Welcome to Behind the Screams! In this article, we will be taking a look at the true stories that inspired some of our favorite horror films. Each month, we will dive into the stories behind these films and see that, sometimes, the truth is far more horrifying than fiction.
It should be no surprise to anyone who has read this column that I am not a fan of Ed and Lorraine Warren. Whenever I read one of their “true” accounts or watch a film based on their “investigations”, I start a-hootin’ and hollerin’. My wife begs me to stop, but I can’t. She leaves with the kids, but the rage burns on. It’s okay, though. Loneliness has always been a friend of mine.
These charlatans have made up some great stories, sure, but their lies and exaggerations have also caused a lot of harm to the paranormal community. They have added their two cents to some truly incredible examples of paranormal phenomena, and movies like The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2, Annabelle, and The Nun are exceptionally fun. Back in 2009, another of their “stories” showed up on the silver screen in the guise of The Haunting in Connecticut.
“When you compare the film to the book, it’s a great adaptation. [But] the whole story is a monstrous exaggeration.”
Directed by Peter Cornwell and starring Virginia Madsen and Kyle Gallner, The Haunting in Connecticut claims to be “Based on the True Events” of a haunting documented by Ray Garton in his 1992 book In a Dark Place: The Story of a True Haunting. If you look this book up on the Google machine, you might notice that there are two other authors included on the cover. That’s right, it’s my nemeses Ed and Lorraine Warren. You see, even though Ray wrote the book, they inserted themselves in there to snag a few dollars from the royalty pot.
As for the book itself, it’s absolutely fantastic. It follows the story of the Snedeker family (the name was changed to Campbell for the film) who move from New York to Connecticut to be closer to the UCONN hospital where their oldest son Philip (Matt in the movie) is undergoing cancer treatments. They rent a spacious home in the town of Southington, Connecticut, where parnormal happenings start taking place. Philip starts seeing apparitions, and the family experiences some light poltergeist activity.
When you compare the film to the book, it’s a great adaptation. When you compare the book to what happened in reality, though, the whole story is a monstrous exaggeration.
Unfortunately for anyone who believes in truth and honor, this is where the Warrens got involved. They were invited by Mrs. Snedeker to investigate the home, and, boy, did they ever.
Demonic Butt Stuff
The home, which used to be a mortuary in decades past, was a creepy old building with trap doors, coffin lifts, and morgue instrument. There’s no doubt in my mind that something paranormal was going on in there, especially with the stresses of teenage cancer and financial ruin hanging over everyone’s head. As we have learned in this column and others, pubescent stress and extreme emotions have been known to be triggers for poltergeist activity, like it was in for the family in Enfield represented in The Conjuring 2.
When the Warrens showed up, however, it became just another money-making scheme for them. As you may know, Ed Warren never met a paranormal disturbance that wasn’t caused by demonic forces only he could fight. The same thing happened here. They decided that the only way to truly experience what was happening was to stay in the house and have Lorraine use her powers as a medium to contact its previous owners.
What they found during their investigation was nothing short of outstanding. Not only was the home a mortuary, but the men who worked with the bodies were committing acts of necrophilia and necromancy! *GASP* This filled the home with demonic hooligans who, according to the Snedekers in the book, continuously raped and sodomized them in their sleep. After finding his desired demonic boogeyman, Ed performed an exorcism and cleaned the house for good.
“As you may know, Ed Warren never met a paranormal disturbance that wasn’t caused by demonic forces only he could fight.”
The film also tells a good little story about how the previous owners of the home were using necromancy to bind the spirits of the recently deceased to a boy named Jonah, who was a medium. This evil magic would “amplify” the signal made by the spirits, allowing for true communication to occur between Jonah and the family’s paying customers. That is, until one fateful séance where things got out of control, and Jonah manifested a cloud of ectoplasm that exploded and killed his necromancer master. This released the spirits from their bindings and sent them after Jonah, where they killed him in a fire.
Fortunately for the Snedekers’ butts and the innocent bodies of the dead, none of this really happened.
As we’ve discussed, there absolutely was something happening in that house. Some thing, originating from the emotional trauma being felt by the home’s occupants, was bending and warping the fabric of reality. It was causing shapes and figures to be visible, dishes to move on their own, and for lights to turn on without the aid of a lightbulb.
This is fascinating and extraordinary on its own, but the story we see in The Haunting in Connecticut does not accurately portray the true events. What we see makes for a damn fine book and an entertaining horror film, but it’s another example of how the Warrens’ exaggerations for financial gain destroys the trust anyone might have in the paranormal community.
According to the Snedeker’s landlady, the family lived there for two whole years before moving on. I don’t know about you, but if demons were doing stuff to my booty every night, it would take me exactly one night to move out. No one before or since has noticed any paranormal happenings (much like the home in Amityville).
The most damning evidence comes from In a Dark Place’s author, Ray Garton. Having written a few horror novels beforehand, he was hired by the Warrens to work with the Snedekers to develop the book. After publication, he fully distanced himself from the validity of the story, while also giving us an all-time great quote about his writing process:
I found that the accounts of the individual Snedekers didn’t quite mesh. They couldn’t keep their stories straight. I went to Ed with this problem. ‘Oh, they’re crazy,’ he said . . . . ‘You’ve got some of the story – just use what works and make the rest up . . . . Just make it up and make it scary.’
So, he did. He incorporated a true haunting into a story he had already brewing in his mind, creating a fantastic tale of horror. He made it as scary as possible and gave us the basis for the surprisingly good 2009 film. Let’s be honest, this particular true story might have made for a decent YouTube video, but Hollywood needed the gory fabrications to make their film pop. Someday, someone will make an accurate film about the paranormal, but for that to happen, we’ll have to get as far away from Ed and Lorraine Warren’s work as humanly possible.
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