Alone in the Dark: An Oral History of MTV’s Fear

by Jake Rossen for Mental Floss


The horror reality show gave contestants their own cameras and set them loose in purportedly haunted locations. The crew still can’t explain what happened next.

(Some article highlights below)

Phillips: We had [psychic] Carla Baron come in advance and decide where the paranormal readings were. They’d tell us, “Be in this room.” Carla was lovely and intense. We all believed in her abilities.

Carla Baron (Medium): Cris Abrego called me, or I called him. A friend of mine knew Bonnie Hammer at MTV and suggested me for the series. So we talked and I said, “You should change the name of the show from Fear to MTV’s Fear because the numerology would be much more successful for you.” He said, “You’re freaking me out. The network just called and wants to change the name to MTV’s Fear.”

Manes: Some of these places had been condemned. You couldn’t trust the floors.

Baron: I’d go through rooms and see what latent spiritual activity was there—if there was anything dangerous, anything unresolved, if there were spirits that needed to move on.

Flynn: I’m not sure where we were, but there was a time when a crew member always felt like he had a hand on his back. One time he took a digital picture and in the center of the frame was something that looked like a tear. It was like a rip in the space-time continuum.

Baron: A crew member got pushed down the stairs at the penitentiary by something. He was by himself. He fell all the way down. He was so frightened he almost quit the show.

Baron: I went back to my hotel when we were doing Eastern State Penitentiary and something followed me back there. I got a call asking if this was Carla. It was someone with an Indian accent. I called production right away and asked if they had sent anyone over. They said no one had called me. We signed agreements where we can’t tell anyone where we were going. Nobody knew I was there. I called the front desk. There were no calls that night. I talked to someone for five minutes who knew my name.

At midnight, there’s a knock on the door so loud it could wake the dead. I said, “Who’s there?” Someone said, “housekeeping.” I swung the door open. There are 50 rooms to either side of me. No one was there.

With the environment of each episode carefully laid out, producers largely sat back and allowed the foreboding atmosphere to influence the contestants’ behavior.

Colton: In a zero-visibility environment, your mind becomes a vehicle for some intense hallucinations. You think you’re seeing things and you’re not. Their minds were their own worst enemies.

Phillips: We had to run multiple kids through the same dare sometimes to get one clean enough to use. They’re screaming and dropping the camera.

Baron: I said, “Look, someone needs to talk to the kids before they go into these locations. They have no idea what they’re dealing with.”

Olmstead: If a dare didn’t further the story, or if it didn’t play out on camera, we’d cut it. Sometimes we wanted to release tension or wanted something to be funny, like a good horror movie.

Kunert: I remember the first time we had a séance, the network said, “No more séances.”

Larsen: That was a kid performing a séance in the basement of the Fairfield asylum. He started speaking in tongues and acting weird. It was like he was communicating with the dead. Watching it live, I was like, “What the hell is going on?” It freaked him out and freaked us out, like, “Wow, maybe we better not mess with a Ouija board.” It was the last time we used that.

Baron: One kid had marks on her leg that no one could have made. She was in a room all by herself.

Barreto: We were at a military academy that had been open in the 1890s. The dare was for a woman to go down into a subterranean room and stand in a cross position, waiting for some spirit to reach out to her. We’re monitoring it and hearing what sounds like someone having sex. Like, whoa, this is weird. She comes back to the safe house and explains that she was molested by a ghost.

Baron: When people quit, they did it with real tears. They’d be shaking. It was psychological terror.

Barreto: Two years ago, I was sitting in a cafe in Los Angeles. A woman walks in and says, “Hey, aren’t you Luis Barreto?” It was the same woman. She introduced herself as the woman who had been molested by a ghost. I thought she had gone crazy. She said, “No, no, I got back home and was fine.”

Although it’s not commercially available and rarely seen in reruns, Fear fans have kept word of the series alive by uploading episodes on YouTube. More than 16 years after the last episode aired, it continues to be an inspiration to other paranormal-themed projects both on television and in film.

