Archive for the ‘Fact Or Fiction?’ Category

4. THE EVIL DEAD

Released in 1981, The Evil Dead narrates the horrifying story of five college students vacationing in an isolated cabin in a wooded area. Their vacation becomes gruesome when they find an audiotape that releases evil spirits. The low-budget slasher movie was very well-received by critics and successful at the box office, and a cult following has emerged in recent years.

Because of its graphic violence and terror, The Evil Dead is banned in several countries, including Finland, Germany, Iceland and Ireland. Perhaps the most disturbing scene is when a young woman is raped by a tree possessed by an evil spirit. This scene in particular has been heavily criticized for being perverse and misogynistic, despite the film’s overall critical success. Graphic scenes of dismemberment are also shown, as well as various torture scenes.

3. CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST

Cannibal Holocaust is an Italian horror film that is banned to this day in over fifty countries. Upon it’s release, director Ruggero Deodata was arrested and charged with murder, after rumors suggested Cannibal Holocaust was a snuff film, though he was later cleared of all charges. The movie was filmed in the Amazon rainforest and features real members of indigenous tribes.

The plot consists of the search for a documentary film crew who had gone to film indigenous tribes and been missing for two months. A second team sent on a rescue mission recovers their lost cans of film and learns their fate. Seven animals were killed in the making of the film. An example includes a scene where a squirrel monkey was decapitated, and tribe members proceed to devour its brain. Cannibal Holocaust also involved scenes of graphic murder, including impalement of several characters. It is regarded as one of the most sickening and graphic films in existence.

2. THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE

Upon its 1974 release, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was banned outright in many countries, and numerous cinemas stopped showing the film after receiving complaints about the nature of extreme violence. The film was marketed as a true story to attract a wider audience, though the plot is entirely fictional. In reality the film was inspired by the crimes of notorious serial killer, Ed Gein, who famously collected tokens from his victims, such as nipples, skin masks and heads, and kept them in his house.

The film revolves around five friends visiting their Grandpa’s old house, who are systematically chased down and murdered by a masked chainsaw-wielding killer and his family of cannibals. Despite the film’s initial poor critical reception at the time of its release, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre became the highest grossing independent film of all time, for a short time. It is widely considered as one of the most influential horror movies in cinema history, and a pioneer in the “slasher” genre. The movie established power tools as a popular murder weapon in horror flicks, and also a killer depicted as large, burly, and faceless.

1. THE EXORCIST

The Exorcist was released theatrically in 1973. The film has since had an overwhelming effect on popular culture and has been described by some as the scariest horror movie of all time. It is also one of the highest grossing movies of all time, earning $441million worldwide. The Exorcist was banned in many individual towns and countries for being horrifyingly scary, and in some cases for religious reasons. The film affected many audiences so strongly that, at many theaters, paramedics were called to treat people who fainted and others who went into hysterics. In the UK, The Exorcist wasn’t available until 1990, when it passed the British Board of Film Censorship (BBFC) with an 18 rating.
The Exorcist tells the story of a young girl who becomes possessed by a demon. The events surrounding the girl’s behavior and subsequent exorcism make up the main plot line. Unlike other items on this list, excessive violence is not a contributing factor to its banned status. The Exorcist is a psychological thriller and uses a clever plot and even subliminal messaging to terrify audiences.

Fact Check: Are These Horror Films Really "Based On Actual Events"?

The Strangers (2008)

What they claimed was real: The movie is centered around a young couple staying in a remote vacation cabin in the woods. But their night is interrupted when a pack of strangers with doll masks decide to invade their home and murder the unsuspecting couple. The trailer for this film stated that The Strangers was “Inspired By True Events.”

The Facts: When asked about these “true events,” the movie’s writer/director Bryan Bertino elaborated in the production notes:

Bertino remembers, That part of the story came to me from a childhood memory. As a kid, I lived in a house on a street in the middle of nowhere. One night, while our parents were out, somebody knocked on the front door and my little sister answered it. At the door were some people asking for somebody that didn’t live there. We later found out that these people were knocking on doors in the area and, if no one was home, breaking into the houses. In The Strangers, the fact that someone is at home does not deter the people who’ve knocked on the front door; it’s the reverse.

So he could have just said, “No it’s not based on true events at all.”

Verdict: Not Real.

