The story has been told of a 'demonic' doll which inspired a horror movie after it terrorized flatmates and caused the death of a man.
Horror movie fans have been flocking to the cinema to watch Annabelle: Creation, the fourth instalment of The Conjuring which focuses on the possessed porcelain doll.
But the true story behind the creepy flick is even stranger than the fiction.
The original doll, which is now locked up Ed and Lorraine Warrens’ Occult Museum in Monroe, Connecticut, was said to have unleashed a reign of terror on a group of flatmates in a chain of events that ended in a man’s death.
The rag doll, with huge black eyes, is very different from the film’s china doll but her story is just as terrifying.
Lorraine Warren said: “Looks are deceiving.
“It’s not what the doll looks like that makes it scary. It is what has been infused within the doll. Evil.”
Annabelle’s chilling story began in 1970 when a mum bought the doll from a hobby shop for her daughter, student nurse Donna, as a birthday gift.
Donna took the doll back to the flat she shared with her friend Angie and soon began to notice small hand movements, which they explained away.
Lorraine Warren with the real life Annabel, who she refuses to look at
The doll then began to move around the flat, appearing outside Angie’s room after being placed on Donna’s bed.
Then things took an even more sinister twist.
The girls’ close friend, Lou, became very nervous around the doll, believing it to be possessed, but the girls dismissed his fears.
Then notes written on parchment paper, reading “Help us” and “Help Lou” in a child’s handwriting, began to appear around the flat.
The girls finally called in a medium, after Donna came home from work to find the doll had “blood” on her hands.
Annabelle was on her usual spot on the bed but red liquid was seeping from her hands.
After holding a séance the medium claimed the apartment was built on the site of a field, where a dead seven-year-old girl called Annabelle Higgins had been found many years before.
When the doll was brought to the apartment Annabelle’s spirit was apparently in the area and she became fond of the doll, opting to possess it.
The girls kept the doll, feeling sorry for the real Annabelle, but before long Lou was attacked, it is claimed.
One night he woke from a deep sleep and instantly felt panicked. He’d had a recurring bad dream, but this time he felt he was awake, and unable to move.
He looked to the end of the bed and saw the doll slowly gliding up his leg and moving to his chest, where it stopped.
Then she put her hands round his neck and tried to STRANGLE him.
Lou says he blacked out and awoke the next morning, unsure whether it was a dream or reality.
But the next day, he was in Angie’s room looking at some maps when they heard a noise in Donna’s room, even though Donna wasn’t home.
Lou looked in and saw Annabelle was sitting on the chair instead of the bed where she was normally placed.
As he moved towards the doll, he felt as if someone was behind him, then a crippling feeling took over his body and claw marks appeared on his body, as if someone had scratched him.
The real life Annabelle is said to have killed the man that mocked her
There were seven marks in total: three vertically, four horizontally, all searing hot.
The visible scratches disappeared without trace within two days.
Spooked, Donna called in an Episcopal priest named Father Hegan, who suggested they contacted occult experts Ed and Lorraine Warren.
The couple told the girls the doll being manipulated by an “inhuman demonic spirit”.
Inanimate objects aren’t possessed, they said, but spirits can become “attached”.
The apartment was “cleansed” by Ed, using a special Episcopal blessing and the couple took the doll away and housed it in their museum.
Ed later claimed the doll willed the car’s brakes and steering to fail, before he stopped it by throwing holy water on it.
At his home, he said the doll began to levitate, as well as moving around the house.
A visiting priest, seeing the doll in the chair, picked it up and said: “You’re just a rag doll Annabelle, you can’t hurt anyone,” before tossing her aside.
Appalled Ed told him: “That’s the one thing you better not say!”
A few hours after the priest left he rang the Warrens, claiming his brakes had failed as he turned on to a busy road.
He’d been in an accident, his car was written off and was lucky to have survived.
Worried, the Warrens moved the rag doll in to a glass box at their museum, secured with a special set of prayers and she is still there.
“We have a priest come in and bless the museum, including Annabelle,” said Lorraine.
“These are prayers that bind the evil — much like an electric fence for a dog.”
But it didn’t end there.
Lorraine Warren has since warned what happens when Annabelle is mocked.
One man visiting the museum, began bashing on Annabelle’s case, calling on her to scratch him if she was real.
Ed threw him out but later heard from his girlfriend.
Lorraine recalled: “[The girlfriend] told us that they were both laughing and joking about the doll when the young man lost control of the bike and crashed head-on into a tree.”
He was killed instantly and his girlfriend was in hospital for a year.
Ed Warren died in 2006 and Lorraine says she can’t look at the doll because it’s the “worst thing in the whole Museum.”
Annabelle first cropped up in The Conjuring but has now inspired two of her own films