Jul 23, 2013
11:42 AMThe Connecticut Story
Ed and Lorraine Warren of "The Conjuring" Have a Long History of Paranormal Investigation in Connecticut
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One of the biggest horror hits of the summer movie season is The Conjuring, which is "based on the true story" from renowned paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. In the film, the couple tries to help a Rhode Island family allegedly terrorized by "a dark presence" in their farmhouse.
Starring Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as the acclaimed "demonologists," The Conjuring opened as the No. 1 film of the past weekend, earning $41 million. The film's strong debut is due in part to strong reviews from both critics and fans (85% and 89% positive respectively from RottenTomatoes.com), and a viral word-of-mouth campaign that has been building over the past few months.
Although films such as The Amityville Horror and The Haunting in Connecticut have drawn upon the personal investigative case files of the Warrens, this is the first time that the husband-and-wife team from Monroe have appeared as actual characters in a movie. Lorraine, now 86, has appeared as herself on recent TV programs like "A Haunting" and "Paranormal State." Ed passed away in 2006.
The Warrens originally started out as artists and took up ghost hunting on the side (Ed claimed that his interest in the subject came from having grown up in a haunted house in Bridgeport). After decades of investigating paranormal-type events around Connecticut and then the world, they really gained notoriety in the the 1960s and '70s as they began lecturing at colleges; their appearances would usually be near Halloween and in addition to detailing their exploits, would heavily feature slideshows of spooky photos as well as audio tapes of supposedly demonic voices that they had recorded. The opening scenes of The Conjuring feature Ed and Lorraine at one of these talks.
For the record: Like so many Connecticut residents, I first saw the Warrens at one of these talks back during my college days in the 1980s. I remember not being able to sleep for a few days, as visions of Annabelle—the supposedly possessed doll that they keep locked behind glass in their occult museum in Monroe—terrorized me.
One of the reasons that the Warrens made such an impact was that they were the only real-life ghosthunters and demonologists out there for a long time. In their heyday, there was no Internet with thousands of ghost pictures and videos, no dozen “ghost hunter”-type TV shows, no hundreds of paranormal investigation groups blitzing graveyards and old houses—there was only Ed and Lorraine, and since they were the main source for this kind of thing, it really established their reputation.
Connecticut Magazine did an in-depth profile of the Warrens in the April 1972 issue entitled, "In Search of the Supernatural," which is right around the time that the main events of The Conjuring are set.
Although the story is more than 40 years old, it still holds up. Here it is in its entirety:
In Search of the Supernatural
Have Ed and Lorraine Warren proved the existence of a spirit world?
By John C. Peterson
To some the occult is late-night television, to others it’s a Ouija Board, but to scores of Connecticut residents it has been experiences they didn’t believe would exist and would like to forget.
Two of the state’s residents, Edward and Lorraine Warren of Stepney, know about these experiences. They’ve devoted a life-time to investigating them. Their work has taken them to all sections of the state, the nation and Canada. And, as they point out, to worlds that many people refuse to recognize.
Their investigations have dealt with human and inhuman spirits--crisis ghosts, malign forces, demons and witches. Artists by profession, the Warrens, who have 27 years’ experience investigating psychic phenomena, warn of the dangers of fooling with the spirit world.
Locally the Warrens have checked numerous reports of supernatural activity, such as the demons that drove an 18-year-old girl to practice human vampirism, the spirits which haunt a Willimantic theatre, and the ghost with mixed emotions that helped an East Haddam family renovate its home.
While many persons scoff at such work, the Warrens believe they have sufficient proof of an afterlife and the evil forces--sometimes uncontrollable--waiting both in the darkness and in the full light of day.
“It’s not a bunch of fairy tales. These things are happening right here,” Warren said. “Everyone,” he claims, “has experienced one form of supernatural activity or another.”