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In the new Hollywood horror The Prodigy, released this week, a young boy undergoes hypnosis to deal with his behavioural problems, and it turns out he is the reincarnation of a serial killer seeking vengeance. Whether you believe in reincarnation or not, The Prodigy will give you the chills. Likewise, here are seven real-life cases of reincarnation - some spooky, some staggering, and some to take with a pinch of salt.

Going Gaga for past lives

When people explore their past lives they often hope they were someone important, as a rich and famous celebrity for example. Here’s a case of a celebrity believing they used to be just an ordinary person. Lady Gaga thinks she is the reincarnation of her aunt Joanne, who died when she was 19. The singer told Vanity Fair magazine “when I was born, it's almost as if I was her unfinished business. She was a poet and a real renaissance woman, pure of heart – just a beautiful person”.

Is it really Marilyn?

In the book Marilyn Monroe Returns: The Healing of a Soul, Doctor Adrian Finklestein suggests Canadian singer Sherrie Lea Laird is the reincarnation of the tragic actress, and that Laird’s facial bone structure, handwriting, voice pattern and personality quirks, are evidence of this claim. An Amazon reviewer of the book is not so convinced, writing “I think this so-called "doctor" was just looking for some publicity, and the girl an outright deluded liar”

The strange recollection

During a past life regression session in 1952, a Colorado housewife disclosed that she had been a 19th century Irishwoman called Bridey Murphy, and gave an extraordinarily detailed and vivid account of her life and family. The case was turned into a bestselling book and adapted into a film in 1956, The Search for Bridey Murphy. After the successes of the book and film, reporters went to Ireland to find evidence of this mysterious woman - only to find out Bridey Murphy had never actually existed.

When reincarnation goes wrong

Earlier this year, a 24-Year-old woman appeared on the popular US show Dr Phil and claimed she was the reincarnation of Pocahontas. Her evidence? She claims she has memories from the 1600s, and there are similarities in her facial structure and that of the Native American woman. Sadly, her family don’t share her views - or her problematic behaviour including violent and irrational attacks - and she has ended up homeless and unemployed.

The chosen one

During a fast in 1979, Brazilian man Álvaro Theiss says he received a divine visitation, causing him to take on the mantle of Jesus Christ and talk about his former life as the holy man. He lives in a compound in Brazil called New Jerusalem, with his disciples (dressed in blue), who, along with him, are celibate. He has appeared on chat shows in full religious garb, and regularly preaches to his thousands of followers on YouTube. Is he the Saviour reincarnated? Some people think so, and there are people lining up to become disciples, with one YouTube commentator saying “I am a bank guard, I have a gun, I want to help with whatever it takes”.

The baseball prodigy

Christian Haupt, at the age of 2, showed a staggering aptitude for baseball. His mother Cathy Byrd began to look into the concept of reincarnation, after her son said things about legendary baseball player Lou Gehrig that there was no explanation for him knowing. He also said he didn’t want to grow up to be a tall baseball player, but that he had been a tall baseball player. She wrote a book about this extraordinary case of past life memories, which is currently being turned into a Hollywood film.

Nightmares of war

As a young boy, Louisiana-born James Leininger began having nightmares where he would wake up screaming about an airplane crash. His parents were concerned that he knew details about World War Two fighter planes that no four-year-old could possibly know. He insisted he had once been a fighter pilot who died after his plane crashed into the ocean. His parents investigated further (detailed in the book Soul Survivor) and, despite scepticism, discovered a fighter pilot also named James had died exactly as their son had described it. They had to believe there was no way James could know what he knew unless he was reliving the past life as he claimed.

The Prodigy (15) is released in cinemas on March 15th, from Vertigo Releasing

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