The core of the Conjuring Universe is the “true story” case files of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga in the films. “The Conjuring” kicked things off with a classic haunted house story about the Perron family: a married couple and their five daughters who, in the 1970s, moved into an old farmhouse and began to experience frightening ghostly phenomena. The most malevolent spirit that allegedly haunted the house was that of Bathsheba Sherman, who had lived on the property in the 1800s and was rumored to have been a Satanist who was involved in the death of a neighbor’s child.
In the film, Bathsheba was played by composer Joseph Bishara, who also wrote the score for “The Conjuring” and several other movies in the franchise. Bishara’s look was achieved using extensive facial prosthetics and dark contact lenses. One of the most memorable scares in the film involves Lorraine feeling some dark vibes underneath a tree in the farmhouse’s yard, and turning to see Bathsheba’s feet hanging behind Ed, marking the spot where the witch died. That 50-foot tree was actually built from scratch by the production team, and Bishara did indeed spend a day dangling to create the scare.
Meanwhile, Lili Taylor underwent her own transformation as Carolyn Perron is tormented and eventually possessed by the spirit of Bathsheba. The 1963 horror film “The Haunting” was a major inspiration for James Wan on “The Conjuring,” and Taylor had starred in a critically-panned, CGI-heavy remake back in 1999. Taylor had hoped that her imagination might be able to fill in the blanks on the “Haunting” set, but “unfortunately, that just didn’t happen,” she told Collider. “You start to see everything, but that was abstract to me because it was all green screen. So, to me I was just seeing cones and lights.”
“The Conjuring” offered a much more authentic haunted house experience, right down to Taylor’s transformation into the possessed Carolyn. The make-up team designed multiple stages of possession, starting with very small details that the audience might not actively notice. “I have these contacts in, these brown contacts and they’re so subtle,” Taylor revealed. “People are looking at me and they’re just cocking their head a little bit, they’re not quite sure what’s wrong with me, because I’m sort of dead in the eyes.”
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