The World Within – Movie Review

dvd playerThe World Within is a documentary film about John Zaffis, his work as a demonologist and “haunted collector,” and his paranormal museum in Connecticut.

If you’re a fan of John Zaffis, you’ll want to own this movie.

If you’re not a fan of John’s, this movie may cause you to reconsider how you feel about him and his work.

Either way, this documentary is worth seeing, and it definitely belongs in every public library.  It’s uniquely informative.  You won’t find this kind of information anywhere else… even on the Haunted Collector TV show.

On first viewing, I thought The World Within was fascinating.  Then I put it on my shelf of DVDs.  I figured that I’d watch it again around Halloween, but not sooner.

I was wrong.

Less than 24 hours later, I watched the movie again.  I needed some information that I could only find on this DVD. (Fortunately, the chapter-by-chapter design made it easy to find what I was looking for.)

In other words, for paranormal researchers and enthusiasts, this documentary contains so much information, it’s like a reference book… but a lot more fun.  If you’re doing paranormal research of any kind, it’s a must-see documentary.

Once the movie starts, don’t plan to leave the room

Some things in The World Within impressed me more than others.

For example, the opening of the movie was clearly designed for theatrical release.  It reminds me of the openings of the old Cinerama movies.  Yes, it’s long… exactly what you’d want if you’re finding a seat in the theater, getting your popcorn and beverage in place, and so on.

For home viewing, the opening is a little long.  Cool… but long.

However, once the actual scenes begin, you won’t want to leave your chair, not even to grab a quick beverage.  (If you’re watching this film with friends, don’t even think about saying, “Can you pause this for a minute while I grab a Coke?”)

It’s not that the movie is terribly scary. Oh, there are some alarming scenes and — as usual — John warns people about risks related to the work he does.  That can be shocking if you’re not familiar with the intensity of the cases he handles.

However, this film is compelling, and scripted as a month in the life of John Zaffis.  Each “day” is separate, and it focuses on a slightly different aspect of John’s work.

This movie can be chilling

You’ll learn about John’s work with demonology, his research involving haunted objects (like you’ve seen on the Haunted Collector TV series), how he started PRSNE, what’s involved in investigations, and far more.

At times, the subject matter is deeply disturbing.  It’s also presented in a very matter-of-fact manner, which can make it even more chilling.

In the video, you’ll recognized several people from the TV show, including Brian Cano (also from SCARED!) who was part of the production team.

You may recognize some of the movie’s locations, too, including Buffalo Central Terminal.

Unique in this film: You’ll meet John’s wonderful (and patient) wife, and appreciate her sense of humor about John’s work.

I’m not someone who raves about a movie just because John (or anyone else) is in it.  I believe in honest reviews.

Show me more!

In fact, a few sections of this documentary seemed long.  Not awful, just long.  It was always when someone else was on the screen, not John or Brian or anyone from the Haunted Collector show.

I wanted to see more of John’s actual work, though I know there can be privacy issues.  Many of the victims of demonic attack and hauntings… they don’t want to be on TV or in a documentary.

However, John is on-camera for at least 3/4 of the movie.  That’s what makes this DVD worth owning, and watching over & over again.

In general, I enjoyed the entire movie, and I don’t want to sound too critical… just honest.

Insights and John’s history

I particularly liked the re-enactments of important paranormal encounters in John’s past.  Those insights are very helpful.  More than ever, I appreciate John’s background and his many years in this field.

Fans of the Haunted Collector will enjoy hearing John speak informally, completely unscripted, with his usual passion for paranormal work.

The filmed investigations also show what ghost hunting is really like, complete with humor, frank discussions as phenomena are observed, and a reminder that the hours spent investigating on-site are just the tip of the iceberg.

Not suitable for small children

Though this movie is unrated, I probably wouldn’t let small children watch it.  Some of the scenes and true stories could be too intense for impressionable minds.  (There are also a couple of places — mostly in the “blooper reel” section of the special features — where the F word is used.)

Why you need to watch this movie

All in all, I think this is an important movie for any serious ghost researcher to view.  You need to be aware of what’s normal, paranormal, and truly disturbing in this line of work.  John shares insights and information he rarely discusses with anyone, and this film will give you a far better appreciation of the dangers of his work.

It is definitely a calling, more than just a job.

Are you a Haunted Collector fan?

For fans of the Haunted Collector show on Syfy, the movie answers many questions:

  • How John’s family feel about his work and the objects he brings home.
  • The routine precautions necessary when handling haunted objects.
  • What John does with the scariest items people give him, and how he deals with them in “the barn behind the barn.”
  • The extreme measures required, when designing the building that houses John’s office and his museum of haunted objects.

For ghost hunting teams, paranormal enthusiasts, and serious investigators, this is a movie worth owning.

If your public library doesn’t own a copy of this documentary, they probably should. (Recommend it, and — if they don’t order a copy — ask them to get it for you on inter-library loan.)

Click here to order John Zaffis: The World Within DVD


This movie is 70 minutes long.  The format is NTSC – Region 1 (suitable for DVD players in the United States, Canada, Bermuda, and U.S. territories.) There are no subtitles or closed captions, but many of the interviews are full-face and in enough light for lip-reading.  Most of John’s scenes show him in his office, during the daytime, talking to an interviewer next to the camera.

Special features include:

  • The Director’s introduction.
  • Deleted scenes (must-see information, in my opinion).
  • Theatrical trailer.
  • SCARED! Recon File #1 (Brian Cano introduces us to John’s museum).
  • Photo slideshow.
  • Composing with Jayce.
  • Blooper reel.

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