American Horrors, FilmOn’s only 24/7 free uncut online horror channel, delivers nothing but the most raw, sick and terrifying shit that other channels won’t show you. Now American Horrors is ready to scare the living shit out of you with their brand new raw and unfiltered paranormal investigation reality series called “Mission Terror’. The series follows hosts Chad Glovier and Travis Dahlhauser as they travel the country investigating the paranormal activity in the creepiest locations. While other shows investigate locations that are popular tourist attractions, ‘Mission Terror’ dives right into unknown locations armed with only their finger on the record button. The show produces some truly unexplainable and frightening results, as Chad and Travis investigate the Egyptian Theater (DeKalb, IL), The Prairie View Rest Home (Missouri), and Illinois’ most notoriously haunted building, The Monteno Insane Asylum!
Bloody-Disgusting.com sat with with ‘Mission Terrors’ own Travis Dahlhauser to go deep into the world of the paranormal and go behind the scenes with this real life ghost hunter.
Bloody-Disgusting: At what age did you become interested in the paranormal and how did it develop into full blown ghost hunting?
Travis Dahlhauser: Chad and I grew up together and have been close friends since the 6th grade when we were like 11 years old. Throughout our friendship we always bonded over our love of horror movies all things scary. We were both probably introduced to horror movies at too young of an age, but we definitely have shared a love of them throughout the years. We catch new scary movies, enjoy the old ones, and scary topics have been a regular conversation centerpiece for us. Once we hit our early 20s, we started driving around the Northern Illinois country looking for spooky places to explore. I’m not saying I recommend it, but our ghost hunting origins started somewhat as late night urban (rural) exploration. Anytime we found a place we’d say stuff like, “what if it’s super haunted?!” So, that kind of led us towards adding the paranormal investigation aspect to our developing hobby. Then we started looking for places that were specifically known for being haunted and booking investigations. Over time we had a few crazy, unexplainable experiences, and we became hooked to that adrenalin rush. Some people dive with Great White sharks. Some people chase tornadoes. Some people ride roller coasters. We hunt for evidence of the paranormal. Since the beginning, it’s been me and my best friend – the best man at my wedding – having a good time together. We’re still a couple of kids at heart, but we’ve done our studying and we’ve had our experiences, so now we consider ourselves to be professionals at what we do.
BD: How much research goes into the back story of each location?
TD: We try to profile historic locations as much as possible, so when we book a place with historical significance, we do a lot of research on it. We also insist on someone from the location – the owner, manager, historian, etc. give us an in-depth tour on camera so we can share a lot of that information with the audience from a firsthand source. I find these to be some of our more interesting segments. It also gives us a chance to find out about any paranormal experiences in the location from a person who is there more than anyone else. We like to go in with a good foundation of knowledge on the location, but we keep an open mind, too. On the flip side, a handful of our episodes are at locations we find (possibly abandoned) with no back story at all, and we feel like that adds to it. For example, we recently investigated an abandoned farm and it was probably the scariest night of our lives. We feel like the lack of back story adds to that feeling of the unknown. That’s what we’re out to capture, evidence of the unknown. So to be in a place with some mystery to it adds to the thrill and the adrenalin rush, which is why we do what we do. So, it depends on the location.
BD: How do you go about scouting for potential locations to shoot?
TD: Our series kind of developed organically, and that has played a part in our investigation location decisions. What I mean by that is we’re based in the Northern Illinois city or Rockford, so when we started out, we were just looking for “creepy” local places. Before ever filming, we would drive around the country back roads in the middle of the night looking for places to go in and check out. We would go in to old barns with key chain flashlights and run mini investigations with our cellphones. Pretty fancy stuff. We would also visit websites and read books about local haunted sites. Our favorite source for locating haunted sites came from a famous Illinois native author named Michael Kleen who runs the MysteriousHeartland.com website. He also has written several editions of the book Haunted Illinois, which is basically a tourist guide to haunted locations around different parts of Illinois (as well as some folklore). We would use these resources (and still do) to locate different locations and we’d road trip to visit them. The more places we visited, the more serious we got about it. We invested in some top of the line equipment and cameras to document our outings that we would jokingly call “Mission Terror” – which eventually became the title for our series. Our first big investigation was a road trip to Manteno Insane Asylum outside of Chicago. This was such a big deal for us and such a notorious haunted site that we wanted to have our cameras rolling at all times – just in case. We ended up only lasting 47 minutes in the building before we were so freaked out we ran out of the building. I decided to take that footage and edit it into an episode like format to document our experience and the series was born. We’ve come a long way the last few years, but all-in-all we still look for places the same way – researching the books and internet sites and road tripping. A handful of locations are places we’ve driven by and looked at each other and said, “we HAVE to check this place out!” Being based in Rockford, we try to stick to Northern Illinois since that’s where our initial audience is from, but we’ve branched out to several states as well. We try to find historic locations, interesting places that not many people know about, and places that just seem scary. We also actively try to add variety to our locations. We’ll do a famous theatre and then do an old piano factory. We’ll do an insane asylum then do an abandoned ship on the shores of the Mississippi River. Mansions to cemeteries – you name it! Chad always says we’d investigate a porta-potty if we had to, and we’d probably get action!
