Last month, The Conjuring 2 hit our cinema screens, terrorising movie-goers and horror-aficionados alike.
The sequel to The Conjuring is a chillingly evocative movie which had come out in 2013. Haunted houses, ghostly apparitions, ghost busters… We’ve seen it all before right? Yet, The Conjuring franchise professes to be different from most of the other ghost stories out there.
This is because, in this case, the stories portrayed in the films are really and truly inspired by real-life events. Both movies, as well as their prequel Annabelle (2014), while presenting deliciously horrifying stories of possession and inexplicable phenomena, also follow the paranormal investigations of married couple Lorraine and Ed Warren, who in fact really existed and treated such cases in the 1950s through to the 1990s. Ed was a war veteran and a former police officer with self-taught knowledge of demonology who became an author and lecturer on the subject. His wife Lorraine was a self-professed medium and clairvoyant.
The two became notorious after they were among the first few to witness and study the paranormal phenomena infamously known as the Amityville Haunting, which had taken place in 1975, after Ronald DeFeo Jr shot and killed six of his family members in the suburban neighbourhood of Amityville on Rhode Island, New York. The house was sold a year later to the Lulz family, who ended up spending only 28 days on the property, fleeing for their lives after claiming that the house was haunted. This story inspired The Amityville Horror movie franchise.
Image: Amityville House
Ed and Lorraine claim to have investigated more than 4000 cases during their career. In 1952, they founded the New England Society for Psychic Research, where they not only trained other demonologists, but also documented and studied their own experiences with the occult. The Conjuring had been inspired by one such case, whereby the Warrens investigated another haunting on Rhode Island, this one pertaining to the Perren Family.
The Conjuring 2 is also inspired by another of the Warrens’ cases which had taken place in England. The movie Annabelle tackles the story of a supposedly haunted doll, which, as the film indeed portrays, ended up on display at the Warren’s Occult Museum, situated at the back of their house.
Image: The Warren’s Occult Museum
Other well-known cases linked to the Warrens include the trial of Arne Johnson, which was illustrated in the book The Devil in Connecticut and inspired the movie The Demon Murder Case (1983), as well as the events which happened to the Smurl family in Pennsylvania and which served as the basis of The Haunted (1991).
Needless to say, all of these cases and mysterious phenomena had caused an uproar not only in the media, but also in various fields of study. Many claimed that the Warrens were fake and that they played on the fears and imagination of already highly strung individuals for money and notoriety. Others still cannot explain the recorded proof and witnessed accounts provided.
Personally, I find such stories fascinating as they reveal different aspects of human nature, as well as showing us how not everything can be explained. Whether the Warrens are fake or not, I look forward to watching more movies based on their reported cases and books, even though, due to media sensationalism, these will obviously have been changed and twisted to appear more spectacular and appealing to the viewers.