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More Conjuring 2, the Warrens, and the Enfield Poltergeist – The Big Séance Podcast #55


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Lana and John of Carbon Lilies join me to discuss the questions many have brought up about the upcoming Conjuring 2 movie and whether Ed and Lorraine Warren were ever really involved in the case. 

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The Current Owner of The Conjuring House Speaks Out!

This evening I received a comment submitted by Norma Sutcliffe, the current owner of the house and farm that is depicted in the movie, The Conjuring. It is Norma’s house that is the main character and focus of Andrea Perron’s books that tell a lengthy and frightening decade-long story of hauntings. As I’ve mentioned before, the movie is not based on Andrea’s books. The Hollywood version is supposed to be based on the case files of Ed and Lorraine Warren, though I can tell you that the books, as exciting and descriptive as they are, don’t seem to have much to do with the movie. With that being said, I think I’ve made it clear on this blog that I love the books and the movie, though they’re completely separate identities in my eyes.

If you follow Andrea Perron or have been a fan of the movie, or even this blog, you probably already know that since the overwhelming success of the movie, Norma’s house and land has been consistently invaded, vandalized, and trespassed upon by inconsiderate and crazy fans of the movie and the story. I first learned about this when Andrea herself posted a video pleading for people to stop violating the privacy of Norma and her husband. This was back in late July of last summer.

On one of several posts I wrote about the first two books from Andrea’s trilogy (the third has yet to be released), House of Darkness House of Light, I posted a comment updating folks about the unfortunate events going on at the house.

I suppose I should make it clear that I do not know Norma, and have no real way of verifying that this is truly her, though I can’t think of why someone would parade around using her name and sharing this information, and I’m sorry if it’s insulting to even wonder. You just never know now days. Even so, the comment submitted by “Norma Sutcliffe” was in reference to my update on the house and is below:

The video that Norma references is embedded below. It is over an hour long and I watched (although “listened to” is probably more appropriate here) every second of it. Norma includes a ton of information based on her own research and makes a lot of claims. I have no way of knowing if this is all true, but thought it was definitely worth sharing to get your thoughts, and to simply share her side of the story. No doubt about it, her and her husband have gone through hell since the movie was released. In one of her comments in the video, she says “Our home has now been mocked, made a spectacle, and stigmatized forever.”

 

A Brief Summary of the Video

Here’s a brief summary with some of my thoughts, if you don’t have an hour to watch the video:

The video presents her points in 6 sections.

1. Research about claims made by the Perrons
2. History and research of the Warrens
3. History of the times and interesting facts and connections from the 50s to the 80s
4. Life during the assaults
5. Life before the movie
6. Past videos made in our home

Norma Sutcliffe maintains that they’ve experienced no paranormal activity in the nearly three decades of living in the home. Perhaps Norma’s biggest beef with Hollywood and the creators or The Conjuring is that they included personal and private information, including the name of the actual town, and the Perron family name. This easily led anyone to locate their farm. She claims that no one made them aware or warned them of any of this. The movie, she claims, is complete fiction and not based on reality. According to her, Andrea Perron was more involved in the movie than she claims. Norma says that Carolyn Perron made up much of the haunted history of the home, including details of suicides and the infamous Bathsheba. Apparently Andrea Perron had mentioned publicly, and I seem to recall hearing or seeing this myself, that the production company had been providing security for the Sutcliffes and was somehow assisting with all of the chaos. Norma denies that any of this was true.

Something interesting that I learned from the video that I didn’t realize, is that SyFy’s Ghost Hunters filmed an investigation there in 2005. At least at the time of this posting, you can view that video HERE. I remember seeing this early episode several times, but because they didn’t give many specific or private details, and because this was years before The Conjuring, I had no clue that I’d actually seen “The Conjuring House” in that episode. If you watch the Ghost Hunters episode, you’ll hear Norma kind of go along with the claims of the hauntings (which conflict with her views now), and in the end, even make the statement that she lives in a “bonafide haunted house.” She addresses some of those conflicting comments and interactions in her video below.

 

 

I’d love to know your thoughts. I’m a little torn between a movie and an author that I’ve loved and followed recently, and a couple that is clearly going through hell right now. I may follow this and keep you posted. 

