Here we are again. Back in the 70’s. A few posts back I explained that there was a time in American academia where study of the paranormal was still pretty much on the fringe but you could get away with it in the clinical environment of a University science curriculum. That time was the 1970’s. There was really nothing about the time that made this sort of thing so visible, either. The 70’s were just weird, man. The aftermath of Vietnam had this country on the ropes and people were looking for something. So many American soldiers died during that war and so many of the ones who came back alive brought back some real horror with them. The nation’s collective morale was way down and people were turning to strange places to find some kind of meaning in something. Remarkably similar things happened in the wake of 9/11. Trauma at the social level makes ordinarily rational people go a little insane. Thing is, it’s not like it made people report more cases of the paranormal, it just made people feel like they could investigate it with a little less ridicule. A paranormal investigatin’ friend of mine assures me that such cases are still investigated to this day and not like that shit you see on TV with scuzzy meatheads from Vegas shout at spirits or Roto-Rooter plumbers from Rhode Island go apeshit over apparitions that the camera never seems to capture. No, she tells me about some harrowing shit and says that academic types and scientists still investigate. They’re just forced to keep it on the down low since some of them could be laughed out of their field of expertise if word ever got out that they gave equal time to lunatics. Some of her stories made me think of this one, immortalized by the performance of Barbara Hershey in the movie, The Entity.
It’s 1974 in Culver City, California. A pair of investigators, Kerry Gaynor and Barry Taff were giving a talk at a local book store about paranormal investigation and were approached by Carla Moran, real name Doris Bither. Moran made an appointment with the two at her home, claiming that the place was haunted and in a subsequent interview with the two, she apprehensively admitted that the spirits in her home, at first described as your usual knocking on walls, disembodied voice types were actually extremely violent entities and that she had been beaten severely and savagely raped by these unseen monsters. Taff and Gaynor initially scoffed at this allegation. Physical contact with spirits is a rare thing and often a fleeting sensation. A force powerful enough to do what Moran was saying was unheard of even in the world of paranormal investigation. However, in a follow up call, Moran told them that the beings had shown themselves to her and there were other witnesses. This was enough to spring into action and look a little closer. Taff and Gaynor arrived with photography equipment and described the beings’ attempts to manifest but the best they could do at the time was cause pops of light here and there. No photographic evidence could be collected since these lights were so quick. This was just the start, however. Taff and Gaynor claimed that as they interviewed Moran’s teenage son in the kitchen, cabinets flew open and spit out pots and pans and Moran began freaking out, alerting everyone to the presence in the bedroom. Photos were taken but the Polaroid shots were useless and bleached. Photos from the same camera, taken with the same cartridge of film developed normally after Moran told everyone that it had gone and upon its return, the same effect was applied to further Polaroids taken, this time only obscuring Moran’s face.
The investigation lasted ten weeks with a lot of nickel and dime evidence captured by Taff and Gaynor. Moran described horrible encounters with the being, a huge man accompanied by two smaller beings who held her down. Taff and Gaynor could capture no such evidence of the being. The only documented evidence they could keep was some photos of lights, though they admit to having seen the shape of a person take form from these lights. This being only ever seemed to attack in the presence of her family, sometimes in front of the children and she often bore bruises and bite marks on her neck left by the being. During one particularly vicious attack, Moran’s son tried to intervene when he heard her screaming and was thrown across the room, breaking his arm from the sheer force of the attack.
In the end, the advice from Taff and Gaynor was simple and unsatisfying. Move out. Moran was a single mother of four living in a twice condemned dump in Culver City. Moving out wasn’t exactly an option but the severity of the situation made it an easy decision in spite of lacking the resources to do so. The Moran family picked up stakes and moved to Texas, keeping in touch with the investigators. What’s really too bad is that the attacks didn’t stop, immediately. For another couple of years, Moran was brutally assaulted by this being before it got bored and moved on to another victim.
Years passed. A movie was made but the real Carla Moran, Doris Bither, disappeared with her family, went underground. In recent times, some of the children have come forward and talk to people on the paranormal web about went on there to defeat some of the claims from the book that Barry Taff wrote following the attacks. The details are mostly factual according to the kids. Often times during the pop culture paranormal investigations of Ghost Hunters, the investigators pick a location based on its reputation as a haunted house but what they fail to connect with is that it’s not the house that’s haunted. It’s the people living there. This is why they don’t get any worthwhile evidence. The story of Doris Bither is a sad one. She was an alcoholic, he children were each born to different fathers and she went through countless relationships and marriages before her death by heart attack in 1995. The Entity, the movie highlighting these attacks, is a pretty spooky affair that goes completely off the rails by Hollywood standards in the final act. I recommend it.