Review of Cursed: The Bell Witch

I was on the fence about watching the recent paranormal series, “Cursed: The Bell Witch”.  However, considering I live about ten minutes away from the Bell Witch Cave, I felt compelled to do so.  I already knew about the story and the history behind the Bell family.  I started watching a couple of episodes but then something would always pull me away and I never really got a chance to really digest what I was watching.  So,  one day after the series was over, I put on a cup of coffee, sat down and watched every single episode from start to finish.

Every. Single. Episode.

And I LOVED IT!

I’m just kidding.  It was absolutely wretched!!!!  I’ve seen some pretty bad paranormal shows in my time, but just when I thought it doesn’t get any worse than a demon being blown up in a mirrored box, I watched “Cursed: The Bell Witch.”  I considered shoving my head into a toilet in the hopes of flushing out all the crap and shenanigans I witnessed in a 34 minute time span of watching the show, but I figured, why punish myself more? This was yet another stereotypical paranormal show full of ominous music for no apparent reason, awkward camera angles, and bad acting, accompanied with incorrect history and inaccurate facts.

To begin with, the show portrayed the residents of Adams, TN as overall-wearing, backwoods, ignorant, country folk that hate outsiders and most likely have a friend named “Cricket” who is married to his first cousin with one tooth. This couldn’t be further from the truth.  The residents of Adams are very kind, normal, sweet people. I’ve been to Adams several times to visit my friend who lives there and I’ve asked locals about whether or not the Bell Witch legend was true.  Not one time did anyone “warn” me to get out of town and to stay away if I know what’s good for me, which is what the show pretended to have happen to the cast members, John and Chad.  In one episode, they actually tried to get viewers to believe that while they were sleeping in their tent, an Adams resident hung a corn doll up in a tree to warn them and scare them off.  Now I have seen something similar to that…in the movie “The Blair Witch”!  Everyone who saw that movie remembers that scene, John and Chad!

In one episode, John and Chad embark on a spiritual cleansing of the land to break it of a possible Native American curse by performing a shaman ritual.  There’s just one little small problem with that scenario: The area the Bell farm was located at was NOT, I repeat, NOT, Native burial ground.  It was Native hunting ground, as was all of the South. Did they not read up on the Tennessee Mound Builders who buried their dead in mounds, hence why they were called Mound Builders? Furthermore, real Native “Shaman” do not publicize that they are “Shamans”.  In fact, they don’t really use that term to describe themselves.  They most definitely wouldn’t perform any ritual on a TV show. But then the ritual goes terribly wrong and John must turn to his only hope: an exorcism! (Cue ominous music!) At that point my level of “I can’t even…” was exceeded.  Is the Catholic Church aware that there is apparently an express lane to exorcisms?  They might want to put a phone call in to John and Chad.

In yet another horrible episode, they whip out their reliable K2 meter and place it on a tombstone.  Of course, it starts lighting up when a foreboding question is asked.  It is purely coincidence that it seems to light up at the exact same time the camera man leans in to get a better camera angle. But of course, that big ass camera and boom mike aren’t going to manipulate that trusty K2 meter. Way to go, dumb dumb!

Why does Chad’s service dog, Newton, bark and run off, leaving his handler by himself? Isn’t that what he’s NOT supposed to do?

The main characters, John and Chad, were constantly hearing footsteps, twigs breaking, and movement in the woodline while they were investigating at night.  I would hope that they did.  It’s called wildlife.  Not uncommon, especially in the backwoods of Tennessee. Just because you’re in a fabulous tent and you turn your flashlight off doesn’t mean all the other animals have to go to bed, John and Chad!

The show really struck a nerve with me when they started dispelling the history of the legend as being factual, grounded in historical documentation. Oh you dedicated purveyors of truth, John and Chad! In actuality, the first book that was ever published about the Bell Witch was written 75 years after the alleged occurrence.  Anyone who would have had first hand knowledge of what actually happened was dead when it was written. Yeah, let that sink in for a moment. The author of the book wasn’t even alive when the Bell Witch “haunts” began.  According to the show, the legend was first documented in the handwritten diary of Richard Bell, who was six when the “hauntings” began. Nevermind the fact that he didn’t write the diary until 30 years after the “hauntings”.  The problem with this is that they completely overlooked the fact that the guy who wrote it is remembering with great detail something that supposedly happened when he was six and he waited 30 years to write it down.  Not only that, but there is no evidence that the diary even exists as no one has ever seen it.

I could go on and on about the absurdity of the show but you get the point.  If you get the opportunity to watch it, don’t.  You can’t get that time back. All the tomfoolery and chicanery will suck the marrow of life from your bones with each passing minute.  I’m not sure if that’s true, but I bet if we ask John and Chad’s trusty K2 meter if that will happen, it will light up, and that makes it real.

