Friday, May 24, 2024

The scariest horror movies based on true stories

Horror movies based on actual events span across various sub-genres, including supernatural phenomena, home invasions, and natural disasters. These films, often highly sensationalized to cater to audience expectations, include both well-known and lesser-known titles. The films that are not widely recognized possess a unique allure because their stories are not as familiar, leaving viewers unsure of what will happen next. Explore the scariest horror movies inspired by true incidents, which you might not know much about.

The Amityville Horror

The Amityville Horror
The Amityville Horror

The Lutz family’s ordeal over 28 days in their Amityville, New York, home at 112 Ocean Avenue inspired the true-life horror movie “The Amityville Horror.” Just over a year before their move, the home was the scene of a terrible crime when Ronald DeFeo Jr. killed six of his family members there. The harrowing story of the Lutz family inspired numerous books and led to the creation of 11 movies. Daniel Lutz, the family’s oldest child, publicly shared his account for the first time through the 2012 documentary “My Amityville Horror.”

A Nightmare on Elm Street

A Nightmare on Elm Street
A Nightmare on Elm Street

Wes Craven’s horror movie from 1984 revolves around a murderer who targets victims in their sleep. The late filmmaker revealed that news articles in the Los Angeles Times were what initially inspired the idea during a conversation with Vulture on the occasion of the movie’s 30th anniversary. This suggests that the movie based on a true story.

These articles discussed a concerning phenomenon affecting young male refugees from Southeast Asia who tragically passed away while sleeping. An alarming number of 26 males died in their sleep in 1981 alone, avoiding rest due to the terrifying nightmares they believed could end their lives.

Annabelle

Annabelle
Annabelle

First showcased in the 2013 horror movie “The Conjuring,” the infamous doll Annabelle later became the centerpiece of its series, including the movies “Annabelle” (2014), “Annabelle: Creation” (2017), and “Annabelle Comes Home” (2019). Originally, this eerie doll was Raggedy, a gift to a young nurse. However, following various unsettling occurrences, including a harrowing incident involving the nurse’s boyfriend, they decided to consult a psychic.

The medium revealed that the doll housed the spirit of Annabelle Higgins, a 7-year-old girl who had passed away. Purportedly, Anne is allegedly responsible for some violent assaults and a few close calls. The sadly haunted Raggedy Anne doll now resides in the Occult Museum operated by ghost hunters Ed and Lorraine Warren, safeguarded under a glass enclosure that bears the inscription: “Warning: Positively do not open.” The doll’s eerie tale has inspired a movie based on a true story.

The Conjuring

best horror movies streaming
The Conjuring

In the roles of Ed and Lorraine Warren, Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga bring life to the characters of the demonologist renowned for their investigation into the Lutz family. Their portrayal is central to the narrative of lifetime movies based on true stories.

Featured in “The Conjuring,” their earlier encounter with an eerie doll forms a significant part of the plot. Both Wilson and Farmiga reprised their iconic roles in subsequent films within the Conjuring series, specifically in “The Conjuring 2” released in 2016, and “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It” in 2021.

The Possession

The Possession
The Possession

The tale of the “Possession” traces back to an eBay posting, where a “dybbuk box” was up for sale, complete with a chilling narrative by the seller, Kevin Mannis. According to Hebrew folklore, a dybbuk is a malevolent spirit capable of haunting and taking control of humans.

The Rite

scariest horror movies based on true stories
The Rite

In the film, Colin O’Donoghue portrays Michael Kovak, a character based on the real Father Gary Thomas, one of only fourteen exorcists in the U.S. certified by the Vatican. This connection to a real-life figure underscores the movie’s premise of being based on a true story.

During his studies in Rome, Father Thomas encountered Matt Baglio, a journalist who eventually penned a book about his journey titled “The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist.”, Father Thomas played a consulting role in the production of the movie.

