Horror films, you either love them or you hate them. For those who love horror films as much as I do, learning the true real-life events they're based off of is a real eye opener and honestly, quite terrifying.
While A Nightmare on Elm Street doesn't seem like it could possible be based off of a true story, it most certainly is. In the movie, a pizza-faced madman sets out to terrorize teens in their dreams. You might be wondering how that could even happen in real life. Well, it did, and the story behind the movie may be even more terrifying than the movie itself. The director of A Nightmare on Elm Street, Wes Craven, became mesmerized by an article he had read in the LA Times. The article he had read explained the odd details of a man's death. It stuck with Craven and this lead him to create the 1984 classic, A Nightmare on Elm Street. In an interview, Craven went in detail about the article in the LA Times and how he created A Nightmare on Elm Street based on this piece:
"It was a series of articles in the LA Times, about men from South East Asia, who were from immigrant families and who had died in the middle of nightmares --- and the paper never correlated them, never said, 'Hey, we've had another story like this.' The third one was the son of a physician. He was about twenty-one; I've subsequently found out this is a phenomenon in Laos, Cambodia. Everybody in his family said almost exactly these lines: 'You must sleep.' He said, 'No, you don't understand; I've had nightmares before --- this is different.' He was given sleeping pills and told to take them and supposedly did, but he stayed up. I forget what the total days he stayed up was, but it was a phenomenal amount --- something like six, seven days. Finally, he was watching television with the family, fell asleep on the couch, and everybody said, 'Thank god.' They literally carried him upstairs to bed; he was completely exhausted. Everybody went to bed, thinking it was all over. In the middle of the night, they heard screams and crashing. They ran into the room, and by the time they got to him he was dead. They had an autopsy performed, and there was no heart attack; he just had died for unexplained reasons. They found in his closet a Mr. Coffee maker, full of hot coffee that he had used to keep awake, and they also found all his sleeping pills that they thought he had taken; he had spit them back out and hidden them. It struck me as such an incredibly dramatic story that I was intrigued by it for a year, at least, before I finally thought I should write something about this kind of situation."
If you've ever seen The Hills Have Eyes, you know how disturbing the storyline is. If you haven't, brace yourselves. The 1977 cult horror film Th Hills Have Eyes, directed by Wes Craven, was about a family who was being hunted by deformed cannibals. And you guessed it, this movie too was based on real life cannibalism. Let that sink in. This morbid and terrifying story is based on the Sawney Bean story. Through out the 15th and 16th century in Scotland, Bean and his lover left home and headed for the caves along the coast. They lived in these caves for many years and ended up having 14 children. The family would attack random people who ventured near the caves, and MURDERED. THEM. FOR. FOOD. They didn't murder animals, they murdered humans, for food. Locals in nearby towns began to notice people going missing and even found body parts washing up on shore. The Bean family was hunted down and brought to trial for the murder and cannibalization of over 1,000 people. When the family was caught, there were 48 members, almost all of them a product of incest. Source
Any movie having to do with possessed and killer dolls is terrifying, but a movie based on a doll that actually terrorizes in real life?! That is one doll we'd stay far away from. The movie Child's Play originally started out as a satire about toys and the way they were marketed for children, but clearly, the film took a horrific turn. Writer of the movie, Don Mancini, later changed it to be more about a serial killer who uses voodoo to bring his soul into that of a doll. This voodoo magic doesn't just happen in the movies, kids. It actually happened in real life to a painter and author by the name of Robert Eugene Otto. A Jamaican nurse gave a doll, by the name Robert the Doll, to Otto in 1904. Sometime later a riff happened between her and her employer and with spite she cursed the doll. Otto would constantly be found talking to the doll when he was young and his family began seeing things go missing and being moved about his room. They would even hear Otto's ear-shattering screams coming from his room at night. Later down the road, after Otto had died, the doll was left with the new homeowners. The attacks didn't stop with Otto. The new homeowners claimed the doll could move and was out to kill them. The doll is now displayed in a museum as a stop on a popular ghost tour.Source
