For fans of the paranormal, there are a number of programs on a variety of networks that dive deep into the world of the supernatural, but while some of these programs aim to debunk the experiences a family might have in their home, Travel Channel's Portals to Hell hopes to enlighten audiences on some of the most active locations in the country, educating viewers on hot spots for the undead. Hosted by Jack Osbourne and Katrina Weidman, the pair manages to keep their cool in even the most intense of situations, while also bringing an analytical eye to set the record straight on urban legends that would explain the activity.
In each of the episodes, Jack and Katrina dive headfirst into a different historical site, examining unusual incidents while utilizing specialized technology and a network of experts to help document and uncover irrefutable evidence that a spirit world exists. The quest for answers takes the duo to locations including Denver’s infamous Croke-Patterson Mansion – known as “The King of All Haunted Houses.” They also investigate legendary spooky spots including Frankenstein’s Castle in Germany, Haunted Hills House in Texas, and Houska Castle in Czechia.
ComicBook.com recently caught up with Osbourne and Weidman to discuss the Season Two before it premieres on the Travel Channel on Friday, March 13th at 9 p.m. ET.
"It's All Speculation"
ComicBook.com: From the name alone, viewers are aware that you two will be delivering a more intense experience than other paranormal series out there. Have you gone to many locations that you thought would be a "Portal to Hell" and find that things aren't very active?
Katrina Weidman: We've talked about this a lot, where the name isn't so literal, it's more that there's certain places in the world where people describe very negative activity happening. And I think the question becomes, "Why is an asylum having these very negative experiences?" versus the cute haunted house down the street where grandmother sees a little child ghost and it's harmless. What's the difference between that? Is it psychological, is it environmental, or is it really that something sinister is going on within those walls?
I think that's really what the mission started out as. And as far as Jack and I debunking these things, it's funny because Jack and I both lean very skeptical. I would label us more open-minded skeptics than anything, meaning that I think we both have beliefs that there are strange, unexplainable things that happen in this world, but we also know not every eyewitness account is going to be accurate. Not every account of the supernatural is going to be unexplainable. Sometimes there are natural explanations. We do look for that stuff. It doesn't always take the forefront of our investigation, as far as what people see in the final product, because there's so much going on in our investigations. We're there for four days and what people get at home is only 42 minutes of what we do.
Jack Osbourne: It is very much an eyebrow-raising title, for sure. I guess there is hypocrisy on our own part because, like Katrina said, we are very much skeptics. I guess not all-the-way skeptics, but we certainly aren't the Kool-Aid-drinking, tinfoil hat-wearing, die-hard ghost hunters. We certainly have had times where we pull up to places being like, "You know, I don't think this place is as terrifying as you say." And we've had experiences in places that aren't supposed to be that terrifying that we're just like, "Wait, what?" Ultimately, we like to say we don't know what it is. I can't honestly tell you that I 100% know what a ghost is and that it's definitely the spirit of Old Man River, he died saving Johnny out of the well. I don't think it's as simple as that.
Weidman: And echoing that with Jack is that if the paranormal is all speculation as far as, "Oh, you know what all this stuff is and what causes it?" It's all speculation.
Obviously you both enjoy going on these paranormal investigations, but what motivates your desire to seek answers to mysteries about the paranormal?
Weidman: I grew up in haunted houses, so it was always a part of my life as far as asking these questions, "What is this? Why does this happen?" When I started out, I had this, I think, universal view of what the supernatural is and isn't, meaning that it's got to be the afterlife, it has to be someone who died and they came back because they have something they need to do. And when I got more involved in it and researched more and met more people in the field and met more witnesses, I realized it's not so simple. And so, for me, I've never been satisfied with the answer that it's nothing because, to me, you have thousands and thousands and thousands of people all over the world from all walks of life, for decades, centuries, having these experiences and they can't all just be explainable.
We know people have had unexplainable things happen. I've had them happen, I had cameras capture unexplainable things. I always come at it from a thing of, even if it's not what we think it is, as far as what Jack was saying, "Old Man River's there and he died and he came back to claim his gold," or whatever the situation is, it's still something going on. Is that psychological, is it emotional, is it environmental, is it neurological? Whatever it is, it's still something, even if we have the wrong definitions, even if we had the wrong labels, I absolutely, 100% believe that it deserves explanation and exploration.
