ByJane F, writer at

Halloween is almost here which means there’s no better time to talk about horror. You may be a fan of scary movies and might even consider dressing as your favorite horror movie character, but do you know the legends and inspirations behind your favorite horror films? It may surprise you to know that factual people, places, things and events have inspired some of the most infamously terrifying on-screen plots and characters of your favorite scary movies.

Robert the Doll

Before Annabelle, there was Chucky, the deranged doll possessed the by spirit of a serial killer. However, before Chucky, there was Robert the Doll who happens to be the inspiration behind Child’s Play. This hundred-year old play toy has been the subject of fascination for thrill-seeking fans in Key West, Florida for decades. This doll was given to a young by the name of Robert Eugene Otto back in 1904.It was rumored that growing up, Eugene’s parents would hear him holding conversations with the doll and whenever there were mysterious occurrences like overturned furniture, Eugene would claim, “Robert did it.” Although Eugene grew older, the doll became a main staple of the house having his own special place in the “Turret Room.” Children passing the house claimed to have seen Robert the Doll glaring at them from the windows. When Eugene and his wife passed away, a new couple took residence in the home and reported the sounds of giggles and pattering footsteps down the halls. Today, the doll is displayed at the Fort East Martello Museum in Key West, FL where visitors have the opportunity to come face to face with the haunted relic.

Ed Gein

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is probably one of the most popular horror films ever made. When it was released in 1974, the pure gruesomeness of the film made it one of the most intriguing, yet controversial films of its time. Leatherface became an instant sensation and still is today, especially during Halloween when fans don Leatherface masks while celebrating. However, it wouldn’t have been so without the real-life inspiration behind the horrendous character. They say that reality is stranger than fiction and that was certainly the case with Ed Gein. The notorious serial killer hailed from Plainfield, Wisconsin where he confessed and was convicted for the murder of Bernice Worden. He was also known to collect women’s body parts by means of grave robbing. When the authorities searched his home, they found a plethora of horrifying things including furniture and clothing made out of human skin and bones and fragments displayed throughout the house.

The Exorcism of Rowland Doe

The Exorcist is one of the most terrifying films I have ever seen. To this day, it still makes my skin crawl. The classic 70s horror film follows the story of a young girl named Regan who appeared to have been possessed by the Devil himself. Though it was a young girl Regan in the movie, the story was actually inspired by a 14-year-old boy under the pseudonym Rowland Doe. According to the accounts with Doe, unusual activity began after his aunt, a spiritualist, gave him a Ouija board to tinker with. Not long after, his parents reported strange occurrences like Rowland’s bed shaking and furniture moving across the room. This prompted the exorcism which was performed by several Jesuit priests who claimed that as they were attempting to partake in the Communion, scratches and brands began appearing on the boy’s skin. After months of trial and error, the exorcism came to a halt when Rowland said, 'Satan! I am Saint Michael! I command you to leave this body now!'

The Stanley Hotel

No other film is as haunting as Stephen King’s The Shining. As the inspiration for the novel and film, the long-standing Colorado hotel has been a hotbed for paranormal activity for many years. The Stanley Hotel first opened its doors back in 1909 and served as lodging for the upper class. As fate would have it, the acclaimed horror novelist Stephen King booked a stay at the hotel. He recalled being the only guests at the time and how ominous the sights and sounds of the large and historic hotel appeared at the time. Aside from King’s experience at the hotel, many patrons have claimed to experience ghostly encounters. The hotel, itself, boasts of its ghostly residents on their website and you can read about them here.


For our next Moviepilot Magazine, it's all about fear. So we're polling our readers to find out what terrifies them. You can help by answering the question below!


What horror movie monster is the most terrifying?


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