Offering a whole new set of dangers and technology through spellbinding stories, the Ghost Hunters team returned Wednesday night to A&E with its shocking two-hour Season 2 premiere exploring the remote mining town of Clifton, Arizona. Despite being trapped in a devastating cycle of violence, mayhem and natural disaster, Clifton remains home to a small population that is convinced it may be cursed through its brutal history of dark paranormal experiences.
Isolated and concerned their town, once dubbed the "wildest town in the territory" may no longer be safe for the families residing, residents turn to the Ghost Hunters to investigate the continuous paranormal activity and connection to Clifton's history of death and misery.
In an exclusive with PopCulture.com about the episode and sophomore season that sees the investigators heading into isolated, distant corners of the U.S. plagued with darkness and death, co-team leaders, Kristen Luman and Daryl Marston open up about the shocking case that has shaken the town to its core — especially after the compelling, persuasive evidence captured in their first case of the season that still has the two believing there's more to explore.
"I still think it's an open case," Marston tells PopCulture. "I would love to go back there again and re-investigate it, because I think it still has a lot to offer and a lot for us to find out, because there's a lot of places we weren't able to get to."
Luman adds with all the wild evidence captured and the strange experiences their team endured over the course of their two-day analysis, which included a very scary fall for the psychotherapist while in the Clifton Hotel, the town's dark history speaks louder than presumed.
"After all this stuff started happening, I thought maybe there's something to what these people are saying," she shared with PopCulture, before diving into details with Marston about the stunning two-hour premiere of "Terror Town."
Kristen's "horrible" fall at the Clifton Hotel
During the first hour of the season premiere, fans on social media were stunned to learn co-lead investigator, Luman took a terrifying tumble while exploring the Clifton Hotel with investigator, Richel Stratton. In a moment that scared the two and appeared as if she had been pushed, the psychotherapist admits it was a "horrible" moment.
"I've never felt a physical sensation of being touched or pushed or my hair being pulled in any sort of a situation," she admitted to PopCulture. "I just know at that point, I didn't feel like I tripped. I was walking down the steps, and all of a sudden, I was flying. I can't say that I felt like I was full-on pushed, but I also can't explain what happened. I also know I didn't trip."
Luman adds the whole ordeal was a "very frightening experience" for her in the episode. "I've never fallen like that before. I've never fallen down stairs before. The usual little slip down the last step or something like that, but never where I fell down a full flight. I didn't hit any of those steps. I full on flew."
Adding to her co-investigator's point in the episode, Luman shares that the way it looks upon seeing the footage again, it does look like she was pushed in the way that her back is arched.
"And my arms were out," she expressed. "That was frightening as well, to think that something like that could have possibly happened, something threatening, because I've never felt that sort of threatened in an investigation before."
Prior to Luman and Stratton's investigation, her co-lead Marston with investigator, Mustafa Gatollari experienced some bizarre energy when asking a question about the owners of the building — particularly if there was something in the hotel that wanted to intentionally harm them.
"We did get a response on the EDI indicating that, when we asked that — that something was trying to respond to it. Not long after Kristen and Richel came in and did their investigation, that's when Kristen had her accident," Marston shares. "I sat there and I look at [the footage]. I remember when it happened. I wasn't in the building when it happened, but I remember talking to Kristen, and I actually saw the footage, and now I'm looking at the footage again. Man, she actually passed like six stairs."
Marston adds Luman is "so lucky" she didn't hit the wall in front of her or go off on the other flight of stairs. "It was wild," he adds.
Is Clifton plagued by malevolent spirits?
After the experiences and aggressive findings the team faced, one might wonder if the entities plaguing Clifton are malevolent. But as Marston sees it, it's a lot more complicated than one feeling or energy that was captured as there is "so much going on there."
"The location's spread out in different buildings, of course," he adds. "I think some of the buildings were probably a little bit darker than some of the other buildings. I do think there is residual there — as there is intelligent as well, because we did capture some other EVPs of a little girl in the Elks Lodge building as well."
Marston says that while he doesn't want to believe it's malicious or "a demon," he reminds fans that "if you were a nasty person in life, you're probably a nasty person in the afterlife." But that doesn't mean you're evil. "You're just a bad person," he said. "I think a lot of it had to do with that, to be honest with you."
Luman echoes Marston's sentiment: "What Daryl was saying about how you are in life and how you are in death — you have to remember the times of that place. That was a rough town, and people were different towards each other then and just to survive, you sort of had to be rough."
