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Traumafessions :: Reader Chuckles on That’s Incredible “Haunted Toy ‘R’ Us” Investigation

November 7th, 2011 by aunt john · 13 Comments

I have not thought of this Kindertraumatizing event in many years, but I recently caught a few minutes of one of those cheesy “haunting reenactment” programs that somehow jarred it loose from the depths of memory. This Trauma involved an airing of the early ’80s ABC show THAT’S INCREDIBLE! For those not in the know, this was a very popular but oddball variety show that featured people performing crazy stunts and demonstrating “paranormal” feats. It also occasionally, for whatever reason, featured a ghost story.

One ghost story concerned a haunted Toy “R” Us store. Legend had it that some old-timey farmer was killed when he accidentally chopped off his leg with an axe and when a Toys “R” Us was built on the site of his farm many years later, his ghost took up residence. It was alleged that after hours, the ghost would knock toys from shelves and generally play around with them. As ghost stories go this was not exactly the stuff of nightmares.

However, THAT’S INCREDIBLE! decided to perform a sort of prototype ghost investigation, using a psychic to call forth the ghost and a couple of cameras, including one that shot in infrared, to capture the action. The freakout came when the psychic, who was very sincere and creepy, sat in one of the store aisles with several other people and allegedly talked to the ghost, describing his deep and terrible sadness. The camera operator was snapping pics throughout. At the end of the presentation, the audience was shown side-by-side photos – one standard film and the other infrared – of the aisle where the psychic conversation had taken place. Alarmingly, in at least one of these sets, the very clear figure of a man appeared in the infrared photo where the standard film showed nothing!

Here it was. Indisputable proof of the existence of ghosts! I was thunderstruck. It had to be real if they were showing it on television, right? How could this not be front page news the world over? Someone call the President! Those readers with a good memory for the obscure might recall my prior Traumafession in which I explained my dismay with the children’s book “All About Ghosts” which featured a spread of “Real Life Ghost Photos!” I was cursed with the terrible combination of a scientifically inquiring mind and hopeless naivety.

My shock from the fact that ghosts had been scientifically verified to exist was compounded by my confusion about the location of the featured Toy “R” Us. It was in Sunnyvale, California but for some reason I thought that it was the Toy “R” Us store in Merrillville, Indiana, which my parents sometimes shopped at! How far could ghosts travel? I did not know but this was important information that someone needed to figure out!

The whole thing can be seen here:

Skip to the end for the ghost photos and what may be the least skeptical analysis in the history of TV by John Davidson, Fran Tarkenton and Cathy Lee Crosby: “Keep in mind kids, these photos are real and could not possibly have been faked!”

Tags: Traumafessions

13 responses so far ↓

  • 1 zoeNo Gravatar // Nov 7, 2011 at 9:49 am

    Is that THE Sylvia Browne? I was going to say she looked a little like Jerri Blank in that picture.

  • 2 FilmFatherNo Gravatar // Nov 7, 2011 at 9:56 am

    Totally remember this episode, even the specific description by the psychic that the ghost is approaching them and “has his hands in his pockets” — then boom, they show the same shot you’re showing.

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  • 3 Eric StettmeierNo Gravatar // Nov 7, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    I live near Sunnyvale and, being a toy collector, love going the ‘Haunted Toys R Us’ whenever I can.

    I was there once with my daughter and a toy did fly off the shelves as we walked past it. My daughter is absolutely 100% convinced it was a paranormal experience, but it’s possible she just unknowingly bumped it with her elbow.

  • 4 David FullamNo Gravatar // Nov 7, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Whoah, I remember that. Looking back I now wonder how much of it the series was faked? Hear tell they did a piece on the Mokele Mbembe (the supposed dinosaur of the Congo) that had phony footage.

  • 5 kebyarNo Gravatar // Nov 7, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    Generally speaking, if Sylvia Browne is your ‘expert,’ you know you’re dealing with patently false bulls##t.

    I vividly remember watching this episode when it first ran, and also being kinda creeped out by it.

    On a related note, this just jogged my memory to something that REALLY freaked me out when I was young….the “Amityville Horror” episode of “In Search Of.”

    3:05, when the doll’s eyes started to glow, I was through.

  • 6 TaylorNo Gravatar // Nov 7, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    I saw the haunted Toys R Us story on a different “real ghosts” show on TV in the 90s that did a reinactment of the leg-chopping incident (may have been Unsolved Mysteries, but I’m pretty sure it was a one-off special).

    And that photo has always stuck with me too…Though my memory of it had always been that the stature of the “ghost” looked more threatening. When I googled the photo a few years ago and saw it for the first time since I was a young teenager, I was surprised at how casual he looks, like he was just going to chill out by the seance, then maybe go outside for a smoke, whatever…

  • 7 ChrisNo Gravatar // Nov 7, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    Man, I remember that That’s Incredible! episode. I remember it freakin’ me out pretty badly too, as I was an impressionable tyke who believed everything regarding the supernatural was “true”, especially if they showed it on TV. It’s amazing I survived this long, as I was real a stupid kid.

    And I too remember that show you’re talking about, Taylor. It was called “Real Ghosts”, and the Toys R Us story (actually, one of three vignettes in the episode) was directed by none other than Tobe Hooper.

    Here’s a wiki page about the show if anyone’s interested…

  • 8 Chuckles72No Gravatar // Nov 7, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    A link to another program – maybe the one that Taylor and Chris are talking about – is on Youtube. The reenactments are amazingly cheesy – not half so freakadelic as the That’s Incredible! episode, IMHO.

    It’s good to see that other people remembered this story too, and the That’s Incredible! broadcast.

  • 9 TaylorNo Gravatar // Nov 7, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    Ah, thanks Chris and Chuckles! That is the thing I was thinking of. I distinctly remember the actor who played Johnny (or rather…Yanni?) and the chopping scene. No other details ring any bells for me, except for the repeated “Elizabeth! Help me…” voice.

  • 10 mamamiasweetpeachesNo Gravatar // Nov 8, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    I dont remember these, but I remember a few years ago I had a hangover and I was trying to sleep it off on my sisters couch. She had left the TV on and one of those TRUE CRIMES shows was on. I tryed to sleep through it but they did this really bizarre story about a guy who was hiding out and actuallY LIVING in a TOYS R US. He had made a makeshift hole in a wall under a shelf and would stay there all day while the store was open and then come out at night and steal stuff. I was so freaked out by the story. Sometimes thr true stuff is much scarier than the horror story stuff!

  • 11 crabbymoonNo Gravatar // Nov 8, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    Nothing takes the chill off a ghost story faster than Sylvia Browne. Check out her wiki page to see how many times this charlatan’s predictions have been wrong, as well as her convictions for investment fraud and grand theft.

  • 12 RockwaterNo Gravatar // Nov 8, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    Does anyone remember the haunted Toys R Us story being teased out over 2 episodes of “That’s Incredible!” ? I swear that’s how I saw it, because I remember a very sleepless night after part 1 which just documented the hauntings and gave us a peek of the photo, but sleeping much better after part 2 with the seance which was all touchy feely and “come to the other side”. Turns out the scary ghost was actually a nice guy.

  • 13 ApocalypsejunkieNo Gravatar // Nov 10, 2011 at 10:42 am

    I remember that show and that episode, too. That’s Toys-R-Us has been investigated by several different paranormal shows. I also remember that story about a guy living in a Toys-R-Us. This will *really* freak you out, I remember another crime story where the creep was living in a families attic, peeping at the from holes he had made all over the place. I know there are movie plots like this, but this guy did it for real. :-O

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