Horror movies often promote themselves as being based on true stories but many seem to stretch the meaning of the word. Setting the movie in a world where the ‘true to life’ events are so off the wall its no longer believable. Other movies based on real life crime stories are known to actually downplay the events. A recent film called Perfect Sisters, portrayed the story of the Bathtub Sisters who maliciously drowned their mother in a bathtub and nearly got away with it. The real story is much more gruesome than the film makes it out to be and promote sympathy for the sisters involved and casting them as the protagonists. The real story was much more dark than two teenagers finally snapping on their alcoholic mother and her abusive boyfriend but instead plotted her murder calculatingly with no signs of remorse. The sisters reportedly were giggling as the autopsy photos were shown in court.
Still real life horror stories have a way of sticking with a viewer more than other genres. Real life sociopaths and serial killers make us think before walking alone at night and be the reason for sleeping with the light on. Despite many true to life movies based on real events to fabricate a good portion of the film some are more true than people would expect and the accuracies are enough to haunt anyone’s nightmares. The world can be a cruel dark place and as this list of horror movies will show terrifying things can happen outside of the world of fiction and your nightmares. Maybe checking under the bed doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.
10. The Conjuring, 2013
The Conjuring was released in 2013 and advertised as true story based from the case files of Ed and Lorraine Warren, two paranormal investigators. After the release of the film, people were questioning the accuracy of the chilling events which originally seem to be too terrifying to possibly be true. The paranormal team investigated the Rhode Island farmhouse in the 1970’s and what they found was so disturbing the events stayed locked away and weren’t discussed. Ed Warren has passed away and his his wife, now 86, didn’t comment on the film but a friend who knew the family well claimed everything in the film including the presence of the witch really transpired. A family member living in the farmhouse has written a book about her personal experiences claimed the film was well done and quite accurate with the exception of a few minor differences and added there were plenty of experiences that didn’t make the movie.
9. The Haunting in Connecticut, 2009
The 2009 film The Haunting in Connecticut did take many artistic liberties with the story of a family who moved into an old mortuary in the 1980’s. Carmen Reed, who lived in the house, claimed the story was altered to be more “Hollywood” but there were many disturbing accuracies. One scene in the movie when the shower curtain nearly suffocated her niece. The scene really happened, but it was Reed and not her niece trapped in the curtain. The seances in the film never happened in real life but the exorcism was real and actually downplayed in order for the film to get a PG-13 rating. The true events couldn’t be put in the movie because they were more intense.
8. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, 1974
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was banned in several countries after its release because of the level of violence. It portrays the story of a group of friends who appear at a chainsaw wielding serial killers house and his family of cannibals. The killer is nicknamed Leatherface because he wears the skinned face of his victims as a mask. In reality, the film is based on the real life case of Wisconsin’s Edward Gein in the 1950’s. Crazy Ed, the real life serial killer, liked to wear the skinned faces of his victims and decorated his farmhouse with human remains. There is no concrete proof Gein was a cannibal but some evidence points to the possibility. The police found a human heart in a pan on the killers stove when they arrested him. When the police asked if he was planning on eating it he asked them if they thought he was crazy. The killer is also the inspiration for Hollywood’s Silence of the Lambs and Psycho.
7. Nightmare on Elm Street, 1984
In 2012, the New York Times included this film on The Best 1000 Movies Ever Made list. It is a memorable film about a disfigured boogeyman like character that enters his victims dreams during the night to kill them with a glove of razors. The movie is not promoted as being based on real life, but there are some startling overlaps that relate to unexplained deaths in Southeast Asia. Men were dying in the middle of nightmares with no clear cause of death. One was the 21 year old son of a physician, who was told to sleep by his family and claimed people didn’t understand, that he had nightmares before and this was different. Later during the night the family heard thrashing and screams and he was dead by the time they arrived.
6. The Girl Next Door, 2007
The movie is based on a novel of the same name and a real life crime that took place in Indiana in 1965. The movie is of a teenage girl who was getting tortured by her aunt in unimaginable ways. In reality, Sylvia Likens was tortured by Gertrude Baniszewski and her children and other neighborhood children. The prosecutor at the trial called Likens death as possibly the most terrible crime that ever happened in Indiana. The movie did alter the truth in some ways. Liken was never raped by any of the boys but was forced to use a coke bottle on herself in front of them.
5. The Amityville Horror, 1979
The original 1979 film was based on the true story of the Lutz family and images that were allegedly seen when they moved into there New York house where a family had been brutally murdered. The movie is based on a book of the same name documenting the Lutz’s real life experience, although did take some creative liberties. The book was still placed in the true crime section of bookstores. The movie does exaggerate on some important facts and is far from being a documentary, but much of the film allegedly did happen, including human-like apparitions and beds slamming up and down.
4. Jaws, 1975
The classic 1975 horror film Jaws is the reason many people developed a fear of sharks. The movie is based on a novel of the same name and is the story of a police chief from a small island going on the hunt for a killer great white shark. It is based on a string of very real shark attacks on the Jersey Shore in 1916. The original shark attacks happened during the tourist season and after the first one, authorities downplayed the danger and left the beaches open while a group of vigilantes entered the water and hunted the killer shark. Some events and characters seem to overlap but the author denied the correlation although the 1916 attacks were on the minds of writers for the film Jaws and the character Brody even mentions them. It’s unclear if a single rogue great white shark was responsible for the real attacks or if bull sharks were involved because some attacks happened in freshwater.
3. Eaten Alive, 1977
The film Eaten Alive tells the story of a small town hotel owner who is a serial killer that feeds the bodies of his victims to a large pet crocodile. The story is based on a similar story of Joe Ball, an operator of the Sociable Inn in Elmendorf, Texas in the early 1900’s. Ball was also an alleged serial killer who kept a pond full of alligators next to the Inn. After police questioned him about the disappearance of his wife and former girlfriend, a handyman claimed to have helped Ball dispose of the bodies. It was known Ball often fed animals to his alligators and they searched the pond but never found human remains. Despite the lack of evidence, rumors claimed Ball had killed as many as 30 women and fed their remains to his alligators. Ball committed suicide in 1938.
2. The Exorcism of Emily Rose, 2005
The film follows the trial of Father Richard Moore who was charged with negligent homicide after the death of Emily Rose during a failed exorcism. There is some fact in the movie. A German girl, Anneliese Michel, died of dehydration and starvation after months of intense exorcism attempts by two catholic priests. She had been undergoing psychiatric treatment for years for the disorders experts believe to be schizophrenia and dissociative identity disorder. The priest and Michel’s parents were found guilty of manslaughter and inspired the church to reform exorcism policies.
1. The Exorcist, 1973
The 1973 classic horror movie tells the story of a 12 year old girl who is plagued by a demonic possession. Her mother tries to get her child back and two priests perform an exorcism. There is some truth to the story and the film is inspired by a 1949 case of a young boy. The boy went on to survive the exorcism and live a normal life but his case was not nearly a drastic as the movie portrays. The exorcist was not only inspired by a true story but started the trend on basing horror movies on real life cases.