Tag Archives: the conjuring 2

211 – Sisters of Evil: The Real Horror Stories Behind The Nun

YouTube had to pull the trailer because of the jump scare at the end, so consider yourself warned!

Nuns, they can be scary when they’re not evil! Rapping knuckles, washing mouths out with soap, the outfits and the stern looks are nightmare fuel for millions of Catholic schoolchildren. But when they’re creepy, that’s a whole different level of scary nun.

 The Nun is the latest film in the series that began with The Conjuring in 2013. Who would have thought that Ed and Lorraine Warren would get their own cinematic universe? This new movie fleshes out the terrifying sister that was stalking Lorraine in the second film starting at the house from The Amityville Horror and haunting them all the way to England. While the new film The Nun is entirely fictional, the did base the evil nun demon’s name, Valak, on a real source and it’s origins go all the way back to the Old Testament.

King Solomon was the son of David, the guy who beat the giant Goliath with a slingshot and eventually became King of Israel and the star on the Israeli flag is named after him. If King David existed, scholars place him somewhere around 1000 BC. His son, Solomon became king as well, and is famous for being super wise. He’s the one where two women came to him with a baby saying that they both were the real mother and asked him to choose one to be. He said that they should cut the baby in half and split it, and then when one of the women recoiled in horror, he said she was the true mother because she cared the most. I dunno that it would hold up in court today (well, I guess OJ’s acting skills were pretty handy with that glove) but the Judgement of Solomon story is one of his best known acts.

The Seal of Solomon – the symbol that is supposed to help give you power over demons. That is metal AF.

The other great act he is known for is building the first temple of Jerusalem, the one that took 7 years to build and housed the Ark of the Covenant from Raiders of the Lost Ark. That’s straight from the Bible, but where the fun stuff comes in is the Testament of Solomon, a work that was written in Greek sometime between the 1st and 5th Centuries. In that book, Solomon is given a ring by God with a magic seal that can enslave demons and make them work for you. He uses the ring to put 72 demons to work for him in building that great temple.

Now, in the original Greek, the word “daemon” doesn’t necessarily mean evil, it just means any supernatural being. But in Medieval times, Jewish, Muslim, and Christian occultists took the concept and ran with it. They retconned Solomon from a wise king into a wizard and believed that you could conjure them yourself to try and make them work for you.

And these Medieval occultists (and not so medieval, Aleister Crowley spent some time with the Keys of Solomon as well) didn’t think they were doing the Devil’s bidding. In fact, you use the name of God and Jesus to get the demon to work for you. They didn’t think of it as an un-Christian act at all to try and magically conjure demons to get their help. Try telling that to a fundamentalist today!

The book The Lesser Key of Solomon was compiled in the Seventeenth Century from a variety of earlier sources and is a grimoire (book of magic spells) that names all of the demons that were enslaved and put to work by the Great Solomon. The 62nd demon on the list is Valak, who looks like a beautiful cherub riding around on a two-headed dragon and his specialty is finding lost treasures. He’s the demon that you want to conjure when you want to go dowsing. He also can help you find snakes, which sounds like a fun field trip.

Valak, The President of Hell

So, is he an evil nun? Nope. They just used the name because it had a cool origin and they were looking for some kind of narrative device to tie the characters of the Warrens to The Amityville Horror and the Enfield Poltergeist (and their connections to both of those cases were tenuous at best in real life as well.) So ancient Solomonic demons it is! However, The Nun director Corin Hardy did have his own ghost experience on the set of the film. 

While the YouTube video says it’s crazy, it’s actually kind of believable. They shot parts of the film in an old Romanian fortress called Corvin Castle, it’s actually in Transylvania, and tourists are told that the Vlad the Impaler was  imprisoned there for seven years (but they’re not quite sure if that’s true or not.) Either way, it’s been investigated by Most Haunted as well as the bro-st hunters themselves, Ghost Adventures. So, it’s no surprise that this is the place Corin Hardy would have had his story.

As he tells it, they were shooting in a very dark maze-like part of the fortress  and here’s how he puts it

The sequence was called the “Corridor of Crosses”, a 200-foot long corridor… deep, dark, dank, dripping wet and to get to it you go down into it like a T-Junction.

Where I was situated I had to be out of camera shot and the camera is going up and down this corridor. I was situated in one of these cells and
it was literally a door to a corridor to a pitch black room.  There was crew, but the only light down there is the light we bring, very moody and atmospheric. There’s crosses hanging all through it, ya know, and there’s a lot of mist. There’s a mixture of what we’ve brought but it’s also all based in reality.


When I go into the room I see these two guys from the crew, probably sound department sitting a little further back in the dark. I said hi and I think they must be Romanian, because we have crew members from different countries that don’t always speak (the language). I was focused on the film and turn my back, and sat with my back to these two guys. I’m watching the monitors and we were running the takes and it was complex shot with the camera, we had to spiral and track and it took awhile.