Baron: MTV was pioneering with this. I met the [cast of the Syfy docuseries] Ghost Hunters, Jason [Hawes] and Grant [Wilson], and they thanked me. They said, “Carla, if Fear hadn’t happened, our show wouldn’t exist.” We were the first show of its kind.

Colton: Paranormal Activity was just a higher-budget Fear. People looking into cameras and talking.

Cassidy: If you look at Paranormal Activity, I think the visual tropes of the show—that grainy, dark video that conveyed authenticity—lived on.

Breier: It was a time when reality TV was a new concept. It wasn’t established as the successful thing it became.

Colton: I think if you brought back Fear today it would have to be more high-tech. I think the tastes of the audience have changed.

Cassidy: Like with a lot of reality stuff, the bar has been raised. At the time, there wasn’t a huge plethora of supernatural ghost hunting shows. But human behavior is always fascinating. It could work. Visually, we have more tools to cover the experience.

Manes: If people realize I was involved in Fear, they usually ask, “Did you believe it? Did you believe the places were haunted?” I come from a skeptical state of mind, but crew members had experiences that were unexplainable. It opened my mind to maybe there’s something more than I believe there was. These places were genuinely scary.

Flynn: I learned a lot from Fear that I took into making movies, like The Exorcism of Emily Rose. There’s a theory and a concept about opening yourself up to these things. If you allow yourself to see the devil, the devil can see you.

(Read the article in its entirety HERE)


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Carla was amazingly insightful during my reading today. I was shown which ‘door to walk through’ and now everything is crystal clear!

I had my second reading today with Carla for one hour. I am absolutely amazed by her insight into what is going on in my life.

Her psychic ability astounds me each time I have a reading from her. The first time was in August of this year. I was so thrilled with her accuracy that I even gave my brother a birthday gift of a one-hour reading by Carla.

Today’s reading was a very crucial one for me. The answers I was looking for I could not find on my own. I truly felt the only way I would know them was if I went into the future to see how to handle my situations, and then came back with the answer. Since, of course, that is impossible – I was still stuck without the answers that would mold my ultimate success.

I’ll start by saying when I first got on the phone today the first thing Carla said to me was that I had to release my guilt. I had not even asked a question yet, but the statement she said rang true with the questions that I would be asking and ultimately change the course that I was going to be taking. My decision before talking to Carla was that I would move back into my deceased parent’s home, and spend the next year doing construction, plumbing, and other major changes to their home all while working full-time. This would leave me with no time to start living my life again after having been my mother’s caregiver for eleven and a half years. This type of sacrifice would have crippled me emotionally and destroyed me physically.

When I asked the question to Carla as to what should I do, her answers were amazingly insightful. She began telling me that I will be moving thirty to thirty-five minutes away renting in a type of split-level duplex, and that my neighbor would be an elderly female. Carla also described a man who I would be working with who would be doing the changes in my parent’s home which would release me from doing all of the physical work. Carla continued to give me insight into different situations that would arise during this time.

I was very concerned about a particular personal issue that would arise. Carla was able to psychically look at the whole issue in depth and was able to tell me reasons why the issue came about in the first place. The peace that she gave me by giving me an answer to a question that had always bothered me that I could not figure out how to get past was absolutely wonderful. Not only did she give me the answer, but Carla took it beyond that and explained with her ability how to resolve it.

To truly understand the impact Carla with her psychic ability has had on my future with today’s reading is nothing short of a miracle. Not only will I have free time to rediscover my life journey, but the financial gain that I will achieve will be tremendous.

I would urge anyone out there to take time for yourself and have a well-deserved reading by Carla. She is very easy to talk to, and by the time you hang up the phone – you feel like you just made a new best friend.


New Windsor, NY

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“This situation I’ve been stuck in for years, Carla was 100% on everything!”

I just had my very first reading with Carla today. I went in with an open mind, and focused on a specific topic that she knew nothing about. She asked only the name, birth month and day, nothing else!

