Showing posts with label possession. Show all posts
Showing posts with label possession. Show all posts

Sep 4, 2020


The horror genre exists in ebbs and flows, putting away certain concepts like the slasher flick or the haunted house movie until something comes along and reinvigorates it for a new generation, similar to how Scream revived the slasher in the mid-‘90s and Paranormal Activity resurrected both the haunted house and found footage movie. There’s been one mainstay throughout all this ebbing and flowing, however; appropriately, if you’re gonna have one main baddie to encapsulate the genre, it better be the main baddie – the Devil himself (and I’m capitalizing “devil” because I mean the real guy!). Being that the Devil is the oldest foe we have, it makes sense that he’s our oldest on-screen foe as well, having appeared on celluloid as far back as 1922’s Häxan, and in various forms of pre-film artwork going back thousands of years before that. The Devil, his spawns, or his concubines have popped up in every genre, in every era—from the Hammer films, to big studio fare like The Exorcist and The Omen, to small dumb shit like 1987’s Rock ‘N Roll Nightmare, to big dumb shit like Arnie’s End of Days in 1999. (Shout out to last year’s fantastic I Trapped the Devil.) No, there’s no keeping a good devil down, and that’s fine with me because every so often one of these movies turns out to be pretty good!

The newest of these satanic slices of pure hell comes by way of Belzebuth, an original movie produced by the increasingly popular Shudder streaming service, a joint production between the U.S. and Mexico (though it’s largely based in the latter, and mostly in Spanish language). It’s easy to roll your eyes at yet another movie about the Devil, the end times, possession, and the second coming of the so-called Messiah, because it feels like this movie gets made and released over and over. (And, especially during these pandemic times, who’s in the mood for another movie about a potential apocalypse?) But what makes Belzebuth alluring is that, above all, it’s trying to exist in as realistic a landscape as possible. Though the events and conflict of the film may be way beyond believable (depending on your personal philosophies), much of the film’s horror is relegated to the real world. A supernatural dread drapes over every frame, but the film’s conflict is built on the foundation of true terror ripped from daily headlines: a violent school shooting at the hands of a youth, or a suicide bomber blowing up a packed movie theater. Belzebuth slyly takes these sad, everyday events and posits that they may be part of an overall plan to bring about the end times—that every tragedy brings the earth closer to the unleashing of the Devil. 

The greatest thing about the horror genre, and it’s one thing that old school horror directors like George Romero and John Carpenter exhibited the best, was that it was the genre you could use to make a political statement, or to comment on society heading in the wrong direction, without feeling like you’re overwhelming the audience with agenda. You could concoct as absurd a story as you want, either zombies in a shopping mall or blue-collar construction workers using Raybans to see the true alien face of their fellow “earthlings,” and use that story to unveil the actual horror plaguing society. And Belzebuth uses that same concept, taking a familiar story about the timeless battle between good and evil and using it to tell another kind of story. 

It’s no coincidence that Belzebuth takes place at the U.S./Mexico border, which has been a talking point for the current president and his administration ever since 2016. Belzebuth takes the popular philosophical possibility of Jesus Christ already existing among us in flesh and blood form in the ignored, like the homeless, the maltreated, or the unborn, but anchors it in a specific region. Mexican special agent Emmanuel Ritter (Joaquín Cosio, Rambo: Last Blood) says of the potential next Messiah that he was fated to be born in an “oppressed empire” where his presence could easily be missed and his life taken with authorities neither noticing nor caring. It’s made very clear, through Ritter’s antagonist relationship with a never-on-screen captain, that the reputation of the department is all that matters, and not the department’s results or how those results are achieved. The concept of corruption existing in the Mexican government, though never an outright part of the conflict, isn’t treaded on lightly, either, with Ritter labeling it as such in a moment of dismay and frustration.