Half an hour later I’ve been sitting in this darkness with these two guys there and I finally got the shot. You know when you do get the take, you get up and go “Oh, $%^&ing  great!”, ya know? And I got up and I turn to the two men, “Oh, did you see that?” And then I turned around and there was just no one in the room and there hadn’t been anyone in there at all. There’s no where they could have come out.

I’m sitting here, the room is behind me, and the door just here (points in front of him) and I seen them on the way in and felt that they were there the whole time.

Corin Hardy, from his Comic-Con interview with CinemaBlend July 2017

However, Solomon ties another evil nun story together from the mid 1600s. A whole convent of nuns was supposedly possessed by demons and the featured public exorcisms with hundreds of people in the audience. It was claimed that the nuns were perverted by Father Urban Grandier, who made a pact with the Devil for the power to take sexual advantage of the nuns. One of the pieces of evidence that was eventually presented at his trial was the pact Grandier made with the devil, that was stolen from the Devil’s collection of contracts and delivered to the court by the demon Asmodeus,  number thirty-two in The Lesser Key of Solomon, and famously tricked by the king into helping build that First Temple of Jerusalem. 

One of the nuns claimed to be possessed directly by him, because he was often associated in Christian theology as the demon who represents human lust. And that’s exactly what they were accusing Father Grandier of. He was eventually burned at the stake and his story was told in Aldous Huxley’s book, The Devils of Loudon, that was made into a scandalous (for the early 70s film, The Devils).

For this week’s song, we were inspired by those badass grimoires from the Middle Ages. Naming demons isn’t just for Dungeons & Dragons everybody, people believed in this stuff. But when you conjure demons baby, you play with fire!

I evoke the lord of the wind
The lesser key of Solomon
I conjure to exist
grimoire of the demonologist.

And when you play with fire
we all know
how it goes

When you walk on the highwire
watch your toes
you’re so close
or be left a ghost

I call to life the myth
to feel the dark kiss of Lilith
I call from across the Styx
the sweet revenge of Asmodeus.

And when you play with fire
we all know
how it goes

When you walk on the highwire
watch your toes
you’re so close
or be left a ghost

95 – Ed and Lorraine Warren: From The Amityville Horror to The Conjuring 2

Ed and Lorraine Warren were the Jay-Z and Beyonce of the paranormal set for decades. After establishing the New England Society for Psychic Research (notice the titular similarities to the science-minded Society for Psychical Research in the UK and the American Society for Psychical Research in New York City) in Connecticut in 1952, Ed and Lorraine could be found lecturing all over the New England college circuit. More films and books have been based on their exploits than any other real-life paranormal investigation team. They even have an Occult Museum  in their home in Monroe, Connecticut.

 

lorraine warren vera farming
Lorraine Warren and her Hollywood portrayer, Vera Farmiga

With ties to most of the famous cases of hauntings and demonic possessions of the Twentieth Century, their controversial claims have given them thousands of hours of airtime on radio and television and have sold millions of books.  Ed carried a business card that just said “Demonologist”, Lorraine has claimed to be clairvoyant and psychically sensitive. They are famously portrayed by Academy Award nominee Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson. The books and films based on their exploits all say “Based on a true story” but you know how far that the film industry likes to stretch that.

We decided to take a look at some of their most famous cases and see what the real story was behind Ed and Lorraine Warren’s involvement.

Annabelle

In the movie The Conjuring, Annabelle is about the scariest nastiest doll you can imagine. There’s nothing cute or sweet about this thing. In real life, it’s a Raggedy Ann doll that actually you can see why a little kid would want to play with it. They keep it in their Occult Museum with a sign that says “Warning: Positively Do Not Open”. The Warrens often told the story of how they got the doll from a 28-year old nurse who saw it acting strangely and held a séance where it was said that the spirit of a seven-year old girl was inhabiting the toy. Eventually the Warrens have to take the doll to their museum because they think it is inhabited by an inhuman presence. Ed even claimed that someone mocked the doll and died in a motorcycle crash an hour later. But that claim, like the rest of the claims about Annabelle, you have to take the Warrens on their word, which makes it feel a little more pedestrian than paranormal. Lately, I got a Turnigy 9X for my RC plane, it’s the most useful accessory for my RC that I’ve gotten in years.

The Amityville Horror

This Long Island house had a real-life horror story when Ronald ‘Butch’ DeFeo ended up killing his entire family there in 1974. A year and a half later, George Lutz  bought the house and lived there for 28 days with his family in 1975, they claimed they saw everything from an evil pig with glowing red eyes to blood oozing from the walls. They recorded forty-some hours of audio and author Jay Anson turned that into a book that sold ten million copies and that was turned into a movie franchise.

