6. The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)
One of the better movies about exorcism was loosely based on the 1975 case of Anneliese Michel, a German girl who died during the rite of exorcism and whose attending priest was accused by the state of negligent homicide (the purported recording of the actual exorcism is searchable on YouTube, if you dare). The Exorcism of Emily Rose was directed by Scott Derrickson and stars Laura Linney, Tom Wilkinson, Campbell Scott and Jennifer Carpenter.
Like The Exorcist, the movie pits science versus religion, and here, it goes all the way to court. It’s the kind of battle, in which evil seems to have the upper hand. And it is unnerving and visceral because of the physical torture that is imposed upon the living. This is the arena by which the devil comes alive. And he made sure everyone knows this.
During the making of the movie, Jennifer Carpenter who played Emily Rose in the movie (and whose physical contortions without the aid of special effects made her performance all the more frightening) told in an interview how her radio kept turning on by itself in the middle of the night.
And at one time, it was really loud and played Pearl Jam’s song Alive, the part of the chorus whose lines were “I’m still alive.” She also said that Laura Linney’s TV too, mysteriously turned on by itself. Either this is the devil’s handiwork or just mechanical failure, the devil sure has a good taste in music.
7. The Possession (2012)
Before sending chills down his enemies’ spines as the ruthless Negan in the Walking Dead, Jeffrey Dean Morgan starred along with Kyra Sedgwick in The Possession directed by Ole Bornedal. In it he played a father whose little daughter bought a mysterious, old box in a yard sale.
It turned out to be a Hebrew Dybbuk box which contained an evil spirit of the same name which attached itself to the girl. The story was based on an actual Dybbuk box which was even auctioned on eBay. Previous owners tell of tales of sickness and nightmares that befell whoever was in possession of the box.
That being said, as a rule, you make a movie about an evil artifact, be ready for anything. According to Morgan, many weird things happened on the set. They include lights exploding for no apparent reason, cold winds circle inside closed sets and the prop storage catching fire and burning to the ground, taking with it the movie version of the Dybbuk box.
Jason Haxton, the current owner of the real Dybbuk box offered to lend production his prized possession, to which producer Sam Raimi said, “Hell, no.” Good call.
8. The Ghost of Goodnight Lane (2012)
Once upon a time, Ali Bijan of Media World Company, purchased an old property in Texas and turned it into a studio, which turned out to be haunted. Some of the paranormal occurrences as told by the crew were: apparitions of an unknown man, heavy film equipment were moved around when nobody was looking, and the most shocking of them was someone getting slapped in the face by an invisible hand. Things were happening so frequently, the crew had a logbook of their experiences.
Paranormal experts were invited to investigate the place and came out with their stamp of approval–the studio was genuinely haunted.
This inspired Bijan to write and direct a movie about the studio. Ghost of Goodnight Lane attracted the curiosity of actors the likes of Billy Zane and Lacey Chabert to join in. The movie was essentially a horror-comedy and the “presence” provided the goosebumps: Lights would flicker and fall from the ceiling. The crew would hear their names called out not by their supervisors, but by unseen voices. This is as authentic as hauntings on the set go, unfortunately for the movie, critics thought it sucked.
9. Behind The Candelabra (2013)
Gold plated cars, champagne bottles and bubble baths. Liberace’s glittering life is celebrated in the Steven Soderbergh audacious biopic based on the memoir of Liberace’s chauffeur and all-around lover Scott Thorson. Michael Douglas didn’t just play Liberace magnificently, he brought him back to life, which may hold true in some way. It just so happens the flamboyant pianist didn’t want to be upstaged, even from the afterlife.
According to Douglas and Matt Damon (who played Scott Thorson), unusual things happened while making the movie. Both felt in more than one occasion, a cold swirl of air pass by, even pausing at each other and saying, “Did you feel that?” Their noses also detected the smell of a strong man’s cologne.
But it was during scenes wherein Douglas was behind the piano and being all Liberace-like that the spookiness reached its peak. He’d feel someone touch his shoulder, caress it, though no one was near him. There were also reports of lights flickering madly. Now, who do you think would want to get their attention from beyond?
10. The Conjuring (2013, 2016) and Annabelle (2014)
The Conjuring franchise is one of the scariest movies of late. Its combination of factual events, retro and CG make for such a frightening experience that a 65-year old man suffered a heart attack and died while watching the sequel. Blame it on that climactic scene involving the demonic nun Valak. The nun and other haunting images of the movie have that power to stay with you, that there were even claims by audiences that after watching the movie, ghosts followed them to their homes.
The brainchild of directed James Wan and writers Chad and Carey Hayes, the Conjuring revolves around the true-to-life cases of demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, while the spin-off Annabelle is about the titular doll from hell, which was inspired by true events. Off camera, there were a number of strange things that happened on the set.
During the filming of the first movie, the Perron family whose haunted house experiences during the 70s were the basis of the story, paid a visit. As they set foot on the set, they felt a sudden gust of wind, even though according to crew, the trees around remained still. James Wan recalled how his dog viciously growled at an empty corner and later turned its head around as if following something invisible. Verga Farmiga found five slash marks made by claws on her laptop screen.
Conjuring 2 which was about the Enfield Poltergeist case in London in 1977, also had its share of spooky on the set stories. At one time, the heavy curtains on a closed soundstage began to sway on their own and it was even caught on camera. As Wilson and Wan study the footage, a crew member walked behind the curtains and saw that nobody was there, the air-conditioning was off and there was no wind inside whatsoever. They had the set blessed by a priest for good measure.
In the movie Annabelle, director John Leonetti found something similar to Farmiga’s–3-finger claw marks on a dusty window which mirrors the 3-fingered demon in the story. Other strange occurrences on the set include a lightning fixture getting unhinged on its own and fell and struck an actor on the head.
These unexplained incidents only give more credence to the legend of the franchise. And it doesn’t stop there since they are still making sequels.
Author Bio: Geonard Yleana is a writer, illustrator and publishes independent comic books. His taste in cinema expands worldwide and across all genres and timelines.