How many times have you watched a horror movie and thought, “Oh, you don’t have to feel afraid because everything seems to be fiction”? But what happens if you come to realize that what you’re watching on screen is based on actual happenings? Does this make the movie more terrifying?
If so, begin watching (or revisiting) this list of top horror films made from true stories or based on actual stories. You may be able to locate some of these horror films based on true tales on Netflix, Hulu, YouTube or Amazon Prime.
1. The Girl Next Door (2007)
It is the film’s premise upon the violent murder of Sylvia Likens that took place in Indianapolis, Indiana, United States, in the month of October 1965. Sylvia Likens was 16 years old. Likens was beaten to death by Gertrude Baniszewski, Baniszewski’s children, and other youngsters in their community.
2. The Strangers (2008)
The film is based on actual events that occurred during the director’s childhood. A stranger visited his house seeking help for an individual who was not there and later discovered that the homes in the area were smashed up the night. It is believed to have been influenced by the Manson Family murders and Keddie Cabin Murders of 1981, which were committed in a tiny tourist neighbourhood in California’s Sierra Nevada.
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3. The Exorcisms by Emily Rose (2005)
Emily Rose’s character Emily Rose was inspired by the tale of Anneliese Michel, an 18-year-old German Catholic woman who died in 1976 following failed attempts to cast an exorcism using psychotropic drugs. The court accepted the theory of her being epileptic but refused to accept the notion that there was a supernatural element in the case. Two priests who were involved in the exorcism, as her parents of her, were accused of manslaughter that resulted due to negligence. They were sentenced to jail time (later suspended), which caused controversy.
4. The Amityville Horror (2005)
On November 13, 1974, Ronald DeFeo Jr. murdered and shot six family members at 112 Ocean Avenue, a large Dutch Colonial house in a suburb of Amityville near the south shores of Long Island, New York. He was found guilty of second-degree murder on November 25, 1975. On December 25, 1975, George Lutz and Kathy Lutz, along with their children, moved into the home. After 28 days after moving in, the Lutzes quit the home and claimed to have been scared by paranormal events when they lived there.
5. The Entity (1982)
The film is based on the Doris Bither case. Doris Bither, a mother of four children, contacted investigators of the paranormal Barry Taff and Kerry Gaynor, who were able to conduct an investigation on August 22, 1974. Bither claimed that she was assaulted and raped by an unidentified entity that she believed to be the spirit that was three Asian men. She said two of them were able to hold her in place while the third one raped her. Taff claimed she took pictures of naked orbs in the course of the investigations.
6. The Hills Have Eyes (1977)
The film was actually adapted from the Sawney Bean tale. Alexander “Sawney” Bean was the leader of a 48-member clan in Scotland during the 16th century and 13th and was later believed to be executed for the murder and cannibalization of more than 1,000 people.
7. The Conjuring (2013)
“The Conjuring” is based on the real-life Perron family that moved into a house in Rhode Island, unaware of the story of the house. They sought out psychic investigators Ed as well as Lorraine Warren who discovered that their home was cursed by the evil ghost of a witch called Bathsheba Sheran, who lived there during the 19th century.
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8. Psycho (1960)
Psycho is inspired by Robert Bloch’s novel of the same title, which is loosely influenced by the trial of the convicted Wisconsin criminal and grave-robber Ed Gein. Gein, who lived 40 miles away from Bloch, and the story’s main character, Norman Bates, were single-minded murderers in remote rural areas. Each of them had deceased, domineering mothers who had sealed their house’s room as her shrine and were dressed in women’s clothing.
9. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
Another film is based on Wisconsin killer and grave robber Ed Gein. The director of the film said later that the film is, in addition to Gein, also a homage to a murder investigation in Houston at the time, carried out by a serial killer named Elmer Wayne Henley. He was an 18-year-old man who enlisted victims in the name of an elderly gay man and later killed the victims of his prey.
10. The Exorcist (1973)
The Exorcist’s story is based on a novel of the same title. Certain aspects of the novel were an inspiration for the 1949 exorcism that was performed on a young boy named “Roland Doe” by the Priest of the Jesuits, Fr. William. Bowdern. Doe’s family believed that the boy’s violent behaviour was due to demonic possession. They requested the assistance of a number of Catholic priests, including Bowdern. They were able to carry out the exorcism ritual.