CREEPY CORNER: Sometimes True Stories Are Scarier Than The Movies

Sometimes the true story is even creepier than the movie.

Apr 14, 2014 at 10:00am | Leave a comment

I'm pretty damn excited about "Oculus."
 
What's "Oculus?" you ask? Well, in case you haven't been keeping up with your Creepy Corner pop culture, "Oculus" is supposed to be THE next big horror movie that follows in the dark and shadowed footsteps of "The Conjuring."
 
I've avoided learning too much about the movie (it's no fun going into a horror movie knowing all the details), but from what I understand it's about a haunted/cursed/demonic mirror of sorts, and the brother and sister who are doomed to contend with it. You had me at haunted/cursed/demonic mirror. 
 
"The Conjuring" whetted my appetite for a tight, atmospheric horror movie that wasn't "found footage" or torture porn and actually told a story. If "Oculus" lives up to its hype, we Creepy Corneristas are in for a treat. 
 
Apparently April of 2014 is a good month for chills. "The Quiet Ones," set to come out at the end of the month, is another ghost movie about an experiment with the paranormal gone awry. Basically it's about a professor and a group of students who attempt to create a poltergeist using human energy, a young girl pushed "to the edge of sanity," and good ol' fashioned pseudo science. They conjure up something bad, and evil ensues. What intrigues me even more than the actual movie is the story behind it. 
 
Apparently, "The Quiet Ones" is based on a true story. Have you heard of the "The Philip Experiment"?
 
In the 1970s, some Canadian parapsychologists attempted to prove that ghosts were only the creation of the human mind, and under the right circumstances, a ghost could be made. 
 
Of course any self respecting ghost needs a backstory, so the parapsychologists, headed by Dr. Alan Robert George Owen, founder of the Toronto Society for Physical Research, fabricated one. They called their "ghost" Philip Aylesford from the 17th century. They gave the fictional Philip a wife, a lover, a love triangle and a tragic death at the battle of Diddington. 
 
They even drew a picture of Philip. 
 
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They did all this so that everyone involved could completely buy into the reality of Philip, and they would have a clear entity to bring forth. Supposedly it worked. Well, maybe. 
 
The participants claimed that Philip made contact via rapping on a table and levitating it. You can watch the footage here, but I can't help but think that it looks suspect. Sure it appears that the table raises, but the controls for this "experiment" seem questionable at best. Upon further reading, there is a lot of controversy surrounding "The Philip Experiment" -- some say it is real, others call BS. I tend to land on the side of BS, but either way it's a pretty neat jumping off point for a horror movie, no?
 
"The Philip Experiment" got me thinking about the true stories behind some of my favorite horror movies. In my opinion, if there's a seed of truth behind a movie, it makes it all the scarier. 
 
So here are a few of my favorites. Yes, we all know "The Exorcist," "The Amityville Horror," "Zodiac" and "The Shining." But here are a few that might be slightly less well known, where the true story might actually be creepier than the movie. 
 
 
Written by Don Mancini, the movie "Child's Play" resolves around a young boy's doll, Chucky, that is possessed by the spirit of a serial killer. Duh, you know this. 
 
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But the inspiration for "Child's Play" was none other than -- your favorite and mine -- Robert the Doll of Key West, Florida! 
 
I've mentioned Robert before, and many of you have brought him up in the comments. But I can't get enough of him, he's one of my favorites. 
 
I even went to visit him:
 
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My very own picture from when I visited Robert. "Never trust a doll that has a doll", my friend remarked. 

 
Robert the Doll was given to young Robert Eugene Otto by a Haitian servant that, depending on which source you check out, was wrongly fired from the Otto household. Apparently the doll (made using some of Eugene's real hair), was cursed. 
 
Young Master Otto, who decided to go by Eugene and give his name, Robert, to the doll, became obsessed with the play thing. And things got creepy quick. Robert's laughter could be heard all throughout the house, and sometimes two separate, unique voices could be heard emanating from Eugene's room -- one was Eugene's, one was Robert's. 
 
