Hollywood Haunts: Unmasking The Amityville Horror and The Conjuring

Copyright US Ghost Adventures

Ed and Lorraine Warren were well-known for their books about the paranormal, but their horror movie portrayals have truly cemented them in popular culture. The Conjuring universe boasts several films, with another on the horizon. Beyond that, movies like The Amityville Horror, Annabelle, and The Nun have all been linked to the Warrens’ cases. It’s no wonder that anyone even remotely interested in horror or the supernatural recognizes their names.

However, while some Hollywood embellishment is expected, there’s evidence suggesting these movies stray further from the truth than they let on. It’s not just about heightening drama. A closer look reveals a significant gap between the Warrens’ portrayal of events and what actually happened to the families involved.

In the next two parts of this blog series, we’ll delve deeper into the well-known Ed and Lorraine Warren movies, separating fact from fiction and uncovering the stories behind the scares. Let’s dig into The Amityville Horror and The Conjuring to learn what movie details are real and which so-called “facts” are actually fiction.

The Amityville Horror (1979, 2005)

Copyright US Ghost Adventures

The story of The Amityville Horror, a large Dutch colonial house in Amityville, New York, has become legendary among horror fans and those interested in the paranormal. It all began with a horrific tragedy. A young man, Ronald DeFeo Jr., killed his entire family within the house in 1974.


This true-life murder case fueled a bestselling novel by Jay Anson in 1977, selling over 10 million copies. Just two years later, the story was adapted into a highly successful film starring James Brolin, Margot Kidder, and Rod Steiger. The film raked in over $86 million, becoming the second-highest-grossing film of 1979. It was a massive success, spawning another lucrative remake in 2005 featuring Ryan Reynolds.

The Amityville Horror franchise has undoubtedly been a financial powerhouse. However, the question remains: is this a true story, or is there more fiction than fact at play?

Copyright US Ghost Adventures

The Famous Story


In 1927, a large house was built in Amityville, Long Island, roughly 30 miles from New York City. The house sits on land rumored to be a former Shinnecock native burial ground, and whispers followed it of a previous owner, John Ketchum, who allegedly dabbled in Satanism.


These rumors gained a chilling backdrop in 1974. On November 13th, 23-year-old Ronald DeFeo Jr. brutally murdered his entire family – including his parents and four siblings aged 9 to 18 – inside the house. Shortly after, he confessed and received six life sentences in December 1975. The young man was a known heroin and LSD user, and many assumed he had lost his mind due to drug use. 


While DeFeo awaited his fate, the house at 112 Ocean Avenue welcomed new residents. Three months after the vicious murders, the house was sold for just $80,000 to George and Kathleen Lutz.  


Upon moving in, the Lutzes had the home blessed by a priest,​​ Father Ralph J. Pecoraro. Later, George Lutz revealed that Father Pecoraro heard voices telling him to “get out” of the house during the blessing. Additionally, this disembodied voice told the priest to steer clear of the second-story bedroom, where the DeFeo parents slept. 


The blessing seemed to be a turning point. Instead of peace, the Lutzes were bombarded by a relentless barrage of paranormal phenomena. Doors slammed shut on their own. Objects, and even family members, defied gravity and levitated. An unseen force repeatedly bound George to his bed, and George would routinely wake up at 3:15 AM – around the time of the DeFeo murders. 


Unexplained chills and foul odors permeated the house. A viscous green slime oozed from the walls and keyholes, adding a grotesque touch to the haunting. Most disturbingly, Kathleen was said to have aged rapidly and levitated under the influence of a dark presence.


After only 28 days, the Lutzes fled the house, leaving everything behind. Five months after that, paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren entered the house. Ed claimed to be shoved down, while Lorraine saw visions of the DeFeo murders. While they were in the basement, they also captured a demonic entity on camera.


The Amityville house remains a point of fascination, blurring the lines between true crime and the paranormal. The DeFeo murders undeniably took place, but the Lutzes’ claims of hauntings continue to be debated.

Separating Fact from Fiction


The Amityville Horror story is a chilling one, but the truth behind it remains murky. Though the Lutz family passed lie detector tests, some skepticism lingers.


Given George Lutz’s reported history of dabbling in the occult, it’s possible a combination of a heightened imagination and a desire for recognition within the occult community fueled his alleged experiences within the Amityville house.


Later, it was revealed that the Lutz family was deeply in debt and had legal issues, leading many to wonder if they sold the Amityville story to get out of trouble. In fact, the couple’s attorney, William Weber, came forward in 1979 and admitted that the Amityville Horror story was conceived “over many bottles of wine” shared between Weber and the Lutzes. 


Adding to the confusion, subsequent owners, the Cromartys, lived peacefully in the house for a decade and reported no strange occurrences. They even debunked some of the more sensational myths, like the “Red Room” being just a closet.


Further complicating the story is Ronald DeFeo Jr., who changed his story about the killings multiple times. He first told police that the mob had taken a hit on his family, and he couldn’t hear the shooting because he was high on marijuana in the basement. He also said that his sister, Dawn, was the one who started the killing spree and that he was forced to shoot her in self-defense. Some have suggested that he did it with an accomplice. 


DeFeo eventually claimed demonic voices drove him to kill, a move some saw as a calculated attempt to plead insanity for a lighter sentence. However, before he died in 2021, DeFeo recanted this story, stating, “There was no demon. I am the demon.”


