When you think of horror films, you think of fictitious and sometimes outlandish storyline. In some cases, these plots may not be as outlandish as you think. Most of these films had an influence or some sort of motive. These influences were from true events that sparked the director’s interest. Now, I’m not saying Freddy Krueger is a real person, but sometimes you have to look beyond the character and ask yourself, what motivated the director to make such a character? Well, you’re about to find out with this list of 25 horror films that were based off true events.
25. Hard Candy (2005)
Ellen Page (Inception) and Patrick Wilson (Insidious) star in this thriller about a 14-year-old girl by the name of, Hayley Star and a 32-year-old photography by the name of, Jeff Kohlver. The two began chatting online and decided to meet in person. Hayley in turn flirts with Jeff and persuades him to take her to his house. As they arrive, Hayley then fixes Jeff a drink and watches him pass out. When he wakes up, he is confined to a chair and Hayley then accuses him of being a pedophile. Jeff in turn denies these accusations and then Hayley tortures him.
True Story: Hard Candy is loosely based on a story of Japanese girls that would persuade businessmen to follow them into a building, where they would get mugged and robbed by these group of girls.
24. From Hell (2001)
Johnny Depp and Heather Graham star in this thriller that took place in the Victorian era. They’re on the hunt for Jack the Ripper.
True Story: The film is based on the serial killer, Jack the Ripper, who murdered five prostitutes in London during 1888-1889. Over the years the true killer hasn’t been identified, but many go on to say that it was actually American serial killer H.H. Holmes.
23. The Possession (2012)
This supernatural horror film is revolved around a young girl who purchased an antique box from a yard sale. Not knowing the origins of which this box came from, she then opens up a box containing a deviant spirit that is on a relentless pursuit to possess the girl.
True Story: This film is inspired by the story of the dybbuk box. In Jewish folklore, it is said that this dark spirit can possess the living. One day, a mysterious box was on sale on eBay and the person who ended up purchasing this box ended up selling it right back. It was reported to have “dark energy”. Each person who purchased this box experienced the same fate. The owners were plagued by either haunting and possessions.
22. Dead Ringers (1988)
This thriller is about two twin brothers, who are both gynecologists. One is more assertive than the other, so they take advantage of the fact that no one can tell them apart. The more assertive twin is so confident that he feels that he can have any girl he pleases. Once he is done with them, he passes them on to his brother. This works up until they meet an actress that they both fall for. Both aren’t willing to share this time.
True Story: This film is based on of two brothers, Stewart and Cyril Marcus who were twin gynecologists. They often shares everything from, women down to the same drug addiction. They were both found dead together as a result of withdrawal from said addictions.
21. The Blob (1958)
This movie is about a blob-like alien life-form who terrorizes a small town. It consumes everything in its way. With every victim or thing it consumes, it grows larger in size.
True Story: Now, you may be scratching your head with this one, but there’s actually a jelly like substance called meteoric jelly, also called “star jelly”. This film drew inspiration from a case in Philadelphia where police offers happened to stumble across this jelly in 1950. The officers attempted to move it, but the substance dissolved.
20. Snowtown (2011)
This film based off of a true story is revolved around 16-year-old, Jamie, who begins hanging out with his mother’s boyfriend and his friends. Together they appoint themselves as the neighborhood watch group. They begin to spree a series of tortures and murder throughout the neighborhood.
True Story: The “Snowtown murders” happened between 1992 and 1999 by Jason Bunting and his crew. The crimes were covered up methodically by the crew. They would leave voice messages saying that they were out of town.
19. Child’s Play (1988)
Serial killer Charles Lee Ray is finally cornered by the police in a toy store. In his final moments, he transfers his soul to a doll. A mother then purchases this doll for her son, Andy, from a guy in an alley. The doll then goes on a killing spree and nobody believes Andy when he claims that the doll is alive. Chucky then talks to the mother with no batteries in his back. He is eventually burned in a fireplace and blown apart.
True Story: This movie is inspired by a nurse who allegedly put a voodoo curse on author, Robert Eugene Otto. The curse made one of his childhood dolls come to life and terrorize him.
18. Borderland (2007)
A group of young college friends take a trip to a Mexican town next to the border where they come across a cult that practices human sacrifice.
True Story; This film is based on of a cult leader by the name of, Aldolfo de Jesus Constanzo. His group openly practiced human sacrifice. Constanzo kidnapped and sacrificed members of a drug cartel who didn’t let him in on the business. The murders were some of the most horrific scenes in history.
17. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
A group of friends get lost and are eventually hunted down by a chainsaw wielding freak and his family of cannibals.
True Story: The film’s plot is fiction, but the character, Leatherface, was based on of real life serial killer, Ed Gein. During Gein’s arrest, police found in his possession nine masks as well as furniture made from human flesh.
16. Dahmer (2002)
Jeremy Renner portrays real life serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer in 2002. This film was based on Dahmer and his eventual arrest.
True Story: Over a 15 year span, Dahmer has murdered and dismembered 17 men. He was also guilty of cannibalism and necrophilia. In 1992, Dahmer was sentenced to 16 consecutive life sentences. He was brutally beaten to death by his inmate 2 years into his sentence.
15. Primeval (2007)
A team gathers up and heads to Burundi to capture a legendary beast who is said to be a 25-foot crocodile. During their search, they become a warlords target.
True Story: The film is based on a legendary 20-foot croc by the name of Gustave who lives in Burundi. They believe that he is 65 years old and killed around 300 people.
