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‘Based on a True Story’

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As I have discussed before (at length) horror stories have a long, long history of claiming to be ‘based on a true story.’ I have little to no issue with this. If anything, it’s entertaining to do a little research into the back-story to see just how tenuous this claim is. Anyone who openly embraces a promise of truth from Hollywood is asking for it.

I do not believe in ghosts, demons or the supernatural. I’m open minded but I’ve seen nothing to give me cause to believe in these things – and even less to believe the explanations that others provide for them. That’s not to say I haven’t experienced a few things that were distinctly creepy and which I can’t explain – but I’m happy to leave it at that.

The Warrens

warrenI knew about Lorraine and Ed Warren before watching The Conjuring, mostly through their involvement with the Amityville Hoax. The words ‘Paranormal Investigation’ tend to fill me with dread. Pseudo-science and Catholic hoodoo tend to leave me seething with rage, irritated to a state of indifference or laughing my ass off.

The Warrens were the founders of the New England Society for Psychic Research, Ed (who died in 2006) was a demonologist and Lorraine (still living) a clairvoyant. The two worked as ghost hunters, paranormal investigators, opened an occult museum, gave lectures and wrote about their experiences working on a number of purportedly supernatural cases.

The Amityville haunting – the Lutz family

amityvillehorrorAmityville is arguably the most famous case the Warren’s were involved with. They were amongst the first investigators to visit the house and believe – to this day – that the events written about in Jay Anson’s 1977 book were real.

There is little to no evidence to support any of the Lutz’s claims and a great deal of evidence which disproves many of their claims. Inconsistent testimony of supposed eye-witnesses, reference to events that were later shown not to have occurred, the neighbours witnessed nothing unusual, claims that police were called to the house were shown to be false, the book was ruled to be a work of fiction by a District Court Judge and people involved with the incident have stated that it was a hoax. Add to this the money grabbing antics of the Lutz’s who have attempted to sue anyone who questioned their story or attempted to make money from it. They claimed they had been subjected to an invasion of privacy and suffered mental distress. This from a family who allowed a book to be published about them, agreed to numerous film adaptations and appeared on Good Morning America to promote the 1979 film.

A Haunting in Connecticut – the Snedeker family

fmlyThe Warrens were also involved with – and are listed as co-authors of – the Connecticut haunting of the Snedeker family. Ray Garton, the author of the novel, has said: “The family involved, which was going through some serious problems like alcoholism and drug addiction, could not keep their story straight, and I became very frustrated; it’s hard writing a non-fiction book when all the people involved are telling you different stories.” He insists that the novel is a work of fiction – the events depicted did not happen. I previously wrote an article about this.

Rhode Island Haunting, The Conjuring – the Perron family

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Andrea Perron, one of the daughters who experienced the haunting, has written her own account of the events that happened in Rhode Island and has this to say about the film:

‘The Conjuring’ IS based on a ‘true story’…our story. However, the film is not based on my trilogy ‘House of Darkness House of Light’. It is, instead, based upon the case files of Ed & Lorraine Warren. … There are liberties taken and a few discrepancies but overall, it is what it claims to be — based on a true story, believe it or not. – Andrea Perron

The film takes some big liberties even with regards to the Warren’s case files. I can’t comment on the veracity of their reports much less the book written (40 years after the event) by a woman who was a child at the time of the alleged events. But if I have the opportunity I will read it.

The biggest liberty the film takes is with the history of Bathsheba Sherman. In the film she is accused of sacrificing her first born to the devil and is then hung from a tree. The historical figure was accused of child murder – by inserting a knitting needle into the skull of a small child. But she was found innocent due to lack of evidence. It seems she had 3 children of her own who died young and one son who lived to have his own farm and family. The locals regarded her as a witch and accused her of being cruel to people who worked on the farm.

Annabelle the Demon Doll – or Lou, the Massive Douchebag?

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Annabelle is a genuine case investigated by the Warrens but it is not connected to the Perron case. You can read about the real Annabelle all over the internet:

http://www.warrens.net/Annabelle.html

http://badassdigest.com/2013/07/23/the-true-story-of-annabelle-the-haunted-doll-from-the-conjuring/

Having read the account the real source of this ‘demonic posession’ seems pretty obvious. What we have here is a case of IRL trolling (1970s style), an over-active imagination and a coincidence.

Links to other stuff:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/10169312/Lorraine-Warren-ghosthunter-extraordinaire.html

http://www.ghostvillage.com/legends/warrens.shtml – an interview with the Warrens, discussion of proof and science

http://www.theness.com/index.php/hunting-the-ghost-hunters/

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/religion/1908350/posts

If you can stomach it, the socially sub-normal posters at jref discuss Lorraine’s refusal to be tested:

http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?t=96317

http://doubtfulnews.com/2012/04/who-was-the-amityville-ghost-boy/

http://theness.com/roguesgallery/index.php/skepticism/unwarrented-the-possessed-raggedy-ann-doll/

These are mostly links to posts by skeptics regarding the Warrens. And yes, they do come across as a collection of the worlds biggest blow-hards. Being seriously skeptical about the Warren’s is like being seriously skeptical about Santa Claus. The only people you’re going to piss off have the rational capacity of a child on Christmas Eve. You are essentially making plaster casts of the tooth prints in a carrot and dusting wrapping paper for prints. You festive ass hats.

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