Or maybe you did. Either way, there are plenty of films out there that are based on true events and this should be of no comfort. From giant prehistoric beasts to kiddy-killers, we have made millions on some terrible tragedies twisted into Hollywood greens. But some part of every one of us secretly hopes that what we're watching is true. Here's the few that are.
13. Hard Candy (2005)
Remember the stories you hear about older men pretending to be young innocent girls online to lure their prey? What if the prey were luring the predators? In Hard Candy, starring Ellen Page as Hayley, that's just what happens. Haley stalks and lures pedophiles online to exact revenge against the criminals who have hurt little children. She makes sure that they know exactly how old she is and exactly what their intentions are. The predator in question this time is Jeff (Patrick Wilson) and he is hell bent on getting away with it. But how much can a fourteen year old do to a thirty something year old man? Apparently.... A lot.
In real life, this movie is based off of a news report of a group of Japanese girls luring pedophiles online into a trap where they then violently beat and mug them. It was seen by Hard Candy director David Slade who then passed the idea off to his writer Brian Nelson to flesh out into a full story.
A story like this is riddled with ethics and morals, right and wrong. Should you even stop her? Is it wrong to kill an uncaught killer? What about all the kids she might be saving from a disturbing fate? That is up to you.
12. Primeval (2007)
Primeval is about a giant Crocodile named Gustav terrorizing villages in Burundi. It has killed hundreds of people and has proved impossible to kill. A New York City Journalist named Tim, played by Dominic Purcell, gets sent by his boss with an animal reporter (Brooke Langton) to report on the attempted capture of Gustav. With them goes a cameraman (Orlando Jones) and a Herpetologist (Gideon Emery) who is dead set on keeping Gustav alive. The attempted capture is spoiled both by Croc and man and ends in various blood shed.
The true story of Gustav is a little less dramatic. While there was later a war in Burundi, at the time of the attempted capture the capture team was given a two month capture time limit because Burundi was about to change leadership which may have led to a civil war. Gustav is estimated to be around sixty years old, between 20 and 25 feet long and he is said to have eaten over 300 people. He has become too big to eat the average crocodile food and must hunt for hippos, wildebeests and occasionally people. Though, a lot of victims show up mauled but not eaten, which can only mean one thing: He, a lot like cougars, hunts for sport instead of hunger.
They crafted a large cage and made many attempts to capture him. None were successful. Although on one curious night, their last ditch effort before they had to call it quits, they stuck a goat in the cage. On this night (and only this night) the cameras failed and the goat disappeared. This suggests Gustav is a lot smarter than you'd think.
I don't know about you, but the truth is a whole lot scarier than the movie.
11. The Strangers (2008)
The Strangers is a terrifying possibility. A couple return home after attending a friends wedding. They are in an argument. A woman appears, knocking at their door. Something has gone wrong with their porch light so her face is obscured. "Is Tamara there?" She asks. They assure her there is no one there by that name and think that is that. They were wrong.
They become tormented by two masked women and one masked man as their car gets totaled and their phones go missing or broken. The startling reason given, "Because you were home."
In reality, the film was based on a couple different things.
- The director, Bryan Bertino's childhood: a stranger came to his home asking for someone who was not there, and Bertino later found out that empty houses in the neighborhood had been broken into that night.
"As a kid, I lived in a house on a street in the middle of nowhere. One night, while our parents were out, somebody knocked on the front door and my little sister answered it. At the door were some people asking for somebody who didn't live there. We later found out that these people were knocking on doors on the area and, if no one was home, breaking into the houses"
- The famous book Helter Skelter, the true crime book of the Manson murders
- and the Keddie Murders. A group of people were found in their rented cabin bound with medical tape and electrical wire. They were stabbed, bludgeoned and strangled to death. One steak knife was found to have been used so forcefully it was bent 25 degrees. It is currently unsolved, but there have been discoveries of parts of a missing victim as well as several other peoples parts. You can read about it here.
10. The Hills Have Eyes (1977/2006)
The Hills Have Eyes... The plot of both movies is mostly the same with some very minor differences. A family set out on vacation ends up wrecking after being mislead on directions in the middle of a desert. Split up and unaware, they are picked off by nearby cannibalistic inbred mutants.
Despite the fact that the remake insinuated nuclear blasts and mutants, the original is based on the cannibalistic tribe leader Sawney Bean. Sawney Bean left his home with a terrible woman and they took up residence in a coastal cave. They were left alone for twenty-five years in which they had many kids and their kids had many kids (all of which were products of incest). They would set traps for travelers and beat and rob them. They would then drag them back to their cave to be dismembered and eaten. The leftovers were pickled and would wash up on the nearby beach. The nearby villages did searches but couldn't find who did it, sentencing several innocents in the process.
One night, the Bean's tried to take a couple riding home from the fair. The husband was a very skilled fighter and managed to hold them off, though they fatally wounded his wife. Before they could overtake the husband, more villagers came up the trail on their way home and their existence was made known. The king had a huge search ordered and they found the cave scattered with human remains. The Beans were executed without trial.
9. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
In the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a group of friends are heading out to their family homestead to check on reports of vandalism on some family graves. While in the area they run out of gas and subsequently get hunted down by Leatherface, who's house is covered in human skin covers and scattered remains. He himself dons a human flesh mask and at one point a whole human female suit. It has always been advertised as based completely on a true story and we are led to believe that it surrounded a whole family clan of depraved cannibals who have been at it for years. That Leatherface is still out there somewhere. I know this thought haunted me as a child.
In truth, there is no Texas family out to skin you and prop you up on a meat hook. And to my knowledge there never was. However, there was Ed Gein, whom Texas Chainsaw Massacre (and COUNTLESS other films) was based on. Ed Gein was brought up on a close leash by his mother. She taught him all women were natural born prostitutes and tools of the devil. She punished him for trying to make friends. So he lived his life on their secluded farm with only his brother, mother and father. He only left the property for school. It is thought that his first victim was his brother, but it was never proven. He had an unnaturally close relationship with his mother and when she died, he boarded up all the rooms she used, living only in a side room off the kitchen. When Bernice Worden (a cashier) went missing, he was her last customer so they searched his property. They found:
- Whole human bones and fragments
- A wastebasket made of human skin
- Human skin covering several chair seats
- Skulls on his bedposts
- Female skulls, some with the tops sawn off
- Bowls made from human skulls
- A corset made from a female torso skinned from shoulders to waist
- Leggings made from human leg skin
- Masks made from the skin from female heads
- Mary Hogan's face mask in a paper bag
- Mary Hogan's skull in a box
- Bernice Worden's entire head in a burlap sack
- Bernice Worden's heart "in a plastic bag in front of Gein's potbellied stove"
- Nine vulvae in a shoe box
- A young girl's dress and "the vulvas of two females judged to have been about fifteen years old"
- A belt made from female human nipples
- Four noses
- A pair of lips on a window shade drawstring
- A lampshade made from the skin of a human face
- Fingernails from female fingers
He killed two women (Mary Hogan and Bernice Worden) and grave robbed a large number of fresh graves. Gein was trying to create a woman suit so that he could become his mother—to literally crawl into her skin. He was found legally insane in 1968 and died of respiratory failure due to lung cancer in a mental hospital in 1984.
8. An American Crime (2007)
An American Crime is a very good but very upsetting movie. It is about two young girls who were the children of a traveling couple who worked for the circus. They were left in the care of a woman (Mrs. Baniszewski), who was a stranger to the family and already had seven kids, in exchange for $20 a week. The first check was late so she proceeded to beat the girls with a belt. As the movie progresses, she takes most of her stress and her depression out on the oldest sister Sylvia (played by Ellen Page). The abuse gets worse and worse, including burning her with cigarettes and making her force a glass coke bottle up her vagina. She eventually lockes Sylvia in the basement where her children brought the kids of the neighborhood down several times a week to beat her and spray her with water. I have never before seen a movie that left me with so much simultaneous sadness and rage. It was only made worse by the fact that it's completely true.
They got almost everything completely correct in the movie, except that the Sylvia and Jenny Likens' parent were separated and the mother was locked up for shop lifting. The father left the girls with the Baniszewski's, encouraging them to "straighten his daughters out." Oh. And they did the coke bottle thing. TWICE. They scalded her with burning water and rubbed salt in her wounds. They attempted to carve "I am a prostitute and proud of it" onto her chest. She tried to escape but was caught. She then died at the age of 16 from a brain hemorrhage, malnutrition and shock. Mrs. Baniszewski gave the police a letter she had forced Sylvia to write a few days earlier, saying that she (Sylvia) had agreed to have sex for money with a group of boys and they had dragged her to a car, beat her and carved it into her chest. Mrs. Baniszewski's attempt at a cover-up failed. Sylvia's little sister Jenny told the police everything. Mrs. Baniszewski was charged with first degree murder.
7. Stuck (2007)
In the movie Stuck, a woman driving home from a party under the influence of alcohol and several drugs strikes a homeless man with so much force that he gets lodged through her windshield. Still alive, she promises him that she will get him help and drives all the way back to her house. She leaves him stuck in the windshield in her garage, taking a taxi to work the next morning. She returns after work with her boyfriend, planning to kill and dispose of his body. But he isn't dead yet and he doesn't intend to go without a fight.
The true story behind Chante's hit and run is not really that different. Under the influence, she hit a homeless man, lodging him in her windshield, before driving home and waiting for him to die in her garage. She and two friends set to disposing of his body in the park. They even burned the front half of the car to destroy evidence. They were charged with tampering of evidence for this. She was caught because, four months after the incident, she was heard laughing about the incident at a party, quoted in saying "I hit this white man." She was sentenced to fifty years for murder. They say that if she had gotten him medical attention he would have undoubtedly survived.
6. 247 Degrees Fahrenheit (2011)
In 247 Degrees Fahrenheit, four friends set off to an uncle's cabin in the woods. They discover a sauna the uncle built and start to enjoy themselves. The obnoxious oversexed boyfriend type gets upset and leaves, inadvertently knocking over some wood, effectively blocking the door. As the sauna gradually increases in heat, they realize they are trapped inside. Hysteria rises as they wait to be cooked alive!