BD: Tell us a little bit about some of the gear that you bring with you and what it does?
TD: We’ve collected a lot of gear for multiple purposes. Anyone who has ever watched a ghost hunting show knows what EVP is (electronic voice phenomena). We’ll use high quality sound recorders and ask questions to see if we get a response on tape that our ears can’t hear. Similar to that, we’ll use a “Spirit Box” that cycles through radio frequencies and ask questions and voices have been known to speak through the white noise. We also use the TriField EMF meter which is a tool that can measure magnetic energy in a building. It’s actually not specifically a ghost hunting tool – it’s used by electricians, etc. – but many believe that ghosts are energy in the atmosphere, so if we’re in a building in the middle of a cornfield that hasn’t had electricity in 80 years and our EMF reader starts going off, that’s hard to explain…it’s paranormal, if you will. We’ve actually had conference calls with the scientist who invented the TriField EMF meter and we’ve described situations and readings we’ve gotten that stumped him. He didn’t have a scientific explanation for it. That, to us, makes for compelling evidence. We use a tool called the Ovilus X that uses a multiple thousand word database that paranormal energy can use to communicate with us. Sometimes it’s random, but sometimes it’s so spot on as though we’re having a conversation with something we can’t see. We have cameras with a certain type of night vision and lighting that can pick up what our eyes can’t see. We also use motion censors and trigger props and a variety of “classic” ghost hunting tools. Sometimes our equipment leads to compelling evidence, but sometimes it’s the things we experience that make the best evidence – such as asking for a spirit to make a noise and a door opening and closing twice on it’s own. Ghost hunting is not an exact science, but that coincidence is compelling. Chad and myself are actually skeptical ourselves, so our serious is very evidence driven. We’re out there to explore amazing places, get scared, and capture that great piece of evidence to prove to the world, and especially ourselves, that ghosts do exist.
BD: Is there a difference between good energy and bad energy on investigations?
TD: Ghost hunting is not an exact science, so as investigators we have to trust our feelings and our instincts. It’s hard to explain to someone who is not there with us, but different locations will give you various feelings and we can often decide if an energy is bad or if it is good. We might be in a location and feel nothing and out of nowhere we might get chills and both be overcome with dread, even though nothing happened. It’s hard to explain, but sometimes you just get that feeling that you’re not alone. Sometimes a feeling of intimidation will come along with that and sometimes it just feels fine. On the same note, we can kind of sense when an energy is no longer with us. It sounds silly to say, but we just have to trust what we feel. I’d say that sometimes the specific location we’re in can affect the energy of the atmosphere. To be in an abandoned insane asylum where our research has told us there was cruel treatment of patients and where many people died in a negative way, will certainly create an atmosphere of negativity. We’ve been in locations with no sort of negative history that, even though nothing paranormal happens, we think the location feels, for lack of a better word, “evil” and we can’t explain it. I don’t know if any of this makes sense, because it’s hard to explain without feeling it for yourself. I know I’ve been in locations where I have been overcome with dread and no explanation for it. There have been locations we have run out of because it just didn’t feel right. There have been locations where we have dropped everything and just started praying because we just felt
BD: What are some of locations that you would love to investigate and why?