Does Clifton have a poltergeist?
Ghost Hunters doesn't just spook its fans with its cases, but it also helps them understand a variety of hauntings with its educative teachings through phenomena, including what a real poltergeist looks like. In its debut season, the team determined the cause of one client's haunting to be a poltergeist — a style of haunting where the activity is caused by some who's still alive in theory, projecting negative energy that produces paranormal activity, when one is stressed or anxious.
However, for fans wondering if Clifton was a victim of poltergeists, Marston admits it's "hard to say," but it's "quite possible" especially as the case is an open book for more investigations.
"We were there for a long time that, about two weeks," he shares, later admitting they had a lot of footage that was tossed out. "It's one of those things where there's so many locations there we weren't able to touch, but we got most of the ones that the clients were really having problems in. I remember Richel and Kristen having a nail or a screw, at one point, thrown at them in [the brothel], and Mustafa and I had the same thing happen to us in that building, where nails were being thrown at us — construction nails, so that is under that type of haunting, when things are being moved, poltergeist type activity."
He adds that the team wasn't "able to put [their] finger on anything like that, but it's definitely possible."
Luman agrees, echoing his sentiment. "We did spend more time there than we have on other investigations. That's definitely a place that I would like to return to and if we could spend. You could spend years there and still be asking questions, because so much is going on there," she said.
She further shares there is one thing that stood out to her upon entry of the city – the energy so many of them felt. "There is sort of a dark feeling associated with that place more so than others," she admitted. "We all felt it more so than other investigations in other locations. There was a discomfort there that everybody felt to the point where, as you know, we had that discussion on whether or not even to go back, and were we putting our lives in jeopardy."
Marston adds that there was an element of just figuring out the elements of the history of the town and how it played into their investigation.
"There was talk of, back in the '70s and '80s, of witches doing masses and things there. This is something that was told to us by Akos [Kavach, Clifton's economic development coordinator] and other people who were running the town. There was a darker element there, and it quite possibly could still be there."
Marston says with the town being so remote and way out in the Arizona mountains, the cast and crew felt a specific sort of trepidation almost immediately.
"You get there, and you got this feeling as soon as you pulled into town, this feeling of dread. As soon as you get there, it's like you can just feel this, almost like a presence," he said. "We all started feeling it. We were on edge. You could just tell we were all on edge the whole time we were there, and once you left it, you felt better."
Luman reiterates that while the feeling in the town feels weighty, the townspeople were "so kind and so willing to help us out."
"[They're] just the nicest people," she said. "Gifts upon gifts. They made us a part of the Chamber of Commerce. Just lovely people, so I do want to say that even though there was that uncomfortable feeling, that wasn't necessarily coming from the people themselves. It was like what Daryl said — more of a present feeling."
Is Clifton really all that haunted?
Of course, with every bit of the paranormal comes criticism from skeptics, disbelieving or disproving the unexplained phenomena often captured through EVPs or a number of visual gadgets. Some on social media might even speculate the town’s concerns might be a ruse for funding or tourism. But Marston and Luman say it's not that way at all for a number of reasons.
"The way that the town is set up, it doesn't seem as if it's a town that's trying to get publicity. I didn't get the feeling from the people, especially if you look on that Main Street where all the violence happened and all of these old buildings, and we know it was just as violent, if not more violent than Tombstone — and Tombstone is a big tourist attraction, and they make it so. [But] this town hasn't put anything into making it a tourist attraction," she reveals. "What happened was very real. We could have seriously, seriously been injured."
The injury Luman is referring to is the car accident the seven investigators experienced while driving from Clifton back to the city, where they were staying.
"There's nothing fake about that to me, especially considering that it was a very serious accident that happened right under Brandon [Alvis]'s head," she said. "I just don't see that as being something that somebody would go out of their way to do and you would think of what injury really could have occurred from that."
Marston interjects, sharing he doesn't think Clifton is building itself up to becoming a tourist attraction at all. "There's really nothing there, to be honest with you. As soon as the town ends, there's the copper mine, and there's nothing past that. It's not like, some place you drive through to go somewhere else,” he said. "You literally have to drive an hour and a half to two hours to get to this place out in the middle of the desert."
He admits it's "not going to be attracting a whole lot of people," as a lot don't even know it exists. "It's basically a mining town is what it is, and it's still a mine town to this day. It's the biggest copper mine in the world — that's their main source of income there. The people who live there, that's how they make a living. There's nothing there. There are no grocery stores. There's nothing."
That scary car accident...