The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)

What they claimed was real: The film is loosely based on a real court case, held after a German woman named Anneliese Michel died after exorcism rites. Of course, in the movie, the young woman who died—now called Emily Rose—was really possessed, and the implication in saying the movie is “based on a true story” is that the possession could have been real. The film focuses on the trial with the exorcism shown in flashbacks, with six demons—including the ones who possessed Cain, Judas Iscariot, and Nero—possessing Emily. Rather than end her suffering, Emily chooses to live in order to be living proof of the existence of God and the devil, but her possession causes her to continue to harm herself and not eat, eventually leading to her death. The priest who performed the exorcism is convicted of negligent homicide, but the judge agrees to a sentence of time served.

Fact Check: Are These Horror Films Really "Based On Actual Events"?

The Facts: The real story of Anneliese Michel is a rather sad one. She was a deeply religious girl living in Bavaria when, at age 16, she suffered a severe convulsion and was diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy. She was admitted to a psychiatric hospital to treat her seizures, but the treatments didn’t alleviate her symptoms and she began suffering from hallucinations. With the treatments not working, Michel began to attribute her symptoms to demonic possession, and she and her family eventually requested an exorcism. The priests they sought out refused, insisting that she was epileptic, not possessed, at least until 1975, when a bishop permitted Arnold Renz to perform an exorcism. Michel went through 67 exorcism sessions over ten months and talked about dying to atone for the wayward youth and false priests of the modern church. She eventually died of malnutrition and dehydration. The priests Ernst Alt and Arnold Renz were charged with negligent homicide and, at trial, they claimed that (like the fictional Emily Rose) Michel was possessed by six demons—including Adolf Hitler, Judas Iscariot, and Nero. The priests were convicted of manslaughter, but they received a relatively light sentence—six months in jail (which was suspended) and three months probation. Later, a Vatican commission declared that Michel had been mentally ill and not possessed, but her grave still attracts pilgrims who believe that she was truly possessed.

The Verdict: The movie does take many details from Michel case, including claims that Alt and Renz made during trial. But this is likely just a tragic case of a young woman who suffered a neurological illness and suffered in her search for a spiritual solution.

The Haunting in Connecticut (2009)

What they claimed was real: The movie’s marketers claimed that it was based on paranormal activities experienced by the Snedeker family in their Southington, Connecticut home. In the film, a family moves into a house in Connecticut near where one of the children is receiving cancer treatments. The family discovers that the house used to be a funeral home, but decide to ignore the house’s macabre history—and least until the weirdness starts. Matt, the boy receiving cancer treatments, begins having visions of a ghost and so do his parents. Matt eventually learns about necromantic rites once practiced in the house, which led to the death of Jonah, who served as a medium during seances. The house, it turns out, is haunted by the spirits of the people whose corpses were hidden in the walls by the necromancer. The ghost of the medium possesses Matt in order to burn the corpses, freeing the spirits. The house burns down and Matt’s cancer disappears.

Fact Check: Are These Horror Films Really "Based On Actual Events"?

Alleged Real Connecticut Home via National Paranormal Association.

The Facts: Even Lorraine Warren, one of the supposed clairvoyants who worked on the case, said the movie was only loosely based on the actual investigation—and she told media outlets that she was kind of annoyed that people thought the movie version of the story was true. Of course, she insists that the house actually was haunted, but Ray Garton, who wrote In a Dark Place: The Story of a True Haunting, the 1992 book about the case, says the whole thing was a fraud. In an interview with Damned Connecticut, Garton claimed that Ed Warren, Lorraine’s wife and business partner, told him, “All the people who come to us are crazy, that’s why they come to us. Just use what you can and make the rest up. You write scary books, right? Well, make it up and make it scary. That’s why we hired you.” Garton insisted that the Snedekers couldn’t keep their stories straight and that he was barely allowed to speak to their son, around whom the story was supposed to be based. When he did talk to the boy, he told Garton that the things he thought he saw in the house went away after he had been medicated.

The Verdict: Well, the Snedekers did live in a former funeral home in Connecticut, but other than that, this isn’t a true story. The movie is very loosely based on a set of stories likely invented by the Snedekers and the Warrens and cleaned up by Garton for print.

Fact Check: Are These Horror Films Really "Based On Actual Events"?

The Amityville Horror (1979)

What they claimed was real: The movie (based on Jay Anson’s 1977 book The Amityville Horror: A True Story) was supposed to be based on the real experiences George and Kathy Lutz. In the film, the house is blessed by a Catholic priest, but the priest has trouble blessing the house and becomes gravely ill, eventually losing his faith. The family experiences a series of paranormal events, like seeing red eyes glowing in the dark, the discovery of a secret room, ooze coming out of the walls, and nightmares about a family who was killed in the home. The Lutzes eventually learn that the house was built on a tribal burial ground and was once home to a devil worshipper.

