Recently opened up this weekend is the new James Wan ghost-haunting picture The Conjuring. In the film, paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren investigate a family’s farmhouse and discover a terrifying entity. The Conjuring stars Vera Farmiga (from Orphan) as Lorraine Warren and Patrick Wilson (from Wan’s other spook thriller Insidious) as Ed Warren, her husband. Ed and Lorraine Warren were real people who did some real-life conjuring back in the day. They also have connections to other “haunting” films, like The Amityville Horror and The Haunting in Connecticut.
Ed and Lorraine Warren – Ghost Hunters
Ed and Lorraine were married during WW2. Early on, they took an interest in haunted houses. In 1952, the couple founded the New England Society for Psychic Research, now considered the oldest ghost hunting group in the area. They also opened up an occult museum and are said to have investigated over 10,000 hauntings. Ed, a WW2 veteran, was a noted demonologist and author. His wife Lorraine is a clairvoyant and light trance medium.
On March 6, 1976, the Warrens investigated the house at 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, along with some local TV and radio people. Even though the Stephen Kaplan (another paranormal investigator) called the case a hoax, the Warrens disagreed. Their investigation resulted in a photo of a spirit in the guise of a boy. Amityville was apparently such a bad place that it’s the only haunted site that Lorraine won’t revisit:
“Amityville was horrible, honey. It was absolutely horrible. It followed us right straight across the country. I don’t even like to talk about it. I will never go in the Amityville house ever again. You don’t know how long my career is; that’s the only one.”
The Demon Murder Trial
In 1980, Ed and Lorraine Warren investigated the demonic possession of 11 year old David Glatzel, who claimed he had been visited by “a man with big black eyes, a thin face with animal features and jagged teeth, pointed ears, horns and hoofs.” He growled and spoke in strange voices, and would suddenly begin reciting passages from the Bible or from Milton’s Paradise Lost. Lorraine later said that he “made numerous references to murder and stabbings.” The Warrens determined that Glatzel was possessed by 43 demons and needed several exorcisms.
Arne Johnson, the fiancee of David’s sister, supposedly taunted the demons during the exorcism, saying stuff like “Take me on, take me on instead of him.” On February 16, 1981, Arne Johnson stabbed his landlord, who died hours later. . At his trial, Johnson tried to plead not guilty by reason of demonic possession, but was unsuccessful. He spent 5 years in jail for manslaughter. This case is talked about in the book The Devil in Connecticut. There was also a TV movie called The Demon Murder Case on NBC.
Jack and Janet Smurl of West Pittston, Pennsylvania claimed that their house had a demon in it between the years of 1974 and 1989. This claim was investigated by a string of demonologists, skeptics, priests, and psychologists, including the Warrens. In 1986, the couple was brought in, and Ed Warren stated that the demon was real and powerful, shaking furniture, causing temperature drops, and manifesting itself as some kind of “dark mass.” The incidents at the Smurl home inspired the 1991 TV movie The Haunted.
Haunting in Connecticut
The movie The Haunting in Connecticut is based on the Snedeker family, who rented a home in 1986 that had once been a funeral parlor. Eventually the whole family would be abused by demons, leading them to contact the Warrens for help. The couple hired Ray Garton to write a story about the house in the book In A Dark Place: The Story of a True Haunting. But each member of the Snedekers couldn’t keep their stories straight, according to the author, and he: “used what I could, made up the rest, and tried to make it as scary as I could.”
As for The Conjuring, that’s based on an investigation by the Warrens into the home of a family of 7 people (the Perron family) in Harrisville that are hunted by multiple spirits, including a witch.
Our Review of The Conjuring
Ed Warren passed away on August 23, 2006. When once asked if he feared death, Ed Warren replied “No, not one iota, I know I’ll be going to a beautiful place, a place so spectacular it defies words.”
The Demonologist: The Extraordinary Career of Ed and Lorraine Warren
Conversations With Ed and Lorraine Warren
The Devil in Connecticut
Ghost Tracks: What history, science, and fifty years of field research have revealed about ghosts, evil, and life after death
House of Darkness House of Light: The True Story Volume One
Ghost Hunters: True Stories from the World’s Most Famous Demonologists
Yahoo! – Lorraine Warren On the Haunted House She Won’’t Revisit
Live Science – The Real Story Behind ‘The Haunting in Connecticut’
People – Will (Demonic) Possession Prove Nine-Tenths of the Law?
Wikipedia – Ed and Lorraine Warren