At the end of the first hour of the season premiere, the Ghost Hunters team endured a very scary car accident when driving back to their hotel in the city from Clifton. It's an incident that the team, to this day, are still unsure what really happened.
"It's so weird, because a lot of times we drive separately, like the couples will go in different vehicles," Marston said. "That night, for some reason, we all were in the same vehicle, and we were all leaving town, and we left before anybody else did, like all the crew were still back in town. [But] it was very strange, because I'm driving, and we're pulling out of town, we're like getting on the main road to leave, and all of a sudden, you feel... I thought like a deer or some kind of animal hit the side of the vehicle, it hit so hard."
He reveals that their tire basically blew out at four in the morning, but when they got out and assessed the damage, they were just as stunned. "We see all this damage on the side of the SUV — it literally missed the back window by about four or five inches, where Brandon was sitting. I don't know if something was… we walked a good 200 feet down the road trying to find anything in the road. I was driving. Richel was in the passenger seat. Neither one of us saw anything on the road. There was nothing. To this day, it's still a mystery to us what that was."
Luman adds the whole thing was "very frightening," and believes the team was "targeted" following their investigation. "You have on one side of the road a big rocky mountain and on the other side, it's just an open field. We were out of town a bit. We were right on the town line of going out to where it's just nothing for an hour, good hour and 20 minutes of getting back to our hotel, and it was fairly dark. We just really kind of felt like sitting ducks out there… we were just sort of sitting out there in the open."
Echoing Marston, she adds the team "rarely" drives together as an entire team. "I mean, I think that was one of the first times we've actually driven as an entire team all together in one van on the way home, because we each have our own individual vehicles," she said. "That was another thing that added to the strangeness of it, is that the time that happens is when we're all together. That was very strange."
Marston interjects that it wasn't just that incident that made things all the more bizarre. "Like five to 10 minutes before that happened, one of our producers had gotten a text message saying 'Watch yourselves,' and then that happened."
All that new and shiny tech!
Among its profound and genuine exploration into unexplained phenomena, the team not only stands out with its unique arsenal of gadgets featured in every case, but the items are not your typical run-of-the-mill kind. Fans sitting at the edge of their seats at home will find the team engaging with new tech in its sophomore season that will produce some of the most compelling, persuasive evidence of paranormal existence yet.
"For some of the cases, we have a new camera — the Electron Multiplying Camera, which is used in the scientific field. It's something Brandon reached out [for]. He got a favor from a friend of his that works in the field who allowed us to use his camera [and] when we brought this camera in, we started using it, we started catching these anomalies that have never been captured in paranormal before."
He adds that the coolest thing about it is that when you're using something that's been used in the scientific field, but not in the paranormal realm, the results are interesting to say the least. "It's big because that means we piqued the interest in that field [and] for some reason, they're interested in the paranormal too.
"And then we take that evidence we're capturing and we're giving it back to them and saying 'Hey, tell us what this is. Is this normal for this camera? Is it not normal? Is it something you can tell us what it is?'" he continued. "When they come back to us and say we have no idea what that is, we've never seen anything like that, that's huge, because then you're taking it from a pseudoscience into a science. That's a big deal for us trying to bring integrity back to paranormal."
He further admits that's what the show is all about at the end of the day. "[We're] hoping to find answers, but we're also trying to make the field more integral because, I'll tell you the truth, if you watch the shows that are out there on the other channels and networks, they just go in a circle. It's the same thing — 'let's go find a ghost!' It's so stale," he said. "What we're doing is so much bigger, and we raised the bar, and that's what's going to make this field a better field for everybody and take it from where it is to a better place. That's our goal."
Luman agreeing with Marston shares that the camera's ability to capture photonic events has left the team in awe. "And that is a theory, obviously, that these entities are made up of some sort of energy that we're still trying to figure out, [but] being able to capture these photonic events, we're seeing this occur in this energy that we're capturing on this camera," she said.0comments
"It's pretty remarkable to stand in a room and look on the screen of this camera and see something happening, yet you can't see it with your own eyes," she continued. "I've been in a room and have captured a voice, but never actually saw something that I was having a conversation with that I knew was actually, really right there. This was the first time that I was able to experience that, and that was profound. Like I said before, it blew my mind."
Are you officially spooked? Join the Ghost Hunters for an all-new episode every Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET on A&E. If you want more, binge the entire cutting-edge first season at A&E, and stay tuned only to PopCulture.com for all your exclusive behind-the-scenes coverage!