Most people have a love/hate relationship with the horror movie genre. The viewer is expecting a frightening viewing experience; the genre's purpose, ultimately, is to frighten people. Yet, it's easy for producers and directors in the genre to fall short in delivering this ultimate experience.
At one point, viewers loved the creepy scene where the protagonist walks in a dimly-lit, silent hallway only to be met by the antagonist. These types of scenes were a dime a dozen in the 70s. And you know what? It work. It was original at the time. So viewers loved the genre.
But considering we're a "what have you done for me lately"- type of society, what was original back in the 70s falls quite flat in the new millennium. There was a time in the new century when deformed children creeping out of the ground was frightening; but that theme's shelf life, too, has expired.
That's why horror flicks based on true events will truly never get old. It will always pass the test of time. No one can daresay this type of movie lacks authenticity; it is based on true events after all. That's why movies like The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005) and The Hills Have Eyes (1977) performed so well at the box office. People were expecting, and received, an authentic story.
Here is a list of some of the best horror films that were based on real life events.
12 The Hills Have Eyes (1977)
Written and directed by Wes Craven, this horror flick tells the story of a suburban family’s road trip through a land where savages live. It became a cult classic and led to a sequel in 1985 and a remake in 2006. It's based on the real life story of Alexander “Sawney” Bean who was the head of a 48-member clan in 15th century Scotland.
11 The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)
The Exorcism of Emily Rose is loosely inspired by the story of Anneliese Michel. According to Wikipedia, Anneliese Michel was a German woman who went through the Catholic exorcism rites in 1975 and died the next year due to the lack of medical care, undernourishment and dehydration. Her parents and the priests were charged with negligent homicide and the case was highly publicized since the ritual of exorcism was rarely used after the 18th century.
10 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is one of the best horror films of all time. It tells the story of a family of cannibals who welcome a group of friends to their home. The plot is entirely fiction, yet the killer, the chainsaw-wielding Leatherface, is loosely based on the murderer Ed Gein.
9 Deranged: The Confessions Of A Necrophile (1974)
Although it was a low budget film, the American feature became a cult film based on the life of Edward Theodore Gein, who committed crimes around Plainfield, Wisconsin. He exhumed corpses from local graveyards to create trophies from the bones and skin. He was initially considered unfit for trial, being confined in a mental health facility.
8 Stuck (2007)
Stuck is based on a true story which took place on October 25, 2001 when a nurse’s aide named Chante Mallard decided to leave her friend’s Fort Worth, Texas apartment to go home at 3:00 a.m. after drinking, taking drugs and partying. A local homeless man was walking across the highway and Mallard hit him with the car, lodging him into the windshield.
7 The Serpent and The Rainbow (1988)
The inspiration for this film comes from a book with the same title written by the American anthropologist Wade Davis. He wrote it after returning from Haiti in 1985. The book talks about the zombie experiences he reportedly discovered, claiming the return of Clairvius Narcisse from the grave. He died in 1962 and was seen back in the village in 1980 when he explained that a voodoo practitioner put him into a deathly trance and then revived him to use him as a slave for a plantation from which he could only escape after the death of the master.
6 Eaten Alive (1977)
Tobe Hooper directed the movie Eaten Alive, a story inspired by the life of Joe Ball. In the film, a hotel owner kills his female guests and feeds them to his crocodile. The film received bad reviews, despite it being based on real events.
5 Black Water (2007)
Another crocodile horror movie; this one was done 40 years after Eaten Alive. Black Water tells the story of a couple who go on the Blackwater Barry fishing tour. A crocodile attacks their boat and kills their guide, so they climb a tree and try to survive in the wilderness.
4 The Rite (2011)
In this film, Sir Anthony Hopkins portrays Father Lucas Trevant who teaches a seminary student how to perform the ritual of exorcism. The movie is based on the life of Father Gary Thomas and on the book "The Making of a Modern Exorcist" by Matt Baglio. Father Gary Thomas was tasked by the local bishop in San Jose, California to become an exorcist for the diocese.
3 Ravenous (1999)
Ravenous is inspired by Alfred Packer who was probably the most widely known cannibal in America in the late 1800s. He was going to the gold mines of Colorado in 1874 along with five other prospectors before deciding to continue their journey during the winter instead of taking shelter until spring, a decision that led to the death of everyone except Packer.
2 Borderland (2007)
Three college students take a road trip to a city on the border of Mexico to indulge in a week of parties. In the end, the three of them become the prisoners of a group of satanic drug smugglers who want to use them as a sacrifice. The story is inspired by the life of Adolfo Constanzo who was a practitioner of black magic. He was also the leader of a drug cartel, using his influence and power to perform 23 ritual murders in the region of Matamoros, Mexico, in 1988 and 1989.
1 The Snowtown Murders (2011)
The film was originally entitled Snowtown before it was later renamed The Snowtown Murders. It tells the story of James Vlassakis who, along with Robert Joe Wagner and Mark Haydon, became the followers of John Justin Bunting. Together they tortured to death at least 11 individuals. Their bodieswere placed in barrels and hidden in an abandoned bank vault. When questioned, Bunting said he was cleaning society of pedophiles, handicaps and homosexuals.
In time, his torture methods became more elaborate. Only after Mark Haydon’s wife was killed did the police manage to track the gang and Vlassakis was one of the key witnesses in the trial after his plea bargain.
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