horror movies “based on a true story”: The Conjuring (and Annabelle)

“Based on the true case files of the Warrens,” proclaims the tagline of “The Conjuring.”  The Warrens have been involved in a number of these “based on a true story” horror movies, including The Amityville Horror and The Haunting in Connecticut.

What is true:

  • Ed and Lorraine Warren investigated the haunting of the Perron family
  • They found a ghost named Bathsheba, who had been a practicing Satanist and sacrificed her daughter as part of a ritual, then later hung herself.
  • Carolyn Perron was possessed by the ghost of Bathsheba.
  • Doors in the house would bang shut and stick for no reason.  The girls had their hair and legs pulled at night.

What is not true:

  • The haunting did not end after the exorcism done by the Warrens.  The family asked the Warrens to leave because the supernatural events seemed worse when they were around, and the family continued to live with the ghosts for many years afterwards.

The verdict: While many of the scary details in the movie are made up, the essence of the story and some of the details of the haunting are quite accurate…. not surprising given the cooperation of the Warrens and the Perron family in the making of the film.


Bonus: Annabelle

This movie does not claim to be “based on a true story,” and is in fact mostly fiction.  Here is what is true:

  • A mother buys the Annabelle doll for her daughter, who is a nurse (this occurs at the end of the movie)
  • Annabelle was known to change positions in the house, and once had blood drips on her; she was also known to leave notes
  • During a seance a spirit claiming to be the ghost of a little girl named Annabelle said she felt safe with the nurse and her roommates and just wanted to be loved, which made her owners keep the doll
  • Help was first sought from a priest, who then referred the case to the Warrens
  • The Warrens determined that it was a demonic spirit in the doll, not a ghost
  • When the Warrens took the doll from the home, they experienced car trouble while transporting it (much like the priest in the movie when he tries to remove the doll)
  • A priest helping the Warrens with an exorcism picked up the doll and said something along the lines of, “You’re just a doll!” and threw it down.  After leaving, he was involved in a near-fatal car accident (likely ending up in the hospital, similar to the priest in the movie)
  • The doll is now locked in a glass case at the Warren’s museum.

What is not true:

  • The doll was not a collector’s doll but rather a large Raggedy Ann doll.
  • Anything that happened before the doll was bought at the collector’s shop.

The verdict: “Annabelle” is a fanciful imagining of how the doll came to be possessed by a demon, drawing heavily on horror favorites such as “Rosemary’s Baby” and “Helter Skelter.”  Personally I would have liked to see more about the real case involving the nurse and her roommates…


3 thoughts on “horror movies “based on a true story”: The Conjuring (and Annabelle)

  1. lasvegaslinny says:

    I used to live in Monroe, and heard the Warrens speak several times when Ed was still alive. They also conducted tours of their haunted museum room, but I never was brave enough to go. They were always very professional and almost humble about their chosen profession. But they always warned their audiences about the strange and frightening events that could happen if you sought the paranormal, and what they had seen over the years without glorifying it. Or maybe I should say Hollywooding it LOL. We’re talking more than 10 years ago now, but their shows were simple slide shows, which was scary enough when you heard the narrative. Hollywood has taught everyone to expect that over-the-top treatment. Real life doesn’t happen that way.

    Thanks for bringing back those memories!

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