As you would guess, there are a lot of horror movie fans at The Horror Dome. Though the battle rages as to what is the scariest film ever, there’s one flick that consistently ranks near the top; William Friedkin’s 1973 classic, The Exorcist. These days, Friedkin is re-examining the subject of demonic possession with a documentary, The Devil And Father Amorth. In this film, Friedkin witnesses an exorcism performed by the late Rev. Gabriele Amorth. Once the chief exorcist of the Diocese of Rome, Amorth claimed to have performed tens of thousands of exorcisms. Though skeptics claim demonic possession is nothing but folklore, there are many tales of real-life exorcisms. Here are a few of the best:
Growing up devoutly Catholic in Bavaria, Anneliese Michel was a normal kid, until at the age of 16, she started blacking out and walking around in a trance-like state. Despite treatment for temporal lobe epilepsy, her symptoms worsened and she began hearing the voices of demons. Local priests performed over 67 exorcisms on Anneliese, and discovered she was possessed by the spirits of Lucifer, Cain, Judas Iscariot, Adolf Hitler, and Nero. Despite the priests’ best efforts, Anneliese slowly stopped eating, and eventually died from malnutrition.
Elisabeth de Ranfaing
A widow, unsuccessfully courted by a physician later convicted of practicing magic (it was the 17th century, after all), Elisabeth de Ranfaing began exhibiting the symptoms of demonic possession and underwent multiple exorcisms in 1619. During these sessions she spoke fluently in languages she did not know (French, Greek, Latin, Hebrew and Italian), and seemed privy to secrets kept by those around her. When a priest made a mistake in his recital of an exorcism rite in Latin, she is said to have corrected him, and then mercilessly mocked him.
When Robbie’s aunt, and only real friend, suddenly passed away in 1949, he began using a Ouija board as an attempt to contact her in the afterlife. Though he never contacted his aunt, he apparently stoked the curiosity of numerous demons, who subsequently possessed the lonely young boy. From speaking in tongues, to becoming agitated and uneasy around religious symbols, and exhibiting superhuman strength, Robbie Mannheim showed all the classic signs of possession. At one point during an especially violent session, he yanked a metal spring out of his hospital bed and slashed the arm of his exorcist. After forced conversion to Catholicism, Robbe is said to have recovered, and went on to live a normal life.
In 1974, after a possible affair with the leader of his church group, Michael Taylor began acting erratically and felt a deep evil within him. It was decided he needed an exorcism. During an all-night ceremony conducted by an Anglican priest and a Methodist clergyman, it was determined that 40 demons (including those of incest, bestiality, blasphemy, and lewdness) had been cast out, yet 3 demons (insanity, murder, and violence) still remained. Michael returned home and murdered his wife with his bare hands. It’s a gruesome tale that goes to show the value of finishing what you started.
While no one wants to actually be possessed by a supernatural force, it can be fun to pretend, especially on Halloween. Browse a shockingly realistic selection of demonic masks from The Horror Dome, and find the perfect look to terrorize your neighborhood. These designs are so lifelike, you may find yourself tied down to a bed and being sprinkled with holy water.
Additional resources on demonic possession:
- NPR, 'Exorcist' Director Makes A New Movie About Exorcism (It's A Documentary),
- All That’s Interesting, Anneliese Michel And The Shocking Images From The Exorcism Of The Real Emily Rose
- CASE OF ANNELIESE MICHEL
- Wikipedia, Traité sur les apparitions des esprits et sur les vampires ou les revenans de Hongrie, de Moravie, &c.
- Mysterious Universe, The Mysterious Exorcism of Robbe Mannheim
- Ghost Diaries, The Real Life Story Behind The Exorcist Is More Horrifying Than Movie
- Mysterious Universe, Demons and Death: The Strange Case of Michael Taylor