Clifton is a small mining town in eastern Arizona that’s popular among visitors.
The ghostly kind, evidently.
Clifton is the setting for the two-part season premiere of “Ghost Hunters,” the popular show on A&E that airs Wednesday, April 8. The title is “Terror Town,” which probably thrills the Chamber of Commerce to no end. The show sent a team of investigators led by Grant Wilson, one of the people who started the long-running series, to look into spooky incidents.
And why not?
“We are the perfect storm for paranormal activity,” Amos Kovach, Clifton’s economic development coordinator, who definitely gives off an I-want-to-believe vibe, says at one point during the show.
Here’s what to expect in the episode
What did investigators find? No spoiler alerts here, other than to say that Clifton does indeed seem like a pretty creepy place after dark. Whether that’s all due to paranormal activity is another question, and one the show dances around, at times more deftly than others.
Speaking of, “Paranormal Activity” is a pretty good movie to watch if you want to capture the spirit — pun intended — of the show. There’s a bunch of night-vision camera work that captures a lot of not much for a while. But rooting around in the dark is spooky work (remember the end of “Silence of the Lambs?”), and when the various devices and gizmos do turn up something, it makes it all the more surprising. Plus, the lack of light dilates the pupils of the team members, so they look like they have big black eyes, which is kind of unsettling.
It’s the kind of classic tension-building we see in horror movies all the time, in other words. And the “Ghost Hunter” producers know what they’re doing.
The first episode begins with the investigators at a town meeting, in which Clifton residents relate their various experiences and pass along some of the town legends — mysterious screams and footsteps, shootings, stabbings, a woman who drowned her children, that kind of thing. There’s no doubt that like most old Arizona mining towns (Clifton was founded in 1873), it’s had a tough history with plenty of Old West-style violence.
It also sits hard by the San Francisco River, whose flooding has at times caused considerable death and destruction.
The perfect kind of place, in other words, for ghosts.
So, is Cilfton really haunted?
The team splits up over a few nights, setting up equipment in locations like the Elk’s Lodge, the Clifton Hotel, the Chase Creek Boarding House and the Clifton Jail. There’s a dramatic moment when Wilson instructs by walkie-talkie that the electricity to the town be turned off, which is good for spooky visuals — it makes it dark, certainly — but probably not for watching “The Late Show” if you live there. And the electricity wasn’t off for the scary incidents townspeople describe, but what do I know?
The lights seem to come and go, but the teams do their work earnestly — sometimes too much so. A fall down the stairs turns into a pivotal moment: Was Kristen Lyman, the co-lead investigator, pushed? By a paranormal presence?
She was walking down the stairs in the dark, after all, so that’s probably not the first conclusion you’d jump to. Or maybe if you’re a “Ghost Hunters” fan, it is.
There are other, creepier incidents, including one involving an electron-multiplying camera. The jail seems particularly scary. And again, not to spoil anything, but a couple of things happen that would suggest no paranormal activity at all, but instead a reluctance on the part of some of the townspeople to have their home portrayed as the ghost capital of the Southwest.
The verdict? Who knows, on the ghost front. But on the TV front, not bad. It’s nice to see Arizona represented, particularly parts of it that most people outside the state — or inside the state, for that matter — never see.
Even if a lot of it is in the dark.
‘Ghost Hunters’ season premiere
8 p.m. Wednesday, April 8 on A&E
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