The Holzer Files are back! Investigator/radio host Dave Schrader, psychic Cindy Kaza and equipment tech Shane Pittman join forces with Han Holzer’s daughter, Alexandra Holzer and researcher Gabe Roth to reexamine the fear-filled case files researched by paranormal pioneer Hans Holzer.
“The Holzer Files” is a cryptic mystery, bound by threads of truth, the voices of the past and the exploration of modern paranormal pioneers. Viewers will experience a chilling chase, fueled by Holzer’s rediscovered archival files and haunting cinematography. The second season, comprised of 13 brand new one-hour episodes, follows the team on the haunted trail of legendary cases – from an elegant mansion in New York City, home to one of the world’s most infamous hauntings to the historic Maryland tavern that hid John Wilkes Booth after he shot Abraham Lincoln.”
Crooked LLama had the pleasure to chat with Holzer Files star Dave Schrader about the impact of Covid-19, history of the paranormal, teamwork, education and so much more. Check it out…
Linda: First of all, congrats on Season 2 of The Holzer Files.
Dave: Thank you.
Linda: I’m happy to see, through everything that’s going on, things are moving forward.
Dave: Yes. I think we were the first paranormal show back out there. We had started filming and then when March came around and the world shut down, we went out and then we were the first ones back out in the field filming again when it got safe. Travel Channel and our production team Painless, really went the extra mile to make sure that we were safe and made it as comfortable as we can. Constant testing, keeping things clean, and keeping us separate. So I really appreciate the work they did so that we could continue to bring the show out.
Linda: I’ve been asking people what the impact has been on filming, and it sounds like you guys had things lined up well. I didn’t know you were the first one out there, so that’s pretty cool.
Dave: Yeah. Yeah. We were the first to strike it back out there. I guess we were the canaries in the coal mine. So they sent us in to make sure we didn’t die first. No, I’m just kidding. They were very respectful and we went over the protocol and everything. And all of us felt safe going back in the field, and they stuck to it and did a great job of protecting us and the people that we work with on the show.
Linda: Could you tell me a little bit about how you even got started with the show?
Dave: Well, I’ve been the host of Darkness Radio, which is a paranormal radio show and podcast, for 15 years now. And [I’ve] had this opportunity to interview people from every walk of life, and we were Hans Holzer’s final interview. We did this great back-to-back episode because Hans Holzer’s last book and his daughter Alexandra’s first book were released at the same time. So we did an interview with Alexandra and then an hour with her father. We were his final interview before he passed away. Alex and I became dear friends and she’s just a sweetheart of a human, and we stayed close all these years. Then when this opportunity arose to re-examine these case files, I was asked to become the lead investigator for it and we put together the team, Painless Productions and Travel [Channel]. They did a great job of finding the right mix of personalities and skill set. And here we are now in our second season.
Linda: You, Shane, and Cindy all seem to work really well together. What are the key factors in putting together a solid investigation and what makes for a good team?
Dave: Well, I think we complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses really well, and we keep each other grounded. It’s easy as a viewer to say, “Oh, look how jumpy one of them is, or all of them are. I would never be that way”… until you’re in the thick of it, in these pitch-black places with these horrific ghost stories attached to it. It’s real easy watching TV from the sanctity of your well lit living room, watching us to say how you would feel. I was that guy too when I was watching all the other shows that were out there. But once you’re in the thick of it, it’s a different world. And we all are really good at grounding one another, reeling each other in, and encouraging each other to explore. Cindy is our medium, but she is so good at when Shane and I start picking up on things that are outside of just the equipment that we use. But we start picking up on things in a more sensitive nature. She’s always very loving and she’s a great teacher to us as well, to teach us how to accept what we’re getting and trust it. And we’ve had some great experiences doing that.
So I think that’s been the key. You’ve got a great researcher with Gabe Roth who’s been not only great on-camera, but he is so proficient behind camera on other programs. He knows how to research and dig deep to get to these stories and find the people we need to speak with. So that’s been great. Alexandra’s insights to her father’s investigations are invaluable to us. In this season she’s going to be even a bigger help to us. And then having the three of us working with… you’ve got the medium, you’ve got the guy who’s proficient with the tech, and then he’s got me who as an interviewer for 15 years [and] is adept at getting the story and digging a little deeper than maybe other people have gone. Or, calling BS when we sense it and cutting through the red tape of the story to get to the meat of what really happened or is currently happening.
