‘Annabelle’, Chucky doll: The creepiest real-life horror stories
We all know that real life can bring some serious scares that are way deeper than anything our imaginations can come up with. True crime lovers will happily convey stories of Ed Gein and Jeffrey Dahmer, whose horrors are worse than any Saw movie.
While we love a true-crime tale, we have to admit, supernatural scares are even more intriguing: like the real-life Annabelle doll that inspired the movies or the haunted homes that brought spine-tingling movies like The Amityville Horror. We’ve always loved a creepy supernatural flick whose origins are steeped in truth, and these are the most spine-chilling takes on a good old haunting.
Of all the movies based on truth, Child’s Play is easily this most surprising. If it’s been a while since you saw the 1988 horror film, the storyline is creepy, but definitely seemed far-fetched.
Child’s Play begins with a dying serial killer. Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif) is being hunted by the police and is shot multiple times by Detective Mike Norris (Chris Sarandon). He ducks into a toy store and uses Haitian voodoo to possess a “Good Guy Doll” with his vengeful spirit.
Single mom Karen Barclay (Catherine Hicks) then buys the doll for her young son, Andy (Alex Vincent). When Chucky kills Andy’s babysitter, the boy realizes the doll is alive and tries to warn people.
In the real-life story, Eugene Otto was gifted a doll by his family’s Bahamian servants in 1906. The servants had cursed the doll to exact revenge on Eugene’s parents after suffering their abuse. Eugene and his doll, who he named Robert, were instantly inseparable, but his parents soon found that it seemed like when Eugene spoke to Robert, it sounded like the doll spoke back.
The doll also reportedly threw furniture around Eugene’s room and terrorized the family. It’s activities resurged when the doll was found in the family’s attic and began the terror again years later.
An American Haunting
2005’s An American Haunting is a less surprising true story. Based on the novel, The Bell Witch: An American Haunting by Brent Monahan, the film switches from the 21st century to the 19th and follows a recently divorced mother (Susan Almgren) whose daughter (Isabelle Almgren-Doré) is going through a similar experience to Betsy Bell (Rachel Hurd-Wood).
The story that An American Haunting is based on is one of the best-documented ghost stories in history. A spirit haunted the Bell family between 1817 to 1821 in Tennessee, specifically targeting John Bell and his daughter, Betsy. The ghost was allegedly the “witch” of Kate Batts, a neighbor that John Bell had argued with.
The “bell witch” haunting eventually resulted in the poisoning death of John Bell. It remains as the only documented case in US history, and validated by the State of Tennessee, in which a spirit caused a person’s death.
The 2014 film Annabelle, part of The Conjuring franchise, is very loosely based on the actual Annabelle doll, which currently resides in paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren’s Warrens Occult Museum, in Monroe, Connecticut. In the movie, Annabelle, Dr. John Form (Ward Horton) gifts his pregnant wife Mia (Annabelle Wallis) a rare vintage porcelain doll. The doll ultimately becomes possessed by a troubled woman in her final moments and the horror begins.
The real-life Annabelle doll was a Raggedy Ann doll, gifted to a 28-year-old nurse by her mother. The doll began tormenting the nurse and her roommate with noted begging for help, moving positions, and even leaking blood.
The Annabelle doll’s owner finally called in the experts when the doll tried to choke a friend who was napping at their apartment, leaving him with deep gashes and bruising. Ed and Lorraine Warren frequently warned visitors to their museum of the power of the demonic child’s toy.
If we could attribute all of Stephen King’s work to true stories, we may never leave our beds. Luckily, The Shining is the only one inspired by a true haunting. In the movie, Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) becomes a winter caretaker at the isolated Overlook Hotel in Colorado, hoping to cure his writer’s block.
He settles in along with his wife, Wendy (Shelley Duvall), and his son, Danny (Danny Lloyd), who is plagued by psychic premonitions. As Jack’s writing goes nowhere and Danny’s visions become more disturbing, Jack discovers the hotel’s dark secrets and begins to unravel into a homicidal maniac hell-bent on terrorizing his family.
The Overlook Hotel in The Shining is based on the actual haunted hotel, Colorado’s Stanley hotel. King and his wife had stayed at the Stanley Hotel, just before it closed for the season, and the creepy vibes were his inspiration for the novel.
King and his wife’s room had its own real-life haunted history, as in 1911, the chief housekeeper, Elizabeth Wilson was injured in an explosion caused by lighting a lantern. Though she survived the event, it’s said that she still wanders around the room, moving luggage and folding clothes. King has claimed to have seen a young boy while going to his room which wasn’t possible considering he and his wife were the only confirmed guests.
Stephen King isn’t the only one who experienced hauntings at the Stanley, for years guests have reported unexplained noises, figures, and disappearing objects.
Just like the Annabelle doll, the first movie in the Conjuring franchise deeply involves paranormal investigators and demonologists Lorraine and Ed Warren.
In The Conjuring, Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) and Ed (Patrick Wilson) are summoned to the home of Carolyn (Lili Taylor) and Roger (Ron Livingston) Perron. The Perrons and their five daughters have recently moved into a secluded farmhouse, where a supernatural presence has made itself known. Though the manifestations are relatively benign at first, events soon escalate in horrifying fashion, especially after the Warrens discover the house’s macabre history.
The Warrens maintained that the real-life case was extremely similar to the movie version. The malicious spirit in The Conjuring movie was based on the real-life spirit, both named Bathsheba Sherman who truly lived on the Perrons property in the mid-1800s. She was rumored to have been a Satanist, and there was evidence that she had been involved in the death of a neighbor’s child, though no trial ever took place.
The family experienced other spirits as well. The house would frequently smell like rotting flesh and beds would randomly rise off the floor. The basement area felt particularly haunted, the father claiming to feel a “cold, stinking presence behind him” there.