Film Theory: The TRUE STORY of The Conjuring Horror Movies - What REALLY Happened?

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Oct 25, 2018


Film Theory: The TRUE STORY of The Conjuring Horror Movies - What REALLY Happened?
Film Theory: The TRUE STORY of The Conjuring Horror Movies - What REALLY Happened? thumb Film Theory: The TRUE STORY of The Conjuring Horror Movies - What REALLY Happened? thumb Film Theory: The TRUE STORY of The Conjuring Horror Movies - What REALLY Happened? thumb


  • Growling, Evil Laughter
  • Demonic Voices
  • *clap*
  • Film Theory
  • Hello internet
  • Welcome to Film Theory
  • The show that believes we have nothing to fear...
  • But fear itself. -Franklin D Roosevelt
  • Well, that and
  • DEMON-itization
  • *Evil MatPat Laugh* MUAHAHAHAHA
  • Now, as anyone whose ever watched me play a horror game can tell you
  • I'm a pretty big scaredy cat
  • but here's the thing
  • I'll get startled for a moment, but it's pretty rare that horror movies stick with me
  • and keep me from getting sleep at night
  • because 99% of the time, i could just rationalize that it's a movie
  • Sure, great white sharks
  • or genetically mutated great white sharks
  • or prehistoric super great white sharks are scary in the moment
  • but their movies are works of complete fiction.
  • And while you certainly got some slasher movies based on real life serial killers
  • I deal with psychotic people all the time
  • My job is on the internet after all.
  • Ba doom *shing*
  • No, what's really un-nerving to me
  • Is that little voice in the back of your head
  • That says "supernatural phenomena might actually be true"
  • Which is why The Conjuring movies tend to be so terrifying
  • because not only are these films well-shot, psychological horror pieces,
  • but because they claim to be retellings of real events
  • If you're not familiar, The Conjuring universe includes: two main series titles about haunted houses and demonic possessions,
  • Two Annabelle movies about a doll that's haunted because, I mean, just look at the thing
  • and now The Nun, which is about a demonic nun whose eyes seem to indicate an advanced case of jaundice.
  • While the truth about the Annabelle movie should be taken with a grain of salt,
  • and The Nun should be taken with like a Kilo of salt,
  • The Conjuring and its sequel are actually pretty interesting.
  • You see Ed and Lorraine Warren, the main characters, are the real names of the real ghost hunters who claim
  • these are real cases where these things really happened.
  • And that got me thinking about two things:
  • Number one: that I don't have nearly enough Holy Water in my house,
  • And number two: just how true are these ghost stories
  • I mean, these movies are creepy as all get-out, and you're telling me they're real?
  • How worried do I actually need to be?
  • Are they real in so far as Ed and Lorraine claimed these to be true stories?
  • or are they actually supported by real evidence? Are they "true" stories or are they true "stories"?
  • So today not only do I want to explore how real The Conjuring gets,
  • but also how true a story needs to be for it to claim that it's based on a true story
  • So turn off the lights and don't turn around to see that shadow crawling up behind you.
  • Because today, we're looking for the scariest thing of all this halloween:
  • *old film camera rolling*
  • *Modulated MatPat voice*: New England, 1970's
  • The Perrin family moves into a non-descript farm house
  • only to start experiencing strange noises and smells.
  • Carolyn, the mother, reports that she's being attacked by some sort of female demon.
  • Enter Ed and Lorraine Warren: ghost hunters,
  • Who determined the evil presence to be a witch named Bathsheba.
  • An old crone who once lived in the house,
  • sacrificed her week-old child to the devil,
  • then killed herself in 1863.
  • Carolyn becomes possessed by Bathsheba, the Warrens perform an exorcism
  • and the spirit is driven out.
  • Post-ExorcismMatPat: This is the story of the first conjuring, but how much of that is real?
  • Well for starters, Ed and Lorraine Warren were really the top demonologists and medium duo of the era.
  • Can't really imagine how many people were actively competing with them for that title...
  • But regardless, they had a laundry list of famous paranormal investigations under their belts,
  • including ones that inspired movies not in The Conjuring franchise like The Amityville Horror and A Haunting in Connecticut.
  • One of those cases was indeed a spirit named Bathsheba haunting the Perrin family
  • whose names weren't changed for the film.
  • In interviews Andrea Perrin, the oldest child, did say that the movie captured the essence of what they were going through.
  • She's been upfront about witnessing her mother's exorcism and has gone on record to say
  • "I thought I was going to pass out."
  • "My mother began to speak a language not of this world in a voice not her own."
  • "Her chair levitated and she was thrown across the room."
  • "Whoever the spirit was, she perceived herself to be a mistress of the house and she resented the competition my mother posed for that position."
  • The father, Roger, had similar things to say:
  • Now, of course. Those are just interviews.
  • It's easy enough for people to lie.
  • The Bathsheba bit, on the other hand, gives us something to work with.
  • According to Andrea Perrin:
  • This is where fact and fiction get tough to distinguish
  • I did some more digging and in the area where the Perrin family lived there definitely was a woman named Bathsheba
  • Sherman who lived there in the mid 19th century
