There are a lot of weird eBay subcultures, but by far one of the most fascinating is the haunted doll industry. Every day, buyers and sellers online offer proof of hauntings, heartfelt accounts of otherworldly activity, and a sincere hope to pay for a paranormal experience via online auction.
Inside The World Of Haunted Doll Auctions. Story Continues After The Video.
Haunted dolls may have come more into focus in the 2014 horror movie "Annabelle," about the supposedly real-life story behind a doll who was possessed by a demonic spirit. The movie was a spin-off of the previous year's "The Conjuring" — a brief intro featuring the doll as a way to set up the movie's demon-hunter characters was scary enough to warrant its own feature. And the freaky-doll story was successful enough that it spawned a sequel, "Annabelle: Creation."
"Oh, she's quite popular," Elizabeth Hunter, the museum and heritage manager for the city of Quesnel, told HuffPost Canada in a phone interview. "I think a portion of our visitors come specifically to see her."
The museum has had visitors from all over the world, she said, including groups of psychics and once, even, a film crew from Japan.
Mandy was discovered in 1991 by a young woman in the area, Hunter said. The woman had recently had a baby, and found the doll while cleaning out her grandmother's house. According to the museum's website, while the doll was in the woman's house, she would frequently wake up in the middle of the night and hear a baby crying from the basement.
She decided she didn't want her young daughter playing with "this cracked, scary-looking doll," as Hunter put it, so she donated the doll to the museum. But it did keep one connection with the woman's family. It took on her daughter's name: Mereanda, or Mandy for short.
Mandy sits in her own locked glass case, with a little stuffed lamb on her lap. There are lots of stories of the lamb somehow turning up on the floor outside of the case, Hunter said, although she's never seen that happen. There are also frequent reports of the doll's eyes following visitors around the room, Hunter added. But she doesn't buy it; she attributes the effect to Mandy's glass eyes.
Children frequently visit the museum on school trips, Hunter said, and many have heard stories about the haunted doll.
"The kids all know about her," she said. "We often have very terrified young children."
Once, a young girl fainted in front of Mandy's case. She was kept overnight in the emergency room before being let out, Hunter said. She's sure it was a case of a kid freaking herself out. "I think it was an extreme drop in blood pressure," Hunter said.
There was one story, though, that Hunter can't explain away. She had heard reports about one of the curatorial assistants who worked at the museum long before Hunter had started, when Mandy first arrived.
One of their common processes involved photographing the museum's archive, and when this assistant tried to take a photo of Mandy, there was reportedly a disturbance, something falling off a shelf. The assistant apparently fled in fear, and when she came back, she could tell something sinister had happened. Things were upside down, everything in disarray, even though no one else was in the room.
Hunter assumed this story had been exaggerated — until the former assistant came back to visit the museum last year.
"I thought that this was something that they'd done to try to hype the story of the haunted doll," she said. "But when she came back, she was genuinely scared. She would not go near where the doll was."
Mandy reached her peak in popularity in the late 1990s, when the doll, the former curator and the donor were invited to appear on "The Montel Williams Show," Hunter said. The psychic Sylvia Browne "read Mandy's energy," Hunter said, and apparently determined that the doll had originally belonged to twins with polio. According to the psychic, the mother's grief implanted into the doll after the twins died.
None of the museum staff are true believers, Hunter said, but "we try to be open-minded."
"A lot of people do have strong reactions to her," she added.
It's been about ten years since there were any significant disturbances attributed to Mandy, but you never know what might happen.
"When things go wrong at the museum, [we'll say], 'Ooh, maybe that's Mandy.'"
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