Annie's Haunted Shack

Photos: David Parry
Interview: Paul Klotschkow
Thursday 31 October 2013
reading time: min, words

This July saw Warner Brothers release The Conjuring, a haunting tale of a family’s move to a dilapidated Rhode Island farmhouse; who then sought the help of notorious paranormal investigators, the Warrens. Annie Spaziano, who runs the brilliant Annie’s Burger Shack, moved to the house with her family after the film’s events took place. Her parents still live there now, but their lives have been changed since the film came out, and not in a good way...


What has life been like since the film came out?
Every day since it was released my family home has been bombarded by people from all over the country; cars with California, West Virginia, Pennsylvania license plates are all pulling up outside. People are trespassing on the property day and night, looking into windows with flashlights at two or three in the morning and it’s starting to become dangerous. The house has a ‘No Trespassing’ sign, and there is a video on YouTube with people showing the sign and literally walking through and going up to the house.

How are your parents coping with this?
They’re retired. One is seventy with a heart condition and the other is in their late-sixties and has just had spinal surgery. When I talk to my mother on my iPad I can see her waving and shouting at people. The police help them a bit, but they can’t be there twenty four hours a day. The neighbours are going crazy too as the whole area is affected. I’m worried that some crazy person will throw a flaming brick with a cross on it through a window.

What are Warner, the company making millions out of this, doing about the situation?
Nothing. Except for planning a sequel! My mum has asked them to pay the town tax to support the police who have had to be outside her house every single day. Andrea Perron (whose book the film is based on) has also offered to contact them and to ask them to help. Warner Brothers rang the local Chief of Police to check what my mum was claiming was true. But when they found out it was, they still told him they weren’t going to do anything.

It’s reminiscent of what happened to the owners of the house from The Amityville Horror...
Yes it is. They can never sell their house because of forty years of people bothering them. My parents were never given the option either. They weren’t even told that Warner Brothers were doing the film. The guy who owned the Amityville Horror house tried to sue the movie company, but they couldn’t because the company has all of the rights in the world and they had nothing. The only thing he could do was sue the author of the book the film was based on. They won that, because they proved that there was no substance to the story and that the book was a hoax written because the writer needed money to pay debts.

When did your family find out that the film about their house was being made?
Andrea Perron, the eldest daughter in the film, wrote a book called House of Darkness, House of Light. She came to our house years ago saying what had happened to her family. Then Ed and Lorraine Warren, the two paranormal investigators who were involved in the Amityville story, came to visit the house in the mid-nineties. There are interviews with my mother and she has never once said that there are ghosts in the house.

Did you experience anything ‘supernatural’ when you were growing up there?
We have had weird things happen and but my mother has always said, “Isn’t it interesting that these things happen?” She never said they were ghosts. Being an old house, you would hear doors opening and slamming and footsteps walking around, things like that. It is interesting of course, but it’s a long shot calling it a demons’ porthole. Bear in mind the Warrens also believe that leprechauns and fairies actually exist.

How much does the house in the film actually resemble your family home?
They built a fake house in North Carolina, which doesn’t look like ours but they do have this big wooden oak kitchen table like my mother’s. Our cellar is way creepier than the one that they have in the movie. The house is ninety feet long and the cellar is built as a barn because there were attacks in the 1700s, it’s massive. There are big slate floors, the original stalls and a well. If you stand at one end there are light bulbs that run all the way down into darkness. In the movie they showed a boy that looked like Little Lord Fauntleroy and they had a maid, and believe me, this wasn’t a house that ever had a maid, it’s a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere.

What’s the house really like?
It’s full of antiques and family stuff, really Colonial, made of wood. There are true stories that thankfully I didn’t know until my mid-thirties, of murder investigations at the house. A farmhand brutally murdered a fifteen-year-old girl and then killed himself. There are also murder investigations about babies that have been killed by knitting needles. People who lived in the house have died through a lot of suicides. For example, Abigail Butterworth was a single woman living in the 1800s. People thought of her as a witch, and she hung herself in her early-eighties. Mind you, who lives to their eighties in the 1800s?

I also heard there’s been permanent damage done...
The worst tragedy out of all this, besides my family’s torment, is that the gravestones of the families who lived in the house before 1900 are situated a little bit in the woods off a side road. One of them was Bathsheeba’s grave (the evil spirit in the film) and people found it, and destroyed the grave. It is so upsetting and all on the basis of Lorraine’s supposed psychic prediction. Those graves are irreplaceable and gone forever.

What do you know about the Perron family?
When the Perrons moved into the house it was broken down and it was all painted white. They were poorer than average and didn’t even have proper heating. The father was a truck driver and the mum had five kids to look after, so they were just trying to afford everything. The family started with these stories years ago, it’s nothing new. Andrea Perron is making out that they have had the story in them for so long and now they finally feel they need to tell us about it. That’s not true. Back in the eighties they went to the National Enquirer with their story, they’ve always been on it and trying to find angles to make money.

The Conjuring is released on DVD at the end of October. Annies Burger Shack is located at The Navigation, 6 Wilford Street, NG2 1AA.

Annie's Burger Shack website

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