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inmate profile: Anneliese Michel

This one's gonna be a little weird, for a couple of reasons: one, Anneliese Michel is not a willing member of The Asylum. In fact, she isn't a willing member of anything, because she is deceased, and has been for thirty-five years. Secondly, she wasn't an actress, or a writer, or director, or in any way associated with the film industry. She was simply a German teenager in the 1970's who somehow became demonically possessed. In celebration of The Asylum's latest release, Anneliese: The Exorcism Tapes, available on DVD one week from today(!!!), I thought we'd take a closer look into the unfortunate life of a girl at the heart of the 20th Century's most shocking and notorious case of demonic possession.

Anneliese Michel was born to German Catholics in the fall of 1952. A religiously devout child, as a teenager Anneliese began to experience convulsions that evolved into what were believed to be epileptic fits in her seventeenth year. And this is where shit starts getting creepy, because the fits weren't the only abnormal experiences befalling young miss Michel. She began hallucinating during prayers, hearing voices hissing of her damnation, eating insects, sampling her own urine, that sort of crazy shit. Whatever people thought was wrong with Anneliese, it wasn't until she was 23 that the idea she might be demonically possessed was introduced to the canon of thought. It was all downhill from there.

Over the next ten months, Anneliese would suffer through no less than sixty-seven exorcisms, each lasting hours at a time. She died in her sleep, six weeks shy of her 35th birthday, from what officials declared was extensive malnutrition and dehydration. At the time of her death, Anneliese Michel weighed 68 pounds, and still claimed to be plagued by demons. 

Following Anneliese's death, both her parents and the two priests involved were charged with negligent homicide. Tapes of the exorcisms were shown during the case. In the end, the priests were fined; Anneliese's parents were not sentenced. 

It's the abovementioned tapes that The Asylum purports to have - though they've freely admitted they can't be certain the girl in their tapes is actually Anneliese Michel - and it is based on these that they, in association with Actor/Producer/Looney-Award-Winner Jude Prest, have built into a film documenting her ordeal. This will mark the fourth time Anneliese's story has been told in some fashion over the last decade: she is the basis for The Exorcism of Emily Rose starring Jennifer Carpenter and Laura Linney, the German film Requiem from 2008, The Asylum's own Emily Rose tie-in Possession: The Exorcism of Gail Bowers, and now Anneliese: The Exorcism Tapes.

Whether this latest incarnation is actual footage or devilishly intelligent marketing by The Asylum for another found-footage fauxcumentary, I don't really think it matters. This is a fascinating story, a fascinating character, and real or dramatized, my bet is it's gonna scare the shit out me either way. 

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