But yes, yes—the horror, the horror. Once Belzebuth is satisfied with its underlying metaphor, the on-screen horror finally kicks into gear, contributing some admittedly unique and horrific imagery into the well-worn exorcism/possession sub-genre, in spite of the occasionally dodgy CGI that brings it to life.  Throughout its running time, Belzebuth feels far more violent than it actually is, leaving much of the bloodletting to the imagination. It still manages to feel pretty gruesome, and ultimately that’s the desired effect. You get all of the weird ‘n squishies without having to endure the on-screen images of said weirdness and squish. Having said that, things get very bloody during the frenetic and somewhat overstuffed finale, which tries to throw in a last-minute twist that doesn’t land with any clear footing and only proves to stagger the momentum that the otherwise intense finale had established. 

Compared to the mainstream, Devil-centric bilge the genre has endured over the last however many years, Belzebuth is a breath of fresh air. Its low-key story still feels larger than life, and its cast of unknowns, which includes the adorable José Sefami, Mexico’s equivalent of Danny Devito, help to ground this story and hew it closer to reality. (Tobin Bell of Saw infamy is likely to be the most well-known name in this thing, and that’s saying something.) Belzebuth isn’t quite wholly original, but it’s original enough for the curious to devote a couple hours to the tale it has to tell, even if it’s been told before.

[Reprinted from Daily Grindhouse.]

Mar 22, 2015


A terrified mother claims she watched in horror as her demon-possessed 9-year-old son walked backwards up a wall and ceiling. Her claims would be easy to dismiss if a child services case worker and a nurse weren’t reportedly there to witness it all.

Latoya Ammons claims all three of her children showed signs of being possessed, including “evil” smiles and strangely deep voices, the Indianapolis Star reports. The mother says she also witnessed her 12-year-old daughter levitating in their Gary, Ind., home.

Strangely enough, the scary-sounding incident is outlined in official documents. Further, Gary police Capt. Charles Austin told the Star that he is a “believer” after making several visits to the home and interviewing witnesses. He first thought the family was making stories up as part of a get-rich-quick scheme.

Ammons’ home was “exorcized” by a catholic priest in a number of ceremonies that were reportedly authorized by the Diocese of Gary. The story apparently became so believable that officers with the police department said they were too scared to stay at the house and some city officials wouldn’t even step foot on the property.

The 32-year-old mother says the spirits that haunted her family’s house were only vanquished after she moved away and underwent several exorcisms. The unbelievable story has come to light after the Indianapolis Star obtained hundreds of pages of official documents relating to the case.

The Ammons family moved into the rental house on Carolina Street in Gary, Ind., back in November 2011. They soon noticed strange occurrences, including swarms of flies around the house, footsteps in the basement and wet footprints streaking across the living room floor.

But what happened next made those incidents seem pleasant.

In March 2012, Ammons claims she rushed to check on her 12-year-old daughter after hearing her screams. When she entered the bedroom, she says she witnessed her daughter levitating above her bed unconscious.

The family and some of the guests they were hosting prayed over the girl until she returned back to the bed. The girl reportedly didn’t remember anything about it.

The torment reportedly continued and the family wasn’t in a position financially to flee the home. So the family contacted churches and clairvoyants for help, but they received little relief. The clairvoyants allegedly told the family their house was haunted by more than 200 demons.

The house where Latoya Ammons lived with her family was on Carolina St. in Gary. [In the] photo taken by the police, a figure appears to show itself in the window at right. Photo provided by the Hammond Police Department.

Ammons claims her childrens’ eyes bulged and they regularly sported evil smiles, effects of their possession. Her youngest child would reportedly sit in a closet and talk to an invisible child that no one could see. She also claims he was once thrown from the bathroom when no one was even near him.

Most of Ammons’ allegations are backed up by her mother, Rosa Campbell, who also lived in the house.

Later in 2012, child protective services in Indiana was contacted to investigate the mother for possible child abuse or mental illness. A psychiatrist reportedly evaluated Ammons and determined she was not mentally ill.

A family case manager reportedly interviewed the family and witnessed a number of strange occurrences. Valerie Washington confirmed that she witnessed the youngest boy growling before his eyes rolled back in his head.

Washington also claimed she saw the 9-year-old boy flash a “weird grin” and then walk backward up a wall to the ceiling. Her account was corroborated by a nurse.

“There’s no way he could’ve done that,” the nurse told the Star.

