Following a special one-night encore showing of The Conjuring on Thursday, October 24, an audience at Edmond Town Hall Theatre was treated to a question and answer session with Lorraine Warren and Tony Spera.
The supernatural horror film directed by James Wan follows one of the biggest cases investigated by Ed and Lorraine Warren, Monroe residents who spent decades working as paranormal investigators and authors. Their cases have included the Lutz home in Amityville, N.Y., upon which the book and film The Amityville Horror were based; a 1981 homicide in Connecticut, which was described in Gerald Brittle’s 1983 book The Devil in Connecticut; and a home in Southington they found to be infested with demons, the story of which was turned into the 2009 film The Haunting in Connecticut.
The couple also founded the New England Society for Psychic Research, the oldest ghost hunting group in New England (and of which Mr Spera, her son-in-law, is now the director); and opened The Warrens Occult Museum, which features items from their cases.
In The Conjuring, Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson star as Mr and Mrs Warren. The film follows the Warrens as they visit Carolyn and Roger Perron (played by Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston) after the couple buys and then moves into a farmhouse with their children in 1971. The farmhouse, the Perrons soon discover, is haunted by a demonic witch. The Warrens are called on to investigate and help the family.
Edmond Town Hall had already featured the film for a one-week run in early October. The October 24 event was a special program coordinated between Town Hall Manager Tom Mahoney and Mrs Warren.
While the film played Thursday evening, gasps could occasionally be heard from the crowd along with collective jumps. The movie received applause, but once the stage had been configured, following the screening, for Mrs Warren and Mr Spera to sit at a table for their question and answer session, the pair received a standing ovation.
“I hope you enjoyed this movie, because it was a long time coming,” said Mr Spera.
He explained that movie director Ridley Scott had contacted the Warrens in the early 1990s. Two decades later the script was ready, James Wan had signed on to be the director, and principal photography finally began in February 2012.
“Finally,” Mr Spera said, “it has happened.”
Mrs Warren said speaking at Edmond Town Hall was a treat. As a Monroe resident who is regularly engaged to speak elsewhere, last week’s event brought her home, she said.
“I’ve been involved with this work for a very, very long time,” said Mrs Warren. “I knew something about me was different when I was 7 years old.”
Shadows And Spirits
As a child, Mrs Warren said, she would see shadows. Not knowing what the shadows were, she was also afraid to ask her parents about them. When she began attending Lauralton Hall, the Catholic school for girls in Milford, Mrs Warren said she was also afraid to tell her instructors.
One day, after meeting and marrying Ed Warren, she said, the couple, who were both artists, delivered a painting to a buyer in New Hampshire.
“It was on a long, long dirt road,” said Mrs Warren, “and we were bringing the painting. I spotted a house. A house that didn’t look like it belonged on that dirt road, but I went up to the door and asked the lady if she could give me directions…”
Mrs Warren heard a baby crying while she was speaking to the woman, she said. The Warrens left the house, eventually found their destination, and delivered the painting. Later the Warrens stopped at a coffee shop, and she asked the shop’s owners about the woman she had spoken to in the “big house.”
The woman from the house on the dirt road, they were told, “murdered her husband and murdered that child. She was out of jail.
“I don’t know how she got out of jail,” she said, “but that’s what I could hear, the crying of that baby.”
While at the coffee shop, the Warrens also learned about another house in the area, and Mrs Warren said they decided to see it.
“We went up there, and this spooky house,” Mrs Warren said, “I mean when I tell you spooky… no electricity, no heating. They had fireplaces in different rooms and this very, very, very old man.”
Mrs Warren said she could see a light coming down from the second floor of the building. She thought it would be interesting to see the “haunted house,” she explained. But one moment she was situated behind her husband’s chair looking up, and the next moment she was jolted “out of my body. I was right on the third floor level, and I could look down and see myself. I could see my husband, and I could see how he was horribly upset.”
When a man started to explain to Mr Warren that a number of people who are psychic react to the house, Mrs Warren said her husband responded, “My wife isn’t psychic. She’s my wife.”
“Anyway it started like that, and I went back into my body again. He picked me up and put me down on one of the steps going down the driveway. It’s like coming out of a deep sleep. You can’t just stand up and walk,” said Mrs Warren. “That was very interesting. It was very interesting for me to see that spirit.”
Mrs Warren later explained that her husband did not understand, nor did he like witnessing, his wife’s psychic occurrences. It wasn’t until the couple was visiting the widow of a judge near Manchester that Mrs Warren said her husband began to believe. During the visit, Mrs Warren said she began speaking to the widow’s husband.
“It was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful for him to see her … That’s when Ed really began to realize that I was psychic,” said Mrs Warren.
Religion And Faith
After describing her beginning as a psychic, Mrs Warren and Mr Spera opened the discussion up for questions from the audience.
The pair described how a room full of artifacts from cases that have been investigated by the Warrens cases, shown in The Conjuring, is actually kept in a building separate from Mrs Warren’s home in Monroe. Mr Spera explained the items cannot be thrown out, and a priest, who lives on the property, blesses the objects each day for upkeep.
Having a priest live on the premises “means so much,” said Mrs Warren, who added she has always been “very close to her religion.”
Mr Spera said people investigating paranormal situations need to have faith.
“God is more power than any devil or demon,” he said.
Mr Spera and Mrs Warren both warned the members in the audience to never use a Ouija board. Mr Spera said the entity speaking through the Ouija board may not be “Aunt Sally,” no matter what is conveyed, and both advised burning Ouija boards and consecrating them if they are owned.
If confronted by a bad paranormal situation, Mrs Warren advised using religion and faith as a defense. Should that happen, she advised audience members to say “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to leave and go back to where you came from.”
When asked whether multiple local locations may be haunted, Mr Spera said, “Ed used to say Newtown was one of the most haunted places… he said Main Street was a village of seven haunted houses.” The audiences responded with laughter.
Some questions focused on The Conjuring, and Mrs Warren said she still keeps in contact with the family that was the center of the movie.
Mr Spera said the movie was a “true to life case,” with some artistic licenses taken. Ms Farmiga and Mr Wilson both visited with Mr Spera and Mrs Warren before the film was shot, according to Mr Spera.
Mr Spera said that when watching The Conjuring, he still gets choked up watching Mr Warren, who died in 2006, being portrayed.
Mr Spera also readied the audience for The Conjuring 2, saying Mr Wilson and Ms Farmiga have already signed up to reprise their roles.
“The Conjuring 2 is going to be a very good case,” said Mr Spera, who also joked about who would play him in the movie.