 

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Did someone die in your house? Do you own “stigmatized” real estate? (Big Séance)

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An Evening With The Uninvited (1944)

Last night Meril and I were burrowing in blankets on a chilly and windy evening at home alone, as Joe is away for work this week. We decided to catch up on another film on my list of movies to check out this fall. The weather the last few evenings here in the St. Louis area could not have been more perfect for an old black and white spooky film, so we made hot beverages (well I did, anyway), lit several candles, and popped in the recently released 1944 film The Uninvited. The cast includes Ray Milland, Ruth Hussey, Donald Crisp, Cornelia Otis Skinner, Dorothy Stickney, Barbara Everest, Alan Napier, and Gail Russell.

When it was over, we went out for our bedtime walk. Not only was it bitterly cold, but the earlier rain and wind had turned many of the trees naked for the first time this season. The misty cloud cover in the moonlit sky created an eerie, muted, black and white scene. Our day was closing with quite the Hollywood ending, minus having to retire to a quiet and cold bedroom by ourselves. I resisted turning the heat on and imagined we lived in an earlier time, wishing we had an old fireplace to take the chill away.

 

Some of my brief thoughts about the film

Meril watching (or not) The Uninvited.

Meril watching (or not) The Uninvited.

It appears Meril missed quite a bit of it, but I loved the movie. In this DVD, released by The Criterion Collection, the film is completely remastered and presented in its original aspect ratio on widescreen televisions. For the few times I got lost in the plot, I was able to refer to the very informative booklet included with the DVD. It includes several pages (with photos) of an essay by critic Farran Smith Nehme and a 1997 interview with Lewis Allen, who was actually a first-time director for this film.

The special features include a “visual essay” by filmmaker Michael Almereyda, which discussed some of the details of the film, the people involved, etc. It was very detailed and interesting. One of the things he mentions is how Gail Russell, who plays Stella, was plucked out of high school by the studio for her beauty. She was horribly shy, not confident, and the stress and anxiety drove her to drinking at such a young age. It was the alcohol that killed her at the age of 36. Apparently it was a common opinion, even by the director, that she was a poor actor with a studio contract who they were stuck with. Since I found her performance to be beautiful, it all surprised me. I felt that Donald Crisp, who was a respected academy award-winning actor by this time, had a horrible performance. It is said that at the time he was insulted to have to work with such a newcomer with no talent and experience. With the exception of Crisp, I thought the cast was spectacular! But what do I know?

I also want to point out that this 1944 film did an excellent job on several scenes with incredibly spooky ectoplasmic ghost manifestations. I expected to laugh at dated effects, but they really held up and are actually quite beautiful and impressive for 1944.

The film includes an original song, Stella by Starlight, which in the plot is written by one of the main characters, and in real life was later arranged with lyrics and covered by many famous artists. Here’s an overly dramatic but beautiful orchestral version. It is definitely not this dramatic in the film.

 

 

A haunting bit of information regarding this song was shared in the special features. Apparently in 1961, Gail Russell was known to frequently call into a particular radio station and request to hear Stella by Starlight. It is rumored that the night before she was found dead (apparently alcohol related), she had called in for her traditional request. 

Like many of these old films that I like, if you require your spooky old movies to include the classic old house (a beautiful and massive one), having to use candles in place of electricity, a séance scene (which you KNOW I enjoyed), and some really fantastic ghostly moaning, then add this to your list for sure! Click HERE to see the original trailer for the film. 

 

Next up! This year’s pumpkins turn into Jack-O-Lanterns!

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The Conjuring Movie Review (Big Séance)

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Movies I Plan On Checking Out This Fall (2013)

In my last post, I listed the Top 10 Spooky Movies For Fall. After doing some research, I’ve come up with four classic spooky/fally movies that I haven’t seen but would like to see in the coming months. Tracking down at least one of these will be difficult, but I’m going to try. I hope to write a review for at least a few of them. 

Linked titles take you to IMDb. Photos take you to Amazon.com.

 

Session 9 (2001)

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Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Watch Trailer

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The Uninvited (1944)

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(...if I can find it.)

(…if I can find it.)