The Facts: A year before the Lutz family moved into their home in Amityville, New York, it was the site of a brutal murder. Ronald DeFeo, Jr. had shot and killed six members of his family there. And many of the supposed paranormal phenomena in the film are described in Anson’s book: the glowing eyes, the nightmares, the ooze, the secret room. In the book, a priest (Father Ralph J. Pecoraro, called “Father Mancuso”) blesses the house, and hears a voice telling him to get out.

However, the book itself was probably fabricated. William Weber, the defense attorney for Ronald DeFeo, Jr., told People Magazine in 1979 that he and the Lutzes created the story “over many bottles of wine.”

The Verdict: While the events in the film do come largely from the story that the Lutzes told Jay Anson, the story itself was probably invented by Weber and the Lutzes to cash in on the DeFeo tragedy.

The Mothman Prophecies (2002)

What they claimed was real: Richard Gere plays a journalist who heads to Point Pleasant, West Virginia to investigate the sightings of the Mothman, a.k.a. the same figure his fictional character’s wife sees before dying. The movie alleges that this is all based on real events. There, Gere’s character winds up in a crazy time loop trying to uncover this creature and stop an unknown catastrophic event from happening, which is where the prophecies come in.

Fact Check: Are These Horror Films Really "Based On Actual Events"?EXPAND

Image via Flickr.

The Facts: Point Pleasant, West Virginia is, in fact, a real place. There’s even a Mothman statue in the town. And yes, there are lots of great tall tales about some sort of Mothman that date all they way back to the ’60s. 1966 to 1967 had a super high amount of Mothman sightings, so much so that it inspired author John Keel to head down there and write a book about all the events, a book that this movie was loosely based on. Keel even claims that he was contacted by an unknown entity by phone (which happens in the movie as well). And yes, there was a tragic accident on the Ohio River that resulted in the deaths of a few Mothman witnesses that Keel had interviewed. Keel attested that he was being warned about this accident, although he didn’t know it was going to happen there and in that manner.

Verdict: Like Bigfoot, the Mothman is legend. He is a fun local fable, but sadly his existence cannot be proven. And unfortunately, The Mothman Prophecies takes too many liberties to be considered real. So no, this movie does not get a pass. But we’ll continue to hold out hope for spotting the next Mothman.

Remember that horrifying doll from the 2013 haunted house flick The Conjuring? Well, she’s baaaack — this time as the star of the movie. According to Deadline, The Conjuring is getting a spin-off film titled Annabelle, which will be released in theaters on October 3. The film, which is neither a sequel nor a prequel, will center on that awful doll from the original movie, and is guaranteed to make you shove all of your childhood toys in the back of your closet. No other plot details for Annabelle have been released yet, but one question that comes to mind is whether Annabelle will also claim to be based on a true story, just as the original film does.

The Conjuring is allegedly based on a true story, but how true that true story is depends on whether or not you believe in ghosts. The film follows the Perron family as they move into a home on Rhode Island, which, within about two hours, is revealed to be super haunted. The Perron family calls upon Ed and Lorraine Warren, two paranormal investigators who make it their mission to rid the house of the demonic spirits.

During the film, we see the Warren’s collection of paranormal “trophies,” which includes the terrifying doll, Annabelle. Though Annabelle was redesigned for the film, the doll is a real item that was collected from one of the Warrens’ cases. According to History Vs. Hollywood, a nursing student named Donna came into possession of the doll after it was given to her by her mother. Soon Donna and her roommate, Angie, began noticing that the doll had moved positions around the room on its own. A friend, Lou, who was staying with the women claimed that the doll had tried to strangle him in the middle of the night and gave him visible scratch marks. Soon, the girls started finding notes around the house that said “Help me.” Naturally, this was terrifying, so Donna and Angie decided to take the doll to a medium to fix the problem.

The medium told the girls that the doll was possessed with the spirit of a little girl named Annabelle, who died on the field where their apartment complex was built. She also told Donna and Angie that the girl just wanted to be safe with them and that she wouldn’t mean any harm. They agreed to let ghost doll Annabelle chill with them.

Umm, big mistake.

Lou kept having terrible nightmares about Annabelle attacking him and choking him in his sleep — obviously, he was concerned. When he started seeing random claw marks appearing on his chest, he was downright terrified. Donna and Angie called the Warrens, who realized that it wasn’t the ghost of the little girl in their apartment — it was a demon posing as the ghost girl, so that it could eventually capture Donna’s soul.

