The Exorcist is widely regarded as the scariest film of all time, but did you know that it was based on a true story? And unlike other horror movies that are supposedly based on true stories, it seems to be remarkably faithful to the real life reports of what happened.
The famous film was based on a novel by William Peter Blatty, who was inspired to write his magnum opus after reading an article in The Washington Post, recounting the real life exorcism of a local schoolboy. Blatty changed the gender of the child from male to female, presumably because he couldn't figure out how a boy would masturbate with a crucifix, but other than that his story feels more like a loose adaptation than an outright fictionalization. Honestly, a lot of the creepiest stuff was ripped from real life.
The real life boy remains unnamed, though he is most commonly referred to Roland Doe. He was raised by extremely Christian parents in Prince George's County Maryland, a suburb or Washington D.C. Doe was said to be extremely close to his aunt who was a self-described spiritualist that introduced the boy to Ouija boards and other stuff that his religious parents probably didn't care too much for. When his aunt died, Roland tried to use her Ouija board to talk to her spirit, and just like in the movie, that's when shit started to go down.
Roland was said to be plagued by a variety of unexplainable goings on following his dalliances with the dark arts. Religious images on the wall of his parents' house would shake in the boy's presence. Unexplained scratches appeared on Doe's body as if he had been attacked. Witnesses even reported seeing Doe's desk at school move on its own. After a few terrifying, godless instances, he boy's frightened parents soon turned to religion to cure their ailing son. This led to the first of many failed exorcisms performed on the boy.
Roland's condition worsened until it was, as doctors described it, "Pants-shittingly weird." Though accounts vary, people reported that he soon started doing shit that should have been far beyond the capabilities of a teenager who wasn't possessed by the Lord of Darkness. He was said to have strength that far exceeded what he should have been capable of, and he spoke perfect Latin, despite never having been educated in the language. He was also violent as hell, at one point using his super devil strength to rip himself free of his restraints during an early exorcism, then slash the priest with a bedspring.
One night, the words "Saint Louis" were ominously scratched into Roland's stomach, so his parents decided to jump on the next train to Missouri. It was there that the family met Father William Bowdern, a Catholic priest who took up Doe's case. Bowdern performed a series of exorcisms on Doe over the course of two months until one day the boy sat up and said: "Satan! I am Saint Michael! I command you to leave this body now!" He then violently spasmed, as one does when the devil flees your body, and spoke the words: "He's gone."
People have suggested that the story of Roland Doe was a hoax perpetuated by a troubled teen. Others have said it was caused by mental illnesses not fully understood at the time. I don't really think that this is the case, because by all accounts, once the devil was gone from Roland, he never came back. Roland had no memory of his ordeal and went on to live a pretty normal life. He has never spoken about it publicly, and like I said earlier, his exact identity remains unknown to this day. If he were some punk kid looking for attention, he probably would have been more public after the fact and if he were schizophrenic, his symptoms probably would have resurfaced at some point, because that shit doesn't just go away because Saint Michael tells it to. As best I can tell, this story is legit and, if that's true, it means that the scariest part of the scariest movie of all time is that it actually happened.
Before we start this, let me just say this: The Salem witch trials were a stain on American history whereby mass hysteria led to lot of unnecessary deaths. I also want to say that I know that none of the people put to death were actually witches. That said, I kinda think that one of them might have been a witch. Her name was Sarah Good, and I love her.
Sarah Good was a poor beggar in the town of Salem and apparently that's all it took to get you strung up by your neck back then. She was taken to trial and convicted of the crime of witchcraft despite maintaining her innocence up until her last breath. Before she was hung, Sarah Good was given one last chance to admit her "crimes" and she responded like someone out of an early 90s action film. "I am no more a witch than you are a wizard," she said. "If you take my life away, God will give you blood to drink." That's the puritan equivalent of saying, "Go fuck your dad, asshole."
Sarah was put to death, and that's when shit started to get real interesting. 25 years after her murder, Reverend Nicholas Noyes, the man who asked Sarah Good to repent all those years ago, died. He suffered internal bleeding which caused him to essentially drown in his own blood. God had given him blood to drink and the bastard fucking choked on it. Did Sarah Good deserve to die? Absolutely not. Was she a witch? I dunno. I'll let you decide.
Art is a funny thing. When done correctly it can be a source of joy for all who gaze upon it. When done wrong, it can boring, offensive, or just plain awful. When done VERY wrong it can carry a curse that causes fires all over England. Seriously.
You don't need to look long at the Crying Boy Paintings to believe that they might be cursed. Like their name suggests, they're a series of very depressing prints featuring little boys with tears rolling down their cheeks. For some reason this appealed to many a sadistic British person, and prints of the series became exceedingly popular. Ron and May Hall were among the fans of the prints...or at least they were until their house burned down and they blamed it on the painting.
The South Yorkshire couple were the victims of a frying pan fire which ravaged their entire home in 1985. By the end of it, the only thing left was their Crying Boy print which was utterly unscathed. Creepy right? Well the British tabloid The Sun, thought so too, and so they decided to run their story under the title "The Curse of the Crying Boy," and here's where shit gets creepy. The article quoted a local fireman saying that he had encountered many similar instances in which everything in a house burned down except for one of the creepy ass prints. After the publication, numerous letters claimed to have experienced the same fiery fate, and thus the Crying Boy curse was born.
