We all watch horror movies that claim to be “based on true events” and have thought to ourselves “There’s no way this is a true story”. Well here’s a list of some of the terrifying true events that helped inspire the movies we’ve all watched. Sometimes the true story is more frightening than what you see in the movies. This list is in no particular order.
1) The Haunting in Connecticut (2009)
This story is probably one of the most well known “true event” horror films of the last decade. The true story behind this is actually remotely close to the movie. The Snedeker family rented a house in Southington Connecticut where their son, who really was diagnosed with cancer, started experiencing supernatural events and started to see spirits. After finding out their house was once a funeral home, the Snedeker family called for the help of the most known “demonologists” in America, the Warrens, who said that the house was infested with demons. The Warrens have been involved in many other "true events" such as; The Conjuring, The Amittyville Horror, and Annabel.
2) The Amityville Horror (1979/2005)
Here’s another very well known “true” horror movie, also backed up by The Warrens. The story behind this movie has to deal with the Lutz family who moved into house 112 Ocean Ave, which they got for a steal at $80,000. The reason the house was so cheap is because it was the scene of a horrible multiple homicide. Ronnie DeFeo went from room to room shooting his entire family; his parents and his 4 brothers and sisters. The Lutzes claimed that the house was haunted, saying they heard voices and smelt bad odors but no one who’s occupied the property since has had any complaints.
3) Open Water (2003)
Being left behind in shark infested water is a lot of people's worst nightmare, and that’s exactly what happened to Tom and Eileen Lonergan. This Louisiana couple went with a scuba diving group to the St. Crispin’s Reef in Australia. The boat seemed to have forgotten about the couple and left to the group's next destination without the Lonergans on board. No one even noticed they were missing until 2 days later when their backpack was found on the boat. There was then a search for the couple, but their bodies were never found.
4) The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)
This terrifying movie of a young girl possessed by a demon, who died during an exorcism, is actually based on the true story of Anneliese Michel. Anneliese Michel was diagnosed with Grand mal seizures, due to intense muscle shaking and lack of control Anneliese had of her body. When her behavior started to include things such as attacking family members, consuming her own urine, and freaking out over religious objects, her family turned to the church to provide an exorcism. Well that exorcism turned into around 40 exorcisms, and Anneliese ended up dying from pneumonia in 1976 right before the last exorcism could be performed.
5) The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974/2003)
Let me start this one off by saying there was no guy in Texas running around killing a bunch of teenagers with a chainsaw, sorry for bursting your bubble. There was however a guy in Wisconsin named Ed Gein, who did make and wear masks out of his victim’s skin. This has to be one of the most loosely based movie on the list, but at the same time wearing someone else’s face is pretty gruesome and downright disgusting. Aside from Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Ed Gein helped inspire other movies such as Psycho and The Silence of the Lambs.
6) The Hills Have Eyes (1977/2006)
The movie takes place somewhere in the Nevada desert and features a group of cannibals terrorizing and murdering a family who is passing through to sunny California. The story is actually based on Sawney Bean who was the head of a 48 member group of cannibals in Scotland who had committed at least 1000 murders. Bean had 14 children, a lot of which were the product of incest. Bean was executed sometime in the 15th-16th century for the mass murders and the cannibalization of all those people.
7) A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984/2010)
Don't worry you guys are fine to sleep still; Freddy will not be making a fatal appearance in your dreams anytime soon. However, Craven admitted to being inspired by an article he had read in the LA Times about some guy who was so terrified to fall asleep he stayed up for 6 or 7 days before falling asleep on the couch. After being carried to his room his family heard screams and crashing and when they got to his room he was already dead. The autopsy said there was no specific reasons for his death and that the cause was unknown. The medical term for the condition is Sudden Unexplained Death Syndrome, and is a phenomenon in East Asia. Local folklore and myths claim it to be a spirit who sucks the life out of you when you’re sleeping.
8) Wolf Creek (2005)
The gory movie about serial killer Mick Taylor, who picks up backpackers in the Australian Outback, is based on multiple murders committed by Ivan Milat. Ivan Milat was a native to Australia and he would pick up backpackers who were hitchhiking, but he never planned on giving them a ride to their destinations. Milat would stab his victims at the base of their spine leaving them paralyzed, then he would proceed to stab, shoot, or beat them to death before dropping their bodies off in the Balangalo State Forest. When Paul Onions escaped he was able to identify Milat in a line up and he was given 7 consecutive life sentences plus 18 years. Milat was responsible for at least 7 murders.
9) The Strangers (2008)
This movie is what I would personally consider one of the best home invasion movies, along side Funny Games. A young couple that is getting terrorized by complete strangers for the simply being home, seems too terrifying to be true but it is. One of the inspirations behind this was the Manson murders, obvious reasons for that. The lesser known side of it is The Keddie Murders, which took place outside of Quincy, California. The Sharp family, which consisted of Sue and her 5 children, were renting out cabin 28 at the Keddie Resort for 2 months. On April 12th, 1981, Sue, her 16 year old son and his 17 year old friend were found bound, stabbed, and beaten. The bodies were found by Sue’s 14 year old daughter who was coming home from a sleepover. In a separate room, the three youngest Sharps and a friend were found unharmed but sister Tina was missing. Tina’s skull was found 3 years later at a nearby campsite. The scariest thing about this is that, the murders remain unsolved to this day.
10) The Girl Next Door (2007)
This movie is so heartbreakingly hard to watch, and it makes it worse knowing it was based on the brutal torture and murder of Sylvia Likens. Sylvia was in the care of Gertrude Baniszewski who was being paid by her parents to watch over her and her sister while they were gone. Baniszewski had other plans for the girls though and began taking her anger out on them by beating them with paddles. Eventually all the attention was focused on Sylvia. Baniszewski, her children and two other kids from the neighborhood began torturing the poor girl by extinguishing cigarettes on her skin, beating her, pouring boiling water on her skin, putting salt in her wounds, and forcing her to commit sexual acts to herself. The torture went on for months until Sylvia died from a brain hemorrhage, shock, and malnutrition at the young age of 16.