TV Review: ‘Exorcism: Live!’

Exorcism: Live! Review Destination America
Investigation Discovery

Destination America isn’t exactly a top destination for most cable surfers, which explains why the Discovery-owned network would be eager to scare up viewers. Enter “Exorcism: Live!,” a two-hour special broadcast Oct. 30 marking the channel’s turn toward the paranormal that hardly merited an exclamation point, inasmuch as absolutely nothing happened. Yes, the various researchers and psychics who went into the haunted house — which provided the inspiration for the movie “The Exorcist” — spoke often of feeling cold and strange. But as is so often the case with these exercises, viewers at home simply had to take their word for it.

Frankly, the producers seemed to squander an opportunity with their taped packages, which relied heavily on over-the-top dramatic recreations, which looked pretty pallid compared to clips from the movie. Given that most people are familiar with the 1973 film, but not so much with the 1949 case in St. Louis that provided its underpinnings, a more scholarly approach to that material might have actually been interesting.

But no, this “live” stunt was really all about showmanship, and not incidentally promoting the gang at “Ghost Asylum,” which airs on the network. As for whether they approached the task with any skepticism, that was summed up by their poet laureate, Steven “Doogie” McDougal, who spoke of entering “a little bitty room that you know Satan was in.”

Although a lot of people believe in gh-gh-ghosts, “Exorcism: Live!” probably worked best as comedy, starting with all the tweets that kept scrolling across the screen from people professing to be terrified. At one point, someone also referenced the “millions of people watching,” which is an extraordinarily optimistic guess, given that the second-tier network probably struggles to reach that many viewers in a week.

Mostly, one came away admiring the salesmanship that goes into this sort of endeavor, with the live component adding an element of unpredictability to what otherwise would have been just another ghost-chasing reality show. That started with host Chris Jacobs, who wore a stocking cap on his head, raising the question of whether he intended to exorcise the house or burgle it; and proceeded to psychic Chip Coffey and Bishop James Long of the Old Catholic Church, a schismatic offshoot of the better-known one seated in the Vatican. (The Archdiocese of St. Louis, it’s worth noting, was not amused.)

OK, so it was mostly harmless, pre-Halloween fluff. But gee, guys, couldn’t someone at least have knocked over a glass or something, instead of just whining about how heavy and cold they felt, as if this were a lousy camping trip? Otherwise, there were lots of pregnant pauses (all backed, naturally, by dramatic music), including a long wait for a response that never came as the “Asylum” gang rapped the “Shave and a Haircut” notes on a table. Even the ghosts, it seems, realized this rather brazen stunt, when all was said and done, wasn’t worth the two bits.

TV Review: 'Exorcism: Live!'

(Special; Destination America, Fri. Oct. 30, 9 p.m. ET)


Produced by Tremendous! Entertainment.


Executive producers, Colleen Needles Steward, Shannon Keenan Demers, Rob Hammersley, Eddie Delbridge, Fay Yu, Sara Helman; co-executive producer, Andrew Nock; producer, Jodi Tovay; director, Milton Lage. 120 MIN.


Host: Chris Jacobs

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  1. Debra Wilbur says:

    Well, I just decided to watch it for fun; recorded it and just got around to watching. Boring. My DVR cut the program short, though – would have liked to see the end. Cut it off right as they were leaving the bedroom after the “exorcism.” Any place I can watch the end? After suffering through the rest of it, I’d sure like to see it.

  2. This article was well written.I have for some time announced just how fake these individuals have been My name is Evan Jensen I write for my news magazine.Paranormal Herald.The most critical part of the entire event was broadcasting that the event was going to be the first live T.V exorcism.To be honest the first televised exorcism took place In Chicago in 1971.It was the base of two books “True Haunting and now “True Haunting 2. The Edwin Becker story.I notified Destination America,they would not answer,nor did they try or make and attempt to correct their displayed information.The best part to prove to the viewers just how fake the actual exorcism was,their exorcist is actually and Elvis impersonator.The entire show stank from top to bottom and just may have set the para world back 200 years.

  3. Dot Plogger says:

    I agree, that was a couple of hours of my life I’ll never get back

  4. Dave Dyer says:

    Hey “The Truth” are you for real? You do know that the boy that was possessed in 1946 is now an old man and doesn’t remember what happened to him after the Exorsim and his name was changed to protect him from people like you?