In the real story, they do indeed get blocked inside a sauna. Thankfully, no one died and they managed to escape with no permanent damage. It reminds me of a more gradual version of the tanning bed scene in Final Destination 3. It is also a perfect example of why I am weary of entering anything that could cook me alive.
5. The Haunting Of Connecticut (2009)
The Haunting Of Connecticut is a pretty spooky story. A family moves into an old funeral home in an effort to move their cancer ridden son, Matt (Kyle Gallner), closer to his treatment facility. Immediately afterwards, Matt starts having horrific visions and premonitions. Chalked up to his treatments, they mostly get ignored until violent things start happening to his family members. They find proof of seances and body disfigurements having happened in his basement bedroom. It seems something terrible might have happened in this house...
A lot of what happened in the movies was true. You can see the differences here, but the climactic ending and a lot of what was behind the hauntings in the movie are what was false. It was stopped by an exorcism and they believe the hauntings were caused because the funeral home owners may have been guilty of necrophilia. Unfortunately, the actual boy, Philip Snedeker did not survive his cancer.
4. The Possession (2012)
The possession is a very scary and family hitting movie where a divorced man who never gets enough time to spend with his girls, purchases his youngest daughter a mysterious box from an estate sale. This is the same box seen in the opening, somehow abusing and distorting an elderly woman. His daughter grows more an more withdrawn and obsessed with the box. She eats enough for three people and has become aggressive. Her father fears she has become possessed and seeks the help of a Rabbi. The box itself is known as a Dybbuk box. The box is said to house a trapped spirit of a horrendous being. That being might just be living in his daughter now...
The actual possession portrayed in the movie never happened, but the real dybbuk box is said to be a wine cabinet haunted by a malicious spirit that can haunt and possess the living. It was made infamous after being sold on ebay. Kevin Mannis is a creative writer and owner of an antique refinishing business in Portland, Oregon. He purchased the cabinet from an estate sale. It was an heirloom from Spain but it was never opened because they believed a Dybbuk lived inside of it. They insisted he take it. Inside, he found two 1920s pennies, a lock of blonde hair bound with cord, a lock of black/brown hair bound with cord, a small statue engraved with the Hebrew word "Shalom", a small golden wine goblet, one dried rose bud, and a single candle holder with four octopus-shaped legs. He and others around him suffered many terrible occurrences while in possession of the box (you can read about them here) and though he sold it many times on ebay, it kept finding its way back to him.
3. The Conjuring (2013)
The Conjuring opens with the Warren's interviewing two young ladies about their experiences with the Annabelle doll. Then we see our main family. The Perron family move into a fixer-uper they tied all their assets to. During an accident in a game of hide n' clap, they uncover a boarded up basement. Soon after they begin to experience manifestations in increasing levels of animosity. They then call on the Warrens to help them rid their home of the evil spirit Bathsheba.
In the REAL story, Bathsheba Sherman was an actual person, but her story is a little different. She lived on the far next door to the farm the Perrons would later buy, and she was never proved to be a witch. However, she was believed to have had up to four children, all but one of which lived no longer than seven. A baby in her care died and upon investigation, the cause of death was a large sewing needle that had impaled the child through the back of it's head. She was cleared of everything legally, but the public was convinced she had done it as an act for Satan. The possession at the end of the movie did not technically take place, though Carolyn was in a state during a seance at one point.
Annabelle was actually a large Raggedy-Ann doll, and the events of the movie Annabelle are completely fictitious.
2. Wolf Creek (2005)
In the Wolf Creek movie a group of three backpackers return from a hike in Wolf Creek National Park in the Australian Outback to find that their car won't start. A seemingly friendly local comes along and offers to tow their car. He tows their car to his camp, an abandoned old mine site. He then knocks them out with laced water and begins his big torturing adventure.
This is based on several accounts, one of which revolves around a young couple (named Peter and Joanne) who were travelling through a nearby area when a mechanic got them to pull over. He said sparks were coming from their car and offered to take a look. While distracting them with the car, he shot Peter and bound Joanne's hands and feet before dragging her into the cab of his car. He was gone for awhile so she ran and hid, eventually getting away and contacting the police.
The murderer in Wolf Creek himself is based off of Ivan Milat. He was a serial killer who picked up hitchhikers and took them into the woods where he tortured and killed them.
I have lived most my life near a place called Wolf Creek, but that's located on the west coast of America. Still.
1. The Blob (1958)
Everyone knows the story of The Blob (or they should). An Alien amoeba crashes from space, or becomes unfrozen from a glacier and starts wreaking havoc across a city. It also usually includes one couple making out on a hilltop in daddy's car. A movie that has, in the past, frightened millions and become a hugely iconic story. But could it possibly be true???
While all the Blob eating and screaming may be false, The Blob IS a true event. A few policemen witnessed something falling from the sky. They found what they described as a glowing purple jelly ball. It was cold and left a sticky residue when touched. (Cause the first thing you do is touch some mysterious thing that fell from the sky....) After radioing for back up, the thing started dissolving, withering away until there was nothing left. It's a better scene than a guy getting dragged down a sink, to say the least.
And those were my most interesting finds.