After being sent to investigate Ammons, Washington concluded that an “evil influence” might be affecting the family.


Mar 3, 2015


In 2008, Dr. Richard E. Gallagher, a board-certified psychiatrist and associate professor of clinical psychiatry at New York Medical College, documented the case of a patient nicknamed "Julia" whom he deduced was indeed possessed by demons. It's rare that a scientist and psychiatrist would acknowledge the possibility of possession; typically doctors think that possession is either fraudulent or a result of mental illness.

Dr. Gallagher personally observed items flying around the room, Julia levitating off the bed, speaking in tongues, and knowing things about people around her that she could not possibly have known. Here is an excerpt from Gallagher's statement:

“Periodically, in our presence, Julia would go into a trance state of a recurring nature. Mentally troubled individuals often ‘dissociate,' but Julia's trances were accompanied by an unusual phenomenon: Out of her mouth would come various threats, taunts and scatological language, phrases like ‘Leave her alone, you idiot,' ‘She's ours,' ‘Leave, you imbecile priest,' or just ‘Leave.' The tone of this voice differed markedly from Julia's own, and it varied, sometimes sounding guttural and vaguely masculine, at other points high pitched. Most of her comments during these ‘trances,' or at the subsequent exorcisms, displayed a marked contempt for anything religious or sacred.”

Mar 2, 2015


Three Americans who were reportedly playing with a Ouija board in a Mexican village have been rushed to hospital after showing the sort of disturbing signs and behavior more commonly associated with demonic possession.

Alexandra Huerta, 22, her brother Sergio, 23, and their 18-year-old cousin Fernando Cuevas were playing with a Ouija board in the village of San Juan Tlacotenco in south-west Mexico before all three became allegedly possessed by evil spirits who used the Ouija board as a gateway to enter the land of the living.

Minutes after the trio had started dabbling with the Ouija board, also known as a spirit board or talking board, Alexandra is reported to have fallen into a “trance-like” state.

The youngster is then said to have started growling maniacally like a dog and thrashed around uncontrollably like a wild animal. She is also reported to have started laughing uncontrollably and when asked why, replied, “We’re going to die.”

The Daily Mail reported that Sergio and Fernando were also said to have demonstrated visible signs of “possession” after using the Ouija board to make contact with the dead.

Alongside feelings of disorientation, blindness, and deafness, the two were also reported to have suffered from vivid hallucinations after using the Ouija board.

Alexandra’s parents explained that their child was forcibly restrained to prevent her from hurting herself and paramedics were called to the house where the Ouija board was used to take the three “possessed” friends to hospital.

According to Alexandra’s parents, paramedics were only called after a local Catholic priest had refused to preform an exorcism on the three friends because they were not regular churchgoers.

In place of holy water, crucifixes, and prayers, the paramedics used a combination of painkillers, anti-stress medication, and eye drops. The treatment apparently appeared to do the trick when it came to clearing up any symptoms caused by the Ouija board.

The director of public safety in the nearby town of Tepoztlan, Victor Demeza said:
“The medical rescue of these three young people was very complicated. They had involuntary movements and it was difficult to transfer them to the nearest hospital because they were so erratic.

“It appeared as if they were in a trance-like state, apparently after playing with the Ouija board. They spoke of feeling numbness, double vision, blindness, deafness, hallucinations, muscle spasm and difficulty swallowing.”
Mr. Demeza would not comment on whether the trio who dabbled with the Ouija board were really possessed or had simply convinced themselves that was the case in an outbreak of group hysteria.

Many religions and some occultists have long warned against the dangers of using a Ouija board, and have advised that casually trying to contact the dead is never a particularly good idea.


May 4, 2014


Nurses deal with death on a daily basis, so it’s hardly surprising that many turn to religion as a source of wisdom and comfort. However, encounters with demonic forces may also influence nurses’ views on the battle between good and evil. In a chilling tale on, one nurse shares her experience with a dying patient who was more than he seemed.

According to the nurse, the patient suffered from a variety of ailments that could end his life at any time. However, the man was terrified of death and raged at the nurses to keep him alive.

