horror movies based on true stories

10 Horror Movies Based on True Stories

Horror movies aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, true – but to those who like chills, thrills, and the odd bit of gore, they can be a fantastic source of escapism. It certainly helps if you are not easily spooked, of course, and if you have a strong stomach, that’s also likely to be a bonus.

However, did you know that there are actually plenty of popular horror movies out there based on true events and stories? Of course, some cases use this pretty liberally – representing something truly awful scene by scene isn’t always going to make for the most entertaining watch. However, it’s not stopped some of Hollywood’s biggest movie makers from diving into the ‘true stories’ file for inspiration.

Here are some pretty shocking facts about horror movies based on true stories to give you the creeps! Just a warning – some movie spoilers may lie ahead.

  1. Fire in the Sky (1993) is perhaps not a traditional horror movie by any sense of the word, but it’s a pretty shocking movie based on what many assume to be true events. Specifically, the movie is based on the memoirs of Travis Walton, who claimed to have been abducted by aliens. Fire in the Sky is known for its intense, graphic depictions of the alleged abduction – all based on Walton’s accounts.
  2. Psycho (1960) is likely to be one of the first movies people think of when they consider the horror genre. While the infamous Bates Motel has never existed per se, the movie was inspired by the serial killer Ed Gein, who remains one of the most twisted and infamous murderers in US history. Gein, like the movie’s killer Norman Bates, was obsessed with his mother.
  3. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) never actually happened – seeing a slight pattern here? – but again, the events were inspired by the acts of Ed Gein. Specifically, the character of Leatherface – who wears an additional layer of human skin – copies that of Gein.

horror movies facts

  1. The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976) is a serial killer movie based around actual events that took place in Texarkana, Texas. Oddly enough, it was filmed on location, with the town willing for such an adaptation to take place there.
  2. From Hell (2001), while based on the comic book written by Watchmen and V for Vendetta’s Alan Moore, centres around the hunt for Jack the Ripper, one of the most infamous serial killers in history – to the extent that no one’s ever sure they found him.
  1. The Conjuring (2013), part of a wider series of movies, features the central husband-and-wife duo of Ed and Lorraine Warren, who investigate paranormal events. Interestingly enough, the Warrens exist in real life, and many of the events in the Conjuring movies are based on events believed to have happened.
  2. The Girl Next Door (2007) is a movie which bases around the horrific abuse of teenager Sylvia Likens, whose case remains one of the most intense and disturbing in US criminal history. This isn’t a story that sits well even from reading the synopsis.

horror movies true stories

  1. Jaws (1975), of course, is thought to have some basis in reality, even if sharks are actually much less likely to attack you than the movie’s massive monster. It’s thought that Jaws author Peter Benchley took inspiration from a news story that advised someone had managed to catch a great white shark which weighed more than 4,500lbs. Benchley’s initial thoughts were – what if such a creature was allowed to swim amok?
  2. Count Dracula was, for all intents and purposes, a real person. For the sake of our fact file, we are going to reference the first Dracula movie, Nosferatu (1922), so-named due to rights issues. Count Dracula, in reality, was Romanian royalty, and while he may not have been the horrific beast that legendary actors such as Christopher Lee and Gary Oldman have brought to life over the years, the inspiration for his vampiric nature comes from the prince’s alleged taste for blood.
  3. Zodiac (2007) is perhaps less a horror movie and more a thriller, but it is based on one of the most shocking cases of serial killing in US history. This marathon-length movie is based on the Zodiac Killer, the supposed perpetrator of at least five killings which took place in San Francisco Bay in the late 60s and early 70s. The clincher? He was never found – and the movie centres around the frantic search.

Do you know any more horror movies that were based on true stories?  Share them here in the comments section below!

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This page was last modified on September 2, 2020. Suggest an edit