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Thriller Thursday: The Entity – when the paranormal attack.

I’m feeling the paranormal today, and we’re going to talk about a sensational ghost story (and one of the scariest movies I’ve seen), the haunting of Doris Bither. The 1980s horror film The Entity, starring Barbara Hershey, is based on her story.

In August of 1974, Culver City California resident Doris Bither enlisted the help of UCLA parapsychologists Dr. Barry Taft and Kerry Gaynor after hearing them speak at a local bookstore. Her claims were outlandish, and the two men assumed the case would be an easy one.

Bither's home where the alleged attacks occurred. Picture courtesy of

Bither lived in the home on Braddock Drive with her four children: a six-year-old daughter and three sons, ages ten, thirteen, and sixteen. Taff and Gaynor immediately noticed the poor state of the house. It was dirty and had been condemned more than once. Doris’s relationship were her children, specifically her boys, was extremely negative, and some claimed she was verbally abusive.

Doris’s background is most interesting to me: her parents were abusive, as were the men she dated. Like many victims of abuse, she struggled with positive relationships, and the investigators felt the boys, particularly the oldest, resented their mother. Paranormal enthusiasts–including respected experts like Taff–often point out that a negative environment and tormented mind either attract poltergeist activity or create it.

Barbara Hershey in one of the movie's most unsettling scenes, when the spirit attacks and rapes her.

Taff and Gaynor were skeptical of Doris’s claims, which started with the more benign stories of disembodied voices and knocking sounds to the seemingly outlandish tale of rape. Initially, the two men scoffed at her story of physical attack, but when they saw the bruising on her body, specifically her inner thighs, and non-family members came forth with their experiences of the apparitions, they started to listen.

Doris claimed there were at least three spirits, and that two smaller ones held her down while the biggest raped her. Bizarre as it sounds, her eldest son did say he witnessed his mother being tossed around the room and was attacked by the force when he tried to intervene.

Dr. Barry Taff today.

Taff and Gaynor then embarked on one of the most famous paranormal investigations in history. After initial sessions that resulted in strange pictures and lights, Gaynor and Taff brought in professional photographers. Using high-speed cameras (keep in mind, this is 1974), they set up in Doris’s bedroom and had her call the alleged spirits. More than two dozen investigators watched as strange lights began to manifest and a green mist formed in the corner. Like a neon vortex, it twisted and grew, and suddenly the form of a male torso became visible.

Frank de Felitta, author of “The Entity,” and “Audrey Rose,” witnessed the form along with many others. He described an arm, then a neck, and then a “kind-of” bald head. He states the witnesses saw the same thing. You can hear his description in the video below.

Despite the high-speed cameras and professional photographers, the lights were too quick and no visual evidence was found. Only a floating, arc-like light and some orbs showed up in the pictures.

Doris on the bed with the arc of light above her.

In the video below, Kerry Gaynor explains the importance of this picture. The walls are perpendicular, and if the light were really on the wall, meaning it were being projected, the arc would be bent. It’s not, and according to Gaynor, that means the arc is floating in space. It’s dimensional and nearly impossible to fake. The negative of the photo has been authenticated and published by Popular Photography.

In the video, Gaynor also shows the famous Polaroids he snapped when Doris claimed the entity was in front of her face–it’s bleached out. But in the control pictures he took, when she said nothing was there, the picture is fine.

So what happened? Doris was an alcoholic with a nasty attitude. Her children were born to different fathers and she went on to have numerous relationships and marriages before she died in 1995. If some theorists are to be believed, her negative energy played a part in conjuring up whatever was attacking her. It is interesting that the activities were at their height in Doris’s presence. According to investigators, there were instances when she was sober and no manifestations occurred.

After Doris moved out of the Culver City home, the activity ceased and no further activity has been reported. However she told Taff that as she moved from San Bernardino, California, then to Texas, and back to San Bernardino, the entity followed.

What do you think? Was Doris really haunted? If she was, did her negative emotions conjure up the cruelty? What about the evidence? Does it stack up for you?

17 comments on… “Thriller Thursday: The Entity – when the paranormal attack.”

  1. Wow…cool story I had never heard of! Wonder if her drinking manifested these spirits…and how terrifying for her – whether real or not. Like she was a doorway to letting these spirits in. Her poor kids too…wonder how they were traumatized by this. How do you go after a rapist that doesnt exist – except in the spirit world or her mind?? HAve to check out the movie…and whatever happened to Barbara Hershey?

    • It’s very interesting, isn’t it? I do think her drinking played a part in all of it, and part of me wonders if they were spirits at all or if she was just some kind of psychic that could power up extremely negative energy. However, that doesn’t answer the physical stuff that happens.

      The movie is really good. Thanks!