“Every time his heart monitor beeped, he would go into a rage screaming, ‘Don’t let me die! Don’t let me die,’” the nurse writes. “We soon found out why he didn’t want to die.”

One night, the patient took a turn for the worse, and the nurse rushed into his room with emergency supplies. However, she wasn’t prepared for what she found.

“This man was sitting about two inches above the bed and was laughing,” the nurse writes. “His whole look completely changed. His eyes had a look of pure evil and he had this evil smile on his face. He laughed at us and said, ‘You stupid bitches aren’t going to let me die are you?’”

After this frightening outburst, the man went into cardiac arrest and died 20 minutes later. However, the terror was far from over. Five minutes after a doctor pronounced the patient dead, the newly-deceased man sat up in bed and started to laugh, saying “You let him die. Too bad.” What happened next sounds like something from a horror movie.

“We heard a horrible, agonizing scream and then you could hear ‘don’t let me die’ whispered throughout the unit,” the nurse reports. “Every one of the nurses that night was pale and scared. Nobody went anywhere by themselves. By morning, the whispers of ‘don’t let me die’ were gone.”

 Story source.

Mar 5, 2013


Usually when one buys clothes second-hand at shops like Goodwill, one just wonders whether it's been laundered properly. But Pat Robertson brought an entirely new worry to the fore on Monday's episode of his "700 Club" program. Responding to an email sent in by a viewer, the elderly televangelist said that, while not all clothes have demonic spirits attached to them, it never hurts to take some precautionary measures.

Robertson was answering a question from viewer Carrie, who wrote:
I buy a lot of clothes and other items at Goodwill and other secondhand shops. Recently my mom told me that I need to pray over the items, bind familiar spirits and bless the items before I bring them into the house. Is my mother correct? Can demons attach themselves to material items?
Robertson answered Carrie's question with a story about a girl who was troubled by a ring that had been prayed over by a witch. "She had to buy it and all hell broke loose because she finally recognized what it was," Robertson said, before claiming that demonic spirits can certainly attach themselves to objects.

Now, does this mean all second-hand clothing is a vessel of the devil? Not exactly, according to Robertson, but "it ain’t going to hurt anything to rebuke any spirits that happened to have attached themselves to those clothes.”

Goodwill's website encourages those who wish to make a donation to launder or dry clean clothes before bringing them in.


Story source.

Image source. 

Sep 30, 2012


Six friends decide to spend their holiday together and rent a manor house in the countryside where they can leave behind the madness of city life. Once there, they befriend a priest, Father Elia, who lives alone in the adjoining church. Very soon the party mood turns frightening, as strange phenomena, apparently paranormal, begin happening around the group. It soon turns into a nightmare when one of the friends, Giorgio, begins acting as if he is possessed, which the group interprets as being demonic.

While Alessandro, his best friend, tries to find a scientific and rational explanation to the happenings, the other friends appeal to Father Elia for assistance. He feels Giorgio is surely possessed by the devil and tries to exorcise him. But in the end what is happening is beyond their ability to understand and, moreover, their possibility to control. Is Giorgio’s possession the sign of a larger, even more diabolical phenomenon about to envelop the world?

It's difficult to review films that leave you with neither a positive nor negative reaction. It's just as easy to throw heaps of love to a film that works as it is to trash a movie that doesn't. But then there are movies like Back From Hell (formerly known as Ex Infernis) that aren't offensive enough to warrant any kind of laundry list of ways it could've been better, nor is there much of it worth pointing out and complimenting.

But I can try.

First off, that synopsis above, which I pulled from a piece of sales art during the film's festival run, is a little misleading. The friends aren't renting a house, but have accompanied Sara, an architect, who has been contacted about visiting an old monastery to see about its potential for restoration. The structure is very beautiful, old age or not, and the high ceilings and tall doors help it to become a character almost effortlessly.

The interaction amongst the friends never feels forced or scripted. And thankfully the actors playing them, all whose first language is clearly Italian, speak English well enough that it doesn't hinder any of their performances. (I bring that up because foreign productions find English-speaking actors in order to give the film more international appeal, which oftentimes can prove distracting.) There's only one weak actor among the cast, and he spends most of his time behind the camera remaining quiet. Giovanni Guidelli is especially good as Father Elias, whose haunted eyes make you sympathize with the poor, isolated priest who seems to know shit's ready to hit the fan even before the audience does.

