Q&A: What Really Scares ‘Ghost Hunters’ Star Amy Bruni

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Heidi Gutman / Syfy

Amy Bruni, cast member on Syfy’s hit show Ghost Hunters, doesn’t let anything faze her — not even staking out haunted houses in the dead of night.

This October 31, Bruni and her team members will continue their yearly tradition with an immensely popular Halloween live show. This year, the casts from both Ghost Hunters and Ghost Hunters International will head to Pennhurst Asylum in Pennsylvania, a sprawling maze of buildings constituting a former state mental institution. Bruni talked to NewsFeed about her love of Graceland, a scare in a not-so abandoned prison, and what really freaks her out (hint: it’s not ghosts).

A lot of people think of Casper when they think of ghosts. How would you describe one?
They come in many different forms, so it’s hard for us to just call them ghosts. More often, it’s that we just know there’s something odd out there—dark shadows, apparitions, translucent objects, someone in period dress. The shadow people are what we hear about the most—it’ll be in shape of a person, but it moves too fast so it’s hard to tell what it is.

What does it feel like to be near a ghost?

It’s rare to see something when you feel like it’s around. When we do, the thought process is—what else could it be? It happens so fast that when its over, we explore other options—could it be the light, the wind, anything that could have caused something weird.  Once we rule out every other explanation, and it is paranormal, we get super excited.  It’s definitely not scary, though. It’s more that the air and the feeling change, there’s an energy shift and it’s hard to explain unless you experience it. The stories about hair standing up on the back of your neck are true; that happens a lot when investigating.

(LIST: Top 10 “I See Dead People” Movies)

What should a non-ghost hunter do if or when they see a ghost?
The first thing to do is to not be afraid—we’ve never had a report of someone getting severely injured by a ghost. If it’s a one-time thing, then sit back and think, “Wow, I saw something strange, that was kind of cool.” If it continues to happen, then you should try to talk to it. Ghosts were people too, at one point. If you don’t mind it being there, let it know they’re welcome in your house, and if you don’t want it around, politely tell it to leave.

What’s the most common misconception about ghosts?
I would say that they’re scary and bad. Or, that they only occur at night, because they can happen in the middle of the day or in the morning. On the show, we investigate at night, which probably perpetuates that. (Laughs)

The show has had you go all over the place—Hawaii, Ireland, across the U.S. Are there any spooky haunts high on your list?
There’s two on my list, and one would be the White House—it has crazy stories of Abraham Lincoln’s ghost and so many presidents have reported strange things happening to them there. Obviously, there’s security reasons and things like that, so who knows if it will really happen. The second would be Graceland. I would love to go to Graceland. People have reported things, but I also want to go for selfish reasons. Someday, it’ll happen.

What’s the scariest thing that’s happened to you on the job?

It didn’t involve a ghost, actually. We were investigating an old prison. It was a huge complex of empty buildings and we had a cleared a few, but someplace that big always has a few squatters and people hanging around. I was in a tunnel by myself and I kind of got lost in there. I found a manhole cover and lifted it up so I could get out.  When I got through the opening, I ended up in basically a boiler room that was a squatter’s house.  There was a man there and I looked at him and he looked at me and we had this mutual understanding I was going to leave.  It was so terrifying. People are so much more terrifying than ghosts. Things like that are why we tell people not to go investigating by themselves or without permission.

Tell me about the Halloween live show.
Everyone was so excited when they heard we were going back [to Pennhurst Asylum] because that is one of the few places where we had some freaky things happen. I had a crazy experience there with Adam Berry, we actually got really creeped out. We were walking down a hallway, and we kept hearing scratching and howling and we were convinced we were about to find an animal.  When we finally got to the room where the sound was coming from, it was empty and it was so creepy to realize what the sound must actually be. There were other weird things there, too, like a disembodied voice coming from the tunnels.

I’m assuming you’re not afraid of ghosts. What does scare you?
I’m not scared of a whole lot, other than normal life stuff—relationships and what not. Those are scarier than ghosts. I’m more afraid of people than anything. Other than that, I’m good!

LIST: Top 10 Haunted House Movies

Ghost Hunters’ Halloween special will air Monday, October 31 from 7PM-1AM/ET on Syfy.