  2. Creepy tale. Like Donna above, I wonder what effect all this had on this woman’s children.
    The fact that ‘it’ followed her as she moved seems to lend credence to the idea she was somehow causing it. Or that it had attached itself to her.

    • I’d have to think it had a bad effect, along with all her other issues they witnessed. I agree. She conjured it up – whatever it was – somehow, with her negative energy.


  3. CREEPY! I think she really was haunted. Sad but true. Likely her negativity didn’t help matters but I’d likely turn to drinking and being an all around nasty person if spirits were haunting and assaulting me. Eeeekeee!!!!
    Totally creepy….
    LOVED it!! LOL!!

    • I do, too. I think she may have created it or drew them, but I do think there was something paranormal happening to her. Yes, it is freaky. You definitely should see the movie.


  4. I think the Entity and Audrey Rose are both great movies! I definitely think there was something supernatural going on in the Entity case but I also think that Hollywood sensationalized it and made it more than it was. Audrey Rose inspired one of my own books which I hope to have out soon. I love the whole idea of reincarnation. As for The Entity…I think her negativity definitely attracted a negative spirit energy. Her drinking and low self-esteem would make her vulnerable to such things. I don’t believe, however, that she was really hurt. I could be wrong, though…I would never presume to say it was all lies.

    • I’ve not seen the Audrey Rose movie, but it sounds really good. Would love to hear more about your book! I’m always looking for good ghost books. I’m going to have to add that to my list. Hollywood definitely sensationalized the Entity, and the ending was frustrating. Completely agree about the stuff she attracted. I think that goes on more than people realized. As for being hurt, that’s hard to say. I can’t imagine it being real, but then again, who’s to say?

      Thanks so much!

      • Never can resist sharing! (smile) The book I mentioned here, No Matter What (it’s about a little girl who was reincarnated to save her spirit which is haunting her ancestral home!) will be out this fall I’m hoping! But if you like books on ghosts, you might like Be Still, My Love,, about a grieving medium who travels to a haunted resort on the coast of Maine and gets involved in more than she bargained for. I look forward to reading future posts of your blog. And you should check out the Audrey Rose movie but of course, the book is soooo much better!

  5. I suspect the negative cloud of emotion that surrounded her played a big part in the poltergeist activity. I saw another case like this one in which the person being haunted (a woman) was extremely worried about something. As the attacks escalated, people close to this woman were actually hurt. The woman finally contacted a psychic who explained that she was causing the hauntings with her emotions. Anyway, she finally sought therapy–or did something to calm down–and the poltergeist activity ceased.

    I’ve read both Audrey Rose books and have seen the movie. The movie, of course, will be dated in 2011…but it is worth watching. Or you should read the book.

    Great post. I had forgotten about this movie to be honest.

    • I do, too. I think it was real, although poltergeist have always been a bit confusing to me. I think it’s fascinating how our emotions and energy can affect things around us, and I do believe that’s a big part of hauntings as well.

      Wow! I’ve never heard of that other case. Do you remember the woman’s name? And I’m going to read Audrey Rose. Once again, it’s something I haven’t read, lol.

      Love this movie. It’s a bit dated, too, but still creepy!

      • I don’t remember the other woman’s name. I saw the case on one of those paranormal documentaries. I believe the events took place in Arizona or California. I will do some research, and if I find it, I’ll email it to you.

  6. We had a poltergeist in the house when I was 13. That seems to be an age that attracts them, I’ve heard. Drinking or drugs would also lower whatever psychic boundaries exist.

    Occasionally I’d get glimpses of it outside my window that scared the bejesus out of me, but all our poltergeist did was continually open a particular door. My dad put baby powder on the floor all around the inside and outside of the door, in case it was a burglar or I was unlocking the door and opening it in my sleep. No footprints – and the door was unlocked and ajar in the morning.

    I do believe in spooks – whether *I* conjured it, as an adolescent, or not.

    • Very cool story! I also lived in a haunted house and that happened all the time…doors being opened. My dad always blamed me for it! I was 13 at the time and there was a lot of paranormal activity going on. I, too, have read that poltergeist activity is prevalent in homes where there is an adolescent! Maybe it’s because our hormones are out of whack and somehow we open a door to the other side? Who knows. I just know that that house scared the heck out of me…or as you say, the bejesus! No doubt about it that spirit hauntings are real!

    • Yes. The theory is the hormones girls deal with during puberty sets them off. Who knows, but there has to be some connection. That would would be really creepy, especially at that age. WOW on the lack of footprints and the door being unlocked. That’s awesome, lol!

  7. That was a rather creepy tale. As usual with ghost stories, I don’t know what to make of it. I did keep thinking as I read how awful an experience this must have been for her children. You did a wonderful job covering the story, Stacy.

    • Yes, her children were really the biggest victims. I feel so sorry for them, and I couldn’t find out much info on them. Thanks so much!

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