Even after Eugene grew up, and Robert got his own room in the attic of his family's house, people reported seeing the silhouette of the doll walking around in the windows. 
 
Robert the Doll now resides at the East Martello Museum in Key West. You can pay him a visit, but be sure to ask his permission before taking his picture, as Robert is still very temperamental (his facial expressions have been reported to change depending on his "mood"), and he's been known to jam cameras when not properly addressed. In fact, Robert is surrounded by letters from people all over the world asking Robert's forgiveness, after they have "displeased" him and been punished with bad luck. 
 
 
I freaking hate this movie. It combines everything that terrifies me in one movie: home invasion, masked marauders, being stalked, being stabbed, and watching my loved ones being stabbed. 
 
And dammit all, it's inspired by a true story. Well, a few true stories. 
 
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Director/writer Bryan Bertino was inspired to pen this film by something that happened to him while he was a kid:
As a kid, I lived in a house on a street in the middle of nowhere. One night, while our parents were out, somebody knocked on the front door and my little sister answered it. At the door were some people asking for somebody that didn’t live there. We later found out that these people were knocking on doors in the area and, if no one was home, breaking into the houses.
If that isn't awful enough, he also based the movie on the Manson Family murders and the Keddie Cabin Murders. 
 
What are the Keddie Cabin Murders? 
 
On April 12th, 1981, the bodies of Sue Sharp, John Sharp and Dana Wingate were found mutilated in Cabin 28 at the Keddie Resort in the Sierra Nevadas. Tina Sharp, sister to John and daughter to Sue was missing (her head was found in the woods years later), and two younger siblings and their friend were found, thankfully unharmed, in another room. 
 
All the victims were discovered by Sheila Sharp, daughter to Sue and sister to John, Tina, and the other children, after she came home from a sleepover RIGHT NEXT DOOR. 
 
The family and friends had apparently been bound and tortured for around 10 hours while locked in the idyllic cabin in the woods. Authorities suspect that the killers were either waiting in the house for the family to return, or had followed them in. 
 
The next cabin was only 15 feet away, and all night NOBODY HEARD ANYTHING. To this day, the murders have not been solved and Cabin 28 has since been demolished. 
 
 
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Richard Gere...spoooooooky. 

 
OK, I love this movie. Richard Gere investigates the strange sighting of a mysterious "Mothman" every time something bad happens in the quiet town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. The movie was actually very loosely based on the book, "The Mothman Prophecies" by John A. Keel. 
 
First reported in 1966 by cemetery workers, the Mothman was described as a large "winged man" who flew out of the nearby trees. The men described the creature as too large to be a bird, and possessing the arms and leg of a human. Countless sightings of the Mothman were reported in Point Pleasant between 1966 and 1967, most of them eerily consistent: glowing red eyes, a large, dark humanoid form with wings, an odd high-pitched humming sound. 
 
Newell Partridge was watching TV one night. Suddenly, his screen went dark, a "weird pattern" appeared, and he briefly heard the high-pitched hum coming from outside his house. Hearing his dog howling, Partridge stepped outside to be confronted with two glowing red circles watching from across the yard. Partridge was understandably unnerved. Before he could stop him, his dog ran across the yard to the "eyes" and was never seen again. 
 
One of the eeriest occurrences happened to Mary Hyre, a local reporter. One night an odd, short man, with glasses, dark hair, and a bowl cut came into her office. She described his eyes as "strange" and noted that he spoke in a "low, halting voice." He asked for directions, and at one point, when she had to excuse herself to answer the phone, she noticed him examining a pen on her desk as if he'd never seen one. Suddenly, he "grabbed the pen, laughed loudly and ran out of the building."
 
The Mothman's "big year" culminated in the collapse of the Silver Bridge in Point Pleasant in the winter of 1967, ending the barrage of sightings that had plagued the town. The Mothman is still sighted intermittently around the world, and he has come to be known as a harbinger of doom. However, the mystery of what exactly he is still remains. 
 
What "based on a true story" horror movies are your favorite? Do you think "Oculus" or "The Quiet Ones" will be any good? What kinds of "true story" horror movies scare you most?