  • but it doesn't appear that she lived in the same house as the parents and there's
  • Definitely no hard evidence that she was a witch
  • It appears that three out of her four children died young
  • But this was also a time when agitated babies were prescribed gin and opium to help them calm down
  • So suffice it to say that losing a few kids in the 1800s wasn't exactly proof of witchcraft
  • Apparently the rumors of Bathsheba's witchcraft started when an infant mysteriously died in her care killed by a
  • large sewing needle that was impaled into the base of the skull
  • but there are no records of any charges against Bathsheba that actually stuck it's
  • Unclear how seriously people took these rumors considering she was buried in the town cemetery next to the graves of her children
  • Which doesn't seem like something a Christian community would do for someone who was thought to be a Satanist
  • That said for Lorraine Warren to walk into the house and come up with the name
  • Bathsheba is interesting and awfully specific until you consider that the Warrens were brought on to the case in the first place by a local
  • Paranormal group meaning that they very well could have been fed the local legend before meeting the parents
  • so overall the people the place in the details of the haunting appear to be real even if the actual
  • Ghosts in witches might not be you would expect the sequels and spin-offs of the conjuring to have much less basis in real events
  • But that doesn't seem to be the case. The conjuring 2 is based off the Enfield poltergeist case in England in the 1970s
  • Which again the Warren's investigated in this one Janet Hodgson the second oldest of four children
  • Finds herself possessed by the spirit of an elderly man, Bill Wilkins, who states that he wants to reclaim his home
  • Jannetty, you all right?
  • *Voice of Bill Wilkins* My name is Bill Wilkins
  • and I'm 72 years old.
  • And unlike in the first conjuring that isn't just a scene from the movie
  • but real life. The BBC made a documentary about the alleged haunting and
  • Investigators have lots of audio of 11 year old Janet Hodgson sounding more like a hundred year old coal miner who smokes like a chimney
  • Is anybody there?
  • Knock Knock
  • it takes a while but listen long enough and she eventually
  • Identifies herself as an old man named Bill Wilkins who died of a brain hemorrhage in a very specific chair in the house
  • This is a nice story made up by the kid, right?
  • well
  • maybe
  • until you consider that Bill Wilkin's son Terry listened to the recordings and identified the voice as
  • Sounding very much, like his father's and that the cause and place of the death were correct
  • And if that wasn't creepy enough the events that caused the Warrens to get involved in the first place are pretty irrefutable.
  • In both the movie and in real life
  • a police woman gets called to the Hodgson home in the 70s and says that she saw chairs sliding across the floor
  • Going so far as to sign an official affidavit to say as much. Most of the time these ghost stories
  • It's the family who has something to gain by lying
  • It's hard to say how a third party police officer called in to investigate
  • would benefit from doing something like that. Over a period of the next 18 months more than 30 people
  • including neighbors, psychic researchers, and journalists said that they saw heavy furniture moving on its own accord and
  • objects being thrown across the room. Now if you'll excuse me
  • I'm just gonna turn all the lights on in the house and grab myself a crucifix or five. And
  • that's gonna be a big heaping helping a nope. No, no, no, no no. When it comes to Annabelle and Annabelle creation
  • these movies are based on a real spooky doll that the Warrens investigated before the events of the conjuring movies.
  • According to the demonologist,
  • a book that chronicled cases taken by Ed and Lorraine Warren, the Annabelle doll had been a gift but began to move on its own,
  • leave written notes and move objects around the room.
  • The doll itself is even under glass at the Warrens occult Museum in Connecticut's still haunts to this very day
  • Multiple visitors who've broken the warning of "don't touch the glass" and taunted the doll have had horrific traffic
  • accidents happen to them as they drive home. But don't worry that draught you feel going up your spine isn't from the doll,
  • it's from the cold hard rejection the local news guy gets when he asks his co-anchor to go see the doll with him.
  • Maybe next time you can go to the museum with me and we can, ah
  • No, absolutely not.
  • You sure?
  • There isn't enough money in the world
  • That is one cold shoulder.
  • Now it's pretty clear that the one thing all these movies have in common. Is that the way that their stories resolve themselves isn't quite reality.
  • The parents apparently continue to live in their farmhouse with spirits in the basement for over a decade
  • Janet's possession by Bill Wilkins was investigated countless times with the ultimate conclusion being that the whole Enfield poltergeist
  • was a combination of some simple furniture pranks and girls talented in ventriloquism
  • Real-life doesn't wrap up into neat little packages the way the movies do.
  • But the facts of the cases the people involved and the events described even if they were hoaxes are all mostly what happened.
  • So at this point, here's my question. Is that enough to call these true stories?
  • I mean we have explicit laws in place that outright prevent false advertising
  • Is there a threshold for how much truth has to be in a work of fiction before you can call it true or at the
  • very least based on a true story?
