As you know, two weekends ago I attended the Haunted Horror Film & Paranormal Investigation Festival. If you know me at all, you can tell just by the title of the festival that this festival is perfect for me because it combines two of my favorite things- horror movies and paranormal stuff. Add in the fact that it was taking place at a haunted location and in a town I have been wanting to visit for a while because of its history.
DAY ONE- Friday
The festival took place in Nauvoo, IL. It’s about two hours from Peoria. So not an awful drive. I knew the festival started at 3 pm but I wanted to get there early to meet people, get settled in, and to get a feel of everything. I arrived at about 2 pm and the first person I met was Larry, one of the festival organizers. Larry is a ball of happy energy. You can’t talk to him without smiling and laughing. He was setting up the first movie in the living room of the Cambre House. While he finished setting it up, Rebecca (the owner of Cambre House) gave me a tour of the house. Since I was the only one to rent a room upstairs, she let me chose the room with a door to sleep in.
The first movie we watched was called “Holes In The Sky- The Sean Miller Story”. It was a documentary about a missing man in Illinois. The movie was filmed just outside of Springfield, IL. After the movie, there was a Q&A with the filmmaker, Ash Hamilton. It was great talking to Ash and learning about what it was like filming the movie, how they came up with the idea of it, and what they have planned for future films. The film was great and I want to see more of their movies. Definitely had the creep factor I look for in documentaries and found footage films.
At the end of the Q&A, I ran upstairs to use the bathroom real quick. As I was exiting the bathroom, out of the corner of my right eye, I saw someone standing by the other upstairs bed looking out the window. Thinking it was someone from the festival and wanting to be sociable, I paused and turned to them to ask them what they thought about the movie we just watched. But when I turned towards the window, no one was there. Now I know I saw a tall, broad-shoulder man standing at the foot of the bed. The room is bright, well lit with sunshine from all the windows, and there was no large furniture around to mistake for a human form. I went downstairs and ran into Rebecca. I asked her if a spirit of a man was associated upstairs. She asked if it was a skinny person or a broad-shoulder person. I told her it was a broad shoulder. She explained that was her Grandpa Relly who used to live at the house. She showed me a picture of him she had in a binder full of the house’s history. It was great to get confirmation that what I saw was a spirit and not a trick of the eyes.
The next set of films we watched was a series of short films that were 10 minutes short or less. Some were from the United Kingdom and some were from the United States. My favorite was one called “Effigy”. It was about an internet troll that unleashes a demon through his computer. It was brilliantly done and really creepy. Another hit with the festival-goers was a short called “Intruder”. It was a zombie short film that was actually pretty funny.
The last film of the night was a movie by John and Scott Johnson. They are brothers from Charleston, SC. They played their film “Fleshers” for us and then hosted a Q&A afterward. Fleshers was the best film of the entire festival. It was gore, creepy, and funny. It also had the best acting and storylines. Talking to both of them was a lot of fun. They clearly love what they do and they are very talented writers and filmmakers. The film was about people who collect the skin from humans to sell as pieces of art to anonymous rich benefactors. I really need to watch more of their films.
After Fleshers, most of everyone headed back to the hotel they were staying at. At the house, a paranormal husband and wife team called Charleston Paranormal was staying in the room downstairs. While I and another paranormal investigator stayed upstairs. I was about to start getting ready for bed when I heard Kris (the husband from Charleston Paranormal) downstairs using a spirit box. I ended up joining him for a bit doing our own investigation of the house and the barn. I will write about this investigation and the other two investigations that went on that weekend on Thursday’s post. Be sure to come back for that post because the investigations were crazy.
DAY TWO- Saturday
The second day of the festival started off kind of early (especially since I didn’t go to bed until 3 am) with a movie called “The Hatred” by the Adams Family. The movie was interesting but not my normal type of horror movie. It reminded me a lot of “True Grit” in the way it was filmed. After the movie, there was a Zoomed Q&A with the Adams Family.
That afternoon, Eric and Larry hosted some more short films in the barn as well as a film from Charleston Paranormal. Because of a response Kris and I received in the barn the night before, I didn’t go into the barn while these were going on. Instead, I walked the farm grounds to check out the vendors. I also drove into Nauvoo to see the Church Of Latter-Day Saints temple. It was very large and beautiful. While I’m not Mormon, I find their history fascinating to learn about. I am grateful for having the chance to finally visit the temple.