The Haunting in Connecticut

The Haunting in Connecticut
The Haunting in Connecticut

In 1986, the Snedeker family took up residence in Connecticut, which they later discovered had once served as a funeral home. Esteemed demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren assessed the property and concluded that it was infested with demonic entities.

The troubling events encountered by the Snedekers inspired the narrative of the Campbell family in the movie “The Haunting in Connecticut.” This adaptation ranks among the best true story movies, drawing from real-life experiences to create a chilling cinematic experience.

Borderland

Borderland
Borderland

In the true story movie “Borderland,” actors Rider Strong and Sean Astin portray a trio of friends who venture to Mexico after their college graduation. Their celebratory trip takes a dark turn when they encounter a cult engaged in human sacrifice. Adolfo Constanzo, a real-life serial killer from the United States who later settled in Mexico City, served as the inspiration for this story. There, he gathered a following that would partake in his criminal activities.

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

The Exorcism of Emily Rose
The Exorcism of Emily Rose

“The narrative of Emily Rose draws its inspiration from the real life of Anneliese Michel, a young woman from Germany who was subjected to an exorcism but tragically passed away due to malnutrition and dehydration. Following her death, her parents, along with the priests who conducted the exorcism, were accused of negligent homicide. This film marks Scott Derrickson’s inaugural venture into movies based on true exorcism events. It stands as one of the best true story movies, capturing the intensity and authenticity of real-life exorcism events.

Open Water

Open Water
Open Water

Tom and Eileen Lonergan, tourists exploring the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, tag became the real-life counterparts to the film “Open Water” storyline when they were inadvertently left in the vast ocean on January 25, 1998. Although their scuba diving group departed without them, specialists are skeptical that the Lonerg met the same end as the movie’s characters. Regrettably, the couple was never located.

Dahmer

Dahmer
Dahmer

In the 2002 biopic, Jeremy Renner takes on the role of the infamous serial killer and rapist Jeffrey Dahmer. While the movie depicts actual crimes, the names of the victims have been altered. The chilling tale of Dahmer was revisited in 2017’s “My Friend Dahmer,” featuring Ross Lynch as the notorious murderer. Additionally, Evan Peters embodied the character in the 2022 Netflix series titled “Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story.”

The Birds

The Birds
The Birds

While Daphne du Maurier’s short story “The Birds” may have sparked the idea for Alfred Hitchcock’s film of the same name in 1963, the movie itself draws upon actual occurrences. This indicates that “The Birds” is not just an adaptation of fiction but also based on a true story movie, incorporating real-life events into its narrative.

The story takes place in a small Californian town along the coast and describes how aggressive birds used to haunt the area. Back in 1961, it was reported that birds near Monterey Bay were bewilderingly crashing into residential homes, driven by an unidentified cause. Decades later, in 2011, it emerged that researchers had identified a neurotoxin-producing algae in the birds, which led to memory loss, confusion, and convulsions.

Scream

Scream
Scream

In 1996, the unsettling events in Gainesville, Florida, where multiple young individuals were brutally killed, inspired a horror film that would evolve into a well-known series. The screenplay, which revolves around a murderer armed with a knife, came to life after screenwriter Kevin Williamson saw a documentary about these horrifying Gainesville crimes. This suggests that the movie is based on a true story, drawing inspiration from real-life events to craft its chilling narrative.

Poltergeist

Poltergeist
Poltergeist

The 1982 film, co-authored by Steven Spielberg, revolves around a family living in a house erected atop an ancient burial site, which becomes a hotspot for menacing spirits. While the storyline is not directly based on a true story, it draws inspiration from real-life accounts of paranormal phenomena, making it a true story movie in the realm of supernatural horror.

