Sep 6, 2013

13 Horror Movies That Are Actually True Stories

Article By: Chiller

Real Fear: The Truth Behind More Movies premieres tonight at 9pm ET on Chiller (September 6 if you are reading this after....don't worry, it repeats!) and it's all about digging into the true stories behind some of the best known horror movies out there, like The Haunting in Connecticut or A Nightmare on Elm Street (yes, both were inspired by actual events). This put us in the mood for the horror section of the "based on a true story" video catalog, so below are thirteen films you may be surprised to learn have a basis in reality. 

1. The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)

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There was no Emily Rose, but there was Anneliese Michel. Intense shaking and seeming loss of control over her body led doctors to diagnose her with grand mal seizures. However, her behavior progressed to include attacking family members, drinking her own urine and freaking out over religious objects. The family eventually convinced priests to perform multiple exorcisms. Anneliese died in 1976 of pneumonia, before the last exorcism (there'd been 40 by that time) could be performed. There's still debate over whether she was actually possessed (obviously, because if it was confirmed that'd sorta be front page news).

The below is supposedly actual audio footage from some of the exorcisms overlayed against pictures of Anneliese during the height of her "affliction." 


2. The Haunting in Connecticut (2009)

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The Real Fear team investigates the truth behind this 2009 film, which, yes, is based on a true story. In the movie, a family moves to a Connecticut home while their cancer stricken son receives treatment at a nearby hospital. The house is haunted and those spirits are PISSED (as in, they get violent). Which is really a shame because having a kid with cancer is enough of a burden – having to deal with angry ghosts is just downright cruel. In real life, the family of Carmen Snedeker reported incidents in their Connecticut home during the 1980s. John Zaffis – he of Haunted Collector – investigated the case (along with Ed and Lorraine Warren, featured in The Conjuring). As Lorraine Warren said, the actual case was "much, much scarier than any movie could ever be."

Here's John Zaffis discussing the case:


3. The Conjuring (2013)

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It's fairly new as of this writing, but this paranormal-investigators-take-on-a-very-haunted-house is indeed based on a true story. Aforementioned investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) were very much real (she's still alive) and did help a family with their haunted farmhouse. The Warrens also investigated the home that inspired The Amityville Horror.


4. The Girl Next Door (2007)

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Of all our tales, this one's basis in reality is perhaps the most upsetting. The movie details the story of two teenaged girls, orphaned by their parents’ death, who go to live with their aunt. The woman holds them captive, beating and torturing them. She even lets her children rape them. The film (and the 1989 Jack Ketchum novel from which it sprung) comes from the real life case of Sylvia Likens, who was left with a family friend, Gertrude Baniszewski, while her circus performer parents traveled. Gertrude terrorized Sylvia similar to the events in the film, ultimately leading to Sylvia's death. Prosecutors on the case called it "the most terrible crime ever committed in the state of Indiana."

To show any clips would be way too disturbing, so here's the trailer:


5. The Entity (1982)

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Barbara Hershey stars as a young mother who gets raped and tortured by unseen, otherworldly beings in this genuinely scary 1982 movie. Back in 1974, a woman named Doris Blither claimed she was assaulted by invisible entities. While some laughed her off, two paranormal investigators, Barry Taff and Kerry Gaynor, found evidence of strange goings on in her home – including balls of light floating about (similar to the electrical charges we see in the film).

Here is a segment from a gorgeous late 80s/early 90s show called Sightings about Doris Blither's story:


6. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

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No, there isn't a real life Freddy Krueger, although hipsters have certainly commandeered his look (minus the glove and burnt face). However, Wes Craven did admit that he was inspired partly by an article he read in the L.A. times detailing how a group of Cambodian immigrants all died while having nightmares. The gory details are investigated in Real Fear: The Truth Behind More Movies:



7. The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

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Another Wes Craven classic. The movie is about a family stranded in the Nevada desert and victimized by a group of cannibals. The real life tale is that of Sawney Bean, a Scottish man born circa the 15th/16th century. Bean married and had 14 children, many of which were the product of incest. The family were cannibals, lived in caves and killed over 1000 people!

Here's the trailer:


8. Jaws (1976)

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Okay, so there wasn't one great white shark that kept coming to life with a beef for the Brody family (most notably seen in Jaws: The Revenge, where the shark beelines it down to the Caribbean to off Ellen Brody). However, a series of great white attacks off the New Jersey shore in 1916 sent people into a complete panic, threatening tourism in the area.

Here's a short re-enactment of the first death:


9. Eaten Alive (1977)

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This little seen gem (from Tobe Hooper!) - starring miss Morticia Addams, Carolyn Jones - is about a Texas psycho who feeds his enemies or anyone that pisses him off to a crocodile. The inspiration was Joe Ball, a real life serial killer who had a penchant for serving his victims to crocs. Of course, Carolyn Jones wasn't really one of them.

Here is a trailer, which features a woman dressed like a waitress at Oktoberfest




10. The Mothman Prophecies (2002)

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This 2002 movie is about an encounter with the mothman, a winged creature, appears in West Virginia and seems a harbinger for disastrous events, like a bridge collapsing. In the late 60s, actual Mothman sightings occurred in Point Pleasant, West Virginia - one of which pre-dated the collapse of a bridge that killed 46 people.

Here's the trailer:


11. Open Water (2003)

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This movie - about a couple accidentally left at sea by a diving expedition, only to be surrounded and eventually consumed by sharks - was so terrifying because it seemed so real. And it was. In 1998, a married couple disappeared off the Great Barrier Reef, left behind by a diving tour. Their bodies were never recovered. 

Here's a particularly creepy scene from the movie:


12. Wolf Creek (2005)

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Two British women and an Australian man find themselves stranded in the outback after their car breaks down. A truck driver kidnaps and tortures them. The real life story is a fusion of two hitchhiker killers - one of who, Ivan Milat, captured and tortured many travelers during the 1990s.

Trailer below:


13. An American Haunting (2005)

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This movie takes place in the 1800s and about a witch that curses the Bell family, particularly targeting Bell daughter Betsy. More importantly, it marks Sissy Spacek's return to horror! Anyway, the movie is based on the real life legend of the Bell witch, who supposedly tortured a family in Tennesse. President Andrew Jackson (before he took office) was supposedly so interested in the legend that he investigated, but got scared away!

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