Seven Horrific Hauntings Based on True Events
"Based on true events..." "Inspired by a true story..." However you phrase it, one key word always manages to make horror more horrific: true. Sit back and relax as we take a look at some movies based upon the strange, bizarre, and weird.
Sure, much horror carrying the "true story" tag is only loosely based on actual events. Just think of how many extremely different envisionings of the Ed Gein story there are. Everything from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre to The Silence of the Lambs and hundreds in-between trace their roots to that twisted Wisconsin deviant. But there's just something about knowing even a modicum of the heinous tale unfolding on the screen before your eyes is true that makes it that much more chilling.
Now, say your film is not only based on a true story, but one which involves supernatural, unexplainable events. Now you're really onto something. Everyone loves a good ghost story. Nothing gets the skin crawling faster than a haunted house. With the release of The Apparition on Friday, August 24, we've decided to look back at some of the best films based on actual hauntings and supernatural events. So sit back, strap in and prepare to look back on some horrific hauntings… based on true events!
The Haunting in Connecticut (2009)
One of the more recent haunted house films based on actual reports, The Haunting in Connecticut tells a very interesting story. The film is based on the story of Carmen Snedeker and her family, who were in the market for a home closer to the University of Connecticut's Heath Center, where Carmen's son was being treated for cancer. The house they settled upon turned out to have a very sordid past. The film goes into some of the history of the house, but not everything.
In the true story the family found mortuary equipment in the basement and realized they were living in a former funeral home. Now, stop right there… there has to be some kind of real estate ethics rule that says you've got to disclose the fact to a potential buyer that the former owner of a home had dead bodies on ice 24/7, right? Anyway, if that wasn't bad enough, it turns out the owners of the mortuary were involved in necromancy (you can almost live with that one) and necrophilia (that's where I've gotta draw the line). And the room where the Snedeker children were sleeping was once the coffin showroom. Yikes.
The film did have some intense moments, but the true strength of it may have been the questions as to where the haunting visions were coming from. Was it indeed a supernatural occurrence, or were they schizophrenic hallucinations. By embracing the questions as to the legitimacy of the events, the filmmakers actually ended up with a better movie, delivering a unique version of the traditional ghost story we've become accustomed to.
The Entity (1981)
The Entity is based on the story of Doris Bither. This is a sad story, paranormal involvement or not. On August 22, 1974, a paranormal investigation was opened on Bither and her family at 11547 Braddock Drive, Culver City, California. By the time the investigation was launched, the house was a dump, having been condemned by the city twice, and Bither herself was a disaster, covered in bruises. She had four children she was living with, a 6-year-old daughter and three sons, ages 10, 13 and 16, with whom she had a volatile relationship. Bither claimed the house was haunted, and the children, as well as other individuals outside the home, corroborated her story.
Bither informed the investigators that not only were spirits inhabiting her home, they were abusing her, physically and sexually. Now, Bither had a history of abuse by her parents and several men throughout her life, as well as a pretty rip-roaring case of alcoholism that may have contributed to the fact that she was experiencing such extreme visions. However, investigators were able to document some paranormal activity, the obligatory orbs et al, as well as a greenish, coiling mist which apparently formed the shape of a muscular man's torso. Unfortunately, nothing but the orbs and a light arc were captured on film.
The Entity follows the story of Carla Moran, who is based on Bither. Barbara Hershey plays the role, which does include the history of abuse but doesn't get into some of the other dark places in Bither's life. The Entity, however, does feature the spectral rape of which Bither claimed she was a victim. Certainly a unique and disturbing ghost story.
An American Haunting (2005)
Although it took a pounding by critics and audience members alike, and crapped the bed at the box office, An American Haunting definitely belongs on this list. The film is based on the book The Bell Witch: An American Haunting by Brent Monahan.
The Bell Witch legend revolves around the Bell family of Adams, Tennessee, and it's one of the most widely recognized cases of American poltergeist activity. The Bell Witch legend was also among the inspirations for The Blair Witch Project. In the late 1800's the Bell family reported paranormal experiences. The incidents started with noises in the walls but grew to include strange sounds and people experiencing the sensation of being pinched, slapped, objects being thrown and the spirit (apparently named Kate) loudly cursing the family.
Most of the activity occurred around Betsy Bell, the family's youngest daughter and apparently worsened after she became engaged to Joshua Gardner. Debunkers of the legend contest that a local schoolteacher, Richard Powell, jealous of Betsy's fiancé, was responsible for the haunting, trying to scare Gardner away so he could have Betsy to himself. Now that's romantic.
An American Haunting is centered around the Bell Witch legend but has a tie-in to modern times that involves a troubled girl and sexual abuse that was perpetrated upon her and (according to the film) Betsy Bell as well. In this case the film certainly gets a bit more brutal than the legend.