Making a possession movie is always going to automatically draw comparisons to The Exorcist. It's unavoidable. Because of this, part of me wants to commend director Leonardo Araneo for avoiding over-the-top special effects or sound editing to make the possessed actually appear possessed. The possession comes only from the abilities of the actor to appear so, intended to make it appear as realistic as possible. In theory, this is a good choice. After all, look at Jennifer Carpenter's performance in The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Despite how you might feel about that particular film, her performance as the possessed Emily is creepy and effective, and was accomplished not with special effects, but with the abilities that Carpenter possessed. However, in the case of Back From Hell, this decision creates a problem: It never seems cinematic. And because this is cinema, we need more than an evil smile and some drool.

There are interesting ideas festering within Back From Hell, one especially being that Giorgio goes on record during a heated debate in the first act that God doesn't exist (and through an odd defense of his own beliefs, might even insinuate he is a Scientologist). It is Sara with whom he argues, and her beliefs in God are unwavering, leaving the argument to become quite intense. I bring this up because, from what I have read about possession, those with faith are the ones more susceptible to possession than those without it. If this was a purposeful choice, I'd be curious to know why. Or perhaps it was supposed to be that "irony" thing I've heard so much about.

At times the film's plot feels almost improvised, or cobbled together from footage three times as long as the final running time. There's an unfocused feeling of meandering, as if there was less of a script but more of an outline. "We need to get from Point A to Point B, but we can just wing whatever happens in between," etc. Because of this, it's sometimes difficult to pinpoint exactly what is happening or how scared we should be. (Based on the final output, not much.)

Back From Hell is sometimes effective in that way found footage movies are effective by default: A character walks down a dark hallway shining a flashlight in certain rooms, and suddenly there is someone - or something - standing before them. Moments like these are always startling because that's how we as human beings react to something unexpected. So in that regard, Back From Hell provides a few easy scares.

One of the more disturbing subplots features Sara's unborn baby. To spoil this would be to spoil the most shocking moment in the film, so I will refrain. One thing I will say about it's not something I was at all expecting.

Look, could you do a lot worse than Back From Hell? Yes, you sure could. And anything in The Asylum's catalog would prove that almost instantly. Could you do a lot better, too? Yes, you could. But if you consider yourself a fan of the found footage technique, it's worth taking a look; it's low on scares, but high on concept and ideas. 

Oh, and by the way, don't expect anything remotely similar to what you see on the poster to occur during the film. 

Jan 31, 2012


The family in the Enfield case consisted of a mother, two daughters and two sons; Margaret, aged 12, a younger sister, Janet, aged 11, Johnny, aged 10 and Billy, aged 7. Billy had a speech impediment. Johnny featured only marginally in the inexplicable events, at least 26 of which the investigators considered could not be accounted for by fraud. These included moving furniture, flying marbles, interference with bedclothes, cold breezes, pools of water on the floor, apparitions, physical assaults, graffiti, equipment malfunction and failure, disappearance and reappearance of objects, apparent levitations, and fires which spontaneously ignited and extinguished themselves.

Among other alleged phenomena they witnessed was Janet speaking using her false vocal folds for hours on end while she was apparently possessed by another entity. Speaking in this way is believed to be medically impossible. When speaking with the false cords Janet said she was "Bill" who had died in the house of a brain hemorrhage. The "Bill" persona habitually made jokes and exhibited a very nasty temper, swearing at Maurice, once calling him a "fucking old sod." Grosse was contacted by a man who claimed to be Bill's son. Recordings were made of these occurrences.

Jan 26, 2012


The Demonologist, an account of Ed and Lorraine Warren's career in demonology, is one creepy-ass book. The Warrens' names should sound familiar if you’re an "Amityville Horror" obsessive. (I am—with the original conspiracy, anyway, not the tepid film series.) To those who followed the saga of 112 Ocean Ave, either in its heyday, or in subsequent books, television specials, and/or truly abhorrent film adaptations, the Warrens should already feel like family. When the Lutz family fled their brief home after only 28 days and spouted off about the evil residing within, outsiders who eventually became involved in the controversy were actively split in regards to the legitimacy of the claims. In short, they either believed the Lutzes, or they didn’t. The Warrens and other occult specialists did, Law enforcement didn’t, and the media didn't care—but they covered every inch of it like hungry canines.