As for the photo of the demon in the basement, It’s widely believed that the “ghost” captured in the photo is actually one of the investigators working on-site with the Warrens in the Amityville home. The use of infrared film explains why the man in the photo has ghostly white eyes. 

DeFeo’s death leaves the details of the murders shrouded in some mystery. The Amityville Horror blurs the lines between truth and sensationalism. While the DeFeo murders were undeniably real, the paranormal claims remain unproven, leaving the true story of the house on Ocean Avenue up for debate.

The Conjuring (2013)

Copyright US Ghost Adventures

Unlike The Amityville Horror, a story built on a brutal murder, the tale of the Perron family hinges on a different kind of horror – the unsettling presence of the paranormal.


The Perron family’s experiences took place in the Old Arnold Estate, a historic farmhouse located in Harrisville, Rhode Island. Built in 1736 on land with a rich Indigenous history, the house itself exudes a sense of mystery. However, the Perrons’ narrative adds a chilling layer, claiming the estate acted as “a portal cleverly disguised as a farmhouse” (Andrea Perron).


Their story is documented in Andrea Perron’s three-part book series titled “House of Darkness House of Light” and offers a glimpse into the family’s perspective on the hauntings. The Perrons’ chilling “true story” also comes to life in the blockbuster horror flick The Conjuring


The Perron family’s story at the Old Arnold Estate has captivated audiences, but questions linger about its accuracy. While it provides compelling material for books and films, discrepancies raise doubts about whether it’s a factual account or a thrilling narrative created purely for entertainment.

Copyright US Ghost Adventures

The Famous Story


In December 1970, Roger and Carolyn Perron, along with their five daughters, moved into the Old Arnold Estate. The house, built in 1736 on land steeped in Indigenous history, seemed to hold a hidden darkness.


According to Carolyn Perron, their experiences began shortly after moving in. The Perron family wasn’t alone in the old house. It had been home to eight generations of one family, and many of those people had been murdered or died by suicide or tragic accident. The Perrons believed these restless spirits were still there, unaware they had passed on.


It didn’t take long for these spirits to make their presence known. Carolyn recalled her first experience with the otherworldly entities: 


“I was in my bedroom, about 5 o’clock in the morning when I had the first visitation. I opened my eyes and saw the most frightening thing I have ever seen in my life. It was a very tall woman. Her head was like a sack of cobwebs with little tendrils of hair hanging out.”


The children faced their share of disturbances, waking to levitating beds and a foul odor of decay. However, not all spirits were malevolent. Some were playful and even helpful with chores.


The Warrens entered the picture in October 1973 and, according to The Conjuring, soon after hosted an exorcism at the cursed farmhouse. With Ed and Lorraine at the helm, Carolyn Perron began shaking, cursing, vomiting blood, and levitating in her chair, eventually suspending herself upside down from the ceiling. 


The Warrens believed she was possessed by the spirit of Bathsheba Sherman, a malevolent figure allegedly responsible for the Perron family’s torment. In the movie, Bathsheba is depicted as a Satanic witch who murdered her son with a sewing needle before killing herself. Lorraine Warren claimed Bathsheba was the primary tormentor of the Perron family, cursing the land and bringing suffering to its occupants, especially women.

Copyright US Ghost Adventures

Separating Fact from Fiction


When it comes to The Conjuring, the line between reality and Hollywood embellishment is blurry.


First, Ed Warren reportedly had a burning desire to see the Perron case on the big screen. Tony Spera, the Warrens’ nephew, has said that “out of all the cases, that’s the one Ed wanted to make into a movie.” This raises questions about the Warrens’ motivations and potential dramatization of events. 


Second, there’s a significant discrepancy between the film’s portrayal and the Perron family’s account of the “exorcism.” Instead of hosting an exorcism, Ed and Lorraine Warren actually held a seance. The eldest daughter, Andrea, secretly watched the whole thing and alleged that Carolyn floated out of her chair and started speaking in tongues. Roger was so distraught over the experience that he ordered the Warrens to leave the home. However, aside from Andrea’s testimony regarding her mother, there is no evidence supporting that any of this happened. 


Finally, the film’s central antagonist, Bathsheba Sherman, appears to be largely fictionalized. Research reveals she lived a relatively ordinary life near the Perron property. Contrary to popular belief, Bathsheba did not murder her son, who instead lived a full life, according to census data. Bathsheba herself also did not meet an untimely demise. Rather, she died at home in the late 1800s from paralysis and was laid to rest in a cemetery in Harrisville. These days, Bathsheba’s distant relatives are thankful that their ancestor’s reputation is finally being cleared after the Conjuring films tarnished it. 


While the Perron family may have experienced unusual events, the extent and details may be embellished for dramatic effect.

The Conjuring Universe: More Lies to Unravel

Copyright US Ghost Adventures

Sometimes, the scariest things aren’t ghosts or demons but the truth. While The Conjuring and The Amityville Horror may have chilled audiences to the bone, the reality behind these films is a lot less frightening and a whole lot greedier.


It appears the Warrens, along with others involved, prioritized profit over the well-being of the families they claimed to help.  These embellished narratives exploited those who experienced real tragedies, all for financial gain.


We’re only getting started with our expose on The Conjuring universe. Stay tuned for the next installment when we dive into two more Conjuring movies, dissecting the scares, the stories, and most importantly, the truth behind the second and third Conjuring movies. Stay with us as we continue our chilling exploration, separating fact from fiction, one haunting tale at a time.