As a lover of scary movies, and the one who seems to pick out all of the worst ones, The Conjuring was one of the scary movies that actually scared me. It released in theaters in 2013 and showed the lives of two paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren, who were investigating a family that claimed they were being haunted and terrorized by a dark presence in their new home in Rhode Island. From the get go the film was promoted heavily as being "based on a true story." While Ed Warren died in 2006, Lorraine Warren is still haunted by what she saw in this particular house. In their later life, the Warren's founded the New England Society for Psychic Research and Tony Spera, current director, said their story is about as real as it gets. "The movie is very close to the actual events that traumatized the family," Spera said. "Banging sounds, rapping noises, ghostly images and the presence of the witch were [all] occurrences that actually transpired in that house." Source
If you've seen The Girl Next Door, you know just how horrifyingly brutal this movie is. The movie, which was based on the novel The Girl Next Door and originally a real-case, is about an orphaned girl being taken, tortured and ultimately murdered. The fact that this movie is really based on a real-life case makes it that much harder to watch and come to terms with. The girl the movie is based off of is Sylvia Likens. Her parents, who worked as carnival workers, abandoned her as a young child. They left her and her sister with a local family who they thought would take care of them. What this family did to this poor girl was unimaginable. She only lived with the family for three months, being severely abused by Gertrude Baniszewski and her kids, before being killed. Source
The story behind the movie Audrey Rose, is quite a sad, yet creepy one indeed. In the movie, Elliot Hoover's daughter dies in a fiery car crash, but 11 years later, he starts to become convinced his daughter was reincarnated as a girl named Ivy. This 1977 movie was actually based on the experience of Frank De Felitta and his own son who seemed to be reincarnated himself. In an interview with People Magazine, Felitta talks about the first time they noticed the incarnation in his son and how it inspired his to write his book based on the same idea.
"He and his wife, Dorothy, were relaxing on the terrace of their Los Angeles home in the summer of 1971. Suddenly they heard piano music in the style of Fats Waller coming from the house. 'We went in and there was Raymond at the piano, going like the devil. We were shocked. In fact, we were scared. Raymond said his fingers were doing it.' The boy, then 6, had never before displayed any hint of musical talent.
De Felitta consulted a Los Angeles occultist named Barbara Ryan, who explained Raymond's mystifying talent as 'an incarnation leak.' 'She told me that Raymond was one of those souls who had been through many lifetimes,' De Felitta says. 'They have innate memories of past lives, and they pick up where they left off in a past life.' Fascinated, Frank began to read American mystic Edgar Cayce, Hindu texts on reincarnation and the works of a University of Virginia psychiatrist investigating the subject."
The Strangers is based on a combination of horrific murder cases and real life experiences the writer-director, Bryan Bertino, faced. One of the things Bertino based the creepy, all too real story of The Strangers off of was his own personal experience as a kid. He said, "as a kid, I lived in a house on a street in the middle of nowhere. One night, while our parents were out, somebody knocked on the front door and my little sister answered it. At the door were some people asking for somebody that didn't live there. We later found out that these people were knocking on doors in the area and, if no one was home, breaking into the houses." Along with this creepy experience, Bertino based the movie off of the Manson murders and and unsolved case of a quadruple homicide that was known as the "Keddie Cabin Murders." This unsolved case happened in 1981 at a resort town in the Sierra Nevada. A whole family was stabbed, strangled and ultimately bludgeoned to death. Source
The movie Dead Ringers, directed by David Cronenberg, is about two twin brothers and their more than troubling life. The twin gynecologists, who operate on "mutant women," is a tale based on that of a book written by Bari Wood, which in fact was based on the sad real-life story of twin gynecologists Stewart and Cyril Marcus. The two brothers lived in New York City and were very successful doctors. Like most twins, they shared a lot together. One thing they shared was an addiction to barbiturates which would later become the reason for their death. In 1975, both of their bodies were found, rotting in their East Side apartment. It was said they had been dead about a week. Many people noticed newly odd behaviors leading up to their death, but their decline was largely ignored. It was said the twins died from withdrawal, but the movie Dead Ringers puts an unanswered twist at the end of the twins' story that may lead you to believe they vowed to even share in death together. Source
The Shining, directed by Stanley Kubrick, is based on Stephen King's book that came out in 1977. King's book was actually based on a personal experience that haunted him and inspired the book. The movie is about a family who takes care of a huge hotel for the winter. The hotel is set in isolation and this along with a quite odd phenomenon starts to overtake the family. In reality, King and his wife, Tabitha, experiences a similar hotel when staying in Colorado. "When we arrived, they were just getting ready to close for the season," the author once explained. "We found ourselves the only guests in the place --- with all those long, empty corridors... " This eerie hotel along with a terribly horrifying nightmare, lead to the creation of The Shining. "That night I dreamed of my three-year-old son running through the corridors, looking back over his shoulder, eyes wide, screaming. He was being chased by a fire-hose. I woke up with a tremendous jerk, sweating all over, within an inch of falling out of bed. I got up, lit a cigarette, sat in a chair looking out the window at the Rockies, and by the time the cigarette was done, I had the bones of the book firmly set in my mind." Source