Linda: It’s great how you play off each other and as you said, complement each other. I have to mention Hans Holzer himself, obviously an icon in the field. I only have a couple of years of experience with the paranormal field and I’m learning all the time. What I’ve realized is there’s a lot of investigators out there that are just kind of “going for it” [without truly understanding the process]. How important is it, do you think, for investigators to understand the history of the paranormal?
Dave: I think that’s a huge element that’s been forgotten. What’s a shame is to see people like Dr. William Roll and the D. Scott Rogo and Hans Holzer. And even contemporaries like Professor Loyd Auerbach or Dr. Barry Taff. They don’t get the type of attention I feel that they need because they were kind of breaking ground for all of us to come in and build on. So the foundations for many of these shows is built on the work that these people did in the field. And of course, everybody knows Ed and Lorraine Warren, their stories luckily have been brought forward. But not everybody has been that lucky. And Dr. Holzer was truly one of the godfathers of this and to break into this 60 years ago. And we get a chance to re-investigate his first case in season two. So it’s pretty exciting that taking that aspect of his career in life full circle. So we’ve got a lot of really interesting elements of going back in and paying homage to him, but taking this into a new direction for the 21st century.
Linda: Is there any kind of accepted formal education when it comes to the paranormal? We hear the term “parapsychologist”, but is there some kind of degree or anything that people can obtain? What constitutes a well-educated paranormal investigator?
Dave: That’s a great question. You know, Professor Loyd Auerbach teaches a course where he certifies you as a parapsychologist or paranormal investigator by walking you through more of the logic and history. There are courses you can take, most of them are over in England. But there are courses that you can take and engage in. None of them unfortunately are really parapsychology college classes per se, that earn you any real credits. But there are places that you can dig into and investigate. And I encourage people that have a fascination to do that. We all are fascinated with what comes next, even people that aren’t believers in a life after death, or a God or any kind of religious background. There’s still a fascination of, “but what if?” I encourage people to educate themselves and take some of these courses, do these things, and be a part of it. At least to expand your knowledge base, to know where the people before us came. And what mistakes they made, what things they found, and what we can build upon that has been so integral to paranormal investigating and the field of parapsychology.
Linda: I don’t know how much you can say about Season 2, but this can apply to Season 1 as well… Which case has surprised you the most, not necessarily a favorite, but what has resulted in, “Wow, I didn’t really see that coming.”
Dave: There were a few cases that really kind of blew me away but the one that stands out to me… The one that really stands out to me is in Cleveland and it is the Franklin Castle episode. It was very emotional for me, very powerful. And this season we capture amazing evidence. But this one is a real standout to me because of how impactful it is and what occurs. What we were able to capture, audio, video, and link it to the stories that took place there really, really stood out. But there are so many cool aspects in history that we get to delve into. We go off the beaten path, we’re actually investigating America’s Stonehenge, Mystery Hill and a place that Hans Holzer was fascinated by. And looking into that we get to go to the Surratt Tavern, and investigate the place John Wilkes Booth rode to with a mad dash after assassinating President Lincoln. We get to go to the conference house where Benjamin Franklin took a stand for the freedom of America and refused to yield to the King and tried to negotiate peace. When peace was not offered but death was, Franklin said, “Then I’ll die by my principles.” And he stayed and stayed true. You realize that in some of these moments, they were life-changing for our country and we get to learn about them. We get to learn about the stories that predate some of these places so it’s pretty exciting. I think all the way around this season’s going to knock people off their feet. If they really give it a chance and watch it, they’re going to love what we uncover.
Linda: I feel like a lot of people get drawn in just by the stories these historical places have, and the paranormal aspect is the icing on the cake. So that’s been really nice to see new interest develop.