TD: Dream investigation locations is a growing and already endless list. We like to do episodes at lesser known places that are going to be new to most of our viewers, but we can’t deny that we’d love to investigate places like Alcatraz Island. We actually talked to them about it and while we haven’t reached an agreement yet, they told us it would be the first time ever a group of only 2 people we on the island alone investigating. We hope that’s in our future someday! I’d love to do the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, the Queen Mary in Los Angeles, Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, and other famous haunted sites like that. If nothing is off limits, how cool would it be to investigate the White House. Can you imagine what we might get there with all the history? Who knows, maybe we could get some activity from a former President! We’d love to do a tour of Europe and check out all the old castles amazing locations there. New Orleans would be an exciting spot to go. There are so many big and amazing places out there and we hope to get the opportunity to check some of them out! I’d love to do a lot of these sites simply to experience traveling the world and stepping foot in such iconic places.
BD: Has there been a moment or a location that you just couldn’t investigate?
TD: We did a place in Missouri called Prairie View Rest Home. It was an old building that people in rural Missouri who had mental problems or just nowhere else to go would go live and ultimately die. If you asked me what one location we’ve been to is definitely haunted, I’d say there. At one point things picked up and the atmosphere intensified. On the spot I dropped everything and started praying. I had never done that before. I felt like we were in danger. Not long after I started praying, we ran out of the building to take a break. I felt drained and exhausted. I later found out that Chad was worried for me and said I was acting a bit odd. Situations like that we obviously try to avoid. We don’t try to disrespect or provoke anything and we certainly want nothing to do with anything demonic. We’re just trying to capture some evidence. We only go into places with just the two of us. No crews, no guests, just two normal guys. So, if one of us wants out we both go. We’ve both had our own freak out moments and sometimes we both agree that it’s time to leave. The only place we’ve investigate twice is probably our favorite – Manteno Insane Asylum. It’s our baby. The first time, we only lasted inside for 47 minutes before packing up and running out. So much happened. Something fell from the roof and hit us, we captured so much movement. But the moment that drove us out was when everything intensified. We were running an EVP tst and I said, “can you give us a sign, can you make a sound.” Almost instantly a door open and closed (latched and everything) twice, followed shortly by what sounds to us like children’s laughter. Keep in mind we were in an asylum at 2 AM on a Tuesday night… there were no kids around! That was the last straw for us and we got out. This summer we went back to challenge ourselves to last more than 47 minutes. We did, but not by much – just over an hour! The place is the real deal and our experience can be seen there in 2 episodes! We also visited an abandoned farm this summer that just gave us such negative vibes and so much dread, I can’t even say we really investigated it. We had trouble just walking through the whole place before we decided we needed to leave. Something felt evil there. It made for one of our most interesting episodes, though.
BD: Do you ever worry that anything paranormal from your investigations may follow you or attach itself or follow you when you leave the site?
TD: That is definitely a fear we both have and we try to take the necessary precautions to prevent it from happening. We pray before every investigation because it’s what we believe and we want that extra bit of spiritual protection. We also try to avoid provoking anything and we never offer a presence to use our energy or anything like that. It’s still a real fear, though. As I mentioned about our investigation of Prairie View Rest Home, it seemed like something was trying to separate Chad and myself and possibly like something was attaching to me. I felt drained and exhausted and my actions were out of the ordinary. Chad stressed he was concerned about me, so we went outside to get away from it. There have been times we’ve been in other locations and something similar will happen to Prairie View and in the back of my mind I’ll think, “What if? What if it’s the same presence…” We try to be as careful as possible and keep ourselves protected at all times.
BD: Mission Terror just got picked up for broadcast on American Horrors, how did you link up with Hart and company?
TD: Being picked up by a network – American Horrors – just blows our mind. We never imagined it would go this far. As I said before, when we started, we were just looking for haunted places to get scared. We never even planned to make a show out of it. After I edited together our experience at Manteno, we posted it on Youtube and, believe it or not, it started getting views and people wanted more. So we decided to film everything we did and that was the birth of the series. People kept watching and it was so exciting for us. We really are just two normal guys who go around looking to get scared and aren’t afraid to freak out on camera. I guess people find that entertaining. So, our youtube series was getting views and we were having a blast. Then, Michael Kleen who runs the Mysterious Heartland website noticed our series and put it on his website. This was like coming full circle to us, because it was Kleen’s website and lists of haunted places that really got us started – and now we were on his site! We thought that would be the ultimate pinnacle for us, and we were so excited about it. Well, Hart Fisher of American Horrors has family ties in Rockford and keeps up on the horror scene here in the Midwest. He saw an episode on the Mysterious Heartland website and apparently liked it, so he sought us out and offered us a deal on American Horrors. Our minds were blown and we jumped all over the huge opportunity. Now our series has a whole new chance to reach a new audience (worldwide!!) and go places we never dreamed. American horrors is a perfect fit because we do this for the thrill of getting scared in a haunted place – I mean, our show is called “Mission Terror” after-all. Now we can share our experiences with an audience who likes to get scared as much as we do on the world’s only 24/7 all-things-horror streaming network! Hart is all horror all the time and it’s been so exciting to be able to work with someone who has been doing well in the horror game for so long! We’re just flat out excited about it! I mean, look at me, I’m doing an interview with freaking Bloody-Disgusting! How cool is that?!