So what caused the phenomenon? Did the paintings depict the victims of an orphanage fire, seeking revenge from beyond the grave? Was God punishing sadistic art collectors for hanging images of tortured children on their wall? Or were the paintings printed on flame resistant material and just happened to appeal to people prone to burning their house down? It's hard to say for sure. What I do know is that it's probably best not to hang one of these things up in your home, just to be safe.
I swear to God I saw a UFO once. I was in my friend's backyard when I noticed something weird floating in the sky with flashing weird lights. I ran inside to tell other people to come out and look, but the by the time I got them to follow me, the thing had vanished completely. To this day my friend not only thinks I'm a liar, but he also refuses to talk to me because he claims that all my yelling about alien spacecraft "ruined his grandpa's shiva."
That's the problem with most UFO sightings: Since most of them only have one witness, they're easy to write off as a hoax or a misunderstanding. If only there were an instance where multiple witnesses reported seeing the same phenomena in the sky because blah blah blah corroborating evidence blah blah. You see where I'm going with this. It's happened tons of times, and a lot of the stories are pretty convincing.
Perhaps the most notable of these mass sightings occurred in 1942 in the skies of Santa Monica, California. Residents reported seeing strange objects flying overhead, and since the country was still pretty damn on edge because of Pearl Harbor, it wasn't long before we they brought in the military and started firing randomly at the objects trying to knock them out of the sky. 1400 rounds of ammunition later, and whatever was in the sky remained unscathed. To this day, we still don't know what the soldiers were firing at, we just know it was something. Not only were the unidentified objects witnessed throughout most of Los Angeles, but we even have a damn photo:
There's no proof that the UFOs were extraterrestrial in nature, but what witnesses described that night was definitely something out of the ordinary. Anyone who knows anything about Santa Monica knows it would have taken something super weird to grab anyone's attention. One witness said: "I'll never forget what a magnificent sight it was. Just marvelous. And what a gorgeous color!" I have to imagine your average weather balloon wouldn't illicit that response. Ultimately, we'll probably never know what was in the sky that night. The only thing we can know for sure is that the Aaron Eckhart movie the episode inspired was absolutely horrendous.
On the list of stuff that will shit your pants, creepy dolls rank third after Chipotle burritos and full fledged enemas. For some reason, children's toys have a way of being deeply unsettling that doesn't make a whole lot of sense when you think about it. I mean, sure, if they're far enough down in the uncanny valley, they can look scary enough, but any logical person knows that, aside from maybe choking on their parts, no human has ever actually been harmed by a doll in real life....or have they?
Listen, if you will, to the real life story of Robert the Doll. One account has it that Robert was given to Robert Eugene Otto as a gift by his Bahamian nanny just as she was deported by Otto's mother for practicing Santeria. Presumably, the gift was less about pleasing the child than it was about getting back at his douchebag, slavedriver of a mom, in which case I salute the nanny as a master of revenge. I mean, look at this thing and imagine living with it in your house.
The child named the doll Robert after himself, adopting the name 'Gene' for himself, to avoid the confusion. As children are want to do, Gene was rather fond of Robert, taking him everywhere he went. This might have been cute were the doll not clearly haunted. The family would often hear what they thought was Gene in the midsts of a temper tantrum, and enter his room to find upturned furniture, broken toys and the boy himself cowering fear saying that Robert was the one responsible. Gene would also have conversations with Robert, which would be innocent enough, were it not for the reports of Robert answering back in a distinctly lower voice.
Unfortunately, Gene never outgrew Robert and was said to carry around the doll with him well into his adult years. Proving that there's hope for all of us, he managed to find a wife named Ann, who was less than thrilled that her husband was obsessed with a child's toy. She demanded Robert be stored the attic to which Robert responded that he'd rather be put in the house's turret so he could have a window to look out of. Gene listened to Robert, and stashed the doll in its own private room like some sort of horrifying Rapunzel. Ann would often hear Gene in the room begging Robert for mercy, and local children often remarked that they saw the silhouette of the doll walking around.
When Gene finally croaked, Ann got the fuck out of their house because that's the only logical thing to do in this situation. She rented it out to some tenants who somehow still took the place, even with the stipulation that Robert get to stay in his room. Not only did the new tenants claim that they heard mysterious giggles at night, they also reported that Robert's expression would change if they said anything that might upset them. When they woke one night to find Robert at the foot of their bed with a knife placed at his side, they decided it was time to evict the creepy little fuck. They donated him to the East Martello Museum where he remains to this day.
So that's it right? Evil contained? Horror movie over? Unfortunately, that's not the case. Robert is said to be ruining more lives than ever these days. It is said that anyone who takes a picture of the doll without asking his permission first will be cursed, which I would assume was just a fun little thing that the museum made up were it not for the thousands of letters that former skeptics have sent to Robert begging forgiveness after incurring his wrath.
So yeah, that's the story of Robert the Doll. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go home and never sleep again.