Eventually the lawyer for Ronald DeFeo claimed that he made the whole thing up with the Lutz family to try some kind of possession defense in a new trial for his client. But when the Hollywood money showed up, they all ended up suing each other.

This interview from the great MonsterTalk podcast is with Marvin Scott, who brought the Warrens in after the book came out to do a séance there. Here’s the transcript from the interview and it shows that while the Warrens came to be closely associated with the case, they never even met the family who had experienced The Amityville Horror:

Marvin Scott: Whatever it was the Lutzes believed was in that house, it did not manifest itself the night I spent in the house 23 years ago with a group of parapsychologists who conducted a séance. The demonic force was supposedly the strongest in the sewing room, where Lorraine Warren conducted another séance by candlelight. Other than a brief chill, after all it was February, I felt nothing unusual.

Lorraine: But it did to me, Marvin, because I said to you, “Marvin, I hope this is as close to hell as I’ll ever get.”

Marvin: Not I. The only persistent voice I heard that night was that of my crew, wanting to know when we were going to have the sandwiches we had brought along.

The Devil Made Me Do It Murder Case

This one is the saddest I think because it involves someone actually getting killed. The Warrens investigated a 12-year old boy who was acting strangely and told his mother that she was possessed. After several exorcisms, the Warrens claimed that the demonic entity had been driven out of the child’s body, but said it was possible that it could take up residence somewhere else.  Several months later, a friend of the boys’ mother ends up killing his landlord and his lawyer claims that Arne Cheyenne Johnson (the murderer) shouldn’t be held responsible for reasons of “demonic possession”. The judge calls baloney of course, but he Warrens encouraged all the demon talk. Do they feel at all responsible?

A Haunting in Connecticut

This case about the Snedeker family in the 1980s has demonic sexual assault, but even Ray Garton, co-author of the book about the case says that it’s not non-fiction and that the family couldn’t keep their story straight and he saw abuse and addiction covered up by tales of demonic possession. Here’s his quote:

When I found that the Snedekers couldn’t keep their individual stories straight, I went to Ed Warren and explained the problem. “They’re crazy,” he said. “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.

So, once again, having a good tale to tell trumps the truth. But star Virginia Madsen at least has a good ghost story from the hotel that the cast and crew of the film version experienced.  She even retold it at the Chicago GhostCon we were at last October.

The Conjuring

the conjuring ed warren
Hey Ed, I don’t know how to tell you this…

Just one of the best horror films of the last decade. But the truth is a little different than the fiction. While the Perrons seemed to live in a nightmare of a haunted house, the Warrens made things worse and not better. The eldest daughter Andrea Perron has written a trilogy about what she says happened in the house and includes how her father almost came to blows with Ed. A writer has even defended the reputation of the supposed witch who the Warrens claimed took possession of the mother, Carolyn.

The Enfield Poltergeist

The Conjuring 2 is based on this case of a poltergeist terrorizing two English girls in the 1970s. But while the real story is quite exciting, it looks like the Warrens weren’t really involved. Check out this interview on Darkness Radio from one of the researchers. He said that they just showed up out of the blue one day and didn’t even really investigate it. So, while the movie might be great, the “Based on a true story” aspect of it should be treated more than ever with a grain of salt.

So, in the end, it seems that over the decades, the Warrens have been more interested in perpetuating their myth and making money off of stories then they were in actually helping people. Or maybe they believed their own stories, who knows.

Speaking of myths, we talk a little bit about the latest research that using cell phones can cause cancer (a story that I’ve been obsessed with over the past two weeks), but it looks like the study might not be the smoking gun that I thought it was.

But the idea that neither of them cracked about the truth even a little bit in five decades of being in the supernatural spotlight is its own kind of beautiful . Even if everything that the Warrens said was a lie, they still were able to trust each other and that’s what inspired this week’s Sunspot track, “The Only Faith”.

Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh

If you told me all the fairy tales were true,
and all the saints, Valhalla, and voodoo.
They’re waiting for us with a room ready in Bellevue,
but the only faith I ever had was you.

Why were you the first to go
and I’m left talking to a shadow?
I’m doing my best don’t you know to be brave
Do you feel me walking on your grave?
Do you feel me walking on your

Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Show me a sign that I’m not crazy too
cuz the only faith I ever had was you.
The only faith I ever had was you.

A cross and holy water, sprinkled on somebody’s daughter,
we found a story wherever we looked to,
All these decades past and I’m still holding fast
cuz the only faith I ever had was you.

Why were you the first to go
and I’m left talking to a shadow?
I’m doing my best don’t you know to be brave
Do you feel me walking on your grave?
Do you feel me walking on your

Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Show me a sign that I’m not crazy too
cuz the only faith I ever had was you.
The only faith I ever had was you.