The allegedly true story of Annabelle is perfect for a horror movie, and most likely will be the story that the new film uses. It’s certainly horrifying enough — I’m currently in a very brightly lit room, typing this article, and I’m still freaked out. I’ll certainly buy a ticket to see Annabelle when it hits theaters this October which lucky for me I will be in Orlando visiting for 2weeks for Halloween Horror Nights 24 — though don’t blame me if I’m watching it through my hands.

Oh, and if you’re curious about where the real Annabelle is today, you can make a trip to visit the doll… if you dare. She resides at the Warrens’ Occult Museum and is credited with the death of one of the museum’s visitors, who, according to the museum’s website, allegedly got into a motorcycle accident on the way home after taunting the doll. I’m thinking about skipping that field trip.

Annabelle hits theaters October 3.

 

There are mysteries that are so eerie and strange that they boggle the mind for days on end. The case of Elisa Lam is one of them. In February 2013, this 21-year-old student from Vancouver, Canada, was found dead inside the Cecil Hotel’s rooftop water tank in Los Angeles. The L.A. County Department of Coroner ruled the death “accidental due to drowning” and said no traces of drugs or alcohol were found during the autopsy. However, there is much more to the story than what is implied by police reports. The first piece of evidence that needs to be considered is an elevator surveillance tape that recorded Elisa’s behavior only a few moments before she lost her life.

The four-minute video posted on YouTube shows Elisa pressing all of the elevator buttons and waiting for it to move. Seeing that the elevator doors are not closing, starts behaving extremely bizarrely. Here’s the video.

At first, Elisa enters the elevator and apparently presses all of its buttons. She then waits for something to happen but, for some reason, the elevator door doesn’t shut. She starts to look around, as if she is expecting (or hiding from) someone. At 1:57, her arms and hands start moving in a very strange matter (almost not human) as she appears to be talking to someone, something … or nothing at all. She then walks away. The elevator door then shuts and appears to start working again.

Right after the events of the video, Elisa apparently gained access to the rooftop of the hotel, climbed to its water tank and, somehow, ended up drowning in it. Her body was found two weeks after her death, after hotel guests complained about the water’s taste and color. Incredible.

Seeing the surveillance footage, most people would conclude that she was under the influence of drugs. However, Elisa did not have a history of drug use and her autopsy concluded that no drugs were involved. When one looks at the context and the circumstances of this death, things become even more mysterious.

Cecil Hotel’s Dark History

Built in the 1920s to cater to “businessmen to come into town and spend a night or two”, Cecil Hotel was quickly upstaged by more glamorous hotels. Located near the infamous Skid Row area, the hotel began renting rooms on a long-term basis for cheap prices, a policy that attracted a shiftier crowd. The hotel’s reputation quickly went from “shifty” to “morbid” when it became notorious for numerous suicides and murders, as well as lodging famous serial killers.

“Part of its sordid history, involves two serial killers,  Richard Ramirez and Jack Unterweger.

Now on death row, Ramirez, labeled “the Nightstalker”, was living at the Cecil Hotel in 1985, in a top floor room.  He was charged 14 dollars a night.  In a building filled with transients, he remained unnoticed as he stalked and killed his 13 female victims. Richard Schave, said “He was dumping his bloody clothes in the Dumpster, at the end of his evening and returned via the back entrance.”

Jack Unterweger, was a journalist covering crime in Los Angeles for an Austrian magazine in 1991.  “We believe he was living at the Cecil Hotel in homage to Ramirez,” Schave said.

He is blamed with killing three prostitutes in Los Angeles, while being a guest at the Cecil.

In the 50’s and 60’s the Cecil was known as a place that people would go to jump out of one of the hotel’s windows to commit suicide.

Helen Gurnee, in her 50s, leaped from a seventh floor window, landing on the Cecil Hotel marquee, on October 22, 1954.

Julia Moore jumped from her eighth floor room window, on February 11, 1962.

Pauline Otton, 27, jumped from a ninth floor window after an argument with her estranged husband, on October 12, 1962.  Otton landed on George Gianinni, 65, who was walking on the side walk, 90 feet below. Both were killed instantly.

There was also a murder of one of the residents.  “Pigeon Goldie” Osgood, a retired telephone operator, known for protecting and feeding pigeons in a nearby park, was found dead in his ransacked room on June 4, 1964.  He had been stabbed, strangled, and raped.  The crime still remains unsolved.”

Elisa Lam’s case is yet another sordid addition to the hotel’s history and can lead us to ask: “What the hell is wrong with that place”?

