While most, if not all, horror movies include a fair amount of fiction to make the story more gory and gruesome, often times the inspiration for these classic horror movies are based on true stories. The actual events in a lot of cases are legends or not nearly as scary as the theatrical version, but every so often the true events are scarier than anything someone could think up for shock value.
Some of the very best horror movies of all time are based on actual events. Take Psycho, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Silence of the Lambs, for example, three of the scariest horror movies of all time are based on the horrible killings of a single man, Ed Gein. Independently, the three films tell horrifying tales of mass murder, torture, and cannibalism, but put them all together and you get a look at serial killer Ed Gein.
Of course, in many cases, the fiction is a stretch on the actual facts such as in the haunted house horror films. In The Amityville Horror, The Haunting in Connecticut, and The Entity, families were haunted by demons in their own homes. In reality, investigators dispute many of these claims, and many have been declared straight up hoaxes.
Good luck trying to verify realistic claims of demon possession, which is another theme in some of the most well-known horror movies as well, including The Exorcist, Audrey Rose, and The Exorcism of Emily Rose, as those stories visit a gray area between paranormal and simple mental illness.
However these filmmakers were inspired, either by gruesome true events or a simple unverified claim, these horror movies all accomplish what they attempt to do: scare the crap out of us on a daily basis. For that, mission accomplished.
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The original and the remake essentially have the same plot. An unassuming family, John and Kathy Lutz and their three children, purchase a home in Long Island, New York that was previously the site of a mass murder one year earlier. While stating they don't believe in ghosts, the family has a priest attempt to bless the home, which is downright hypocritical. Families with wishy washy views on the supernatural always get targeted in these movies. Stick with your guns, everyone.
So, the priest becomes strangely ill and blind soon after the exorcism. In just four weeks, the family is forced out of the house following a series of haunted happenings. In the later version, Ryan Reynolds goes out in the rain in a t-shirt: this made watching the movie worth it for everyone's girlfriend.
George and Kathy Lutz (you see, they changed George's name to "John" in the movie to protect his anonymity) spent four weeks in the Amityville, New York, house in 1975, 13 months after Ronald DeFeo, Jr. murdered six people in the home. According to the couple, during their time in the house they heard voices throughout the day, there were various "cold spots" throughout the house, and they even witnessed green slime oozing from the walls.
Most experts and investigators who visited the house to study the paranormal claims dispute the authenticity of the story. The happenings are widely believed to be a hoax concocted for the best-selling book by Jay Anson.
So you decide.
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Often touted as the scariest film of all time. The Exorcist was somehow based on a true story. The Academy Award-winning 1973 film The Exorcist followed the story of 13-year-old Regan who, after a seizure, begins to show signs of demonic possession.
After medical testing fails (and results in the doctors being assaulted), Regan's family attempts to have the demon, who's apparently inside of her, forced out. Father Karras and Father Merrin attempt to exorcise the demon in an attempt to save the girl from the possession, with terrifying consequences.
The little girl pleasures herself with a cross to the point of bleeding and mutilation, is capable of telekinesis, turns her head all the way around, and even levitates.
These are some of the most messed up scenes in movie history.
The story, which resulted in what has been called the scariest movie ever, is sketchy but believed to be inspired by the exorcism of Robbie Mannheim, also known as Roland Doe. A 12-year old boy. Not a girl.
According to the attending priest, the boy attempted to contact his late aunt using an Ouija board, after which paranormal activity started in the home, including unexplained noises and an occurrence of a poltergeist-like event involving blankets flying around of their own accord. Robbie then began to show signs of possession, speaking in tongues and blisters and cuts appearing on his body. He was taken to a mental institute in St. Louis where he was treated both mentally and spiritually. It was here that a group of priests started to perform various exorcising rituals to try and extract the demon. After a staggering 30 attempts, the priests were satisfied that they had successfully banished the demon from Robbie's body.
After the ceremony he went on to have a very normal life, including a successful career at NASA. If my mother only knew that demon possession could lead to working for NASA, I'm positive that she would have made me play with Oujia boards every night.
The exact details of the story, including what some believe to be only mild paranormal happenings, are highly disputed as the story has been passed down and retold in numerous versions.
But still, "mild" paranormal happenings are still paranormal happenings.
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The Carter family, traveling through the desert in an RV on vacation, fall victim to a trap that causes their vehicle to crash. The father, Bob, heads to a nearby gas station in search of help where he learns of the deranged clan of cannibals living in the nearby hills.
The hill people, led by Papa Jupiter, capture Bob, set fire to the camper, and take an infant hostage, among other violent acts, such as rape, torture, and pet-eating. The film is most notable for it being one of Wes Craven's first, as well as starring a young Dee Wallace, best known as Eliot's mom in the equally terrifying E.T.
The film is reportedly inspired by the story of Sawney Bean, a Scotsman from the 15th or 16th century. The story goes that Bean was the son of ditch digger who did not want to follow in his father's foot steps. So, as most young men do, he ran away with a girl and holed up in a cave by the sea. Because neither of the cave dwellers worked, they had to make due with ambushing travelers on the road, stealing from them, killing them, and eating their bodies. Bean and his wife had many children and grand-children all through incest since they never left their cave except to go "shopping."
They reportedly murdered and ate more than 1000 people before they were finally caught by King James, who later went on to write a bible I think. Their punishment was almost as wicked as their crime as the men were sentenced to death by blood loss after having their hands, feet and genitals cut off. The women were forced to watch before they were all burned alive.
It is disputed that this story might be false and only used as Anti-Scot propaganda as it all happened because Sawney Bean would rather kill and eat other people than put in an honest days' work.
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As families vacation on the fictional Amity Island in New England, a gigantic 25-foot great white shark begins killing and eating tourists. Rather than losing out on the proceeds from the busy July 4th weekend of tourism, the mayor refuses to close the beach, and the attacks continue.
Since someone has to be the hero, a group, including the town police chief, a marine biologist, and a shark hunter, spend night and day hunting this huge shark before it claims additional victims.
The movie was based on the book of the same name by Peter Benchley. He got the story idea from incidents that happened during the summer of 1916 along the Jersey Shore. It seems that before the area was consumed by drug addicts, it was still a dangerous place. During that summer, five people were attacked while swimming off the coast. Four of the five died from their injuries. No one is sure if it was a great white shark specifically, since before this point, sharks were not highly researched and considered nothing more than man-eating monsters.