What happened next floored me to say the least, she described this person to a “T” – she saw this current situation is ‘physically making me ill’ – which it is. It was amazing! Carla knew that I was in financial distress, and that it was coming from my ex in-laws. Also, that I was a ‘magnet for viruses – especially bronchitis’ – which is completely accurate.

This situation I’ve been stuck in for years, she was 100% on everything!

I’m a very private person, so there’s no way Carla could have known these things!
She saw in detail what’s to come, and when to expect it – something I needed desperately to know!

Carla is the real deal. This I can say wholeheartedly.


Claymont, Delaware

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It got difficult for me very fast as Carla immediately got into a major health issue that I was having with my lung and my right lung in particular. This is a recent problem that has almost killed me and put me in the hospital 4 times for over 5 weeks in the last six weeks. She got into specifics that only me, my wife, and Doctor know.

I am a reasonably open-minded person. I have lived a very active life and have developed a strong belief that each of us has a spirit. I also believe spiritual life goes far beyond our physical being. As a 54-year-old father of four teenagers, I truly felt I was past the point of being surprised, much less amazed.

Much to my surprise my sister got me an hour reading for my birthday from Carla Baron. Before I get started – I need to say that I am very glad the reading was an hour long. In the end, it took all of this time to go over things I wanted to get into.

The reading started out with me needing to relax and breath calmly with this – getting very hard to maintain at times with the intensity of things that were said to me. I would like to also say for starters – I said I would like to discuss my health when I was asked what I was interested in asking about. It got difficult for me very fast as Carla immediately got into a major health issue that I was having with my lung and my right lung in particular. This is a recent problem that has almost killed me and put me in the hospital four times for over five weeks in the last six weeks. She got into specifics that only me, my wife, and Doctor know. Oh – and yes my sister knew I was in the hospital, but not the full or complete details that Carla was discussing. I was pointed in a direction of things to seek to help me get better. The only person who had discussed some of these things with me as a path he may have to take was my Doctor. Her information and discussion gave me goose bumps. We discussed financial issues that she also could not have had a clue. She was spot on with a lot of things currently going on. She then had very good information on what path is going to present itself, and the why she is encouraging me to follow this action and what else will present itself and why to not choose it.

I then asked about my four children – and yes that was done one at a time. They are all teenagers and very different. She first went over their personalities which was – wow amazing. She discussed information on things I need to be aware and what direction they will be going in and why. There were details she went over that unless she lived with them, she could not know. Understand that my sister lives 500 miles away from me and has not seen or talked with them in a very long time. The only people they normally speak with are their friends, along with only my wife and I when the need presents.

Lastly was a discussion about my mother and father-in-law who had passed. One very recently and the other a year ago. The things she spoke about were so much of the people they were that it brought me and my wife was in the room to tears on more than one occasion. The information that was given about them now made me feel so much better and the way she was describing their current interactions was the way that they acted in life. They were so (and apparently are still so) in love with each other that it really made us feel better. Yes – we still are sad that they are gone from us, but glad their love and – interesting – even cute interactive is still the case.

I can say that I needed this reading more than I could have ever imagined. I was given information that couldn’t have been known outside of me and my wife. Carla gave me information that will in some aspects, and hopefully in other ways, point me in a direction that it needs to. Most of all – I was given a peace of mind about things that I needed and interestingly – in a way that only my In-Laws would have done with me.

Thank you, Carla. Some of the quirky little things you discussed gave so much meaning to my reading. I will sleep better, and feel better about many things. You are amazing.

Alex C.
Boydton, VA

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Well exactly like Carla said – it totally worked! I got a message the moment I posted!

I spoke to Carla on 11 August & asked her if the guy I am interested in will reach out to me soon. She told me to post some pictures on social media about being back in New York from the airport today when I landed.

Well exactly like she said – it totally worked! I got a message the moment I posted!
We had not been talking for days.

Carla is always right, and her guidance is amazing.
Her predictions are always spot on.

New York, NY

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