Another Strange Coincidence

Shortly after the discovery of Elisa Lam’s body, a deadly outbreak of tuberculosis occurred in Skid Row, near Cecil Hotel. You probably won’t believe the name of the test kit used in these kinds of situations: LAM-ELISA. That is hardcore synchronicity.

No Foul Play?

LA authorities ruled in June 2013 that Elisa Lam’s death was accidental and that she was “probably bi-polar”. That being said, some questions remain unanswered. How did Elisa, who was obviously not in her right mind, end up in the hotel’s water tank, an area that is difficult to access? Here’s a news report describing the water tank area.

 

Courtesy of http://vigilantcitizen.com

Skinwalker Ranch, also known as Sherman Ranch, is a property located on approximately 480 acres (1.9 km2) southeast of Ballard, Utah that is allegedly the site of paranormal and UFO-related activities. Its name is taken from the skin-walker of Native American legend.

Claims about the ranch first appeared in the Salt Lake City, Utah Deseret News,and later in the alternative weekly Las Vegas Mercury as a series of articles by journalist George Knapp. These early stories detailed the claims that a family that had recently purchased and occupied the property only to experience an array of inexplicable and frightening events.

Knapp and co-author Colm Kelleher subsequently authored a book in which they describe the ranch being acquired by the National Institute for Discovery Science (NIDSci) to study anecdotal sightings of UFOs, bigfoot-like creatures, crop circles, glowing orbs and poltergeist activity reported by its former owners.

The ranch, located in west Uintah County bordering the Ute Indian Reservation, was popularly dubbed the “UFO ranch” due to its ostensible 50-year history of odd events said to have taken place there. Knapp and Kelleher cite the 1974 book The Utah UFO Display: A Scientist’s Report by Frank Salisbury and Joseph “Junior” Hicks, which details an earlier investigation into alleged UFO sightings in the Uintah County region, as partial confirmation of their account. According to Kelleher and Knapp, they saw or investigated evidence of close to 100 incidents that include vanishing and mutilated cattle, sightings of unidentified flying objects or orbs, large animals with piercing yellow eyes that they say were not injured when struck by bullets, and invisible objects emitting destructive magnetic fields. Among those involved were retired Army Colonel John B. Alexander who characterized the NIDSci effort as an attempt to get hard data using a “standard scientific approach”.However, the investigators admitted to “difficulty obtaining evidence consistent with scientific publication.” Cattle mutilations have been part of the folklore of the surrounding area for decades, but NIDSci founder Robert Bigelow’s purchase of the ranch and investigation funding was reportedly the result of his being convinced by stories of mutilations that included tales of strange lights and unusual impressions made in grass and soil told by the family of former ranch owner Terry Sherman.

In 1996, skeptic James Randi awarded Bigelow a Pigasus Award for funding purchase of the property for what he termed a “useless study” of “a ‘haunted ranch’ in Utah”.

A film, titled Skinwalker Ranch, was released in 2013, and is very loosely based on the folklore behind the ranch.

Halloween is still six weeks away, but someone dressed as a clown has already been roaming the streets of Northampton, England and scaring everyone.

The man, whose appearance many liken to the clown Pennywise from Stephen King’s IT,  was first spotted on Friday the 13th, slowly roaming through the city streets. “He doesn’t juggle. He doesn’t twist balloons into animal shapes. He just stares,” the Northampton Herald & Post explains. The photo of him that has been widely circulated on the internet shows the white-faced, red-haired clown doing just that —staring. Another time he was spotted in the company of a forlorn looking clown-faced teddy bear.

While the Northampton Clown keeps his identity hidden behind face paint, he is very active on social media. He started a Facebook, which has since racked up nearly 50,000 subscribers, and he posts frequently, correcting facts, and protecting his reputation. For example, when a recent YouTube video showing a man being interviewed in clown mufti made waves, he took to his Facebook page to deny it. He has also started a flurry of activity on Twitter under the #northamptonclown hashtag.

While the mystery of who is wearing the clown makeup has not been solved, his Facebook page sheds some light on his mission: “I don’t terrorise people,” he wrote. “I just want to be spotted.” The Northampton Clown may have drawn on a sad face when he added, “If what i am doing does get too much for people, I will have to stop.”

The Northampton Clown must have had a change of heart (and face paint) when he later added: “For those of you with phobias and fears, you don’t have to like and comment on this page. See you around soon :) ” Perhaps even more ominously, he also wrote, “So glad there’s a picture from last night. I didn’t wear my clown shoes as they’ve got holes in them from all the drains i’ve been climbing into…”