People around the world were captivated by the story of the Gary "demon house," where a woman and her three children claimed to be possessed by demonic spirits who made one child levitate and another walk backwards up a wall.
Reminiscent of horror films like "The Exorcist" and "The Amityville Horror," Gary's "portal to hell," dubbed "the house of 200 demons," garnered a huge amount of media attention after a 2014 Indianapolis Star story by former Times investigative reporter Marisa Kwiatkowski.
Paranormal investigator Zak Bagans, the host of the Travel Channel's "Ghost Adventures," bought the white gabled house at 3860 Carolina St in Gary's Glen Park neighborhood and started filming a documentary soon after. After two years of filming and another two years of post-production, the horror documentary film "Demon House" is being released by Freestyle Digital Media on Friday on iTunes, VOD and Digital HD with the tagline "view at your own risk."
"Zak even started to wonder if just viewing the film could open audiences up to possession themselves — had he made a movie too dangerous to release?" the official description on iTunes reads.
Producers say the film also is being released in select theaters, but Fandango did not list any locally in Indiana or Illinois that would be playing it.
The full-length movie documents Bagans' investigations of the rental house where Latoya Ammons said she and her kids were afflicted by demonic possession shortly after moving there in 2011. The film features interviews with now-retired Gary Police Department Capt. Charles Austin, one of the initial investigators, and the Rev. Michael L. Maginot, a priest with St. Stephen, Martyr Catholic Church in Merrillville who performed several exorcisms on Ammons.
Ammons, who now lives in Indianapolis, did not take part in the filming.
"The family's doing fine now, as far as I know," Maginot said. "They didn't want to be in any further contact with the house."
Bagans tore down the house after the filming, which concerned Maginot because he didn't get a chance to do a cleansing ritual to banish any lingering demons for good.
"It would protect people," he said. "People still go there and perform (Satanic) rituals and police come by and chase them off. They're opening up themselves to real danger."
Maginot said he provided crew members with crucifixes and other forms of protection before they entered the house, and was alarmed when Bagans refused so he could have the full experience of the horror Ammons claimed her family witnessed. Maginot said those who entered the demon house without any protection were "affected," such as by coming down with illnesses, and that he had to perform exorcism during the filming that will appear in the movie.
Despite his concerns, Maginot said he was pleased with how the film turned out.
"It's very well done," he said. "It's neutral, with a 'we report, you decide' tone. As a priest, I would have preferred that it was shown that the house could be cleansed, that it could be taken care of by the church to make it habitable for someone without any problems. That's the happy ending I would have liked to see. Instead it was torn down and it looks like Satan kind of won."
Maginot said he would encourage people who view the film to steer clear of the property. He monitors blogs and said recent visitors reported "feeling attachments" on the site of the razed house despite a blessing he administered to the vacant lot.
"I would strongly recommend not to go on that property," he said.
When the Indianapolis Star story was published in 2014, curious people flocked to the demon house, forcing Gary police to send extra patrols to the neighborhood, Gary Police Department Lt. Thomas Pawlak said.
"People would drive by gawking," he said. "People in the neighborhood complained about all the activity."
Police have since removed the original case report from public access because they were getting flooded with too many inquiries.
"We have to run into creepy homes and stuff like that, but we've had nothing else like what occurred there," Pawlak said. "It's some strange (stuff.)"