10 True Stories Behind Famous Horror Movies

9. The Exorcism of Emily Rose

Hounds of Love
Lakeshore Entertainment

Released in 2005 and directed by future-Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson, The Exorcism of Emily Rose is a fairly unique take on the by-then hackneyed exorcism movie formula. The film is actually framed as a court room drama, taking place after the events of the actual exorcism and centring on the dilemma faced by Erin Bruner as to whether to defend Father Moore or not.

The movie is loosely based on the case of a young German woman, Anneliese Michel, who, at the age of 16, suffered a seizure. She was diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy and psychosis caused by this. She also suffered depression. She was treated at a psychiatric hospital for several years and, by the time she was 20 years old, was claiming to hear voices and had become completely intolerant of religious objects, refusing to enter churches or drink holy water.

After several years trying various different treatments to no effect, Anneliese’s parents became convinced that she was suffering demonic possession. Her condition worsened, she began to become incredibly aggressive, and she would eat insects and drink her own urine. When one priest came to see her he proclaimed that she didn’t look epileptic to him and that they should pursue exorcism. In September 1975, a catholic bishop granted permission for the exorcism to proceed.

Over the course of ten months, 67 exorcisms were performed, each lasting roughly four hours. Anneliese began to speak increasingly of dying and, towards the end, gave up eating and drinking. On 1st July 1976, Anneliese died. She weighed just 68 pounds due to starvation.

The priests who performed the exorcism and her parents were taken to court and found guilty of dangerous negligence. The bishop who granted permission for the exorcism later claimed not to have been aware of her health conditions at the time he granted permission.


I'm Jamie, I am a writer and filmmaker based in Essex, UK. My key interests are in film and TV, particularly horror and comedy. I've published several short stories and hoping to publish a novel soon. Specialist subjects include Resident Evil, horror movies and Doctor Who.