Top 8 Horror Movies Based On True Stories

This list is originally published on True Story Movie Blog

1. The Exorcist ( 1973 )

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The Exorcist is a story of a possessed pre-teen girl whose mother winds up seeking the help of the church to save her daughter.

Peter Blatty, author of the book and the screenwriter of the movie, based the movie plot on an article in Washington Post from 1949. According to the article, four priests were participating in the exorcism of a boy in Cottage city, Maryland. The priests experienced the boy speaking in tongues, the bed shaking and hovering, and objects flying around during the ordeal.

The rich plot of the movie begins with Lankester Merrin, a catholic priest, finding an amulet at an archeologist site in Iraq that belongs to a demon Merrin defeated years ago. Meanwhile in Georgetown, Regan a pre-teen girl living with her mother starts acting strangely after an encounter with a friendly entity named Captain Howdy. After a number of strange events Regan’s mother is advised by the doctors that an exorcism is her only chance. Father Damien Karras, who has lost faith in God, investigates and performs the rite with Merrin resulting in their unfortunate deaths.

Director : William Friedkin
Screenplay : William Peter Blatty
Budget : $12 million
Box office : $402.7–441.3 million
Year : 1973

2. The Amityville Horror ( 2005 )

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Directed by Andrew Douglas in 2005, The Amityville Horror is a remake of the 1979 movie based on the novel ( same title) by Jay Anson.

The novel is based on the terrorizing experiences of newly married couple George & Kathy Lutz who moved into a house in Long Island, New York. The house witnessed a mass murder of six members of DeFeo family by a 23 year old Ronald DeFeo, just a year ago. Ronald tried to establish an insanity plea stating that he heard voices that told him to murder his family.

The movie nicely sets up the horrifying plot with the recordings of police reporting the ill-fated events to the media along with the distress call made by one of the neighbors. George & Kathy, who are looking for a home, settle into the house with Kathy’s three children from a previous marriage.

The plot thickens as the family starts experiencing paranormal activity and Chelsea (Kathy’s daughter) claims to have befriended Jodie DeFeo, one of the victims from the murders. After a series of unsettling experiences Kathy invites a priest to bless the house only to find that he could not contain the spirits. The family is forced to leave the house following possession and abusive behavior of George towards the family.

Director : Andrew Douglas
Screenplay : Scott Kosar
Based on Book : The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson
Budget : $19 million
Box office : $108 million
Year : 2005

3. The Girl Next Door (2007)

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Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door is Gregory Wilson’s on-screen adaptation of the novel with the same name.

The book is inspired by the true events of a gruesome murder of 16 year old Sylvia Likens left in care of a family friend — Gertrude Baniszewsky. Sylvia died in the summer of 1965 due to a brain hemorrhage caused by the excessive physical torture. To add to the cruelty of her actions Gertrude also made her children along with some neighborhood kids to torture and abuse the young girl.

The story sets up in the recollection of the events by David Moran, a neighbor to Ruth Chandler (the antagonist) in the late 50s, after witnessing a road accident. As a child, David met Susan and her sister Meg, who he develops a crush on, when they were sent to live with Ruth following the loss of their parents.

Ruth singles out Meg and starves her while abusing Susan for her resistance. When Meg tries to warn the authorities Ruth and her children tie the sisters up in the cellar. They are stripped naked, physically abused and tortured. When David finally tries to resist their extreme actions, he is also held captive. After some struggle David manages to free himself and signal a beat officer but Meg does not survive her fatal condition.

Director : Gregory M. Wilson
Screenplay : Daniel Farrands, Philip Nutman
Based on Book : The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum
Year : 2007

4. Ravenous (1999)

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Ravenous is a horror-suspense film that revolves around the cannibalism in the mid-nineteenth century.

The script was inspired by the true story of Alfred Pecker who was the sole survivor of a group attempting to travel the mountains of Colorado during a harsh winter. Pecker confessed to cannibalizing on his companions’ flesh for survival and was sentenced to death after hiding from justice for 9 years. Later, he won a retrial to be sentenced to 40 years in prison for manslaughter.

Set in the time of Mexican-American war the movie tells the tale of Second Lieutenant Boyd, who is exiled to a remote Fort Spencer for the act of cowardice. Soon Boyd meets a stranger named Colqhoun and finds that he was the sole survivor of a wagon train led by a Colonel Ives. Soldiers assemble a rescue party and set out to search for survivors. While resting in a cave the party is ambushed by a sadistic cannibal.

