We all love to be scared sometimes, and when we do, we can all turn to the safety of our make believe horror films. When its all over, we can shut it off and prey to Zeus that there isn’t someone standing behind us, breathing heavily. But in some cases, the carnage that is taking place before us is actually based on true events. Real people. Real murders. Real ghosts. These people your watching (if they survived) could be watching you watch them. Think about that. You could have unknowingly run into them in the cereal isle at your grocery store. THAT IS F*CKING TERRIFYING.
Your entertainment was their real life horror film. In honor of this revelation, we have compiled a list of some of the best ‘based on true events’ horror movies to date. Happy viewing and may God have mercy your soul.
10. The Mothman Prophesies
After doing his own investigation on the strange occurrences in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, John Keel wrote a book depicting his findings. In said book, the townsfolk had claimed to see a huge man/creature with wings flying around town. The book connects these odd sightings to Keel’s own theories on aliens and other unexplained phenomena. Keel ultimately suggests that all of these events and theories come to fruition during the 1967 collapse of the Silver Bridge. The movie was made later in 2002 and is based on the book, and sweet baby Jesus was it creepy!
9. Wolf Creek
This film is loosely based on several backpacker abductions and murders that took place in Australia, however it focuses primarily on the actual trial/real life events of Bradley John Murdoch. In 2001, Peter Falconio and Joanne Lees were abducted by Murdoch. Lees escaped and testified against him, but Falconio has been presumed dead as his body was never found. Shiver. The film was released in 2005 but when it was set to hit theaters in Australia, the court actually placed an injunction on it, for fear that it might influence the outcome of Murdoch’s case as it was still in the works at that point. Dingoes aren’t the only thing that’ll kill ya in Australia apparently.
8. The Haunting in Connecticut
This story is based on a haunted house in, you guessed it, Connecticut and was actually pretty well documented. The Snedeker family moved into the house in 1980 while their son was undergoing cancer treatments. Shortly there after, they started seeing strange ghostly figures. They called Ed and Lorraine Warren (you know them from ‘The Conjuring’, but we’ll get to that later) to come and check it out, and they legitimized their claims. The Warren’s revealed that the home had once been a funeral home/morgue and that the previous owners were involved in necromancy. Gross. Seems like the actual investigation was scarier than the film released in 2009, but still pretty creepy to known that this actually took place.
7. The Exorcism of Emily Rose
This film was loosely based on the life and death of Anneliese Michel, a German woman that had a mental break which resulted in an eventual exorcism. Apparently Michel began to hear voices and was repulsed by all religious items, forcing her family to believe that she was possessed. She died in 1976, only a year after the procedure had taken place, and all involved were charged with negligence, even the priest. After her trial was over, the case was labeled as mis-identification of a mental illness, abuse and religious hysteria. In the film released in 2005, there are some awesome moments of body contorting and it is a serious nail biter.
True this film may be categorized as more suspense than horror, but it was based on actual events and scarred me for life. Based on Peter Benchley’s novel of the same name, the story goes as such – over the course of 12 days, four people were brutally killed, and one seriously injured by a man eating shark on the Jersey coast line in 1916. Although in the past they speculated that it was a Great White shark to be the culprit, Steven Spielberg brought this terrifyingly huge shark to life when the film was released in 1975. And from such, ‘We’re gonna need a bigger boat’ was born. For those of you who also like re-enactments, the Discovery Channel also depicts these true events on the show during shark week.
5. The Girl Next Door
Probably the most disturbing film on the list, as its closest to what actually took place and is truly one of the most horrific cases I’ve ever heard of. Released in 2007, the film is based on the life and death of Sylvia Likens, a teen that was sent to live with her aunt and her children when her parents couldn’t take her with them, as they were working with a traveling Circus. There are a ton of disturbing facts to this case, some of which include burning the number 3 into Liken’s chest with a hot needle, forcing to eat her own feces and drink her urine, multiple raping’s, carving ‘I am a prostitute and proud of it!’ into her stomach and allowing a few smaller children from the neighborhood to practice their karate on her. Hard to watch and hard to even think about this poor girl really being treated in this abysmal way. Likens died at the age of 16.
4. The Hills Have Eyes
Talk about barbaric. Back in 16th century Scotland, a man named Sawney Bean, his wife and many offspring were convicted of killing and eating over 1,000 people. Legend has it that Bean ran away with this lover to a nearby cave, which could not be easily seen by passers by. The couple would wait until nightfall and set a careful ambush to rob, kill and then eat travelers or small groups of people. They didn’t work (lazy) and had no money to buy food. They went on to have 14 children, which in turn created a ton of grandchildren out of incest. Wes Craven originally released the film in 1977 but was later re-made in 2006. The film is very similar to this bloody legend and is a constant reminder to not take short cuts when traveling. Or go to Scotland.
3. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
This film was based on the murderous spree of Henry Lee Lucas, charged with 11 murders (although he claimed later that number was closer to 350) around the 1970’s. He offed his dear ol’ mom first and then it was all downhill from there. He had a friend and lover named Ottis, and the two were joined in psychopathic harmony. The film that was released in 1990 is more dramatic and doesn’t follow the original case as closely but its still utterly gruesome.
2. The Conjuring
Released in 2013, this film is based on two families – The Warrens (told you we’d circle back to them) and the Perron’s. The Perron’s are having a problem with their house being haunted and the Warrens are in the business of ridding haunted houses of the ghosts that reside in them. Lorraine Warren was actually a consultant on the film and appeared in a cameo role making it that much more authentic. These ghost hunters were the real deal and have had many documented cases proven to not be just a hoax. This movie is maybe the best horror film of the year and scared the sh*t out of me, go see it now, but you may want to leave the lights on when you watch.
1. The Amityville Horror
Another haunted house story, but this may be the most infamous. The original book and film has spawned a lot of sequels and was remade in 2011 (hello shirtless, ax welding Ryan Reynolds) but the fact of the matter is, this family was really terrorized in their home by other worldly entities. Story goes that the Lutz family moved into their Long Island home, only 13 months after criminally insane Ronald DeFeo Jr. murdered six members of his family. DeFeo claims to have heard strange voices ordering him to kill them. 28 days later, the Lutz’s move out due to being terrorize by the same voices and other awful occurrences that happened in the house. I’ll just say this, giant pig with red devil eyes. Allow that image to sink in. At least they were smart and got out while they could! This story is also depicted more in depth in the documentary ‘My Amityville Horror’, featured on Netflix if your interested in hearing more!
– Zodiac – Based on the actual killings that took place in California round the 1960’s, the ‘Zodiac Killer’ is one of the most psychologically interesting case ever. Not necessarily a horror film, but its cat-and-mouse approach makes it suspenseful as hell and will have you hiding under the covers. Plus its an unsolved case, so that can keep you warm at night. Catch the movie or book, you wont be sorry with either.
– Open Water – Based on the true events of Tom and Eileen Lonergan whom were left behind by their scuba diving group, who failed to notice they were missing. The inaccurate head count cost the Lonergan’s their lives, and Open Water is based on what might have happened during the time they were stranded. The Lonergan’s bodies were never found and they are thought to have died at sea.
Let us know in the comments section below if we left off one of your favorite true story horror films!