While The Demonologist does mention Amityville from time to time, the Warrens don’t have much to say on the subject, other than they believed in the Lutzes and tried to help as best as they could. Instead, the book is actually a very detailed account of their careers and their life together—and of the evil that often followed them home from their “exorcisms.” The Warrens generally helped rid two kinds of infestation: oppression (ongoing harassment by a demon to break down a person’s will and make their body easier to inhabit) or possession (the invasion of a person’s body by a foreign entity). The book is largely comprised of direct quotes from Ed and Lorraine themselves, relating their own experience and encounters. 

The book’s author, Gerald Daniel Brittle, does a commendable job taking this information and weaving in relevant information to fill in the gaps and create a coherent narrative. Chapters alternate between recollections of more memorable visits to homes where demon infestations once occurred, and the Warrens’ clear explanations of demonology in answers to questions author Brittle poses—and it’s especially helpful that Brittle asks the same questions that you or I would while reading the book.

What exactly is demonology? How does one become a demonologist? Because psychology is so often mentioned alongside cases where demonology (specifically exorcisms) is involved, does that mean there is a correlation between the two? Why don’t more people know about demonology?

Ed mainly handles these questions, answering each with a wealth of information based on his years of experience in the field. While Lorraine, too, is considered a demonologist, she instead refers to herself as a clairvoyant—one who is more sensitive to her surroundings and capable of seeing, hearing, and sensing things that most people do not. Houses infested with demons, she explains in the book, give off moods just like a human being does, and she is able to sense these moods during her preliminary walkthroughs of the houses in question. She also claims to see “auras,” which provide information – in the form of different colored halos – that surround every human being.

The Amityville House: 112 Ocean Ave

Even with Ed matter-of-factly reiterating information from past cases, the book is effortlessly creepy. A typical person who saw 1973’s The Exorcist and found it over-the-top would be shocked at how that film only managed to scratch the surface of what a true exorcism entails, and the traits those infested with a demon or demons may possess. The Exorcist featured unnatural vomit, physical manipulation of the unfortunate host, wildly fluctuating temperatures surrounding the possessed, and the knowledge of previously unknown languages. Ed Warren verifies all of this activity in the book. What The Exorcist didn’t portray was the materialization/dematerialization of objects, faces of the possessed briefly transforming into that of an animal’s, the smell or even physical appearance of excrement, or the presentation of foreign objects not previously located in the house. In one instance during an exorcism, Ed claimed a softball-sized rock appeared in midair and thudded on the floor, and upon having the rock tested by a specialist at a nearby university, confirmed that that specific rock was from a wooded area over 75 miles away. It’s this kind of information – unorthodox, unusual, and inherently unthreatening – that truly makes the claims that much more unnerving. Yes, if during The Exorcist Regan’s face had broken out into that of a cat or dog (or a gorilla, which Ed claims occurs the most frequently), the audience would have broken out into jeers. But with the mere explanation of that having happened in the past before you only in words, your imagination fills in the gaps, and it becomes a genuinely frightening thought—because that simply does not jibe with everything we like to think we know about the subject of exorcism. We think spinning heads and pea soup, not animal noises and mysterious stones falling from the sky and pelting the house of the afflicted.

While the book touches on some rather famous cases, such as West Germany’s Annaliese Michele (which inspired The Exorcism of Emily Rose), and the possession of Robbie Mannheim (alias), a boy from Maryland (which later inspired The Exorcist), a large portion is dedicated to the oppression/possession of the Donovan family. It is during these pages when the book is at its creepiest, and photographs of the damage done by the spirits are present.

