While most of the world are congratulating James Wan on his skillful mastery of fear in his newest horror offering The Conjuring, based on the “true story” of the Perron family who lived in a haunted farmhouse in 1971. There are a few folks who claim that The Conjuring is a remake of a 1991 made for television movie called The Haunted.
On one website, i09.com, a reader even shows clips from the TV movie and states bluntly that the two films are the same.
The only things that the films have in common are the “real-life” paranormal investigative couple Ed and Lorraine Warren. The Warrens had a long and prolific career investigating cases of haunting and demon possession, including the Amityville house that the Lutz’s claimed was haunted so badly that they abandoned the house and most of their possessions.
Arguably the two cases in the two films are similar. Both dealt with demons who lived in the houses, although one was an old farmhouse in Rhode Island and the other was a duplex in West Pittston, Pennsylvania. Both cases were “real” and both dealt with families who wrote about their experiences after they’d been helped by the Warrens.
The Warrens helped write the script for the 1991 TV film and Lorraine Warren was only consulted when The Conjuring went through a re-write.
The 1991 film deals with the real life trials of the Smurls. Their problems ran from 1974 to 1989 and the world’s press followed their problems as did the church and the Warrens.
The Smurl family wrote a book about their experiences in 1986 and published the book under the same title as the made for TV film. There were quite a few doubters in regards to the authenticity of their haunting experience and the other big difference between the two “demonic” problems was that the Smurl family were active members of their local church and pretty religious.
The Perron family were not.
The Perron’s problems happened earlier in the 1970s, 1971 to be exact, and their haunting affected their entire family, mother and father Carolyn and Roger, as well as their children; Andrea, Cynthia, Nancy, April and Christine . Ed and Lorraine Warren attempted an exorcism of the house and one of the Perron daughters, Andrea later chronicled the events in a book series titled, House of Darkness House of Light: The True Story.
According to Christopher Rosa over at nextmovie.com, Wan’s film follows the book’s recounting of the horrors that the family faced remarkably well.
Rosa points out several instances where the film and the book’s events marry up very well. He says that the “Annabelle” doll, the cellar, the witch and the ghost boy all exist in the book’s version of events almost exactly as they appear in the film.
The Perron’s moved into their Rhode Island home in 1971 with their five children and soon after moving in they began to experience problems. Their problems happened a full three years before the Smurls haunting.
The film actually began development over 20 years ago after Ed Warren played a tape of their original interview with Carolyn Perron for film producer Tony DeRosa-Grund. The producer made a recording of Warren playing back the tape and of them talking about the incident. By the time the tape finished, Ed Warren said to the producer, “If we can’t make this into a film I don’t know what we can.”
DeRosa-Grund then wrote a treatment for the film and after one deal with Gold Circle Films fell through, the film stayed in “development hell” until 2009. By November 2011, Wan’s name was mentioned as being part of the project. When the film was finally made, it had an overall production cost of $20 million and has already made over $17 million in the first few days of its opening.
So while the film The Conjuring may seem an awful lot like the made for TV film The Haunted, which was aired in 1991, the only real similarities between the two films are, in fact, the Warrens who did perform an enormous amount of paranormal investigations in the 1970s and 1980s.
In fact, at one point, The Conjuring was almost re-named The Warren Files!
So the charge of James Wan’s film The Conjuring being a remake of an earlier made for TV film is untrue, even if both families got help from the real-life ghost busting couple, Ed and Lorraine Warren.
By Michael Smith