The plot draws inspiration from the experience of the Hermann family in Long Island, New York, who reported paranormal activities, such as objects inexplicably airborne, believed to be the antics of a poltergeist. Convinced that the disturbances stemmed from the proximity to a Native American burial ground, the family eventually relocated.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

The 1974 movie featuring the chainsaw-wielding character Leatherface draws its inspiration from Ed Gein’s notorious life and misdeeds during the 1950s, making it a true story movie in the sense that it is based on real-life events. Known as “the Butcher of Plainfield” or “Plainfield Ghoul,” Gein notoriously dug up bodies from cemeteries to create macabre trophies from their bones and skin. Similarly, in the film, Leatherface is portrayed engaging in the eerie habit of wearing women’s clothing, echoing Gein’s disturbing practices.

The Strangers

The Strangers, Best horror movies streaming
The Strangers

When Bryan Bertino scripted “The Strangers,” he drew inspiration from two notorious events: the chilling Manson family murders and the mysterious Keddie cabin murders. While the Manson case is widely recognized, the latter involves a still-unresolved case of four people killed in 1981 in the Sierra Nevadas of Northern California.

Both situations encompassed break-ins, violent encounters between strangers, and multiple fatalities. The horror in “The Strangers,” however, focuses exclusively on Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman’s characters. While the movie isn’t explicitly labeled as based on a true story, it draws inspiration from real-life home invasion cases, effectively capturing the terrifying essence of such events, and making it based on a true story movie in its thematic elements.

The Exorcist

The Exorcist (1973), best horror movies streaming
The Exorcist

“Decades after its initial release in 1974, ‘The Exorcist’ still manages to terrify viewers, and the real-life events that inspired the movie are equally horrifying. This enduring terror has solidified its place among lifetime movies based on true stories.” The storyline draws from an eerie episode involving a 14-year-old boy called Roland Doe. Reports from 1994 reveal that Doe was under the influence of a malevolent force, leading to priests conducting an exorcism on him.

The ritual had to be abruptly terminated when Doe violently tore off and hurled a piece of the mattress spring at one of the priests. Mysterious red scratches emerged on Doe’s body days later, with the scratches arranging themselves into the word “LOUIS.” The enigmatic happenings associated with Doe’s case remain unresolved.”

The Girl Next Door

The Girl Next Door
The Girl Next Door

Truth can sometimes surpass the imaginings of fiction. In a shocking event from 1965 in Indianapolis, 16-year-old Sylvia Likens was entrusted with the care of the Baniszewski family. This tragic real-life story has been depicted in lifetime movies based on true stories, highlighting the harrowing ordeal Sylvia endured. There, she was imprisoned, demeaned, and subjected to repeated and severe torture by her caretakers, leading to her death from shock, malnutrition, and a cerebral hemorrhage.

The severity of the abuse Likens suffered, along with the involvement of the family’s matriarch, Gertrude Baniszewski, two of her children, and a pair of local children, marked these acts as perhaps the most horrifying crimes ever seen in Indiana. Author Jack Ketchum later transformed these harrowing events into a 1989 novel titled “The Girl Next Door,” which subsequently inspired a film adaptation with the same title in 2007.

Fire In The Sky

Fire In The Sky
Fire In The Sky

Imagine being abducted by extraterrestrials and finding yourself in a cocoon along with Earthlings who have passed away. This eerie scenario is part of Travis Walton’s story, in which he claims he was taken by aliens in 1975. The film, based on his experiences, details these chilling events. This thrilling science fiction film is something you won’t want to skip! It has a 6.5 out of 10 rating on IMDb under Robert Lieberman’s direction.

Wolf Creek

Wolf Creek
Wolf Creek

This chilling Australian horror film combines elements of “The Hills Have Eyes” and “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre,” which were real-life “backpack murders” that claimed the lives of nine young travelers. The plot follows three friends trekking through Wolf Creek National Park when they discover their car has malfunctioned and their watches have ceased to work. With its basis in real events, the movie is based on a true story, offering a terrifying portrayal of the dangers lurking in remote areas.

Out of the blue, a mysterious man appears, offering assistance. However, instead of helping, he subjects them to a horrific ordeal, involving sexual assault on the women and crucifixion of the man. Although the film is quite harrowing and might make you think twice about long road trips, it stands as an exceptional piece of horror cinema.

