Halloween means ghosts, dark creatures and all sorts of things that go bump in the night, so what better way to get into the spirit of the holiday then going to see world-renowned ghost hunter and psychic (and Connecticut resident) Lorraine Warren.
Fittingly, this past Friday night (Oct. 30), she was speaking at my alma mater, Southern Connecticut State University, in Lyman Center, where I had first seen her and her now-departed husband Ed about 20 years ago. (Wait, is that possible? Yeah, I guess I'm that old. Ugh.) That first time, between the slides they had shown, an audio tape they played of a supposed demonic voice and the other stories that Ed so masterfully told, I was spooked quite a bit by the legendary Warrens. It also fueled my desire to want to learn more about paranormal-type subjects, which, as you can tell by this website, is a want that has only continued to grow.
So Steve and I went along with my buddy Bob to check out Lorraine, and I have to sadly say, I would've done better to just stick with my memories.
Let me say first that Lorraine Warren seems to be a sweet 83-year-old granny. But like many older folk (me, too!), she tends to ramble quite a bit, starting one story, sort of moving into another one and ending up somewhere else altogether. Unfortunately, this was her m.o. for most of the night -- she would sort of just prattle on about various cases while different ghostly images were shown on a screen behind her; I was actually struggling to stay awake at times. It also didn't help that the images shown were primarily the same ones as from back in the 80s, many of which that have been subsequently debunked as fakes.
Actually, the only interesting part of the night came at the end during her Q & A session, when she gave direct answers to specific questions. She was much better talking directly to people rather than trying to remember what she was supposed to say about certain images.
Overall though, I have to say I was disappointed. I would've thought with her work on "Paranormal State" and ongoing investigations, she would've had something from within, say, the past 20 years or so to show us or talk about. In a weird way, it reminded me of a KISS "reunion" show -- I saw them back in 1979 (I was 13) and then again in 1999, and it was the same exact event including Gene spitting fire and blood, Ace playing the smoking guitar and Paul's inane stage banter ("Last night, we were in *insert town* and we thought they could rock, but you guys rock harder ... as a matter of fact, you guys rock 'n roll all nite and party every day ...").
Except there was no pyrotechnics with Lorraine Warren, or anything that would provide so much as a goosebump. Granted, she has some video segments now that weren't part of the show back in the day, but they involve footage from years ago, and there was nothing to provide a shiver.
Maybe part of it is context -- as Bob pointed out, back when we first saw the Warrens in the 80s, they were the ONLY real-life ghosthunters and demonologists out there. There was no internet with thousands of ghost pictures and videos, no dozen "ghost hunter"-type TV shows out there, no hundreds of paranormal investigation groups blitzing graveyards and old houses -- there was only Ed and Lorraine, and since they were the main source for this kind of thing, it gave them great impact. Now, with so many other voices in "the field," it's become quite watered down.
More importantly, however, is that absolutely no one can replace Ed Warren. Believe his stories of poltergeists and demonic possessions or not, but the man knew how to relate his experiences to an audience in a compelling manner. His and Lorraine's son-in-law Tony Spera tries way too hard to fill the void, pretty much to the detriment of the entire presentation. He seems to be constantly trying to "get himself over" (as they say in pro wrestling parlance), working to endear himself to the crowd at the expense of Lorraine -- he cut her off repeatedly, belittled her at odd times and often made jokes that he was the first to laugh at that were not even particularly amusing. He needs to realize that no one in the audience -- and I mean no one -- is there to see Tony Spera. I understand he wants to support his mother-in-law in what she does, but he needs to back off a bit.
Along those lines, they seem to be working the poor old girl. This was her schedule the past few days, according to Tony:
- Thursday: 10 pm - 2 am at CCSU.
- Friday: 8 pm - 11 pm at SCSU.
- Saturday: Going to Pennsylvania to be at the Warren Occult Museum as part of a special Halloween dinner and tour.
- Sunday: Flying to Ireland for a series of shows.
I know it's the season, but she's 83, for criminey's sake! I couldn't keep a schedule like that now, let alone 40 years from now. I know the amount of years she's got left for her handlers to cash in on are limited, but sheesh, give a seemingly sweet old widow a break!
Anyway, I guess if I never had seen her before, I'd have been more impressed. Instead, I came away depressed. Lorraine -- and Ed's legacy -- deserves better, I think.