Friday, October 5, 2012


 ~by Marie Robinson

You've seen this line plastered over almost any exorcism movie, "Based on true events". I've decided to highlight a few tales that inspired some terrifying (or terrible, it's all subjective) films!

AN AMERICAN HAUNTING (2005) ~Courtney Solomon

You may or may not have seen this one; I remember seeing the standee for it at the theatre and being excited. Silly me, I always get excited for exorcist films, but am almost always disappointed...  Anyway, this film, as you can see by the poster is based on a "true" story; in reality, it is based on a legend and some supernatural events that may or may not have happened.

In both the film and real life, a family from Tennessee called the Bells were haunted by a witch. Beginning in 1817 on a farm inhabited by John and Lucy Bell and their nine children, the family noticed some strange activity about the place. Children were getting their hair pulled, stones were being hurled across the property by an unseen hand, and even little Elizabeth was slapped. A neighbor began an investigation in the house, and upon his arrival the activity immediately worsened. It was discovered that the activity was focused around daughter Elizabeth. On one occasion she even vomited brass pins.

Things progressed to stones being hurled at the windows and the other children, and some visitors to the house would receive a welcoming slap from the poltergeist. Perhaps the strangest thing to happen was a voice that appeared from nowhere and curse and talk a lot of shit. It claimed to be numerous people, but admitted to being a neighbor woman named Kate Bates who happened to have a grudge against the Bells.

Kate then took an interest in the father, John, and began to make him ill--swelling up his tongue so that he couldn't eat. He died in 1820 from poison that was allegedly fed to him by the ghost. After his death the poltergeist activity stopped, but the Bell Witch is still said to haunt the area.

The movie actually does stick with the legend pretty well, which was originally recorded in a diary by one of the Bell's sons. One of the theories around the strange phenomenon is that Elizabeth was experiencing puberty at the time of the haunting, and it was believe she attracted the negative, supernatural attention because of it (it actually is a common theory in parapsychology). People also thought that her father perhaps had been sexually abusing her and this caused a lot of sexual tension and frustration within the household.

Whether you believe the legend, liked the movie, or thought it was all bullshit, you have to admit it is a good, creepy story.

THE AMITYVILLE HORROR (1979) ~ Stuart Rosenberg

There are many versions of this tale, there is the book version, published in 1977 by Jay Anson, the 1979 film version directed by Stuart Rosenberg, the 2005 film version directed by Andrew Douglas and starring the godawful Ryan Reynolds, and then there's, of course, the "real" version.

What is most definitely true is that a family was murdered in 1974 on 112 Ocean Avenue in New York. The killer was Ronald DeFeo and the victims were his mother, his father, and his four siblings, all killed with gun shots. DeFeo claimed that he heard the voices of his family members tormenting him and was driven mad.

The house sat on the market at bargain price for a year before anyone bought it and the lucky new owners became Kathleen and George Lutz and their three children. However, they only lasted a month in the house before fleeing from an alleged haunting, which traits included the walls oozing, doors slamming, and odors appearing out of nowhere.

Jay Anson wrote a "non-fiction" book about the haunting but nowadays it is widely believed that the whole thing was a hoax. The people who lived in the house after the Lutz's had no complaints or mysterious happenings and the Lutz's probably just made it all up to get super-fucking famous. Well, they got what they wanted!


Now don't get mad at me, but I am going to count this guy as three movies in one.

The infamous Ed Gein, also known as The Mad Butcher or the Plainfield Ghoul, has been a pretty big inspiration in the horror world. A man from Wisconsin, Ed Gein is known for his violent and bizarre acts. He was convicted for the murder of Bernice Warden in 1957, who was found in his shed headless, field-dressed, and upside down and later confessed to killing a woman in 1954 named Mary Hogan.

When the police investigated his house after the arrest they hit the jackpot of horrible shit. There were precisely nine masks made out of human skin, a lampshade made from a human face, chairs upholstered with human skin, bowls made out of skulls, a belt made from nipples (I doubt anyone can pull that off), and ten women's heads with the tops sawed off. Remind you of someone? This information lead to the inspiration of Leatherface and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (1974).

Gein also had some big ole mommy issues. He was an avid body snatcher and made an estimated 40 visits to local graveyard to dig up recently buried bodies--more specifically, the bodies of middle-aged women who he thought to resemble his mother. Hence he also became the inspiration for Norman Bates (Christine, I hope this doesn't ruin you and Norman's relationship) from Hitchcock's 1960 classic "Psycho'.

When he brought the bodies home he removed the skin and tanned it. After his beloved mother died, it dawned on Gein that he wanted to become a women, thus he started making suits out of the dead women's skin so that he could wear them and pass as a woman. He wore the suits around his house and this, of course, led to the inspiration of the Jame Gumb--or, Buffalo Bill--character in Thomas Harris' 1988 novel "The Silence of the Lambs", later to be made into a beloved film (1991).

So there you have it, the "true" stories! Not as true as they make it seem, it's up to you to decide, which is more interesting (or horrifying), fact or fiction?

*Editor's note:  Marie, there is nothing that could tear me from my Norman! 


Dr Blood said...

"they hit the jackpot of horrible shit"

Best phrase ever! :D

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