TD: You know, we think the whole selling point of our show is that we are just 2 normal, genuine guys, who go places without any crews to get scared. Everything you see is genuine. Everything you see is the real deal. That’s because we’re doing this with the absolute minimum as far as production goes. Neither of us went to film school or anything like that. We both work 40 hour a week full time jobs. This all started out as our hobby. It was fun for us. It IS fun for us and we’ll keep doing it as long as it is. Ultimately, what I’m saying is you see what you get. What you get us US and nothing else. We have experienced some unbelievable things and captured some unbelievable things on camera, so some people are always going to be there to tell us we’re wrong or we’re faking it. If they were there with us, in our shoes, they’d know that everything you see is legitimately happening, whether the source is paranormal or not. The fear is real. We always put Chad on camera during investigations because the faces he makes when something creepy happens are absolute gold. They’re entertaining and that’s what we’re going for. I don’t think either of us have it in us to pretend to be scared – our actual fear is entertaining enough. We certainly wouldn’t pretend to be so scared we run out of a building. So far the feedback has been mainly positive. We’ve had people say things like, “I don’t believe in ghosts, but I think your show is entertaining.” Hey, I’ll take that as a compliment. We’ve had a few people try to discredit our experiences and our take on a location. For example, we said in one episode that a location felt like it had a negative presence and this lady sent us a message basically yelling at us and saying we didn’t know anything and we were wrong and that it was a friendly presence in the location because she and her ghost team had been there and we didn’t know what we’re talking about. What can you do about that. We had our experience there and she had hers. All I can go by is what we experienced and what we felt. So, for the most part, we’ve received so much amazing and positive feed back. Now that we have a larger audience, I’m sure some people will be critics. I think that comes with the territory. We’re dealing with something that a lot of people do not believe in and never will believe in no matter what we do or say. That’s okay. As long as some people enjoy what we do, it’s all worth it for us. We’re having a blast!
BD: What is your take on reality shows like Ghost Hunters? Do you like or hate them and why?
TD: We love all the shows like Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, Paranormal State, etc. People have been investigating the paranormal in some form forever, but shows like Ghost Hunters really made it what it is today. Shows of that nature got us interested in it and are part of the reason we do what we do. I still watch those shows. They’re fascinating. I think we all have different approaches and – while there are similarities – we are all different shows. I’d love to meet the people involved in those shows. We have nothing but respect for them and we’re still fans! We loving doing what we do, though. I spend my weekends traveling all over with my best friend visiting amazing places and getting the thrill of a life time. I think that shows through in our show.
BD: What do you think about ouija boards. Are there things people should understand before using them? Should people be using them if they don’t understand or want to mess around with a spirit negatively?
TD: We have used ouiji boards before but only on isolated occasions. I really don’t feel comfortable with it. I mean, running EVP tests and things like that is certainly a way of opening a door of communication, but I feel like using a ouiji board is a way of opening a door of physical communication. I feel like it’s an invitation for a spirit to use your body, your hands, to move this item for communication. I guess I just don’t want anything using my body for any reason and I make that clear. It’s a controversial topic, though. I guess I would say anyone who doesn’t understand what you’re really doing or the possibilities that come along with it should not be using ouiji boards. It’s a risk. More than that, if you don’t know the risks and you’re not careful, you should probably avoid investigating completely. It can be dangerous and it can open doors. I’ll be the first to say that it’s the thrill of being scared and the fun that keeps us ghost hunting, but we know what we’re doing. We’ve done the research and our goals are clear. We make sure we’re protected, we don’t provoke, and we make sure we are not vulnerable. It can be a good time, but you want to do it right.