In a certain well-known 1984 feature film, a trio of unemployed parapsychologists start their own paranormal exterminator service and tackles otherworldly forces plaguing the citizens of New York. In the real world, people who are concerned that their home or business might be haunted turn to professionals like Barry FitzGerald. Having first appeared on the hit Syfy series Ghost Hunters, this global paranormal investigator went on to become part of the Ghost Hunters International team. The equally popular series is currently airing the second half of its second season on Syfy, and this year FitzGerald took over the mantle of lead investigator, which, of course, comes with its own set of responsibilities.
“I have to say that it is tougher and there are a number of things that you have to keep on top of,” says FitzGerald, speaking on the phone from Ireland. “This includes knowing what’s going on with the teams in the different locations and where everyone is at that specific time. And while I always looked after the equipment, I still like to keep a hand in that as well and be aware of what’s happening with it all.
“So I’m almost doubling up on my workload now, but I knew going into it that it would be a challenge, and finding out that they wanted me to take the lead was fantastic. The dynamics within our team is wonderful and there’s a great trust that I have with everyone; I know that they’re all capable of doing their jobs and we get on with it. On the days we’re not filming, we still spend time together because when you’re on the road for as long as we are you become a family. We look out for one another and experience things together. For example, during one of our investigations we were all snorkeling off the coast of Puerto Rico as a complete team and it was absolutely fantastic. As I say, the team energy is wonderful and we’re having a good time, which I’m led to understand comes across in the episodes themselves.”
This season on GHI, FitzGerald along with his colleagues – Joe Chin, Paul Bradford, Susan Slaughter and Scott Tepperman as well as GH’s Britt Griffith – welcomed onboard a new team member when GH’s Kris Williams crossed the pond to join them on their investigations. “Having Kris on the team is a great asset,” he notes. “The two of us are like [The X-Files’] Mulder and Scully. I, of course, come from the European perspective where we’re more metaphysical and see things slightly differently, whereas Kris is quite technical and very inquisitive. We certainly toss ideas back and forth and openly discuss different theories as we clock up the miles on the long drives that we have across Europe.
“I think Kris has found it to be quite a change coming over from GH to GHI. Number one, our equipment is completely different and it took her a little while to get used to the equipment and understand what everything does, but that’s a normal learning curve. Also, she wasn’t quite sure how she was going to be welcomed into the team, and, of course, we welcomed her with open arms. All of us have a great deal of respect and mutual admiration for each other, which I feel is extremely important because, again, we’re a family unit and we have to look out for one another.”
On their first European outing for the latter half of season two, FitzGerald, Williams and the rest of the GHI team traveled to Denmark to investigate Kronborg Castle, the inspiration for William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. “I think the biggest challenge we had there was the utter size of the place,” recalls FitzGerald. “We had never really investigated anything that big before, and for us to come up against this particular castle in the time frame we had was a mammoth task. We also captured something that didn’t make it to air, but it was something that Susan brought up and I have to say I agreed with her, and that was the chandelier moving back and forth in the Chapel. There was this loud banging as well coming through the wall that we couldn’t account for, either.
“Again, neither of those things made it on-air because there’s only so much that we can get through time-wise on the show. Along with both those occurrences, though, there was battery drain, electrical disturbances with the equipment and objects being moved. All of this is sympathetic to poltergeist phenomenon, which is extremely rare to capture on camera, but we did, and that was a huge pat on the back for the team to be able to accomplish that in the locations we were told about. I have to take my hat off, too, to the team already in Denmark that was investigating the castle and that gave us a heads-up on where some of the activity may lie.
“So we came in and used our advanced technology to try to capture some of that and it worked a treat, it really did. We tried other things as well, which, again, didn’t make it across to the TV because of time, including The Singapore Theory in the ballroom, but nothing really came of that. It was a fantastic location, and as I mentioned, the single biggest challenge was the castle’s utter size. It was massive. Then there were the basement and dungeons, both of which were like catacombs and you could easily get lost. You just could not comprehend the scope of this location on a television screen.”
Following Denmark, the GHI team traveled to Pidhirtsi Castle in the Ukraine. “As we were doing our investigation, we were told about this lady who had been bricked up in the wall,” says FitzGerald. “Many castles have this romanticized version of a ‘White Lady’ and this castle is no exception. We were also told about the Nazis, who had conducted some unusual medical experiments in the West side [of the castle] and had bricked up that portion of the basement.
“As Kris and I were working in the basement, something seemed off and I came up with the idea of ‘pacing’ the basement out. Paul was on the upper floors and both of us were back-to-back and matched each other’s pace. As we paced it out, we discovered we were 21 paces short in the basement and the room that the Nazis had experimented in didn’t exist. In fact, the missing room was actually at the side where the lady is said to be bricked up. The 21 paces that couldn’t be accounted for was this wall that we weren’t able to get behind. However, when we left, our wonderful host and client, Dr. Vita Susak, had someone come in who pierced a hole through the wall. Not only did they discover one room, but they discovered two rooms behind the wall that we had indicated. So it was a fantastic experience for us to be able to say, well, actually there is some credence behind this story of a White Lady.
