Ghouls on Film

another supernatural investigation group starts up in the Valley

Mitchell See

Tony Bell and Dennis Cage look for something strange. In the neighborhood.

Being scared… It’s a normal emotion, right? You get scared that you can’t pay this month’s rent, or that you will catch swine flu. Then there is the kind of scared that clenches your body like an icy vice, makes you want to turn on the lights and never turn them off again … the good kind of scared.

It’s the time of year when people begin to feel that itch, the need to be freaked out. For some people, a thrasher movie and a bucket of popcorn will do it. For others, pranks and spooky costumes are enough of a kick, but for an elite group, the thrill is in the adventure. Getting out and exploring ghost-lore and finding a real-life experience cannot be matched. This is where fact meets fiction, perception crosses with reality. What you are seeing and what you think you are seeing can play tricks with your mind. This what drives The Haunting Experiments, a new local paranormal investigation group attempting to capture the supernatural through videos.

They don’t get that itch just around the Halloween season, like most people do. They have the itch all year long and are putting it to the test. I recently had the opportunity of corresponding with the cofounder and paranormally inspired Devon Bell. She gave me a rundown of what it is like to be a part of their group.

According to Bell, the group consists of husband Tony Bell, Dennis Cage, Jesse Rihn, herself, and their newest member, Shanie Graham. Inspired by a life-long fascination with paranormal events, movies and shows, a book by Chad Lewis and Terry Fisk entitled The Wisconsin Road Guide to Haunted Locations sparked Devon and Tony’s first outing to explore the legends of Caryville. Since then, their interests and their group have only grown.

They have been active in the paranormal game for roughly a year now, so they are fairly new and still learning a lot of things every time they go out on an investigation. Hence the name, “Haunting Experiments.”

“Even though we have a lot of fun doing it, this is strictly a hobby, and we pay for everything out of pocket,” Devon said.

While they may be novices by definition, their videos (they now have 15 of them) are making a splash both on YouTube and on their website The well-edited videos are creepy, compelling, and chilling, especially considering the excellent music and commentary accompanying the documentary-style shorts. (And no, they are not like The Blair Witch Project.)

They have done three full investigations so far, including legends on Mary of Elk Creek, the Charlotte Mills Bridge, and the Soo Line Bridge in Eau Claire. They claim, “We have NOT seen any ghosts first hand. We have however caught some odd EVP’s (electronic voice phenomenon) from the Charlotte Mills Bridge. We have also witnessed a strange light in a picture, creepy cold chills, or just simply a feeling of foreboding. ... Maybe there really is something out there that we can’t totally explain?”

Bell said that they find out a lot of information and strange occurrences before they actually investigate a site. (A little hard-nosed research goes a long way in this field, I am told.) Historical information is key to understanding a site and setting the record straight.

They also get permission to do their investigations before they visit the sites. Even though they encourage people to go check out these places for themselves, they also stress in their films that the sites they are investigating should be respected. Vandalism and carelessness are things that ruin not only access to the locations, but the reputations of the people going to them.

Regarding future plans for the group, Bell said, “We’ll check out some legends of the Northwoods, even up to Superior and possibly Duluth. We have and will always be open for anyone who has suggestions for any possibly haunted areas, or places as well.”

    So if you want to get freaked out this Halloween, check out some of the places The Haunting Experiments have visited, or take the safe route and just check out their videos online. 

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