  • Well, let's consider a couple of cases another horror movie "The Strangers" also claimed to be inspired by true events
  • The story is about three masked home intruders who show up at a house and proceeded to torture the family there for no reason.
  • And what was the truth behind that one?
  • That the screenwriter once got a knock on his door from some stranger's who were committing robberies in the neighborhood
  • That's it
  • And then there's the opening text from the Blair Witch Project and Fargo.
  • Two movies that flat out state that the events that you're about to see are either real or recreations of what really happened.
  • So what were the true stories behind both of those two films?
  • Nothing, nada, zip, bupkis. Both of those stories were entirely made up.
  • The movies said they were real and they totally got away with it
  • Although it should be mentioned that tons of people were fooled into thinking that the Blair Witch Project was completely true
  • Ahh, the 90s when people assumed that what they saw on the Internet was real. Oh wait, they still do that today.
  • So how movie is able to get away with this? Well, most advertising statutes in the U.S.
  • are regulated by the Federal Trade Commission
  • But most of those rules are predicated on ensuring that products don't make misleading health claims or
  • misrepresent what the consumer is gonna
  • tangibly receive
  • Movies don't apply to either of those. Even if they did the Federal Trade Commission doesn't do that great of a job of enforcing these statues.
  • Like say when Apple was advertising their iPhone 3G as twice as fast, half the price
  • but neither of those things were true. When people sued for the ads being misleading
  • Apple's response was shocked that consumers would actually believe their claims.
  • Quote "Plaintiff's claims are barred by the fact that the alleged
  • deceptive statements were such that no reasonable person in Plaintiff's position could have reasonably relied on or
  • misunderstood Apple's statements as claims of fact"
  • Yep
  • There was no way I could have misconstrued those giant words in all caps as being factual statements about your new product
  • In an episode about poltergeists and hauntings. I swear the scariest thing in it is corporate greed
  • So anyway movies can say they're true, completely lie, and be ignored by the law
  • But here's the twist... movies that are only partially true are actually much more vulnerable to lawsuits
  • This is mostly because fictional characters and their fictional families can't sue you
  • but the real people you portray in your film just might.
  • For example in the Denzel Washington biopic, "The Hurricane"
  • in which a championship boxing contender is wrongfully convicted of murder
  • Washington's character
  • Hurricane Carter, fights another boxer named Joey Giardello
  • In the movie, Hurricane Carter beats up Giardello, but loses the fight because the judges were prejudiced against him because he was black
  • This didn't sit very well with the real Joey Giardello who was still alive and litigious when the movie came out in 1999.
  • He sued the makers of the movie for portraying him as
  • incompetent and damaging his legacy, with the judge from the fight calling the film's depiction of Giardello as ludicrous
  • he reached a settlement with the producers out of court and
  • lo and behold the DVD commentary includes the director outright saying that Giardello was no doubt a great fighter.
  • Even the Conjuring franchise has gotten into some hot legal water not because of how true the movies were or weren't but because the author of the demonologist
  • Gerald Brittle owned the rights to the Warren stories. He sued Warner Brothers for nearly a billion dollars
  • citing copyright infringement.
  • So how did WB get out of the lawsuit? By claiming fair use of the plots given that they were based on historical fact
  • In other words Warner Brothers legal case rested on the stories of ghosts, possessions and haunted dolls to be so true
  • They could not legally be
  • copyrighted and best of all they won. (How Shocking)
  • Which tells us two pretty shocking things first that legally you're in a better position to make up total BS and
  • Then call it the truth in your marketing
  • then you are to just base your story on true events and run the risk of someone suing you and 2. in the eyes
  • of the criminal justice system
  • ghosts, witches and demonic possessions are all in the realm of historical fact.
  • But hey, that's just a theory,
  • a spooky theory and
  • Make sure you subscribe for more scary theories about ghosts goblins
  • Disturbing YouTube videos and worst of all the depravity businesses will go to you... FOR MONEY
  • Speaking of subscribing remember when did you know movies was the show on the channel?
  • Well Shane who's the producer of that series is off on his own channel now normal boots along with a lot of my other friends
  • in the Creator space
  • So if you love that series or if you just want to revisit some of the classic episodes or if you're looking for a quality
  • Retro gaming channel. It's still going on over there
  • So make sure you head on over and subscribe tell him bill wilkins has sent ya and happy early Halloween
  • I'll try to fit in one more scary theory before the month's out

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The Conjuring, like many horror movies, claims to be based on "true events". I wanted to know, how TRUE are these movies? I talking names and dates - REAL sources. Theorists, today were are going to see if these ghost stories have ANY TRUTH to them at all!

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