Ed and Lorraine Warren, the real life “oldest ghost hunters in New England”, portrayed currently in film by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, respectively, are possibly the most famous paranormal investigators who have ever lived. If this kind of nonsense is your bag, baby, you’re probably some kind of occultist weirdo who’s still doing Austin Powers impressions. Oh, behave.
The stories this couple has generated are timeless, and that’s probably the most shagadellic part of this whole ordeal. Ed Warren died back in 2006–or did he? And his wife, Lorraine still lives on, as of this writing, at 89. But she was the one with all the super powers, anyway.
What’s not so groovy about these ghostbusters is that their actions and behavior were often very dangerous…putting undeniably false ideas into the minds of mentally unhinged individuals about demons and possessions, and ruining perceptions of loved ones who had passed on. Many of these occurrences had to do with children. Children who were either already dead, or part of some easily identifiable hoax perpetuated on behalf of the families, or the investigators themselves.
There’s also the possibility that Ed and Lorraine truly believed in what they were doing. And while it’s a long-shot, belief can go a long way, and perhaps the events they were a part of started to become “real” to them. While the Warrens’ work has been universally debunked by skeptics and scientists alike, there’s something about these metaphysical horror stories that get under our skin as a culture no matter how implausible they may be.
It’s all pseudo-science, to be sure, but the biggest downfall of Ed and Lorraine Warren, and others like them, is that they always try to provide concrete scientific evidence of their findings, or at least claim to possess such evidence. It’s never happened. So why claim to have proof? Paranormal investigators get frustrated, too, and because they don’t have any grasp on how actual scientific data is gathered, they believe “I can’t explain this” is evidence of “no explanation.” The key to ghost-stories is the story. Why even attempt to provide evidence of the metaphysical? Surely, even calling something paranormal implies that there is no explanation of these occurrences existent in our realm. So why bother trying to? Stick with the story. Leave out the parts that don’t work.
And that’s what they’ve done–to great success–with The Conjuring franchise and its Ed and Lorraine tall-tale spin-off, Annabelle…and soon, Annabelle 2.
I sorta loved the over-long, overly drawn out Conjuring movies, for what they were; despite the heavy reliance on jump-scares and the genre being beaten so far past death that they made a Conjuring movie about it. I thought the storytelling aspects were extremely interesting, and I was even more intrigued by the idea that the first film started out with a walk through the Warrens’ Occult “Museum”, showing little trinkets that would appear–or are yet to appear–in spin-off films. And again, reading about the actual stories these are based on isn’t demystifying–because I’m not some jabrone who believes in ghosts–but it does make everything a little underwhelming. The films rely heavily on not only the existence of ghosts, spirits, possessed dolls, demons, and Slendermen, but also on the notion that Catholicism is the one true faith. Why else would the supernatural creatures be effected by it?
Let’s go over a few of Ed and Lorraine Warren’s most famous cases.
The Amityville Horror was their most famous case, by far. Mostly because it was adapted into a 1977 book and god knows how many awful movies. The essential theme of the story was that the Lutz family were driven from their New York home by a violent demon. Lorraine was a vocal opponent of the claims that this whole ordeal was a hoax…even though the manufacturer of the story stated that the whole myth was concocted over many bottles of wine.
The Haunting in Connecticut was another film loosely based on one of the Warren investigations. This time, it was the Snedeker house, a former funeral home, that Ed and Lorraine found was absolutely crawling with demons. Yikes. This story was also covered by author Ray Garton who would grow to lament the decision due to the drug and alcohol-fueled conflicting accounts he received from the “victims”. Sensing a theme here? Why do sober people never see ghosts?
The Perron Family haunting is what inspired the film The Conjuring about a Rhode Island family whose home was cursed by a 19th century witch. At the time of the movie’s release, and the film makers’ insistence that the movie was based in reality, several reporters began covering this story as if it were actual information; which should not only call into question the journalistic integrity of USA Today, but also the apologies and reparations for the Salem Witch Trials. If witches are real, no harm, no foul.
The Enfield Poltergeist is a pretty interesting case, and may actually be worth reading about if you’re into that sort of thing, which I imagine you are, or you probably wouldn’t be reading this…unless you’re just waiting for more Austin Powers quotes. But that section is over. If you want the abridged version, or plan on seeing The Conjuring 2; the Hodgson family in North London was trying to find a reason to upgrade their council house and their children, particularly Janet Hodgson, were starved for attention in a poor, run down, religious family that may have also been potentially abusive. Janet pretended to be possessed by an old man that actually turned out to be…surprise…another demon. So many demons.
And finally, we get to Annabelle–the story of two roommates in 1970 who claimed their Raggedy Ann doll was possessed by the spirit of a little asshole named Annabelle Higgins. The Warrens took the doll and put it on display in their “Occult Museum” with a sign that said WARNING: Positively Do Not Open. That’s literally all that happened, but the photo of the doll (seen here) is so fucking nuts that it’s no wonder they creeped up the thing for the movie series. Annabelle falls in a long line of possessed doll cinema and legend, from Child’s Play to Toy Story 3.
89 year old Lorraine Warren is said to keep a similar sign in her purse at all times, accept hers reads Warning: Positively Do Not Resuscitate.