Katrina Weidman is one of the five investigators at the center of Real Fear: The Truth Behind More Movies (airing Friday, September 6th at 9PM ET). In the special, Katrina and her colleagues investigate the real-life stories that inspired some of horror's most classic films, including A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Blair Witch Project, The Haunting in Connecticut and Fire In the Sky. We asked Katrina some questions about the investigations and herself.
What is your personal connection to the world of horror? Have you had real-life experiences, or do you mainly enjoy the genre through horror-themed films, games, etc?
I grew up in haunted houses and my Mom was a big horror movie fan so I guess you could say it started there. I remember being about four years old watching Rosemary’s Baby, so I got started early. As far as the paranormal, I always had experiences with the supernatural, which led me to being a full time paranormal investigator in 2006. Being involved in hundreds of cases, I’ve definitely experienced things that most people think only exists in movies. I can tell you they also exist in real life.
Which location did you find the most interesting? What struck you most about the difference between the cinematic portrayal and the factual reality?
This is a tough question because I find all of the locations fascinating. Whenever I watch a movie based on real life I usually research the real life story for days. So doing this kind of work is really right up my alley and is something I enjoy immensely. That said, I think the answer would have to be split between The Haunting in Connecticut and Fire in the Sky.
The Haunting in Connecticut was of great interest to me because of Ed and Lorraine Warren [the investigators featured within]. From a young age I knew who they were and was completely captivated by all things paranormal. The Haunting in Connecticut case was one I had always read about and researched. Finally meeting Carmen and having conversations with her about what really happened all those years ago is something I will truly never forget.
Fire in the Sky TERRIFIED me as a kid. I remember my dad came home from the video store (yup, video) and rented Fire in the Sky. I really had no idea what it was about and looking back I have no idea why my parents would let me watch this at such a young age. I really only remember the part where Travis is abducted and experimented on. The rest of the movie was a blur until I watched it recently. The night I watched it, I couldn’t sleep in my own room. So I asked my older sister if I could sleep in her room. She graciously said yes, but only if I agreed to sleep on the floor… next to her giant windows. I stayed up all night staring out those windows fearing that aliens would come and take me away.
When I met Travis I was actually very nervous. It’s hard to get your head around the idea that this man that you’re talking with and shaking hands with was really abducted. What struck me most about meeting him was the difference between what really happened to him and what the movie portrayed. Apparently the scene when Travis is on the ship never really happened the way it did in the movie. Kind of a relief considering that scene terrified me for twenty years. However, Travis did say that the fear you felt while watching the movie is the fear he felt while aboard the ship. I thought that statement was an important one because it shows why some films up the ante in “based on true events” movies. The makers of Fire in the Sky certainly did their job. That movie still screws with my head till this day.
Are there other based-on-a-true-story films not explored in Real Fear that you’d be fascinated to investigate?
Yes. I’m a huge true crime fan and I would love for us to look into Ed Gein, who inspired The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Psycho and Silence of the Lambs. I also recently watched The Changeling, which is now by far one of my favorite movies, and would love to do a segment on the true story that inspired it. If you haven’t seen it, the movie does an excellent job of exploring the real life elements.
Obviously, you all learned a lot about the movies and locations featured in the special, but having spent so much time on the road, what’s the most interesting thing you learned about each other?
John and Chris I’ve worked with before. John is a skeptic and Chris is a believer. Even though they view the paranormal differently, they both love to have a genuine experience. You can’t have a team of all believers or all skeptics, so it’s good that the two of them balance out the team. They also have one mean bromance.
This was my first time working with Rich, and he certainly knows his stuff when it comes to UFOs. He’s a very diligent researcher and doesn’t always jump to the paranormal as an explanation, which is very much appreciated and helpful when you’re in the belly of a big scary haunted building.
Becky is our newbie, and I kind of felt bad for her because she was thrown into some pretty scary situations. I remember when I was a newbie and I can tell you it’s not all that fun. She certainly held her own though. It’s awesome to have a strong levelheaded woman in the group.
What’s your favorite horror film, video game or comic?
I think I have to give that title to the original Halloween franchise. It’s a classic and so many horror films got their inspiration from good ol’ Michael Myers. Plus, Jamie Lee. Need I say more?
Another favorite of mine is the Scream franchise. What’s great about Scream is it had all the classic elements of a horror movie, but it was so wonderfully different than anything we had ever really seen before. It’s constantly spoofing the genre while giving us a horror movie at the same time.
Another movie, I wouldn’t say is my favorite, but definitely had an impact on me was the original Last House on the Left. I think I saw that when I was 11 or so. I still can’t get rid of those images, but it did engrave the message in my head that I should never, ever, ever go off with strangers.
Favorite moment on set:
Anyone who knows me knows I love a good prank. Everyone is a fair target. The day we filmed at Pennhurst my good friend and world renowned psychic, Chip Coffey, joined us. John was expressing that he wasn’t really sure what he thought about psychics and asked me to let Chip know he was open to hearing anything Chip might be picking up on him. I couldn’t let this opportunity go. When Chip arrived I filled him in and he eagerly agreed to play a joke on John. Long story short - he told John that his girlfriend was pregnant… with twins. I didn’t tell John the truth for a few days. Sitting here thinking about this still makes me laugh. He’ll probably be forever skeptical of psychics now, but Chip and I had fun.
5 Favorite Hollywood Horror Moments:
5. The Exorcist. The entire movie. It’s classic.
4. Final Destination. SPOILER: The last movie in the installment is really the first. Mind blown.
3. Scream: When you find out Billy Loomis really is the killer and there are TWO killers
2. The moment in The Shining when you see the furry (the man dressed as a bear) and his companion. So freaking random.
1. Anytime someone tries to kill Michael Myers in a Halloween movie. It’s not happening, folks.