Ed shares one particular encounter – not related to a case the Warrens were investigating – that I found especially unnerving, only because of how random the encounter was:
Only a few months ago, Lorraine and I had just been on a television show uptown in New York City. Afterwards, we took a taxi down to Chinatown for lunch. As we were walking along the street we saw there was some trouble at the corner, with police cars all around. So I suggested we cut through a walkway or alley on our left-hand size, which led to Mott Street.

Well, we took the alley, which was full of beat-up trashcans overflowing with garbage. Flies, maggots, and vermin were everywhere. The combination of the heat and the stink of decomposing garbage quickly began to sour our stomachs. Nevertheless, we kept going. Further back, the alley crooked slightly, so that beyond the middle you could no longer see the street.

We walked quickly, but as we got to the middle of the alleyway, at the end of this long row of trashcans, we saw two feet sticking out. I told Lorraine to stand still while I walked up ahead. When I got closer, I saw it was a man—a derelict. He was a Caucasian, between thirty-five and sixty-five—you couldn’t tell. The man was barely alive, sitting up against the wall with his legs stretched out into the path. He was filthier than anyone I have ever seen: covered with sores and scabs, and obviously riddled with disease.

But that just begins to tell the story. Because piled on top of him – as though he were sitting in bed with a quilt over him – were heaps of runny, putrefying garbage. This foul mess covered the man all the way up to his chest and down to his knees. His arms were plopped in the middle of this rotting slop, and flies were landing all over his face and body. Rats had apparently been gnawing on his feet and toes. It was evident the man hadn’t moved in days.

Ironically, his shoes were neatly placed beside him, shined up and ready to go. Now I have been in war and I have seen spiritual abominations in haunted houses but I doubt if I’ve ever seen anything so repulsive or disgusting in my life. How could this happen? How could a human being be reduced to such a stage?

I looked at this poor, wretched soul from the feet up, and was overtaken with compassion and grief. When I finally came to look upon his face, I was stunned and instinctively took a step back. His face was twisted into a perverse sneer—and there was that ugly, inhuman look of delirium in his eyes. Then I knew what had happened to him. And what was possessing that man, in turn, knew me, too.

‘You bastard!’ I said to it, so sickened was I by this scene. It laughed, mockingly. ‘I am killing him,’ it said to me. ‘In a few days, he will be dead. And do you know, there is nothing you can do about it. Because it is already done.’
Also in the book are several pages of transcribed audiotapes featuring Ed’s interrogations with the possessed. A piece of one of those interrogations is as follows:
Voice: I do not choose to be here!
Ed Warren (EW): Why did you come then?
Voice: I am under the Power!
EW: Whose power?
Voice: A white light!
EW: Describe yourself to me.
Voice: No. (A crucifix is then set in place, followed by agonized screaming by the possessing spirit.)
EW: Describe yourself to me!
Voice: I must in truth tell you what I look like. I am wicked—and ugly looking. I am inhuman. I am vindictive. I have a horrible face. I have much gross hair on my body. My eyes are deepsunk. I am black all over. I am burnt. I grow hair. My nails are long, my toes are clawed. I have a tail. I use a spear. What else do you want to know?
EW: What do you call yourself?
Voice: (Proclaiming) I am Resisilobus! I am Resisilobus!

And another, in which the possessing entity allegedly called himself Fred and spoke in a British cockney accent:
EW: Do you want me to bring a priest in here?
Voice: Yeah, all right. Bring ‘im in here. I’ll kick ‘im in the backside.
EW: What would you say if the Blessed Mother told you to leave, Fred?
Voice: Yeccch. Ugh.
EW: Do you know what this is, Fred? What do you see?
Voice: Uh…a cross.
EW: That’s right, a cross. That cross means your days are numbered here.
Voice: I’m gonna chop somebody’s head off.
EW: The next time I come back here, Fred, you’d better be gone. Because the next time I come I’m bringing a very powerful exorcist with me, someone you won’t want to mess with.
Voice: (There is a long lull.) Ed. Ed. Ed…Ed…Ed-ward.
EW: What is it, Fred?
Voice: Let’s play exorcist. Go get the holy water.
The Demonologist is infinitely fascinating to those with even a passing interest in the subject, regardless of where your belief system might lie. However, I must warn you that this book is definitely not for everyone. If you are a person who fervently believes that the world you see before you is all there is to see—that there’s nothing beyond—then you will probably receive no enjoyment from this book whatsoever. While the history and information would probably be interesting to all readers, its claims would be so easily dismissed from the first page that there would be no point for some people to continue reading. For all intents and purposes, the book is labeled and considered non-fiction—much to the chagrin of the more close-minded that question that label with a smirk.

