medium" as stated on the Travel Channel site) and the retired NYPD homicide detective, Steve Di Shiavi, have not discussed the case before Amy goes in and does her little act for the cameras. Let me guess: the psychic segment is taped LAST... correct? On the official website it states: "Amy’s abilities have been studied and tested by leading para-psychologists. She has worked with private investigators, police agencies and has conducted more than 350 investigations in both private homes and businesses." I'd like to see evidence of this. Where are the studies and what tests were performed exactly?

This could just be another Paranormal State situation where the producers gather all the information about the paranormal activities, feeds it to the "psychic" (Chip Coffey) and he does a great act of being incredibly accurate and detailed.

There are psychics. I don't doubt that at all. And people/shows like this do a disservice to real psychics. They are snakeoil salesmen. Charlatans. Some are pessimistic about paranormal reality tv shows, stating that they are ALL fake. I can understand why they scoff at them, but as someone who studied film/tv production in college, I can tell you: all of these shows will have edits. They aren't broadcast live.

But with TV production in mind, I can say that there are better shows out there. My favorite being Ghost Adventures (which I only recently got into through watching on Netflix; now I can't get enough!) Don't let Zac Bagans hyped up provocative style fool you. Spirits react to provocation, and as he states repeatedly, he only provokes the bad spirits (people who were murderers, molesters, etc.) And what they do that also adds to their credibility is they will often review EVPs on-site. Their injuries are also real. I have woken up with scratch marks that I could not have possibly made myself. And the scratches are so thin. When I scratch myself they are wide scratched due to my short fingernails, not thin spindly. I used to dislike Ghost Adventures, despite never having seen an entire episode. I would catch my mom watching it all the time and I'd watch for a few minutes and took the guys' behavior as frat boyish and not serious ("Dude! [expeletive] What the bleeeeeeeeeeep!?"). But see what can happen when you take things out of contexts. Lucky for the Ghost Adventures is on Netflix.

But back to The Dead Files. Will it last? I think not. It's not really catchy or memorable. Also, I thought to myself: if the show was a little longer maybe they could get more done. Then I realized that the show is an HOUR long, which shocked me. So to me, that just shows a poor concept and format. They're not doing it right. In an hour, you should convey much more information than they do. And it seems they focus more on Amy the psychic than the research done by the retired cop.

I knew I couldn't have been the only one who thought so!


  1. i ecourage you to watch a show from 2-3 years ago called "a haunting" I recall one epesode with a younger, red-headed Amy Allen before her elvira mistress of the dark act. She was a paranormal investigator. nothing more, nothing less. She used EMF meters and digital recorders and didnt claim to be able to speak to or see dead people. the case she was involved in had a husband and wife who were being haunted. The worst thing was when their grandson was pushed down some steps. Instead of helping these people, Amy allen convinced the grandmother that their ghost was a poltergeist generated by her and she somehow subconsciously wanted to push her grandson down the steps. This woman was devastated and utterly guilt ridden and believed her hidden "power" was hurting her family. Now Amy Allen claims shes full-on psychic. I guess paranormal investigator was'nt paying the bills. Amy Allen has been a fraud long before the dead files and she needs to be called out before another familly is hurt

    1. how would i get footage of her from this show?..i have been searching on the internet to no avail...

    2. Amy stated in an interview that she was reluctant for a time to totally come out as a full medium, I suppose due to the controversial nature of her talent, thus, she only served as an investigator for a while. She said that while her abilities were evident in childhood, she did not fully come to understand them until she was in her 20s. As for making faces all the time, it is probably because she is in somewhat of a trance state and she has stated that the entities often talk through her, causing her to take on their voices and mannerisms. She sometimes sees many entities at once and she says that the dead know she can see and hear them and can kind of pounce on her because they want to be heard. I can imagine this would make anyone agitated, not to mention the sometimes gruesome images she is being shown and physical attacks she sometimes endures. Dead Files too featured a poltergeist case and Amy had to explain to this family that their mother's unexpressed grief from previous traumas was contributing to the phenomenon. This was entirely the correct thing to say as in some paranormal schools of thought poltergeists are caused by a kind of "spontaneous psychokinesis" resulting sometimes from emotional distress. Of all the paranormal shows out there, I find this one to be most credible while, yes, I don’t get why the guy who is supposed to film Amy has a guy filming him. I also wonder why for authenticity’s sake, they don’t have him carry an EVP recorder or EMF detector, just to see if hard evidence can be captured. Anyway, one must trust that it is true that Steve doesn’t share anything with Amy until the end (though he did on two occasions which were documented in the show) or that Amy doesn’t get ANY info prior to arriving at a location so that no research can be done on a particular town, site or the people there. I do not like Ghost Hunters or Paranormal State as I feel that the “evidence” they collect is never really that compelling and some of the segments filmed with mediums seem totally fake. I never miss an episode of Ghost Adventures though there have been many times when I have questioned its authenticity (how can they be seeing shadows when it is pitch black?) I am always skeptical of so-called on camera possessions as there is just no way for anyone to prove or disprove their occurrence. I’ve actually seen some really great EVP and photographic evidence on random videos on YouTube which is no less believable that these TV shows.

