There are those special moments when the horror of reality can inspire a number of mediums – from artwork, to film, to literature. It’s no surprise, really, when real life offers something far more terrifying than the works of imagination. It’s a harsh world after all, where humanity and even nature can deal out their own horrific nightmares.
Let’s delve into those real life events that inspired a writer to pick up a pen. From the top!
The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
Every horror fan, and non horror fan for that matter, knows of The Exorcist in some regard – if not the original novel then the widely successful film adaptation. Not only did it win numerous awards, but it’s considered one of the most prominent horror films of all time.
But where did the idea come from? Let me tell you.
It began in the late 1940s, with a fourteen year old boy, known only by the pseudonyms “Roland Doe” and “Robbie Mannheim”. After expressing his interest in the Ouija board, his aunt, being a spiritualist, apparently introduced him to one.
(Which, if you ask me, is totally a responsible thing to do. You know, give a child a tool that can, by your own belief, literally communicate with the dead. But I digress.)
The story goes that after his aunt died and Roland subsequently attempted to contact her through the board, strange things started happening in the household; furniture moving by itself, even levitating in the air. The family contacted their Lutheran pastor, however after witnessing the occurrences himself, the pastor suggested the intervention of a Catholic priest. Thus the exorcisms took place, multiple rituals over several weeks where nine priests and thirty-nine other witnesses signed the final clerical papers. During which, the boy allegedly freed himself from his restraints, and was able to injure himself and the performing priest. His behaviour underwent a drastic change, as foul and insulting language spewed from him.
(I think if old men were looming over me, splashing me with water and speaking some ancient language, my behaviour would change too.)
After the entire process, it was said that Roland went on to live an ordinary life. Over the years, the account has been heavily scrutinised, with the supernatural aspects being altogether dismissed and in some cases, the conclusion was that the teenager was nothing more than a trickster.
(Sure, blame the kid!)
All in all, the creep factor’s pretty high with this one.
The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson
Another puzzling and spooky tale that’s widely known for its on-page and on-screen popularity. There was a lot of controversies surrounding the Amityville house, but it quickly became the most popular haunting account in American folklore.
What happened, you ask? Well sit back, and let me tell you.
His name was Ronald DeFeo Jr, and he was twenty-three years old. One evening, he entered a local bar, to supposedly get help, as he declared his parents had been shot. He led a group of people back to his family home, and the authorities were swiftly called. They discovered six people in their beds, dead from gunshot wounds – mother, father and four siblings, all of whom were younger than Ronald.
Due to inconsistencies in his story, in which he stated a hitman had been responsible, Ronald finally admitted to doing the murders himself. He received a life sentence, and over the years has changed his account numerous times of what truly transpired. In one narrative, he said that his family were plotting to kill him, and in another, he blamed his sister for it all. The weird thing is, their systems were clean of drug use, and there were no signs of struggle detected, so just how were they all still in their beds?
(Yes, I know… Creepy.)
Skip to 1975, a year later, and a new family moved into the house. After a short time, they then fled, claiming that they had been the victims of paranormal activity. Strange noises, damage to the doors and windows that seemed to come from nowhere, and even cloven hoof prints – there’s a considerable amount of abnormalities that the Lutz family apparently experienced.
(In all seriousness, would you live in a house where the previous occupants were all murdered? I’m assuming they got a hell of a discount.)
As haunting’s go, this one is a humdinger!
Audrey Rose by Frank De Felitta
Another bestseller followed by a film, and whilst I’d consider it a little less well known, it’s no less creepy. The origins of this novel directly relate to the author himself, Frank De Felitta.
Don’t know the story? Not a problem!
It goes that whilst he and his wife were sitting on the terrace of their home in Los Angeles, music made itself known, coming from inside their house. When they went to investigate, they observed their son, Raymond, playing the piano, of which he had never received lessons for.
(Seriously? Roland, Ronald and Raymond?)
Raymond stated that his “fingers were doing it” and the couple admitted their shock and fear. They consulted an occultist, of whom suggested that the boy may have been conjuring up an earlier life. It was this very up close and personal experience that inspired the Audrey Rose novel.
Reincarnation is definitely interesting, for sure!
That’s it! If you’ve gotten this far, then I thank you for reading. Who knows, maybe there will be a part two to this in the future.