ByKarly Rayner, writer at
Movie Pilot's celebrity savant
Karly Rayner

Some serial killers are just too brutal to escape our attention. It's common knowledge that Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was loosely based on the macabre arts and crafts pursuits of Ed Gein.

But some serial killers work their way into the fabric of cinematic life without us even realizing they are based on real people, and these lesser known psychos have their own sickening stories to tell.

Check out your horror knowledge and see which of these movies you already knew were based on real-life murderers, I'm sure some of them will shock you.

Haboken Hollow is a Chilling True Story of Modern Day Enslavement

If you thought slavery totally ended in 1865, think again.

Haboken Hollow covers the chilling case of a Texas Slave Ranch where workers were forced to work without pay after being kidnapped from Interstate 10.

Needless to say, people don't undertake back breaking labour with no compensation willingly. The modern day slaves at the camp were routinely tortured with cattle prods and their screams were recorded on audio tapes.

At least one man, Anthony Bates, died on the premises and the remains of his cremated body were discovered when the camp was liberated in 1986. Because there was no body to analyze, it was impossible to confirm if he had been murdered.

Walter Wesley Ellebracht
Walter Wesley Ellebracht

Ranchers Walter Wesley Ellebracht, 55, Walter Ellebracht Jr., 33, and ranch foreman Carlton Robert Caldwell, 21 were charged with aggravated kidnapping. Due to their exceptionally strong defence lawyer, the trio went largely unpunished for their acts of enslavement and many were outraged that the family 'got away with murder'.

The longest sentence served was just a 3 years stretch of a 14-year-sentence by Walter Wesley Ellebracht.


Heavenly Creatures Centres Around the True Story of Two Teenage Girls who Killed One of Their Mothers so They Could be Together

Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme of Heavenly Creatures are based on their real-life namesakes. The 14-year-old best friends bludgeoned Pauline's mother, Honorah Rieper, to death with a brick in a sock so that would not be separated.

The teenage girls initially bonded over shared history of severe childhood disease and isolating hospitalizations, but soon they began to create an all encompassing fantasy world that severed them from reality.

The fantasy realm they created named Borovnia became the setting of all the stories they wrote, pictures they painted and conversations they had until it was as tangible to them as the real world.

Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme at trial
Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme at trial

Eventually their families became concerned that Pauline and Juliet's relationship was homosexual. When the girls heard they might be separated, they started planning a murder.

When Honorah Rieper planned a day for all three of them at the park, she was rewarded for her efforts by being beaten to death by both girls. Notes detailing the murder were swiftly found in Pauline's diary leading to a conviction.

Because the girls were under-age, they only served 5 years for their crime. Juliet Hulme is now a Mormon and successful crime writer under the name of Anne Perry and Pauline Parker runs a children's horse riding school in Britain.


Wolf Creek Is Based on a Real-Life Murderer Who Targeted Backpackers

Wolf Creek's psychotic trucker Mick Taylor was so close to his real-life counterpart that the Australian Northern Territory court put out an injunction on Wolf Creek's release. Bradley John Murdoch was still at trial for the murder of two backpackers when Wolf Creek was releasing its first publicity.

Bradley John Murdoch
Bradley John Murdoch

Murdoch was not the only influence on the Mick Taylor persona. Outback serial killer Ivan Milat also abducted and killed seven backpackers in New South Wales, Australia, during the 1990s. His victims had been tortured before they were killed, and police never managed to recover the head of one decapitated victim.


The Young Poisoners Handbook is Based on a British Man Who Killed his Victims with Cups of Tea

The black comedy The Young Posioner's Handbook might seem totally absurd, but sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. The Benjamin Ross movie is based on Graham Young, a British man who stereotypically poisoned his victims with deadly cups of tea.

Young was detained under the Mental Health Act in Broadmoor Hospital when he was just 15-years-old after his stepmother died from poisoning and his Aunt raised Young's fascination with chemicals to the police.

After 8 years in Broadmoor, he was released when psychiatrists judged that he was "No longer obsessed with poisons, violence and mischief". Unfortunately, their judgement was a tiny bit flawed.

Graham Young
Graham Young

He went on to get a job at John Hadland Laboratories in Bovingdon, Hertfordshire (How?!) and then gleefully used the chemicals at hand to poison the tea of the entire workforce. Over 70 people became ill, and two of them eventually died from their repeated poisonings.

At first the deaths were thought to be the result of a deadly virus nicknamed "The Bovingdon Bug"... Until Graham Young's criminal record came to light...

Young was subsequently imprisoned for life and he died of a heart attack in prison aged 42, although there are persistent rumors that he made himself a cup of tea before he died...


The Town that Dreaded Sundown is the True Story of a Terrifying Masked Killer Who was Never Caught

A murderer prowling around in the darkness with a white hood over his head might seem like the stuff of fiction, but there really was a Town That Dreaded Sundown.

1946 the town of Texarkana in Texas was stalked by a vicious serial killer wearing a crude mask with eye-holes snipped out of it. Some of the people the 'Phantom Killer' assaulted survived meaning there are plenty of spine chilling records of his words an actions.

The police officers involved in the case
The police officers involved in the case

Along with killing five people with a .32 automatic Colt pistol, the Phantom Killer bludgeoned a young man's head so brutally with a metal pipe that it fractured 3 times before sexually assaulting his girlfriend with the barrel of a gun. Remarkably, both victims survived.

Despite efforts to catch him such as setting up armed officers in 'lovers lane' with mannequins dressed as girlfriends to lure the killer, he was never paid for his crimes.


The Chaser is Based on an Even More Brutal Cannibalistic Serial Killer

The serial killer that The Chaser centres around might be name Je Yeong-min, but he was based on an even more depraved real-life killer.

Yoo Young-chul is a serial killer in South Korea's Seoul and a self-confessed cannibal who was convicted of murdering 20 people. His victims were an eclectic mixture of young escort girls, and wealthy elderly people. Young-chul believed that his crimes were entirely justified because "Women shouldn't be sluts, and the rich should know what they've done".

Yoo Young-chul was notorious for horrendously mutilating his victims after he had caved in their skulls with a hammer. Over half of his victims were decapitated before their bodies were mutilated and slices of their liver and brains were cannibalized.

Yoo Young-chul is facing the death penalty.



How many of these murders did you already know were based on real-life serial killers?


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