Director : Antonia Bird
Writter : Ted Griffin
Budget : $12 million
Box office : $2,062,405
Year : 1999

5. The Silent House ( 2011 )

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The Silent House is a remake of a Uruguayan film ‘La Casa Muda’ which is based on an allegedly actual incident that took place in a small Uruguayan village in the 1940s. The film is renowned for the real-time footage used in it.

Directed by Chris Kentis & Laura Lau the movie focuses on the main character Sarah, a young woman, who is terrorized by the events that unfold while she is cleaning her rotting lakeside holiday property with her father and uncle. Ghastly incidents start to take place when the uncle decides to leave after a petty fight with her father.

When Sarah tries to exit the house she finds herself locked inside with an entity. After successfully escaping the house Sarah reunites with her uncle who pushes to go back and help her father despite her requests to get help. She will eventually find out that the imagery previously perceived by her was hallucinations resulting from repressed childhood memories of her pedophilic father. Sarah runs into Sophia, a figment of her imagination, who helps her understand the things the way they are and how she has wrested her revenge.

Director : Chris Kentis, Laura Lau
Screenplay : Laura Lau
Based on The Silent House screenplay by Oscar Estevez
Budget : $2 million
Box office : $13.1 million
Year : 2011

6. Psycho ( 1960 )

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High on reviews, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho is loosely based on the true story of convicted murderer and grave robber Ed Gein. The Robert Bloch’s novel, that the movie cinematizes, transformed the character into a serial killer who dresses into his mother’s clothes.

The screenplay begins with Marion Crane, a real estate secretary, who steals $40,000 from her boss to pay-off her boyfriend’s debts. During her trip to California she encounters a rainstorm and decides to rest in a motel run by Norman Bates. While waiting Marion grows a conscience and decides to return the money but it is too late; she is stabbed to death by a feminine figure. Being missing for a week and wanted for the theft, Marion’s boyfriend Sam sets out with her sister to discover that Norman has killed her disguised in clothes of his mother who he also killed ten years ago.

Director : Alfred Hitchcock
Screenplay : Joseph Stefano
Based on Psycho by Robert Bloch
Budget : $806,947
Box office : $50 million
Year : 1960

7. A nightmare on Elm Street ( 1984 )

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Director-writer Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street is one of the most critically acclaimed horror films.

The movie was inspired by a series of unrelated newspaper articles in Los Angeles Times. The idea clicked in Craven’s mind a year after he read the third article about a 21 year old boy, a physician’s son who constantly declined to sleep for days claiming to have life threatening nightmares.

Finally, when he fell asleep while watching television with his family, they had to carry him to his room. He started screaming in the middle of the night and died before anybody could get to him. The autopsy showed that he died of unexplained reasons.

In a series of nightmares a group of teenagers realize that they are being targeted by a scarred entity wearing gloves attached with large claws, who calls himself Freddy. After mysterious death of Tina Gray (one of the friends) Nancy encounters Freddy in a series of nightmares. Nancy visits a dream clinic and later learns about Freddy’s existence and the reason he haunts their dreams. With help of her boyfriend (Glen) she sets out to trap and kill Freddy in the real world. Unfortunately Glen does not survive but Nancy manages to resurface Freddy. As she finally realizes how to stop Freddy the frames on the film show us that he cannot be eradicated.

Director : Wes Craven
Writer : Wes Craven
Budget : $1.8 million
Box office : $25.5 million
Year : 1984

8. The Conjuring (2013)

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Bestowed as the best horror film of 21st century so far, The Conjuring is based the Perron family case files and recordings of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. The entire Perron family put their support behind the film and Lorraine Warren herself personally acted as a consultant to director James Wan.

It all starts when the family moves into a large Rhode Island farmhouse in 1971 and starts experiencing paranormal presence. Ed and Lorraine Warren rush for help when they hear about the disturbing events. Now, the Perrons count completely on the expertise of these researchers and accuracy of their methods & equipment.

Since the movie is based only on the events presented by hard evidence and witnesses, there is very little difference between the screenplay and the true story that inspired it.

It has set the record for highest grossing horror film so far ($300 million worldwide with $20 million budget).

Director : James Wan
Writer : Chad Hayes, Carey W. Hayes
Budget : $20 million
Box office : $318 million
Year : 2013

Do you have any other movie to add on this list?
Are you a horror movie fan?

Let us know in the comment section below :)

This list is originally published on True Story Movie Blog