Dead of Night (1945)

Here’s a clip…

 


Top 10 Spooky Movies for Fall (2013 Version)

Well I held off for as long as I could stand it. Last year I posted this list a whole month earlier. It’s September. I have pumpkins. Just lit a candle. Just saw a witch flying in front of the moon in a meme on Facebook. I don’t care what you say it’s FALL! Alright let’s go.

 

In chronological order by release date. Linked titles take you to more info on the film. Photos take you to Amazon.com.

 

Psycho (1960)

There’s just something about a Hitchcock classic in black and white that gets me electrified for fall. And with the success and rise in popularity of A&E’s Bates Motel series starring Vera Farmiga (The Conjuring), the original Psycho has made it back onto the scene for lovers of this spooky genre. As a kid, I was obsessed with this movie… a movie most known for the screeching strings in the score that in my opinion forever changed film music, and that horrifying shower scene. I was known to refer to it as simply “Bates Motel”. If you haven’t seen it in a while, it’s time to dust this one off and give it a watch! Just be sure to shower BEFORE showtime! Watch the trailer.

 

The Innocents (1961)

I watched and fell in love with this film for the first time last year. The movie begins with a black screen and a creepy melody, “O Willow Waly”, which is sung a cappella by a young child. Much of the film is shot in beautiful outdoor garden-like settings, and the rest of the movie takes place in a beautiful large country estate. It really is beautiful to see on screen. And then, of course later, that same beauty creates the good old-fashioned spookiness that I love in a horror movie. No special effects needed. The storyline involves two children, their governess, and the ghosts of the former governess and valet who possess the children.

 

 

Carrie (1976)

This movie first played at screens just two years before I was born, but it was actually only like 6 years ago that I saw it. I’ve seen it many times since. The wonderful Sissy Spacek hasn’t aged a day since filming it. Also, at the time I had no idea that Betty Buckley (a Broadway star to me) was in the film. For many people, this was the first time they learned of a phenomenon called “telekinesis”. Carrie has an amazing film score that I think is really beautiful, but unfortunately it isn’t really accessible or recognized. The beautiful score from final scene that finishes with a surprise, is simply genius and is one of my favorite movie themes. Don’t waste your time with any of the remakes. They are horrible and just don’t even come close to the small budget original. Watch the trailer.

 

The Changeling (1980)

Like The Innocents, it was only last year that I saw this film for the first time. Starring the wonderful George C. Scott, it has that classic spooky movie feel that I always prefer. I very rarely enjoy all of the computer generated imagery (CGI) of modern-day films. I get a much bigger scare out of some good sound effects, an emotional score, an incredibly spooky setting, darkness, a ball bouncing down the steps, or a secret dusty room that has been untouched for decades. This movie has all of those things. Fitting right into the subject of this blog, The Changeling also includes a séance scene, and believe it or not… even some EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena). Watch the trailer.

 

The Watcher in the Woods (1980)

I first watched this Disney Pictures film when I was very young. Until recently, I sort of forgot about it, which is unfortunate. I was two years old when it was released, and I can’t believe I’m old enough to mention that it stars Bette Davis… but it does. I never understood why it was the Disney company that made this film, simply because it is so incredibly creepy! Don’t believe me? Watch it! I remember having nightmares about it. But it is such a good movie. From imdb: “When a normal American family moves into a beautiful old English house in a wooded area, strange, paranormal appearances befall them in this interesting twist to the well-known haunted-house tale. Their daughter Jan sees, and daughter Ellie hears, the voice of a young teenage girl who mysteriously disappeared during a total solar eclipse decades before…”

 

 

Hocus Pocus (1993)

Ohhhh my beloved Hocus Pocus. I’m finding that I’m far from being the only nerd that enjoys a tradition of watching this film every year. As a young teenager I loved it because it had all of the elements a spooky Halloween themed movie needed to have… witches, spells, graveyard, a black cat, and a cute main character. But of course, what makes this movie fabulous is the hilarious trio of Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy, and Bette Midler. It used to be on cable a lot more, but I try to catch it every time it’s offered. In fact, I think I’ll set the DVR now. Most of these movies are on my list because of the nostalgia that they bring, and this one brings back feelings of the excitement I’d get as a kid around Halloween. Watch the trailer.