I made it back to the farm to hear the last bit of the Q&A that Charleston Paranormal was putting on in the barn. I sat outside as to not offend the spirit we dealt with the previous night to listen. While I did enjoy investigating with Kris from Charleston Paranormal, I was put off by some of the things they do. They seem to be more para-entertainment than investigators. They offer tours and investigations in and around Charleston, SC, where they guarantee you will experience something paranormal. Spirits aren’t performing monkeys. You can’t guarantee that someone will experience something paranormal even if you are in the most haunted location. They are also very reliant on expensive tools than most of the teams I work with. Not saying there is anything wrong with that, just that you don’t need fancy equipment to experience something paranormal.
After that Q&A was done, there were Q&As done with Raven Rose Paranormal and Travelers Moon Paranormal. Both of these teams I really enjoyed getting to know. The main leader from Raven Rose Paranormal, Cynthia, was who was staying upstairs with me the previous night. Raven Rose Paranormal was a three-member team that is out of Iowa. Cynthia is intuitive that uses her gifts to help back up what the information they get from the equipment they use on investigations provides. Their team also has a skeptic on it to help debunk some of the evidence they get. They are a fairly new team but I like the way they conduct themselves on investigations and how they are out to help spirits and those living with spirits.
The other paranormal team that was there was Travelers Moon Paranormal. I really enjoyed getting to know Chris and Kelly from that team. Chris is a tech person and was able to show us a variety of tools I hadn’t seen before like music boxes that play a song when something breaks the laser grid, a REM pod that is shaped like a planchette, and actual phone apps that seem to work. Kelly is a psychic that is able to communicate with spirits without using words. She can also see spirits that most people can’t see thanks to her gifts. One of the things that they taught us during their Q&A was something called the Estes Method. That method is when one investigator is blindfolded and wears headphones while listening to a spirit box while other investigators conduct an EVP session. The person listening to the spirit box will verbally say what they hear through the spirit box without knowing what the other investigators are asking. It helps rule out some self-contamination that happens when using a spirit box because you’re listening for certain responses otherwise. We closed out the day with an investigation lead by Travelers Moon Paranormal. More about that in Thursday’s post.
After the investigation, I realized that Charleston Paranormal had left the Cambre House a few hours earlier and that Cynthia had left as well. Meaning I would be spending the night alone in the house. I will go into what happened after everyone left in Thursday’s post.
DAY THREE- Sunday
The last day of the festival was a short one for me. I ended up leaving early because I wanted to spend some of the weekend with Jeremy since I barely see him during the week with his recruiter hours. We started off the festival by watching an episode of “Ghosts Of The County Lunatic Asylum- Part 2” by a paranormal team from the United Kingdom called Spirit Vision. After the episode, there was a Zoomed Q&A with the husband and wife members of Spirit Vision. Their episode was good to watch and I really wish we could have seen part 1 as well. The team had some interesting tools that were used including a minion-shaped REM pod that was really cute. Talking to the members of Spirit Vision was interesting. I really liked learning about how investigating abandoned places are policed differently in the UK than it is here in the States. Seems a lot more lenient there. Spirit Vision is planning on coming to the States to investigate some of our locations. I think it would be interesting to team up with them for an investigation.
After that episode and Q&A, we did a Zoom chat with Angela Boley. She is a death survivor and psychic artist. I’m going to be honest with y’all- my bullshit meter was ringing constantly while she talked. She had a tendency to contradict herself often. She would describe an event that happened and then turn around and describe the same event in a completely different way. She’s one of those people that claim to be attacked by demons often, yet the attacks she described didn’t sound demonic. It sounded very Hollywood-ish. She and Zak Bagans have similar tells of their dealing with the demonic. After her chat, I left the festival because it was already halfway through the afternoon.
All in all, I really enjoyed the festival. It was great to meet a lot of talented filmmakers and paranormal teams. I also enjoyed learning investigation tools and techniques. The festival was small with only a couple dozen attendees, but I honestly loved that. We felt more like friends hanging out and chatting than at a formal festival. By the end of the weekend, I had made some connections with people that I hope to continue chatting with in the future. I’m really going to try my best to come out to next year’s festival. Hopefully next time, Jeremy can come with me. I have listed some of the social media pages and websites of people who talked at the festival and to Cambre House. Please check them out and see how exceptional these people truly are.