  5. Nate says:

    The only thing I could think of after reading this was how stupid you sounded for thinking Chris Jacobs looked like a burglar for wearing a stocking cap. I just thought that it must be cold outside when I saw him in it. Try not to make a habit out of stupid comments like that.

  6. H.M. says:

    When I was recently hospitalized, I discovered Destination America on hospital tv and their hokey shows. I was actually fond of the ridiculous “Mountain Monsters” show and it’s cast of stereotypical hillbillies. I saw DA’s other shows being plugged from that show. Their network is definitely a guilty pleasure that should not be revealed.

  7. Big Bear says:

    Chip was a medium on a ghost show that was cancelled due to him and his team being caught faking most of their show. Ive scene the priest before on another show. Both are sociopaths that believe what they say 100%. Ive scene stuff I cant explain but the priest and Chip are fakes.

  8. Dennis says:


  9. M.Moore says:

    I loved it!!!!! IF you have never experienced paranormal things then you can’t say a word about the show or if you don’t understand then just keep your mouth shut.

  10. Thomas says:

    This reminded me so much of Geraldo Rivera’s “Al Capone’s Vault”. A lot of hype filled with disappointment .

  11. paula says:

    I was very disappointed, I to believed in spirits and I totally understand that in a two hour time frame it could be difficult to capture anything but with that being said, at the end of the show they said they captured a lot of evp and other evidence. WHERE IS THAT EVIDENCE!!! HOW ARE WE SUPPOSED TO SEE THIS EVIDENCE? HE SAUD HE WAS GOING TO SHARE THIS WITH US, DID I MISS SOMETHING??

  12. Peggy Keller says:

    I felt the show was very disappointing! I am a big fan of the Ghost Asylum crew and I think it may have been better if I had been lucky enough to watch all of their tapes if I could watch TV and continue to watch the live feed. All in all, it was a big disappointment

  13. Tanya says:

    I kind of agree with this review in that the whole show was a bit disappointing. Yes, I watched the whole thing. I had a house full of kids here last night. The show was a nice distraction.

    I thought the best part was watching the radio listener guest sitting alone in the room on a dare getting creeped out in under 2 minutes (the pre-recorded stuff). I agree they needed to do more research and maybe could have included interviews with locals who live near it and are creeped out by the house too — or something. Maybe, just maybe, they could have elaborated on the people who didn’t want this to happen to trump up the fear factor.

    For what it’s worth, I would rather have been stuck watching this than 80% of the continuous stream of crap on TV. (I’m sorry to disappoint you but not everyone cares about the Kardashians and shame on you if you do — talk about boring and uninteresting). If I had to chose between what to watch, Exorcism Live or that? I’d stick with the exorcism — like someone else has already said, “comedic value” if nothing else.

  14. The Truth says:

    I think you guys did an absolute terrible job hiding Ronald’s real name. It’s not Roland as everyone knows this by now.
    You did a major disjustice to your credibility by not using his real name or by not having him on the show or at least phone calling him live.
    You took at major haunt with a great chance to have Ronald on the show and blew it

  15. Kim says:

    Yep, I live in St. Louis county, and I flipped it off after a generous 40 minutes!

  16. Tim says:

    They were there for two hours. A ghost or anything won’t do something because it’s on tv or on a time limit. Last I checked there were 25k viewing at once. It was live. The show matched the streams at it went on. Someone did knock a lamp, with their arm. I guess you were too busy writing this article to notice. When they ask a question and wait, they mostly aren’t expecting a voice. They go back and listen to the audio. Voices get picked up on mics that the human ear can’t hear. Just because you don’t believe something or never experienced it, doesn’t mean you should mock the ones who do.

    • Pam says:

      Tim, I totally agree!! When they do these pre-recorded shows they have two days to get evidence. I think people who don’t believe in spirits are shallow, ignorant people. I know spirits exist because I’ve seen and heard them. I think the guys did a great job. Maybe they will have another show where we can see what they captured.

      • DK says:

        It is not helpful to engage in namecalling – “shallow, ignorant people.” I’m not sure what I think about it all; I’ve had some experiences that I can’t explain. But Tim said “you shouldn’t mock the ones who do.” Believe, that is. You also shouldn’t mock the ones who don’t believe. There are a heck of a lot of “shallow, ignorant” nonbelievers out there who simply haven’t experienced paranormal phenomena.

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