*Disclaimer Amityville Horror will not be featured in this piece (bummer, right?), as it’s an obvious choice in due to recent events it has been found as a fake due to some articles. And also, it’s featured in all of these lists.
What makes a horror film scary? I’m not sure, I’m not an expert, but I do love horror films and everything macabre. I also really enjoy films based on true events, and for me there is nothing better than watching a horror film that is based on real life events, they make it more spine-chilling. And, interesting. So I have compiled a list of 10 horror films that are inspired by true events, some of which you may not have known who or what their true counter parts were about.
10. I Spit On Your Grave (1978) & (2010)
Plot; A young girl is stalked, raped, kidnapped, and tortured until she manages to make her escape when her kidnappers think she has died. The girl comes back, and seeks unbearable revenge on her the group of men that did her harm. It’s sickly, especially the 2010 version where Damien from Mean Girls has his eyes pecked out by crows. Bleurgh.
True Events; The director and writer of the original Meir Zarchi took inspiration from his own experience when one day in New York’s Central Park, in 1974, he came across a woman who had been beaten and raped. After taking her to the police, and realising that they weren’t going to do anything, Zarchi based his character Jennifer Hills on the idea of someone who doesn’t rely on the law and takes things into their own hands.
9. Haunting In Connecticut (2009)
Plot; Based in 1987, the film follows the Campbell family who are looking for a new home to suit the needs of the cancer suffering son, Matthew. After finding a house up for immediate sale (the man selling offers the family a free months rent if they can move in straight away), they soon discover the house used to be a mortuary. When weird things begin going on, the family discover that their home is haunted by demons.
True Events; Al and Carmen Snedeker are a family from Connecticut that actually did move into a haunted funeral parlour, just a year before the time the film is set. The facts are pretty true to the film, though some parts are fudged for dramatic reasons. Even infamous paranormal researchers Ed and Lorraine Warren were brought into investigate and deemed the home to be riddled with evil spirits.
8. The Conjuring (2013)
Plot; Remember before when I mentioned Ed and Lorraine Warren? Well The Conjuring is based on their most famous and spine-chilling case. The two demonologists (or, as I like to call them, Ghost Busters) are called to the Perron’s iscolated Farm home when strange events begin happening. Beginning is just the odd bump in the night, the family of seven then begin to learn the macabre history of their new home as the haunting becomes worse.
True Events; Ed and Lorraine Warren are indeed two actual paranormal investigators that boast investigating over 10,000 cases. Their most memorable case was that of Perron family whose home in Rhode Island was being haunted by a 19th century witch called Bathsheba Sheran. The prequel to The Conjuring, Annabelle, is also based on an investigation lead by Ed and Lorraine.
7. The Girl Next Door (2007)
Plot; A young girl is tortured by her aunt after her parents are killed during a car accident. She is further tortured by her three male cousins. Neighbourhood boy David, who is completely captured by Meg’s beauty, at first ignores the torture that Meg faces, though when he is offered to rape her by her cousin, Willie, he refuses, but ends up being captured in the torture too.
True Events; (weirdly enough, I know more about the true events than the film). In Indiana, 1965, Sylvia Likens, 16 at the time, and her sister, Jenny, are left in the care of Gertrude Banisewski, a family friend, who went on to brutally torture Sylvia and Jenny with the help of her sons, and even enlisted the help of her children’s friends. Finally, Sylvia succumbed to her wounds and died in the basement.
6. Silence Of The Lambs (1991)
Plot; FBI Student Clarice Starling is getting help from cannibal Dr Hannibal Lector to create a criminal profile on a serial killer that is on the loose, who is named Buffalo Bill by the media (after a journalist described his MO as taking a liking to ‘skinning his humps’). Hannibal Lector ends up out-smarting just about everyone in the law enforcement, and escapes whilst still helping Clarice capture Buffalo Bill and gain the respect she’s always wanted.
True Events; Hannibal Lector’s character was loosely based on Ted Bundy, having a smart, and charming man become a vicious psychopath, whilst his relationship with Clarice Starling was also based upon Bundy’s relationship with Robert Keppel, a criminal profiler who spend a lot of time with Bundy.
5. The Mothman Prophesies (2002)
Plot; Reporting on recent sightings of a monster that is set to terrify the village of Point Pleasant, journalist, John Kline looks into the recent sightings and discovers that the Mothman may not just be a myth.
True Events; Since the 1960’s there have been sightings of the mysterious ‘Mothman’ in Point Pleasant, though there has been no hard evidence of the creature’s existence. This doesn’t deter the occupants of Point Pleasant though, as they have a museum dedicated to this mysterious being, and also a statue in the middle of their town depicting what the Mothman looks like from sightings.
4. Wolf Creek (2005)
Plot; Set in Australia, this film is not for the faint hearted. After their vehicle breaks down, three motorists (two of whom are British) are left stranded in the outback when a native bushman offers to help fix their motor, little do they know that John Jarratt is actually a crazed psychopath who eventually kidnaps the couple and tortures them.
True Events; This film is also another fusion of two famous serial killers. Based on the Australian murderers who prayed on innocent backpackers, one of whom is Ivan Milat – who captured and tortured travellers in the 1990s.
3. The Hills Have Eyes (1977) & (2006)
Plot; Another stranded motorists story! When a family holiday gets cut short, after a family breakdown, along with their caravan, they are left stranded in an old US Atomic Bomb testing area, though things begin to get a lot worse from there. The family begin getting tortured and pick off one by one by mutant-like humans that are affected by the radiation fall out, and they’re hungry for human meat.
True Events; The Hills Have Eyes was inspired by Wes Craven’s fascination with an old Scottish legend called ‘Sawney Bean’. The story goes that during the 16th Century, Sawney’s family lived within caves and lived off of human meat. They were found to have killed and eaten over 1,000 people before they were captured and killed.
2. A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984) & (2010)
Plot; In Elm street teenagers are being haunted in their dreams by a vengeful murderer called Freddy Kruger. Eventually being murdered, one by one, after a series of dreams with Freddy, the teenagers begin to keep themselves awake in order to stay alive.
True Events; Another Wes Craven favourite, this story is based on actual events of a boy from Cambodia, who had, with his family, moved to the USA. The boy began suffering from terrible nightmares, and one day said to his parents that he was afraid that the thing chasing him in his dreams would get him and kill him. After staying up for nights on end, the boy eventually fell asleep, when, in the middle of the night, his parents heard screaming they ran to his room but were too late, he was already dead.
1. The Town That Dread Sundown (1976) & (2015)
Plot; In the twin cities of Texarkana, Texas and Arkansas, there were a string of murders being committed by a culprit known only as ‘the phantom’. He kills some of his victims in very creative, and brutal ways, like attaching a knife to a trombone and whilst playing it, repeatedly stabbing one of his victims. All the town know of this murderer is that his victims are young kids, usually ones in the lovers lane area of the city, and he wears a sack over his head to cover his face.
True Events; The whole film is based on the true events, apart from the creativity of some of the murders and the year (the actual year was 1946), there was actually a serial murderer who terrorised the town of Texarkana, who wore a hooded sack. The murders, to this day, have gone unsolved and any suspects have been acquitted through DNA analysis.