The Conjuring 2

The Conjuring 2
The Conjuring 2

In a rare occurrence, the follow-up to a film managed to live up to its predecessor quite. Under the direction of James Wan, and featuring the returning duo of Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, “Conjuring 2 hit theaters in 2016, diving into another eerie case once investigated by the Warrens.

While initially set in the Lutz residence in Amityville, New York—a location the Warrens truly explored—the story soon moves across the Atlantic to England, where it delves into the haunting of the Hodgson family and the infamous Enfield Poltergeist. The sequel’s financial success was a testament to its quality, generating $320.4 million, closely shadowing the original’s $319.5 million earnings.

The Mothman Prophecies

The Mothman Prophecies
The Mothman Prophecies

In this chilling supernatural horror movie, Richard Gere and Laura Linney bring to life the eerie tale of the Mothman, a mysterious entity reportedly sighted in the 1960s in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. The story starts with a couple getting into a terrible car accident after the wife sees a dark, wingless beast. Tragically, she later develops a brain tumor and dies.

The narrative intensifies as John, a grieving widower, becomes engrossed in the Mothman legend. His grief morphs into a consuming obsession, pushing him toward the brink of madness—a poignant exploration of loss viewed through a supernatural framework. As John delves deeper into unresolved disappearances, the thin line between reality and illusion blurs, captivating the audience’s curiosity about what truths lie behind the veil of the unknown.

Jaws

Jaws
Jaws

The iconic film “Jaws” was adapted from Peter Benchley’s 1974 novel, sharing the same title but not directly influenced by any single shark incident. Instead, it drew inspiration from the adventures of shark fisherman Frank Mundus. Although not a direct retelling of true events, “Jaws” can be considered based on a true story movie in the sense that it incorporates real-life experiences and characters into its narrative.

Despite Despiteley’s refusal to acknowledge the likeness, Robert Shaw, who portrayed Captain Quint in the movie, confirmed that his character was indeed based on Mundus, a fact that Mundus’ friends and relatives strongly believe demonstrates a clear linkage.

The Hills Have Eyes

The Hills Have Eyes
The Hills Have Eyes

The truthfulness of the Sawney Bean legend remains uncertain; however, folklore narrates that Bean headed a 48-member group in 16th-century Scotland. This clan notoriously abducted, murdered, and consumed over 1,000 individuals. In the pursuit of these elusive criminals, various innocent locals were wrongly killed, and eventually, Bean and his clan were captured and met with a grim end.

Wes Craven’s 1977 horror film “The Hills Have Eyes” was based on this horrifying tale of a clan that inspired common people to commit brutal acts that affected both victims and pursuers. Despite the fact that the movie underwent a remake in 2006 and a sequel in 2007, these newer versions fell short of the original’s impact.

Frequently asked questions

What makes a true horror movie?

They are intended to terrify, shock, and disgust us while also recalling our most secret anxieties, paradoxically enthralling and engaging us simultaneously. Horror films explore the dark side of life, the forbidden and bizarre, incomprehensible phenomena.

Which are the scariest horror movies based on true stories?

Parents should be aware that The Conjuring is a terrifying horror film based on a real tale of a haunted home, demon possession, and exorcism. It’s more terrifying than gruesome; no people die (save a dog), and little blood is seen, except for an intense demon-possession sequence at the end.

Why are horror movies the best?

Horror films are experts at creating dramatic and scary sequences that elicit the fight-or-flight reaction. As we watch the characters encounter terrible scenarios, our bodies respond immediately, boosting our pulse rate, blood pressure, and adrenaline levels.

abubakarbilal
abubakarbilal
Abubakar is a writer and digital marketing expert. Who has founded multiple blogs and successful businesses in the fields of digital marketing, software development. A full-service digital media agency that partners with clients to boost their business outcomes.
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