I saw “The Conjuring” recently and thought it was a solid horror movie. It’s the story of a “true” haunting in Harrisville, RI, in the early 1970’s that was investigated by Ed and Lorraine Warren, of Amityville Horror fame. The movie was suspenseful and actually scary – something not all modern horror movies can achieve. However, I did have an issue with one part of the story: the central theme of the demon, who was the descendent of a witch who was hung at Salem.
The story is that of the Perron family, who had moved into a 14-room farmhouse. The family, parents with five daughters, experienced doors slamming, blood oozing, demonic voices and bodily possession. The mother was psychically attacked and only a non-church sanctioned exorcism stopped this possession. (The family claims that was the end of the Warren’s investigation but hauntings still continued.) Shortly after the family moved into the house, the Warrens heard about the haunting from a local paranormal society. They showed up at the door one day and Lorraine immediately sensed a demon named Bathsheba who was entrenched in the home. Through research, it was discovered that a Bathsheba Sherman had lived in the house in the early 1800’s. This Ms. Sherman was a Satanist who had killed her daughter as a sacrifice to the Devil. She eventually hanged herself. This placed a curse on any future tenants of the property. As a result, there were more suicides, a drowning and many accidents. One of the real daughters in this terrorized family, Andrea Perron, wrote a trilogy of her time living in the house, called “House of Darkness House of Light.”
We are led to understand “The Conjuring” is a true story based on real events. It has been stated that the film is based on the Warren’s files and not the family’s experience. The movie explains that the demon was a devil-worshipping witch in Salem and dialogue suggests all witches are demonic. In my investigations of the Salem witchcraft deaths, I’ve concluded that the Salem witches were (1) teenagers who craved attention, (2) neighbors who pitted themselves against one another (one example is the case of Rebecca Nurse: After she admonished neighbor Benjamin Houlton for allowing his pig in her garden, he died, so she was put on trial as a witch), and (3) there was a fungus, ergot, which grew on rye, wheat and other grains at that time that was consumed in Salem and is now proven to cause muscle spasms, vomiting, delusions and hallucinations.
The movie proposes that the demon was a Salem witch, Bathsheba, who escaped the witch trials but ended up sacrificing a child to the devil. There was no one named Bathsheba who was accused of witchcraft in Salem. However, the Bathsheba the Warrens refer to was a real person. She was born Bathsheba Thayer in 1812 and married Judson Sherman in Connecticut in 1844. The Salem witch trials occurred between 1692 and 1693. Therefore, this Bathsheba could not have been a Salem witch. I could not find evidence if she was descendent from an accused Salem witch. Of course, I understand creative license is taken in writing a movie and this may be the case.
A couple of years ago I met Lorraine Warren at a Halloween dinner held at a catering hall in Connecticut. She had done this dinner for a few years and it was very entertaining. She spoke about her and her husband’s most famous and confounding cases, showed films of possessions, pictures of ghosts caught on tape, objects moving by themselves, etc. She signed books and took pictures with everyone and was very informative, enthusiastic and gracious. It was hard to believe, looking at her, that this elegant woman went head to head with demons and possessions.
The real Annabelle doll
Nowadays, Lorraine Warren hosts an evening held partly at her home in Connecticut several times a month. The event consists of her entertaining the intimate crowd with true, ghostly tales, a walk through the local cemetery (and visit to Ed’s grave), tour of the famous haunted room in her home that houses demonic and haunted objects from their many cases around the world (the Annabelle doll is there) and dinner at an Italian restaurant. This event is always sold out, so if you’d like to go, keep checking her website, http://www.warrens.net/ for additional dates. This year there will also be a Halloween lecture at a local high school, to be held on October 18. See the website above for info.
Toward the end of “The Conjuring” a telephone call and future case on Long Island is alluded to, and that likely means that if “The Conjuring” does well in the box office (and as of yesterday it has made $136,002,840), there may be a second Warren movie about The Amityville Horror. I look forward to it.