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How to find ghosts with Alexa (and other scary skills)

Do you wish you could use your amazing Alexa ecosystem to deliver some horrific thrills and chills to your peaceful home? Wish no more, dear scarer, for Alexa has taken a lesson or two from the formidable likes of Dracula and The Wolf Man, and the result is a nice little Pandora’s box of ghoulish capabilities.

If you’re interested in experiencing some life-beyond-the-grave entertainment with your favorite Alexa devices, we’ve put together this list of our favorite spooky Alexa skills you can try in the lead-up to Halloween. And hey, no one said you couldn’t freak the family out during the Christmas season, or around the 4th of July, for that matter.

Count down the days in vile style

Have you ever seen Halloween III: Season of the Witch? Infamously, it’s the only Halloween movie to not feature the elusive Michael Myers, but it is the only Halloween entry that features one heck of an ear worm tune in the form of this little jingle.

That Silver Shamrock melody is a countdown for the ages, and countdowns are a whole bunch of fun — especially when you’re on the heels of a holiday. And what better way to rein in all the werewolves and zombies in your life than with Alexa’s Halloween Countdown skill? While this skill is about as simple as it sounds, having the ability to get a quick days-remaining idea of how close we are to All Hallows Eve is never a bad thing.

You can also just ask Alexa to tell you how many days there are until Halloween, without the need for the Countdown skill. But if it’s the short answer you’re looking for, opt for the skill, because Alexa alone will get all extra-brainy and such, telling you the day and date of Halloween 2022, in addition to how many days are left until our trees get filled with toilet paper.

Unleash a world of screen-based scares

The main character of Insidious is sitting in a room looking forward while a scary red-faced demon appears behind him snarling.

If you’re one of the lucky bunch who owns an Echo Show (or two), we’ve got a shiver-inducing skill that’ll get the goosebumps growing for you and yours. It’s called Ambient Visions, and while it’s a fairly innocent screensaver skill on the surface, there’s a dark corner of the capability that’ll help you dial in the frights.

As part of the “Seasonal” curation, you’ll have access to innocent Christmas and New Year’s scenes, but we’ve got horrors on the mind, and so does Ambient Visions. By using the Halloween overlay, your Echo Show will get you front and center with some spooky imagery, and all you have to do is say, “Alexa, open Ambient Visions” to get the scares started.

Ambient Visions is a free skill, but if you want access to an expanded video library, longer loops, and ad-free viewing, there’s a premium version, too.

Tune in to terror with Jim and his friends

Whether or not you believe in the supernatural, the world of ghost-hunting and paranormal research is truly fascinating at times, and if you’re interested in hearing what the so-called “experts” are saying, Alexa’s Paranormal Podcast skill is a great place to start.

Hosted by Jim Harold, Paranormal Podcast is an episodic series that pairs good old Jim with demonologists, UFO investigators, and other professors of the otherworldly, delivering campfire rhetoric about some of the creepiest things on planet Earth. Skeptical or not, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying some thoughtful poltergeist conversation.

Become a paranormal investigator

Rowan the Destructor in Ghostbusters (2016).

Remember Pokémon Go? That mobile interactive adventure that had us all dipping into unfamiliar geography to catch digital critters? Well, there’s a slightly more chilling version of the roam-and-capture game available on compatible Alexa devices called Ghost Detector.

Here’s the setup: Each day, you say, “Alexa, open Ghost Detector,” and your digital pal will launch the skill. Then, Alexa will let you know whether or not there’s a spirit to capture in proximity. If there is, you say, “Alexa, tell Ghost Detector to catch the ghost.”

If Alexa is able to lasso the specter, you’re awarded a certain amount of Ghost Bux, a kind of in-game currency that allows you to expand your ghost-hunting arsenal. You can only look for one spirit per day, though, so if you plan on racking up these phantasmic dollars, you’d better make a point of checking into the spirit realm as many times a week as possible.