I am a skeptic, by and large. I don’t necessarily believe in ghosts and demons and everything in between, but I also don’t believe things like that are impossible, either. Unlikely, perhaps—but not impossible. So when Ed recites, without a hint of irony, his experiences with haunted mirrors, or Ouija boards presenting very real dangers, your own personal prejudice is going to determine how you react. Because I am not 100% on board with the beliefs of the Warrens, I found some of the claims bordering on absurdity. However, the Warrens firmly believe in their careers as demonologists, and in the unseen entities they battle on almost a daily basis, and so because of that the book gets my respect. They were fully aware, even during the writing of this book, that they were opening themselves up to mockery by the more close-minded, but they were not deterred by that fact—instead, their aim of the book remains emphatically clear: demons are very real, and can very easily enter our world. The Warrens dictate what kind of people are more open to these invading entities (those who spend most of their days angry, or depressed; those considering suicide; alcoholics/drug addicts), and what things a person has to do to invite them in. (While the Warrens resist talking specifically about what a person has to do to entice these entities, they do confirm certain ceremonies performed by various people who later became victims of demons they foolishly invited into their life.)

To lend a little credibility to the Warrens’ careers, it should be noted that they have never accepted payment from those claiming to suffer from demonic oppression or possession. If you called the Warrens, they came to you, and if they determined your claims were genuine, they stayed until the invading entities were gone—for free. Further, they even insisted on bringing home with them any particular items that may have been the catalyst for an invading demonic entity in the first place. They reason that to leave the objects with the family runs the risk of letting the same demon back into their lives, or to destroy the cursed item would unleash the demon into the world in general. And so, their “dark museum” grew considerably over the years:
There are about a hundred items in the collection so far, and almost every item has a story attached to it. There’s a string of pearls that when worn around the neck, strangles the wearer. There’s the long black spike a satanic witch used long ago to murder her newborn infant as a sacrifice to the devil. There is the sage plaster doll dressed in Victorian clothing that not only took on the features of the old lady who once owned it, but became animated and behaved like a human being for over 20 years. There are the crania of human skulls that have been used as “chalices of ecstasy” for drinking human blood during witchcraft rituals. There’s the coffin in which a possessed man slept each night for his whole adult life. There are stones – some quite sizeable – that fell out of the sky onto homes under diabolical siege. There are crucifixes that have actually been exploded by demonic spirits and excrement. There are written pacts with the devil, the black candles and conjuring book from the Hillman case, and by the door to Ed’s office is hung the conjuring mirror take from Oliver Bernbaum’s house in New Jersey. The planchette and burned picture frames from the Dononvan case are displayed on a table not far from a wooden cabinet in which Annabelle, the Raggedy Ann doll, now sits holding a plain wood crucifix in her little cloth hand.
The Demonologist was first published in 1980 and then for a long time afterwards was out of print, but a new edition is available, and time has been well to its contents. The information remains rich, intriguing, and scary. While Ed Warren is sadly no longer with us (he died in 2006), Lorraine has continued the battle against the darkness as a member of The New England Society for Psychic Research.

As I write this, James Wan is hard at work on a film tentatively known as The Conjuring, which will dive into the Warrens’ past to tell the story of the Perrons, a Rhode Island family who dealt with a demon infestation of their own during the 1970s. While the exploits of the family may have been discussed in the book, their name is never used, so it’s hard to say. So far the cast is looking great: Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga will play the Warrens, and Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor will play the Perrons. After James Wan showed what he could do with Insidious, and Dead Silence before it (shut up, I liked it), I look immensely forward to another creepy show.

The book is available on Amazon, naturally, and several chunks can be sampled here.

For more information on the Warrens, be sure to check out their (woefully out-of-date) official website.