  2. Waymore blues,
    Thanks for the comment. What a great find! I had no idea AA was moonlighting (haha!) I have seen that show (The Hanting) but I don't think I've seen this specific episode. I will try to find it on Netflix and have a look.
    you know, this isn't the first time I've heard about pretend psychics (ahem sylvia brown ahem) devestating families who have already been victimized. It's so sad. There should be some kind of a law against these snake oil salesmen. Profiting on other people's misery.

  3. waymore,

    I just saw that very episode today on Green channel or Green TV or something Green.. anyway, I too noticed exactly what you pointed out - that Amy was a researcher using other "sensitives" to conduct the spirit work. At the end, she does her own "walk thru" and suddenly claims to be a physical medium.

    In the end i'll keep on watching Dead Files as I am a huge ghost show buff, but as with all these shows they're for entertainment purposes only.


  4. If there's a faker on the show, somebody will rat them out, just like the Parapsychologist did on Most Haunted. I'm not convinced AA is a fake. IF the show is on the up and up, the detective uncovers things she couldn't have known. That's a big IF. I'm not really much of a believer in this stuff anyway. Paranormal things take place, but I'm not sure it's not dimensional. So I'm a hard sell, and not easily fooled.

    I like Ghost Adventures, but there are many flaws in it as well. The "spirit trap" the guy came up with a couple of years ago was the hokiest thing I've seen on any of these shows.
    The best thing on GA, was when the bait guy at the Canadian fort saw a "shadow person" and yelled out "Jesus Christ"! He at least thought he saw something.

    I think Ghost Hunters is the most legit, if any of them are.

  5. I like this show, but I was watching it, and my daughter who does seem to have some abilities said to me, "I don't think that woman is really psychic. I think she's a faker." LOL So I had to look it up and I found this blog. I do think she gets her information WAY too close to the actual story. On tonight's episode, the homeowner seemed to have more information.

  6. Hey Kristin, I think your daughter is probably much more gifted than this Amy Allen. (funny you just commented and I JUST walked into the living room and found my mom watching the show and I explained to her why I think Amy Allen is a faker. I even mentioned what another commenter posted about Allen being a regular paranormal investigator on an earlier show called The Haunting... and suddenly she comes back out of the wood works as a psychic.)

  7. I'm glad I found this website, I thought I was the only one who thought Amy Allen was a drama queen and a fraud.

  8. Haha, nope. You've got friends here, Vince!

  9. To tell you the truth I really do like the show...but my husband pointed out that in last weeks show Amy felt the need to remove some of the wall because she felt that something was once hidden back there...when the cop does the walk through in the beg the same slats were already taken obv when they say he does the interview first then she comes in it doesnt always work out that way....I dont care for Ghost Adventures...Why does every ghost want to talk with Zac? What about the other two poor bastards? ...and half those noises sound like muffled farts to me...

  10. Dead Files episode one, the home owner Elvis has actually been on an episode of LA ink as a dodgy contractor that Kat hired...... it was a ridiculous episode and obviously set up. Coincidence?

  11. wow Carlz, that's really interesting. Maybe everyone on this show is an actor...? It really wouldn't surprise me. It all seems so staged/scripted.

  12. This Amy Allen is a real treat.. I think for a dog toy... She is so full of acting like (real real bad acting) as if she was talking about herself in the third person, not a ghost, and she conveys it as a punch line in a joke... And the ghosts was. "really pissed" 10 times. A SUPER FRAUD... don't know how the hell she talked her way into a job. I could lie better than that. If she even prove one word of her BS I'd hire her for Paranormal. HOWEVER, her tack ticks and the way she does her "EVP"S and talks to or they talk thru her, whatever, she has personally set back REAL Paranormal research 10 years. Hope some real PSYCHICs call her out so she doesn't do more damage to the field...

  13. In one episode she says to a sketch artist that the residual energy of a guy that had killed someone there, was standing there saying to her "shut the f##k up Bi#ch" but then later tells the client that residual energy is NOT capable of communication. That's when I realized she is a fake.

  14. Although I like Ghost Adventures and find it entertaining, realize that Zac and friends were film majors above all. Although they claim to be scientific in their method, I really don't see anything other than anecdotal evidence presented. Being a scientist, I can tell you that just using a few gadgets with colored lights and needles in motion on RF meters does not mean true scientific method is being used. I like the show and I even think they believe what they are doing. Put three guys alone in a dark, run down old building with the ravages of former mental patients or prisoners surrounding them and they are going to scare the hell out of each other. Hell, I can scare myself just walking to the bathroom in the dark. However, if there was anything beyond anecdotal, highly subjective experiences reported, then it would be reflected in dollars invested by NSF in real, peer reviewed, scientific research.