Ring in the campfire vibes

For years, mankind has been scaring ourselves silly with terrifying ghost tales, urban legends, and other haunting “you had to be there” orations from friends and family. Now Alexa can join you and yours in the ghoulish tradition of telling scary stories.

One of our favorite ways to get Alexa chiming out a twisted tale is to get meta with it. There’s a fun Alexa skill called Spooky Stories that falls under the Alexa Blueprints umbrella. Spooky Stories is a kid-friendly creator that lets users add names, sound effects, and other narrative elements to a PG-rated Halloween story. The skill is simple to use and provides hours of customizable enjoyment. Once your story is put together, just say, “Alexa, open My Spooky Story,” to have the voice assistant read out the prose.

Alexa has some other great story skills, too. Scare Me tasks Alexa with telling you a two- or three-sentence horror story, and while some users have argued that the tales aren’t chilling enough, the fact that we had to sleep with the lights on may prove otherwise.

And if you want to negate skills altogether, you can always just say, “Alexa, tell me a spooky story.” In seconds flat, the voice assistant will call a guest narrator into action, delivering a short, family-friendly bit of every-day-is-Halloween entertainment.

Summon a chilling soundscape

Hill House from the Netflix original series 'The Haunting of Hill House'
Netflix

Whether it’s Halloween time or not, Alexa can help you turn your peaceful domicile into an atmospheric tomb with a handful of eerie soundscape skills.

One of the best-reviewed of the bunch is called Halloween Sounds. About as literal as the title would suggest, asking Alexa to launch this skill turns your Echo speaker into a sounding board for all things frightening. Amazon reviewers have noted just how authentic these looped bytes are, providing hours of background noise for any kind of Halloween shindig or other macabre event.

There’s also Haunted House. Once you ask Alexa to open the skill, the voice assistant will dial up a scary bit of random audio that lasts for just about 30 seconds. Be prepared: While some of the curated tones are a bit generic and laughable, there are some selections that are truly hair-raising.

Become an unforgivable monster

Drew Barrymore in Scream.

Has someone in your family been getting under your skin lately? Well, Alexa and her band of howling demonic friends can help you level the playing field with a skill called Spooky Scream.

Once you’ve added the skill to your Alexa device, you can give time-based commands like, “Alexa, ask Spooky Scream to start in 10 minutes.” When 10 minutes is up, your Echo device will emit a soul-shattering scream that is guaranteed to get you even with that one sibling that had it coming.

An excellent pranking skill, do be mindful that some of the screams are certainly on the blood-curdling side, making Spooky Scream not the most suitable skill for the young ones.

Fight to survive in a scary game (or two)

Nothing says “interactive” like a chess game where the preservation of your soul is the ultimate prize. While Alexa may not pit you against the Grim Reaper like Max von Sydow in The Seventh Seal, you can use the Amazon assistant to conjure up some other creepy adventures.

Halloween Feel the Pressure is a spooky iteration of the popular Feel the Pressure letter game, where players are tasked with a series of questions based on the alphabet we all know and love. You need to guess 10 answers correctly in a row to “save your soul,” so start reading up on your ghastly vocabulary.

We also love Monster Madness, a game of chance that can be played with up to six players. In each round, contestants are asked to open a door. Depending upon what’s on the other side, players will either gain or lose points that can be swapped and stolen by fellow competitors throughout the rest of the game.

Whisper like a wraith

More of a common decency feature than a springboard for horrors, Alexa’s whisper mode can be admittedly unnerving to engage.

Designed to allow you to communicate with Alexa while other family members are sleeping, enabling the function within the Alexa app will allow your designated Alexa device to listen for whispered voice commands. Then, instead of responding in the assistant’s default voice, Alexa opts for her own whispering instead.

OK, we know it’s not meant to be scary, but experimenting with this ability at 3 a.m. can be ultra-creepy. Alexa’s hushed voice is all too real and can make it seem like you’re conferring with something from another realm (if you let your post-midnight imagination run wild).

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