14. The Strangers (2008)
A young couple who are having a troublesome relationship decide to head to an isolated home in the country where they are terrorized by three masking wearing maniacs.
True Story: The director, Bryan Bertino, drew his inspiration from his own personal experience when a string of break-ins occurred in his neighborhood when he was a child. He was also fascinated by the Manson killings.
13. The Conjuring (2013)
A family decides to move family into an old farmhouse. Paranormal events begin to happen and Ed and Lorraine Warren are then called in to deal with this houses dark secret.
True Story: This film was based on a real life event that happened to the Perron family. They moved into a Rhode Island home and had little knowledge of the history. They then called in paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren, who discovers that the property was haunted by a witch named Bathsheba Sheran who lived there in the 19th century.
12. Eaten Alive (1977)
The 1976 film takes place in an old, rundown hotel in Texas. The owner who is paranoid by those who seem like they are going to threaten his business. He in turn, feeds them to his large crocodile that lives in the swamp.
True Story: Joe Ball, fed as many as 20 women to his pet alligator in the 1930’s. Ball eventually shot himself so he could not be taken into custody.
11. The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)
A young woman by the name of Emily Rose becomes possessed and eventually dies. The priest who performed the exorcism was then blamed for her death. Nobody believed that Emily was possessed, and believed that it was a medical/psychological condition. The priest was then put on trial for homicide.
True Story: True Story: The film was inspired by the real life 1968 possession of a 16-year-old German girl named Anneliese Michel. She was said to be possessed for 7 years. The exorcism was not performed until 1975. It took the priest 10 months to successfully perform the exorcism.
10. The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)
This film is about an anthropologist who goes to Haiti after hearing rumors about a drug used by black magic to turn people into zombies.
True Story: The film is inspired by Canadian scientist Wade Davis who wrote a book in 1985 by the same title. In the book, he wrote of his experiences with the process of zombification.
9. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Pedophile, Freddy Krueger, is hunted down by a mob of angry parents of Springwood. They took matters into their own hands and burned Krueger alive. Freddy then becomes a vengeful demon that hunts down the children of the parents that took his life. He begins killing them one by one in their sleep.
True Story: Obviously, the story is fictional, but director Wes Craven made this films plot from an article he read about a group of Cambodians who all died while having nightmares.
8. The Zodiac Killer (1971)
This film is about a serial killer who kills at random while terrorizing the San Fransisco area. He pranks the police through a series of phone calls and letter while brutally murdering his victims.
True Story: The Zodiac killer is one of the most high profiled unsolved cases in American history. This serial killer is responsible for the deaths of four men and three women from December 1968-October 1969. The killings were random and the only evidence that was at the scene was a composite sketch and four letters. Investigators then began to believe that the killer had a background in law enforcement due to the lack of evidence. The case was then closed and reopened in 2007 as investigators wanted to use modern technology to crack the case.
7. The Amityville Horror (1979)
This film revolves around a newly wed couple who moves into a new home. They are unaware of what had occurred within the house. A mass murder was committed, and in turn, the house becomes haunted.
True Story: This film is also inspired by the case of Ed and Lorraine Warren. The Lutz family was said to be experiencing paranormal activity in their home at a violent rate. Several lawsuits were filed over the years about the stories credibility.
6. I Spit on Your Grave (1978)
A young woman, who is an aspiring writer is repeatedly gang-raped, beaten and left for dead by four men. She then hunts down the men one by one until she gets her revenge.
True Story: The director, Meir Zarchi, made this film based off his own personal experience. In 1974, he came across a woman who was brutally raped. He took the woman to the police where she was treated unjustly. He in turn wrote a story based on the woman and if she took these matters into her own hands.
5. Jaws (1975)
A white shark randomly starts terrorizing a small beach community of Amity. With the people of Amity paranoid, a police officer, a scientist and a fisherman set out to hunt the shark down.
True Story: Steven Spielberg’s film was based on a novel. The novel was inspired by Frank Mundus, a fisherman who caught a great white shark in Long Island in 1964. Also, it was inspired by a string of shark attacks that happened along the Jersey Shore in 1916.
4. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)
This film is starred by Michael Rooker and Tom Towles. They depict the life of Henry, who is a serial killer.
True Story: The killer, Henry, is based on a real life serial killer, Henry Lee Lucas. Lucas once stated that he killed around 3,000 people. This was never confirmed, but he was arrested and charged for murdering 11 people.
3. The Hills Have Eyes (1977)
A family’s car breaks down in the middle off nowhere on their way to California. The area they break down in is an area that was closed off to the public. The area is infested by a family of cannibals who were mutated.
True Story: This film is based on Alexander Bean. Bean was the head of a clan of cave dwellers in the 16th century. They lived in the cave for 25 years. Over those years they trapped and ate over 1,000 people before they were found and killed.
2. The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976)
A Texas Ranger is set out to find a killer who is terrorizing a small town in Arkansas.
True Story: The film is based on a killing spree that occurred in Texarkana in the 1940’s. The killer was dubbed, the Phantom Killer. He was nicknamed this because he left no clues behind. The Phantom was responsible for 8 murders. The killer was never truly identified.
1. The Exorcist (1973)
A teenage girl by the name of, Regan MacNeil, gets possessed by the demon Pazuzu while she and her mother visit Washington D.C. The mother eventually calls for the help of two priest to help ghee daughter.
True Story: This film is based on a novel. Blatty’s novel is inspired by a real life story of Roland Doe. A boy who became possessed in 1949 after playing with a Ouija board.