Every October, news channels everywhere start bombarding us with special segments on “real” ghost stories in an effort to get us in the mood for Halloween. Ohio is no different. And while some of these segments are very well-done, most never progress past the “who ya gonna call?” opening and the stereotypical ending featuring Vincent Price’s laugh from Thriller. And then there’s this hot mess from NewsChannel 5, where three story ideas were cobbled together to create…something.
The segment opens by introducing us to Brooklyn, Ohio resident Jennifer Albert. Seems that Albert and her family have given up trying to sell her childhood home in Youngstown and have decided to keep it in the family. The reason? Well, according to Albert, “we’re never going to be able to sell it because it’s very, very haunted.” The article that accompanied the online video even states that “prospective buyers would run the other way as soon as they learned of the strange happenings inside the home.” Now this was intriguing to me; a house so haunted that you can’t sell it? Cool! Just what sort of crazy ghost activity was going on inside that house?
Well, we never find out. That’s because whoever wrote this segment decided to leave that story trail and venture off down another path: that of whether or not people in Ohio have to disclose that their house is haunted. I wasn’t sure why they chose to go down that path, since 1. Albert never said she withheld that her house might be haunted to prospective buyers, and 2. the fact that Albert is now disclosing her house might be haunted on a news show makes whether or not she should disclose it a moot point. But I digress. Let’s rejoin the segment and see if they can pull it all back together again.
So now we’re talking about whether or not homeowners have an obligation to disclose that their house is haunted. For this part of the segment, the reporting team manages to track down the President of Coldwell Banker Hunter Realty, Edward Dolinsky, who tells us that if something in the home could be considered detrimental, Ohio law says owners must disclose it. As Dolinsky (via voiceover) is giving us examples of what could be considered “detrimental”, such as ghosts or a murder, viewers are treated to shocking images like a hallway light fixture and (gasp!) a dripping faucet!
Dolinsky’s statements are even better when he’s on camera, due mainly to the fact that the whole time he’s talking, he can’t seem to blink the “did you seriously just ask me that question?” look from his eyes.
Still, I was intrigued with what Dolinsky had to say. It even made me think of some questions of my own. For example, can you legally be bound by something such as a haunting when the very existence of ghosts is still open to debate? Alas, I was left to ponder those questions alone as the segment went rearing off in yet another direction.
You see, despite the fact that Jennifer Albert grew up in (and still owns) a house so haunted no one wants to live there, she still wanted to find more ghosts. So she has joined a local ghost-hunting group and “she is equipped to look for ghosts in your home.”
The segment begins to wrap up with Albert stating that her group is more than happy to help prospective homeowners by checking houses for ghosts: “And if there’s something going on, we’ll tell you. We’ll be like ‘hey, unless you want a haunted house, I wouldn’t live here.'” I started thinking to myself “I wonder if she’s ever used her ghost-hunting equipment in her haunted family home?” But then I reminded myself of what I was watching and just sat quietly, waiting for the segment to end.
Man, was that a painful segment to sit through. In all the madness, there was one thing that remained constant, though, and not in a good way: the monotone drone of reporter Dave Gapinski. I’m going to give him a pass just in case Gapinski is planning on being Lethargy Man for Halloween and was just trying out his schtick. But the man showed absolutely no emotion, not even when, for no apparent reason, some old stock footage from a haunted house attraction showing a giant onion-headed thing breaking through a door got randomly inserted into the segment:
All in all, I just couldn’t figure out who to blame for this piece; the producer? Director? Writer? Reporter? The Dripping Faucet? I was going to flip a coin to decide, but since we’ve got a whole stable full of horses in this race, a 2-sided coin won’t do. So I’ll be back in a bit with my verdict after I dig out some of my old D&D dice.
Read the NewsChannel 5 article and view the video here.