With his new paranormal documentary out now in US theaters and on VOD and Digital HD platforms from Freestyle Digital Media, I caught up with Ghost Adventures extraordinaire Zak Bagans to talk about owning the Demon House. Continue reading to learn more about Bagans' experiences inside the Indiana home known as the "Portal to Hell," including what made it the "Holy Grail investigation," his decision to demolish the house so it couldn't hurt anyone else, and how it still lingers with him today.
You purchasing this “Demon House” in Indiana made headlines, especially with you purchasing it over the phone. Having been to so many haunted locations, what made this house stand out to you and say, "I have to buy it without even seeing it"?
Zak Bagans: As I travel around, I look for credible eye witnesses and interviews, and the moment that I heard a little boy walked backwards up an emergency room wall, there were so many credible eye witnesses to testify that what they saw and what they experienced were things that were out of this world. That's the ultimate Holy Grail investigation. And so, when you start going down the list, there was a chief of police, a detective, a captain, a case manager, doctors, psychiatrists, emergency room staff. These people have nothing to gain from coming out and saying what they witnessed literally traumatized them. So I knew that this was something special, something great in terms of a manifestation in the material world that we can try to observe and get information from.
When the story came out, all the Hollywood companies were going crazy trying to secure the rights to the family to make a big movie. I just wanted to be there and I literally bought the house over the phone. I arrived two weeks later completely unprepared.
Fans of Ghost Adventures will realize that this is not a standard investigation that they’re used to seeing. When did you realize that this was not a normal encounter, that this is something far beyond what you’ve experienced?
Zak Bagans: When I first walked in, I walked down into the basement and I started getting this feeling of anxiety and whatnot. But to me, that wasn't strong enough to tell me that something was going on. It really wasn't until I let a previous tenant come inside with her three children, when this really shook me and my crew up and took this into an entirely new direction. When she went downstairs and something hit her in the leg, I watched that moment. I saw her knee buckle. And the way that her demeanor changed immediately thereafter, it was a weird vibe in that house. It was like, "Something is really not good." And when I got a call a couple days later and something happened to her daughter and some of my crew quit because of that, that's when I didn't know how to handle that. I didn't know what to do.
But that was the first moment that I actually had that shockwave of, "Wow. What is the coincidence of this happening two days after she left my house?" And hearing the things that this little girl did, it scared me, and for a moment I felt responsible for allowing them into the house. But I warned the mother, who was persistent to go inside. And she was more concerned with just going and showing her kids the room where she grew up in. That was the whole thing. The other thing really wasn't on her mind at all, believing, "Wow, there is truth to this."
This house was different in that it seems to have physically affected most people who visited, including yourself. Are other people still feeling the effects of this? Is it getting better or is it something you feel you'll be with for the rest of your life?
Zak Bagans: It's like the house was a disease, a contagious disease. We all got exposed to it. Some people cleared it up longer, some people cured it, some people didn't. It caused some of these professional people to move out of the state after they experienced what they experienced. I'm still dealing with this affliction of my eyes, which have permanent double vision and crossing. I'm wearing prism glasses still. I refused surgery in both my eyes. They've ruled out neurological conditions. They can't explain why this happened right after I spent time in the house. They can't explain why Dr. Taff had organs shut down. When you start seeing this and actually being a part of it and feeling it, then you become a little submissive to it.
And I hate to say that part of me is attracted to the edge of this chaos and danger. I like flirting with it to feel this, but the affliction I endured from the house was caused by whatever unseen forces are in the house. Look what it did to everybody else and look at the timing of what it did. So am I still being affected? Yes, absolutely. And I was nervous for this week. There's a weird part of this house that stays with you, and it feels like they're listening to you. Whenever I talk about it, things happen and I was worried about this week if anything would happen. Things like that go through my mind, but I can't be submissive and worried, then it'll just make it worse, but I think it may have inspired me to move into a different house and turn it into an old cathedral church, that's for sure. But at the same token, I have kept a few pieces of the house and want to keep them as mementos for what I went through.
Has this experience informed any decisions you’ll make for investigating paranormal activity in homes moving forward?
Zak Bagans: Well, I'm not saying I'm preventing it totally, but if you want to find answers to things that are beyond what we can understand, you've gotta understand that there's risks involved. And I understand those, but I'm also an investigator. It's in my blood. So, do I want to be hurt with afflictions physically? Do I want to see other people hurt? Absolutely not. But it's the knowing of what these are and the manifestations and what they're doing. It is just absolutely completely and utterly fascinating beyond belief, because religion divides us all on this planet—there are so many different religions. There are so many different interpretations of higher powers and God. And to me, being able to be part of an event where non-human entities are at work or manifesting or you can feel their powers, there's part of a thrill factor in that for me.
But it's also, "How far am I going to step on that edge before I fall over or somebody else falls over?" And it was real close during this investigation, especially with this young girl. But again, I wouldn't take it back at all. I will always remember it and I wanted to destroy it so nobody else can be in there anymore. I bought the house and I could do whatever I wanted with it. I could've made a bunch more shows off it or Demon House 2 or tours. But I didn't. I destroyed it and that's the way that it is. That was my decision and I owned the house, so I'll never forget the experience.
You're right that other people totally would've kept the house open for tours. Along those lines, having demolished the home, you mentioned something at the end of the doc about people still trespassing and things like that. Do you feel like the place is safe now that it's been demolished?
Zak Bagans: I believe that the police uncovered some artifacts that were buried four feet in the dirt, and Father Mike Maginot concluded that some living person did some form of a ritual in the basement to unleash these entities in that house. I thought by destroying what man created in that soil and in the home was at least a first attempt to believing that this was a net, that entering into this home was a cobweb and you were getting entangled in it by walking inside of it, and it would unleash this illness on you. That's my belief and that's the measure that I took to take my first step in trying to destroy this. Everybody's gonna have their own beliefs just like everybody has their own beliefs in religion. So, "Why didn't you do this? Why didn't you do that?" This is what I did and this is a decision that came to me from others and what I experienced. So, I'm not going do everything right in anybody else's eyes all the time, but I believe the house being destroyed will prevent further people from getting hurt.
Before we wrap up, is there anything coming up aside from Demon House that you want to tell our readers about that you're excited for, such as your Haunted Museum or upcoming episodes of Ghost Adventures?
Zak Bagans: Yeah, Demon House comes out this week and the new season of Ghost Adventures is March 24th. The museum is open in Las Vegas and it's continuing to grow with new exhibits, and it's just a crazy place. Outside of that, all my energy's been on preparing for the Demon House release.
Photo Credit: Above Ghost Adventures photo from Travel Channel.