 

Halloween H20 (1998)

The events taking place in this film, along with the year it was released, marks twenty years after the original. It is one of those nostalgic college movies for me. I used to be into these old slasher movies a lot more than I am now. Don’t get me wrong, if a Nightmare On Elm Street, Friday the 13th, or a Michael Myers (Halloween) marathon catches me on the right day in October, I just might get sucked in. But even though this is probably on many lists for being a really horrible movie, it is my favorite of the Michael Myers films, with the possible exception of the original Halloween, which I haven’t seen in a long time. It is the Halloween movies that has forever changed the meaning of  The Chordettes’ Mr. Sandman for me. And of course, there is the unforgettable classic Halloween theme. Watch the trailer.

 

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

People often make fun of me for loving this movie. It is a movie I have often watched late on Halloween night by myself after the trick-or-treaters fizzle out. I’m not sure why, because this movie doesn’t exactly scream “HALLOWEEN”, but ah well. I think the improvised faux reality style in which it was made was ground breaking and shocking. Several films have used this technique since. If you’re not familiar with this movie or the way it was filmed, it might be worth checking out its wikipedia page. Then again, that might ruin it for you. Watch it first and then check out the page. Though a lot of people complained about getting nauseous in the theaters due to the amateur shaky film footage, I think they’re whiners! Watch the trailer.

 

What Lies Beneath (2000)

Again, college nostalgia for me. I was lucky enough to have HBO in my apartment back then, and this was shown a LOT for a year or two. It’s just a creepy movie with some pretty intense spirit communication, including a funny scene with a Ouija board. Right up my alley. Plus, who could forget the amazing bath tub scene? I’ve never personally had one of those “lounge in a tub” kind of bath tubs, but when I see one I immediately think of this scene. Sadly, this is one of those movies that is becoming hard to find unless you own the DVD. I do not.

 

  

 

The Others (2001)

The last movie on our list tries to give us a glimpse into what happens when we die and what it might be like. That, of course, is probably not how Hollywood describes it, but that’s the question that is pondered and brought up so many times in this blog and in other paranormal circles. Again, like most the movies from this list, it has all of the spooky elements to it. Creepy old house, creepy children giggling, lots of darkness, and a séance scene that includes some automatic writing. And then… the creepy old woman… with the little girl’s voice! I thought this was a very well-made movie.

 

 

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The Conjuring movie review

First of all, if you are a fan of this genre of film, YOU MUST SEE THIS MOVIE! You WILL see this movie! (Although… some of you may want to see an afternoon matinee so that when you leave the theater you can go to a park, watch the bunny rabbits play, and soak in the last hours of sunlight before you’re home checking rooms and corners.)

Okay, now that I have that out of my system, we can get to the review and the details. Last night I attended an advanced screening of the much anticipated film, The Conjuring, starring Patrick Wilson (Insidious, Evening), Vera Farmiga (A&E’s Bates Motel), Ron Livingston (The Odd Life of Timothy Green), and Lili Taylor (The Haunting, HBO’s Six Feet Under, and TV’s Hemlock Grove). The film is directed by James Wan (Saw, Insidious), is rated R, and opens in the United States on July 19, 2013.

There are multiple reasons why I’ve been so excited to see this film, but one of them has to do with the fact that the screenplay for The Conjuring (written by Chad and Carey Hayes) is based on the case files from actual events involving the Perron family in Harrisville, Rhode Island in 1971. These files are from two of America’s earliest, most experienced, and most loved paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by Wilson and Farmiga). Outside of the paranormal circle, this married paranormal team will be most remembered for their involvement in the real events of the Amityville haunting that later spawned a book and movie. Many of the people more intimately involved in the field know this duo to be paranormal rock stars.  But the events depicted in this film happened before Amityville and before this rock-star status.

Even though the film is told from the perspective of the Warrens, there is a tormented family in this story as well (as is common in the haunting genre) … the Perrons. Livingston and Taylor take on the roles of real life Roger and Carolyn Perron who struggle to keep their five daughters safe and protected from the horrors going on in their secluded country house (built in 1736) which has an incredibly dark history. Many of the ads, trailers, and TV spots for the movie have been playing up the fact that this case might not be known to you because it was just too disturbing for you to know and was kept quiet for almost 40 years. But now the world is ready … or so the ads say.