Well, I don't know about you, but exorcism movies are just down right creepy. From the thought of being possessed by demons, to the out of this world bending and maneuvering those depicted in these movies do, it's haunting. The Exorcism of Emily Rose debuted in 2005 and shows the struggle a Father goes through as he is charged with negligent homicide in the death of Emily Rose, who apparently died because of the Father's failed exorcism. According to Brian Dunning, a writer who hosts the weekly podcast, Skeptoid, The Exorcism of Emily Rose may have some real-life connections. "[The] story is based on the 1976 case of the German girl Anneliese Michel, who died of dehydration and starvation after months of intensive exorcism activity by two Catholic priests. Anneliese had been undergoing psychiatric treatment for many years, and today we believe she suffered from both schizophrenia and dissociative identity disorder," Dunning told HuffPost. Dunning said Michel's parents and the two priests were ultimately found guilty of manslaughter, and the case inspired some members of the Catholic Church to reform parts of the exorcism ritual. However, those reforms were largely ignored. "Psychiatrists today agree that exorcism does far more psychological harm than good," Dunning said.
While exorcisms are definitely terrifying, murders of any sort, especially cannibals take the cake every single time. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a horror film classic that came out in 1974 and was directed by Tobe Hooper. The movie is about a group of friends that are visiting an old relative's house. The group is then hunted by a man named Leatherface and his family of cannibals. The film is so violent it was even banned in many countries. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is actually based on some true events according to Michael Newton, author of "The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers," and many other crime books. "The [movie] is rooted in the real-life 1950s case of Wisconsin's Edward Gein," Newton told HuffPost. "Crazy Ed, like Hooper's Leatherface character, wore the skinned-out scalps and faces of his victims and decorated his farmhouse with human remains." Newton said there is no proof that Gein indulged in cannibalism, but the suggestion is there. "Arresting officers did find a victim's heart in a pan atop Gein's stove," he said. "When asked if he planned to eat it, Gein allegedly replied, 'Do you think I'm crazy?'"Gein's crimes are said to be the inspiration for several other films, including, "Psycho" and "The Silence of the Lambs." Source
Like many other horror movies, The Haunting in Connecticut shows a family and their terrifying experiences with a supernatural behavior in their new home, which just so happens to be a former mortuary. And just like almost all paranormal movies, The Haunting in Connecticut was based on a true story as well. Carmen Reed and her family lived in Southington, Connecticut during the 1980s and claimed their house was subject of some paranormal activity. "There were a lot of things that were very accurate, [but they also] changed a lot of things around and turned it into Hollywood," Reed told HuffPost. "[What they portrayed] was very accurate, but the shower curtain scene happened to me, not my niece," Reed said. The seances depicted in the movie also never occurred, but the exorcism of the demons was a reality, according to Reed. "They were going for a PG-13 rating, so they couldn't put a lot of the events in there [because] they were more intense," Reed said. Source
Like The Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Exorcist is another popular movie based on a real life exorcism. The movie came out in 1973 and quickly became a cult classic that showed a young girl who is possessed by a demon. The movie goes through the mother's attempts and failures to try and get her daughter back from this evil possession. According to Brian Dunning, host of the weekly podcast Skeptoid, there is some truth behind the scenes of the horror film. "The [movie] was based on the actual case of an anonymous boy in 1949, given the pseudonyms Robbie Mannheim or Roland Doe," Dunning told HuffPost. "The boy survived and went on to have a normal life, largely because his actual case was not nearly [as] dramatic as what was depicted in the movie." Dunning said "The Exorcist" was not only inspired by an existing story but was also hugely influential for many other horror stories that followed. "In the lawsuits seeking royalties following the success of 'The Amityville Horror' book and movie, it came out that publisher Prentice Hall was actively looking for stories to ride the wave of popularity of 'The Exorcist.' The judge even rebuked 'The Amityville Horror' creators for writing fiction [and for] trying to copy 'The Exorcist,'" Dunning said. Source