I know what you’re thinking, we’ve all heard about The Amityville Horror, we know there are people who think they were driven from their haunted homes, that exorcisms happen, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise was launched by the bizarre actions of a specific serial killer. But did you know about the social experiment that pitted people against each other and surprisingly went horribly wrong, that mad scientists exist, or that supernatural murderers like Michael Myers are also based in truth?
For better or worse, there is no shortage of stranger-than-fiction headlines to inspire writers and directors, and it does not take much at all for them to legally slap on that “Inspired by true events” tag. This year’s The Forest (2016) for example, was inspired by the so-called Suicide Woods in Japan where a disproportionate number of people have committed suicide—these woods are not haunted by deadly spirits as superstitious locals and movie previews suggest, but the fact remains that people who go into these woods do not (have any plans to) come back out.
The following is not a list of films like The Forest that are so loosely rooted in reality, the movies listed here draw on verified events, not the accounts of believers, ghost hunters, and priests. These are 10 Movies You’ll Wish Were “Not” Based On True Stories.
10. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984-2010)
In 1981, 18 Laotian refugees died in Atlanta of unknown causes, in their sleep, while experiencing nightmares. Dr. Baron, an epidemiologist working for the Center for Disease Control, actually stated on record that these 18 men and women had otherwise been perfectly healthy and that nightmares could have been the culprit. The official cause of death was “possible cardiac arrhythmia”, an irregular heartbeat, which can accompany bad dreams.
On top of all that, this 1981 incident was not the first recorded case of specifically Asian citizens dying in the throes of a nightmare. Whether Freddy Krueger made an appearance in these deadly dreams is another story.