I give this show -666 stars….for obvious reasons.

Historical Vomit in the Paranormal

There are many, many things that can be debated in the paranormal.  The existence of activity, the use of equipment, the methods used, and even the words/labels people use are constantly being argued over.  One thing, however, should not be up for debate: The history of a location.  Yet, I have found myself at the center of several arguments over this very topic.

You would think that the history of a place would be very cut and dry.  It’s not subjective to what one’s opinion is; at least, it shouldn’t be.  It should be based on facts.  It should be based on documentation.  It should be based on records.  It should be based on research.  Not research as in “let me put this recorder here and see what I come up with,” but rather it should be research conducted pulling up records, interviewing prior occupants/owners, doing title searches, going to the    library, etc. historical-research-4-638

More often than not, when I see a paranormal page put up the “history” of a location, I hold my breath as I read  through it. Then I start my own google search.

Why?

I google search to see how much word vomit I’ve allowed to permeate through my brain.  Yes, I used to the term word  vomit. Let me explain.

If you take a known location that has been widely promoted as being a paranormal location and you look at the history provided by the numerous teams and/or individuals that investigated it and posted their finding about it, eight and a half times out of ten you will find that the history was regurgitated – sometimes word for word.  In other words, it’s a simple take-what-you-fin-on-the-internet-from-someone-else-who-posted-about-it-and-recycle-it without fully analyzing what you posted.

Word vomit.  That’s exactly what it is.      istockpuking_woman_vomit-255x300

When you’re conducting a paranormal investigation and you plan on providing the history of the location, it is important that you eschew (avoid) this technique.  For one thing, you may be providing false information.  From my own research into many of the locations that people post up, I’ve found more false histories on locations than actual truthful ones posted on numerous paranormal sites.  This is disrespectful to the location itself.  It robs the house, the land, and its people of their footprint in time.  It’s unfair.

Secondly, you are setting yourself and others up for failure before they even start their investigation.  Many paranormal claims are tied the history of the location.  If you’re circulating false information, then you could be possibly feeding into false claims. This sets yourself and those who rely on that information you provided at a disadvantage. For example, if a location claims to be demonic because of an alleged heinous murder that occurred there, and yet factually there was never a murder on the premises, then that claim can be negated from the start. The claim may be tied to something else or be created out of a paranoia based on a rumor. On the flip side, say you find records of a cowboy that lived on the land that loved goats and sleigh bells (it could happen, don’t judge me) and someone (unbeknownst of the records your found) claims that out of nowhere he heard sleigh bells and then saw a man with a cowboy hat feeding goats, you may have something to look further into.  Therefore, it’s imperative that the history is correct.

Lastly, think about the trickle-down effect of what you are circulating as it has a direct impact on the community surrounding the location.  For example, there is a show on TV that is propagating an alleged curse of seemingly demonic activity. The community was portrayed as being closed minded, exclusive, poor country folk who hated outsiders and were almost threatening. Then they circulated that the activity spawned not just from the conjuring of evil, but also because of Native American history. Well, I happen to live 7 minutes from that location.  I work with someone who was raised in the area.  The people of that community are not just frustrated, but offended at the portrayal.  Not only that, but it’s not even a small community, considering it borders a military post. Furthermore, Natives hunted on the grounds but there was never, ever, ever, any Native Burial Grounds in that area….ever.  I was able to confirm this with two universities, state historical societies, as well as other agencies.

On a side note, I hate to break this bit of shocking information to you, but Native Americans were all over the continental United States at some point.  Not everything can nor should be blamed on Native Americans.  Not every location was an “Indian Burial Ground,” yet that seems to be the go-to explanation of a lot of paranormal locations.  With a little bit of research, one would discover that to little bit of factual information. Just dropping that bit of knowledge down for you.  Stop blaming Native Americans for everything.

But alas, I digress….

Many times I have been surprised by the legitimate history behind a location. Not too long ago I did research on a popular location that was widely promoted as being (again) demonic, with some fairly grandiose historical claims.  However, after doing extensive research I discovered that the history put out was not just erroneous but completely fabricated.  The history couldn’t have been further from the truth. Sadly, the true history of the location was completely overlooked although it turned out to be far more interesting and intriguing.

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To me, it seems a bit lazy to take as truth history of a location from what’s been circulating on the internet or a ghost hunting show.  If you’re going to say you’re a paranormal investigator or into paranormal research, then you need to do actual investigating and research from start to finish.  Don’t half ass it. Take the time to go to a library and pull records.  Take the time to go through newspaper archives and/or phone books from the past. Take the time to conduct interviews of past residents.  Take the time to pull deeds and do title searches.  Don’t just regurgitate the same crap that’s out there and try and pass it off as research. It’s not.

Remember, it is word vomit…. And last I checked, vomit is gross.