Dave: That’s been a big part of it for me, as much as I’m fascinated by the paranormal, I love the history. You learn so many things. I ask, “Why did we not know this? Why was this not taught to me growing up? This would have been a much more exciting aspect of history. Why was this not given to us?” I hope and pray that at some point, some teachers take notice that we could teach history and make it more intriguing through the ghosts who are there to remind us where we’ve been. And I think tying things to ghost stories will be an eloquent way to really capture the imagination of young and old alike and re-breathe life, resurrect life into these historical accounts.
Linda: I agree. Interest in the paranormal, generally speaking, just keeps rising, especially over the last few years. What do you find most challenging in adapting an investigation into a TV show?
Dave: Good question. I think there’s been a resurgence in popularity in the paranormal since 9/11. People were seeking spiritual understanding. Spiritual [interest] arose during wartime. Our country has been plunged into a war, one right after another, since 2001. People are seeking answers and trying to make connections with people that they’ve lost. So I think it’s reopened a new lease on the supernatural. The challenges of going into an investigation now is separating fact from fiction. Much of what we know out there has been off of the backs of people propagating a certain story. Hans Holzer has taken some heat in the past for getting stories incorrect. But what they don’t realize is he was going to [those that were] were considered the experts at the time. He didn’t have Google or newspapers.com, that he could access. He was limited in scope and went with what the experts told him. And in many cases, the experts had skin in the game, they wanted this place to be haunted, they wanted to propagate this story because it drew people to them. So, he was not always satisfied with the stories, he wasn’t always satisfied with the findings. That’s why we’re going back in and reexamining a lot of these cases, to look at them through the eyes of the 21st century and see if we can put the truth in order that Hans Holzer knew existed, but couldn’t prove at that time.
Linda: That’s a good point. I also wanted to touch upon the technology involved and get your opinion on it. What’s reliable and what’s not? Do you like the apps that are coming out?
Dave: Apps are hard because again, you don’t know what the algorithms are. You don’t know what they built it around. Some were built for entertainment purposes. Some were built to find a ghost when it’s really not a ghost. Just to make it fun. Then there are people like Bill Chappell who created the Ovilus, and he put all the same technology from his tools into this phone app and it works almost better than the actual equipment that you could purchase. So there are some, you just have to be careful, use them in different ways. We experiment with many different tools throughout season two, and some tried and true tools, all the way to new experimental pieces. We get some results and items that we find are easily manipulated or influenced, we throw out and don’t use them again or use them in a much more confined setting where it can’t be affected by an outside source. So a lot of it is trial and error, and we’re doing our very best to bring to the viewers and spectators around the world, the best that we can find and [determine] what is having a real impact in the field of paranormal investigations.
Linda: That makes sense. I’m right up against the time that I have with you. Are there any new projects, any other things that you’re working on that you want to talk about ?
Dave: Well, all three of us are always involved in something. Shane has some projects he’s doing close to home during this COVID crisis, where he’s re-investigating some of the things that inspired his interest and he’s doing it with a couple of buddies and they’re making it available on Instagram and Facebook and Twitter. You can follow him @StarringShane. Cindy Kaza is continuing to do gallery sessions and live Q and A’s, and keeping in touch with the fans that way. You can subscribe and keep up with her, and see these bits… they sell out quickly. You can find her @MediumCindyKaza on most of the different platforms.
And then of course, I’m always hosting Darkness Radio, the best in paranormal talk radio now entering our 15th year on the air. You can find this every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. So whatever source you listen to your podcasts, look up Darkness Radio and True Crime Tuesday, and you’ll find our programs there.
Linda: Thank you so much, Dave. I really appreciate your taking the time to speak with me.
Dave: Thank you. And also keep in touch with Travel Channel. See what’s coming up on Travel Channel because they’ve got a Halloween special that’s coming out that integrates many of the hosts from these different shows, talking about our favorite Halloween moments and some of the scariest things that have happened to us, funniest things and favorite things. So check that out.
Linda: Exciting stuff. Congratulations, and I wish you continued success.
Dave: Thank you very much, Linda. We appreciate your love and support.
Be sure to catch The Holzer Files Season 2 premiere this Thursday, October 29 at 11 p.m. ET/PT on Travel Channel! In the meantime, here is a sneak peek.