There is something comforting about leaving the movie theater, and knowing the boogeyman is confined to the strips of film; after all, the movies are just works of fiction, right? What if you found out the macabre truth behind one of your horror films? Would it make it more terrifying for you? Here are five movies that are based (even if loosely) on actual events:
1: Nightmare on Elm Street
Many die-hard fans have probably heard the true story behind the infamous Dream Demon, but I put it on the list anyway. Wes Craven’s inspiration was derived from a series of articles in the LA Times that told of immigrants from Asia that reportedly died during their nightmares. The deaths were never explained, even with the aid of an autopsy. It was reported that one of the men did everything he could to stay awake (for what ended up being six or seven days, despite his family’s instance that he needed to sleep) to avoid his nightmares, and when he finally fell asleep, his family was awakened to the sounds of his screaming. When they got to him, he was already dead. Was there something sinister surrounding these deaths, or were they just random coincidences? You be the judge.
2: The Hills Have Eyes
Nothing seems more horrifying than the prospect of becoming a snack for a group of cannibals. Good thing that stuff only happens in movies, right? Well, not exactly. Another one of Wes Craven’s classics was derived from a bit of factual history. The Hills Have Eyes is a spin on the true story of Sawney Bean and his cannibal clan. The real family lived in the 15th or 16th-century Scotland. They are said to have collected their victims as they passed by caves. They were eventually hunted down and executed in various ways after people began to take notice of a large number of missing persons, as well as the number of body parts that decided to wash up on shore. Some records state that they murdered and ate over 1,000 people. There are some who say that Sawney Bean never existed, or that the crimes were grossly exaggerated, but keep this story in mind the next time you pass a cave, on the beach. It might not be as empty as you thought.
3: Child’s Play
I know what you are thinking; there is no way that a movie about a killer doll is true. Well, you are technically right. There was not a doll named “Chucky” or a real serial Killer named “Charles Lee Ray” (bonus points if you can guess how that name was chosen). The inspiration came from the stories about Robert the Doll. Robert was given to a boy named Robert Otto, by a man who is said to have practiced black magic. Robert Otto’s family claimed that they would hear Robert the Doll talk back to the boy, as well as giggle, on his own. Neighbors stated that they would see the doll move, while the family was gone. When Robert Otto died, his doll was stored in the attic, until it was found by the family that bought the home. The 10-year-old daughter of that family claimed that Robert the Doll tried attacking her, several times. Robert found a new home at the Martello Museum, and it is said that he still brings about strange occurrences.
4: Wolf Creek
The idea for this movie actually came from two separate sets of crimes, in Australia. In 2001, a couple was driving down the road, when they were signaled to pull over by John Bradley Murdoch. Murdoch then signaled the male to the back of the vehicle, where he shot him. He then bound the woman’s hands and proceeded to put her in his vehicle. While Murdoch was disposing of the male’s body, the female was able to escape, and elude him. She made it to safety, and Murdoch was arrested. To this day, the male’s body has never been found. There are still some questions as to the validity of the woman’s story, as well, but Murdoch was still charged.
The second influence came from the serial killer, Ivan Milat. Milat was charged with murdering seven backpackers in the 90s and because of his victim choice, the crimes were given the name “The Backpack Murders.” Several of the victims had similar spinal injuries, indicating that their killer likely paralyzed them before finishing the murders (which is most likely the influence for the famous “Head on a Stick” scene.)
5: The Entity
To my knowledge, there aren’t very many recorded cases of spectrophilia. Probably the most famous of these cases was the inspiration for “The Entity”. The real story involved a woman named Doris Bither and her children. Doris claimed that she was being assaulted by a series of three spirits; a claim that her oldest son would attest to, stating that he attempted to assist his mother, but was thrown across the room by an unknown force. Investigators have many different theories as to the cause of the apparent haunting which ranges from Doris, and possibly one or more of her children, having psychic abilities that brought about the spirits during times of anger between Doris and her children, to Doris somehow attracting the spirits to her due to lifestyle and possible psychic abilities. The family hasn’t been heard from since the 80s, but in the last interview, Doris claimed that despite moving numerous times, she was still being affected by the spirits. Whether you believe the story to be true or not, you can’t deny that it makes for an interesting tale.