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16 Horror Movies That Lead to Real-Life Death

Updated September 23, 2021 210.1k views16 items

"To avoid fainting, keep repeating: 'It's only a movie, only a movie, only a movie...'" reads the tagline to Wes Craven's exploitative horror film The Last House on the Left. For the most part, horror movies are just that: pieces of narrative fiction that only harm the average person by giving them nightmares.

And yet, there are some horror movies that have actually led to deaths in the real world. This in and of itself might sound like the plot to a film (and indeed, this is the exact plot to John Carpenter's Cigarette Burns), but there are a few instances of films being so terrifying they left people literally scared to death. In other cases, the plots and characters of various films inspired disturbed minds to commit horrific murders. You'll find instances of both in this list of 16 horror movies that lead to real-life deaths.

  • The 1965 film The Collector (based on a book by John Fowles) - about a man whose obsession with a woman leads him to kidnapping and imprisoning her in his cellar - reportedly inspired serial killer Leonard Lake. Alongside his murderous accomplice, Charles Ng, Lake initiated "Operation Miranda," named after the woman in The Collector, whereby he and Ng kidnapped, tortured, and killed Brenda O'Connor and Kathy Allen in a sound-proof bunker.

  • Photo: SAW 6 / Lionsgate
    In 2013, UK resident Matthew Tinling murdered his neighbor Richard Hamilton by stabbing him 17 times in the legs, head, and neck. The latter area of Hamilton's body underwent the most extensive carnage, as Tinling, inspired by a scene in Saw VI, attempted to slice through the man's spinal chord.
  • Photo: Halloween / MGM

    Jake Evans, then 17-years-old, killed his mother and teenage sister on October 3, 2012, inside their Aledo, TX, home. In his confession, Evans wrote that Rob Zombie's 2007 remake of Halloween gave him inspiration for his own killing. He states, "While watching it I was amazed at how at ease the boy [12-year-old Michael Myers] was during the murders and how little remorse he had afterword [sic]. I was thinking to myself it would be the same for me when I kill someone."

  • In 2004, Alan Menzies of West Lothian, Scotland, developed an obsession with the box-office failure Queen of the Damned, a sequel to Interview with the Vampire. He reportedly watched the film more than 100 times in a few short months. In particular, he believed one of the film's characters, Akasha (played by the late Aaliyah) was real and was communicating with him.  

    When his friend Thomas McKendrick confronted him about his obsession, Menzies claims Akasha ordered him to kill McKendrick in her honor, which he did. Menzies later killed himself in jail.