It is my understanding that after Andrea Perron, one of the daughters, wrote two volumes about the experiences in 2011 entitled House of Darkness House of Light, it drew more attention to the story. The movie is not based on this book, but as I mentioned earlier, the screenplay is based on the Warrens’ case files. As far as I’ve read, the family and Lorraine (Ed Warren passed away in 2006) seem to approve of the film and are fully behind the events depicted in it. In a YouTube video where Andrea reviews the upcoming film, she states “I expected something entirely different. I expected Hollywood to do what Hollywood does, and yet in some ways this is a very quiet and studious film. You would never know that from the trailers, but that’s their job… to entice an audience. It’s also about the love of a family. It’s also about people who came to help, who felt that this was the most significant and compelling, and dark and disturbing story that they had ever heard in the course of a fifty year career.” She also mentions that the film “truly captured what we endured.”

According to the production notes (a lengthy but fascinating read that can be downloaded from the movie site), Lorraine Warren, who is looking good and in her 80s, is quoted as saying “When I walked inside, I immediately knew it was haunted. There’s a feeling that comes over you, almost like a veil, it draws your energy because the entity needs it in order to manifest; the only way to get that energy is from you. It was really heavy in that house and being on the set brought all that back. It was uncanny. I’m very fond of James. He wanted to get everything right, and I’m excited about the film.” According to the Warrens, this case was the “most intense, compelling, disturbing and significant investigation.”

I found the film incredibly spooky and satisfying, and in a way felt like I was watching something that was released from a time capsule. You really do feel as if you’re watching events from 1971. I don’t have the film production vocabulary to accurately describe it, but the whole thing was shot in a stylistically retro way. Even the design of the ads and the title seem very period. Along the same lines, I’m a huge fan of minimal special effects and computer generated imagery in horror films, and I feel like this had to have been a goal of the production team. Instead, for the most part they used sound, dark corners, squeaky doors, and a really good makeup team… just like the old days. It made the whole thing way more believable, and spookier, in my opinion. The last film from this genre that I saw do this so well was The Woman In Black. But before I move onto the next paragraph, let me be very clear. Like me, you may be fascinated with the history and story, and it is truly a great film, but… This. Film. Is. Scary.

I’m going to avoid busting out spoilers, but the acting in this film was spectacular. Lili Taylor for sure had what must have been some incredibly difficult scenes to film. In the production notes she has some interesting things to say about preparing for her character and blowing her vocal cords. I love Patrick Wilson (who doesn’t?) and Vera Farmiga earned my respect after being hooked on the first season of Bates Motel this year. In such an uncomfortable story, seeing the very loving and beautiful relationship and camaraderie between Ed and Lorraine made me very comfortable when I needed it.

A few interesting bits of information about the production. James Wan decided to film The Conjuring in chronological order. I don’t know why this always makes me happy to hear, but it just makes sense to me. Also, as with many famous films of this type, according to production notes there were apparently several strangely paranormal incidents that happened to various individuals involved in the production of the film, including incidents involving Lorraine Warren and the Perron family members visiting the set.  

Now before you run off to buy your tickets (and remember, it doesn’t open for a few days), let’s stop for a minute and discuss the ads and trailers. Don’t try to pretend like the television spots with the two claps and the sharp tug of the leg in bed didn’t horrify you. And if you think those were the only two scary parts that were thrown away for advertising, think again. I find it interesting that in only one of the three main movie trailers do they even introduce us to perhaps the two main characters, Ed and Lorraine Warren. The other two are your typical “family in a haunted house” trailers, although in the third trailer they made an interesting decision to add commentary from the real Perron family members. So depending on what trailer you saw, you may have been expecting a slightly different movie. The shorter TV spots have had a mix of all of the trailers and include the Warrens.

Thank you for visiting the Big Séance! Check out the trailers below and make sure to go see The Conjuring! (Leave the bunnies at the park.)

 

 

Related Articles:

The Conjuring and its True Story (rhinews.wordpress.com)

‘The Conjuring’ commercials are freaking me out! (Entertainment Weekly)

 


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