Movies take their inspiration from where they can and no well is more plentiful than just life itself. It's true that there are times when the truth is a lot stranger than fiction. Sometimes the truth is just plain creepy. Here are my top 5 picks for creepy events that inspired pop culture.
3. Ed Gein
Have you seen the horror classic Psycho (1960)? How about The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) or Silence of the Lambs (1991)? If you have then you've probably heard of Ed Gein because they all took a page from this man's book (which was probably bound in human skin). Ed Gein was a killer and grave robber from Plainfield, Wisconsin who had a very strange sense of internal decorating. Everything in his house was made out of the people he's either killed or whose graves he's dug up. There's a long list of articles found in his house upon his arrest like a trash can made of human skin, chairs upholstered in human skin, skulls on his bedposts, human skulls he used as bowls, etc. He claimed that he made as many as 40 visits to the local graveyard to dig up middle aged women who looked like his mother so he could take their bodies home to use as materials for his various DIY projects. Not the kind of do-it-yourselfer you'd want around your neighborhood.
2. The Death of Elisa Lam
Elisa Lam was a Canadian student staying at the Cecil Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles wherein she mysteriously disappeared. She seemed like your normal, everyday student just out on vacation until the day of her disappearance. She was set to check out on January 31, 2013 but when they didn't hear from her the hotel called the LAPD who initiated a search. On the day of her disappearance, she was caught on the hotel CCTV cameras getting on an elevator. Here's the footage below.
In the video, she looks frantic as if she's hiding from something chasing her. The elevator doors refuse to shut and she presses all of the buttons to try and get the elevator to respond. Her behavior became even more erratic after that. What's strange is that when she finally gives up on the elevator and walks away, the doors finally shut.
She wouldn't be heard from again until 19 days later when her body was found in one of the hotels water tanks. They stumbled upon her body because guests were complaining about the strange taste and color of the water coming out of the taps. Basically, they were showering, washing their hands, and even drinking the water from the tank containing her decomposing body. Here's where it gets weirder. The water tanks aren't readily accessible. Only hotel employees can get in otherwise it trips an alarm but somehow Elisa managed not only get through the door without setting the alarm off but also get up a 7-foot water tank and into an opening that a person could barely fit into.
The events were eerily similar to a film called Dark Water released in 2005 (some eight years before her disappearance) and the mystery itself inspired an episode of Castle. To this day, no one really knows what happened.
1. The Exorcism of Anneliese Michel
Anneliese Michel was a German woman who went through an exorcism in the 1970s. It sparked a lot of media attention at the time due to the circumstances surrounding the case with a few people claiming that her death was ultimately preventable. She went through 67 exorcism sessions spanning over ten months and towards the end she refused to eat. The events of her exorcism inspired the movie The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005). Even though the exorcism was ordered by the Catholic Church to be carried out in secret, there was an audio recording made during one of the sessions. Give it a listen, but make sure you're in a brightly lit room and surrounded by puppies.
There was a lot of controversy surrounding the exorcism that ultimately let to a court case. After later investigation, they found the Anneliese died of malnutrition and dehydration. Ultimately both her parents and the priests who performed the exorcism were charged with negligent homicide. This case eventually resulted in a decline in sanctioned exorcisms in Germany and there are guidelines that the church is mandated to follow to determine whether or not someone is truly possessed or suffering from mental illness.