Osbourne: It's pure curiosity. That's why Katrina and I get along so well, our mission statement is on par. We are united in the same kind of quest here, like, "What the hell is this thing and why?" I always like to say that people have been writing and telling stories about ghosts and goblins and dragons and mythical creatures and religious figures parting seas for thousands of years, but most of that stuff has been refuted as impossible or science hasn't been able to explain it. Science still hasn't really been able to explain the experiences that people have been having since written language was created. My thing is, "What is it?" I want to experience that. I want to see what it's about for my own, and I don't necessarily think I'm going to find all the answers, but I'd like to believe that there are some opportunities to document these very strange occurrences that have happened with millions and millions of people.
When you go on these investigations, you likely aren't as intimidated by supernatural events than your average person, but have there been instances during an investigation where the activity has made you feel like you had bitten off more than you could chew?
Osbourne: Absolutely. We filmed this location in Texas called "The Hell House" and, allegedly, the story goes that it was owned by a Satanic Death Cult and they come for your spirit and there's a lot of that mysticism associated with the place. And I, being somewhat of a skeptic, take it with a grain of salt.
We're at this place and, I can't tell you how or why, but it had the most unsettling feeling there, and it just felt sh-tty and we were doing the night investigation and we hadn't had a lot of results with things, the experiments that we run, and then, all of a sudden, it sounded like someone took a baseball bat and smacked it against a wall. And there were three people upstairs. It was myself, Katrina, and our camera guy. It was the loudest bang against the wall and it wasn't like something falling off the roof, it was against the wall that we were standing in front of and it freaked the crap out of me. We have no idea what caused it. We went back up there, we looked through stuff, we were trying to figure out if something fell, did something break? We found nothing to have caused this bang and that truly terrified me. Over time, you do get used to being in these environments and things that might have been scary a year ago aren't as scary today. But when things are scary, it's for a real good reason.
Weidman: I would agree with Jack. It would be the same episode that he is talking about, because there were a lot of pieces of that investigation that weren't adding up. And, not that people were necessarily lying, but I don't think there was a lot of transparency going on in certain aspects. It just rolled into the feeling that Jack is talking about, and it rolled into other things we were experiencing, like that big bang that we couldn't explain.
It was just overall a very hard place to get your head on straight. And I think, in general, it's always scary because, just like we're saying, it might not be the afterlife, it might not be as bad as we think it is when people are like, "Oh, it's the most negative place I've ever been." There's the flip side of it that, well, what if it is? What if all that speculation, what if all those spiritual paths and legends are true about how this stuff is, about how this stuff works, and why it works that way? I think that's always a scary possibility.
In the first two seasons of the series, you got to explore a number of iconic places, but is there a dream location that you're still dying to explore?
Weidman: There's so many places. I think Europe would be incredible. And there's so many places in the UK that are just waiting and begging to be done. But also Jack and I have talked a lot about how Hawaii would be incredible. And I think there's some other places just in the states that, for reasons X, Y, and Z, that we can't get into. So it's kind of a waiting game to see if those places open up.
Osbourne: I guess it's more on the spiritual side of things and, unfortunately for viewers at home, this is a genre show, ultimately, and the genre of paranormal ghost hunting shows that very much capture the spooky. But I think there's a whole other side to ghost hunting, and that's the spirituality side of things, because essentially you are investigating spirits, but it just doesn't sit well, talking about the spirituality side of it, and it'd have to be the lighter side of things. Getting more into different cultures and understanding of their knowledge of the spirit realm is something that I would like to spend more time investigating, it just doesn't make good TV, though. It's a bit of a double-edged sword.
Through all of your investigations, do you think you've gotten enough answers to your personal questions about the spirit world?
Weidman: When I started out in this, I thought it was as simplistic as, "This is somebody who died and they came back and they're haunting the place." And so, have I gotten that answer that that's what's going on? Not necessarily, but I think my view of it has changed so dramatically that, in a way, it's kind of answered itself, meaning I don't think there's one answer to explain all of this stuff. I don't think it's as simple as the media makes it, as far as books and movies go. I think it's way more complicated. At the same time, I guess the answer I've taken away from all of that is that there are absolutely unexplainable things that happen in this world. We just might not have the right answer as to why or how it happened and I don't know that I'll ever get the full answers of why or how those things happened.
Osbourne: I wouldn't put my hand on the Bible on it, but to my understanding, I have clarity into types of hauntings and how it's not all the same. And I think it's not an opinion, I think that it's the truth that it's not just ghosts. I think there are categories, and I think that there are different energy spectrums.0comments
Tune in to the season premiere of Portals to Hell on the Travel Channel on Friday, March 13th at 9 p.m. ET.