“After leaving the wonderful Ukraine, we went into Poland [and Reszel Castle in search of the last witch of Poland] and then up into Holland where we experienced the haunted house of Huissen. Although it didn’t give us a great deal of paranormal phenomenon, I’ve got to say that there was a natural ambiance of Huissen House that had long-reaching tentacles, because for two weeks after we left, the entire team was plagued by this terrible bout of bad luck. Thankfully we were able to battle through it and come out the other side. However, as far as the owner of the property, two days after we left, his luck actually turned around, and he took our advice and flew to Los Angeles to sell his story of the haunted house of Huissen.
“Going into this investigation we realized there was something more to the house than met the eye and that could ever be filmed. It’s one of those things where you walk onto a property and think, ‘There’s something about this place that gives me the creeps,’ and this house was it. There was something abnormal about it that we couldn’t put our finger on, and upon leaving we did explain to the owner that the house sat on a knife’s edge and it was entirely up to him insofar as what he wanted to do and what type of luck he wanted to attract to the house. As I just mentioned, his luck subsequently seemed to turn around for him, which I was very happy to hear.”
Two of FitzGerald’s team mates had a very unsettling experience when GHI went to Germany to check out Fursteneck Castle. “When we were in Germany I went out of my way to take the team to Dachau,” he says. “In America you have all these different little houses and residences like we see on Ghost Hunters that are haunted, but to really understand a European perspective, I wanted to bring the team to a place where they would really feel that to such an extent that it may be overwhelming, and that certainly happened in Dachau. Having been to Auschwitz, I was aware of what could happen, and when I brought them into Dachau they broken down in tears. It was very, very tough and they discovered that outside the U.S. things can be very different in regards to hauntings, spiritual fields and things of that nature, and they definitely respect that.
“Staying on the topic of Germany, we went to Fursteneck Castle where Susan was having a bout of feelings within the castle, which was affecting her greatly. It was the same with Paul. He was affected as well during this investigation, which was part and parcel of sometimes inviting these entities to take some of your energy because they can potentially drain you totally, which we saw at Fursteneck Castle. Susan actually got hit a second time, and part of that was seen in the episode, where I said to her, ‘Susan, I need you to focus. I need you to remember what you’re here to do. Don’t let this overtake you; concentrate,’ and she did. However, we removed her partially from that environment and allowed her to get her bearings back, and Susan went right back into the investigation. I have to say that I am very, very happy with the way Susan has come along. She really is fantastic and keeps us amused to no end on the road.”
In last week’s GHI, Serbia was the destination of choice and an investigation of the massive Petrovaradin Fortress. “Never in my entire life have I been in so many tunnels,” jokes FitzGerald. “There were 16 miles of tunnels underneath this fortress, some of which could come down on top of your head with the clap of a hand. Other tunnels had no oxygen inside them, and there were the myths and mysteries of the Knights Templar surrounding this place. It was another fantastic case.”
Scotland and the famous opera house, Usher House, is the show’s penultimate second season venue, airing this week, while next week’s season finale is in Puerto Rico. “Some very strange things happened in Scotland,” reveals FitzGerald. “The people there were wonderful and the evidence that came out of the investigation was second to none.
“As for Puerto Rico, it was absolutely amazing. Once again, the people there were incredible and the sunny climate was a treat for us, having come from Scotland where there was 12 inches of snow and the flights were all cancelled. There was a remarkable thing that we uncovered during our investigation in Puerto Rico that made us go back to our technology and make huge adjustments to try to ensure that we captured what we saw in Puerto Rico. There are some big things coming up in that episode and a couple of big shocks as well,” he teases.
Besides his work as a paranormal investigator, FitzGerald is also an accomplished photographer and published author. He has co-written two books with former GHI investigator Dustin Pari, the second of which, So My Home Is Haunted…Now What?, has just recently been published.
“The first part of this book looks at what people face when their homes are haunted,” explains FitzGerald, “and some of these tales really do make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. We picked the best of these stories from different fans from all over the world and included them in this book.
“As for the rest of the book, we go into the fact that a number of teams are into finding out if your home is haunted. You’ll ask them into your property, they’ll do an investigation and at the end of it they might tell you, ‘OK, here’s a recording of the spirit’s voice,’ or, ‘Here’s a photo of it.’ Then they’ll say goodbye and leave, and, of course, the homeowner is left standing there wondering what on Earth do they do next. So this book is also a collection of various worldwide belief systems, faiths and cultures, from the Aborigines, to the Zulu in South Africa, witches in Europe, Christians, all different religions and viewpoints and what they would do to fix the problem. We don’t actually sanction any one belief system. It’s up to the reader, but we have brought together a collection to at least give the homeowner an option.”
During the recent GHI hiatus, FitzGerald has also been busy on one or two other projects. “I just finished a movie script and we’re working on a second one as I speak,” he says. “The first one is a Sci-Fi piece and it’s a real shocker that puts the viewer in the position of having to question his or her own code of ethics, even though there’s a bigger situation going on in the background. It really does challenge you to think, ‘What would I do to save my own child?’ The second script is paranormal in nature and it takes a lot of my own current research and puts it into the field of the movie. It’s very European based but action all the way from start to finish.
“As for season three of GHI, we start filming in a couple of weeks. I don’t know when these episodes will actually start to air, but we have been picked up for 13 episodes and we look forward to getting back out there and making a start on those.”
As noted above, photo by Gaert Vanden Wijngaert and copyright of Syfy, so please no unauthorized copying or duplicating of any kind. Thanks!