True Crime The Best Movies Based on Real Murders  

Ranker Film
1.9k votes 528 voters 29.7k views 30 items

List Rules Only films based on murders that really happened, whether focusing on the killers, the victims, or the investigation. No documentaries.

The truth is often stranger than fiction. That's what makes these movies based on real murders some of the scariest projects to ever hit the big screen. The best real murder movies feature talented actors who strike fear into the hearts of audiences with their terrifying portrayals of real-life killers. This is a list of the best movies based on real murders including everything from Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer to Badlands to Wolf Creek.

What movies will you find on this list of the best films about real murders? You might vote Zodiac – directed by David Fincher – up to the top. The film follows several reporters, citizens, and police officers as they try to uncover who committed a horrific killing spree in the 1960s and 1970s. The crimes remain unsolved to this day. Monster, starring Charlize Theron, is another one of the best movies based on a real murderer. Spike Lee's Summer of Sam focused on the lives of New York City residents during the time of the infamous Son of Sam serial killings. Other notable movies featured on this list include Bernie, In Cold Blood, and Dahmer.

Which film about real murders do you think is the best? Give the scariest movies a thumbs up and get in on the conversation in the comments section.

1
161 48
Zodiac is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Movies Based on Real Murders
Zodiac Robert Downey Jr., Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo Zodiac is a 2007 American mystery-thriller film directed by David Fincher and based on Robert Graysmith's non-fiction book of the same name. The Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. joint ...more

2
144 41
Monster is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Movies Based on Real Murders
Monster Charlize Theron, Christina Ricci, Rose Byrne Monster is a 2003 crime drama film about serial killer Aileen Wuornos, a former prostitute who was executed in Florida in 2002 for killing six men in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Wuornos was ...more

3
95 35
Boys Don't Cry is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Movies Based on Real Murders
Tre Cooley added Boys Don't Cry Hilary Swank, Chloë Sevigny, Natalie Zea Boys Don't Cry is a 1999 American independent romantic drama film directed by Kimberly Peirce and co-written by Andy Bienen. The film is a dramatization of the real-life story of Brandon Teena, ...more

4
47 22
In Cold Blood is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Movies Based on Real Murders
In Cold Blood Robert Blake, John Forsythe, Will Geer In Cold Blood is a 1967 film based on Truman Capote's book of the same name. Richard Brooks prepared the adaptation and directed the film. It stars Robert Blake as Perry Smith, Scott Wilson as ...more

5
55 33
Alpha Dog is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Movies Based on Real Murders
Alpha Dog Olivia Wilde, Amanda Seyfried, Amber Heard Alpha Dog is a 2006 American crime drama film written and directed by Nick Cassavetes, first screened at the Sundance Film Festival on January 27, 2006, with a wide release the following year on ...more

6
44 26
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Ki... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Movies Based on Real Murders
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer Michael Rooker, Tom Towles, Tracy Arnold Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is a 1986 American psychological horror film directed and co-written by John McNaughton about the random crime spree of a serial killer who seemingly operates ...more

7
55 36
Bully is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Movies Based on Real Murders
Bully Bijou Phillips, Rachel Miner, Nick Stahl Bully is a 2001 American film directed by Larry Clark, and starring Brad Renfro, Bijou Phillips, Rachel Miner, Michael Pitt, Leo Fitzpatrick, Kelli Garner, and Nick Stahl. Based on the 1993 ...more

8
49 31
Capote is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Movies Based on Real Murders
Kelly Winstead Johnson added Capote Philip Seymour Hoffman, Chris Cooper, Catherine Keener Capote is a 2005 biographical film about Truman Capote, following the events during the writing of Capote's non-fiction book In Cold Blood. Philip Seymour Hoffman won several awards, including ...more

9
43 28
Summer of Sam is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Movies Based on Real Murders
Summer of Sam Mira Sorvino, Jennifer Esposito, Adrien Brody Summer of Sam is a 1999 American crime thriller film that recounts the Son of Sam serial murders. It was directed and produced by Spike Lee and stars John Leguizamo, Adrien Brody, Mira Sorvino, ...more

10
38 24
Bernie is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Movies Based on Real Murders
Bernie Matthew McConaughey, Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine Bernie is a 2011 black comedy film directed by Richard Linklater, and written by Linklater and Skip Hollandsworth. The film stars Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine and Matthew McConaughey. It is ...more

11
34 22
Badlands is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Movies Based on Real Murders
Badlands Charlie Sheen, Martin Sheen, Sissy Spacek Badlands is a 1973 American crime film written and directed by Terrence Malick, starring Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek. Warren Oates and Ramon Bieri are also featured. Malick has a small ...more

12
40 30
Dahmer is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Movies Based on Real Murders
Dahmer Jeremy Renner, Bruce Davison, Dion Basco Dahmer is a 2002 American biopic horror film about the American serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. Jeremy Renner stars in the title role. There are two timelines in the film: The "present" ...more

13
33 24
Wolf Creek is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Movies Based on Real Murders
Wolf Creek Teresa Palmer, John Jarratt, Kestie Morassi Wolf Creek is a 2005 Australian horror film written, co-produced, and directed by Greg McLean, and starring John Jarratt. The story revolves around three backpackers who find themselves held ...more

14
50 41
Black Dahlia is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Movies Based on Real Murders
Black Dahlia Josh Hartnett, Scarlett Johansson, Aaron Eckhart Black Dahlia is a 2006 United States production horror film that is inspired by the mysterious unsolved murder of "Black Dahlia"—Hollywood actress Elizabeth Short. Instead of ...more

15
32 24
Gacy is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Movies Based on Real Murders
Gacy Adam Baldwin, Allison Lange, Charlie Weber Gacy is a 2003 direct-to-video biographical-drama film directed by Clive Saunders and written by Saunders and David Birke. The story revolves around the life of serial killer John Wayne Gacy.

16
30 23
Ted Bundy is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Movies Based on Real Murders
Ted Bundy Tom Savini, Tracey Walter, Diana Kauffman Ted Bundy is a 2002 American crime drama film directed and co-written by Matthew Bright. The film dramatizes the crimes of serial killer Ted Bundy. It stars Michael Reilly Burke in the title ...more

17
12 5
Wonderland is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Movies Based on Real Murders
Casey Nicole added Wonderland Paris Hilton, Christina Applegate, Val Kilmer Wonderland is a 2003 American crime drama film co-written and directed by James Cox, and based on the real-life Wonderland Murders that occurred in 1981. The film stars Val Kilmer, Kate ...more

18
42 37
The Snowtown Murders is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Movies Based on Real Murders
The Snowtown Murders Lucas Pittaway, Daniel Henshall, Louise Harris

19
27 22
True Story is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Movies Based on Real Murders
True Story James Franco, Jonah Hill, Felicity Jones True Story is an upcoming 2015 American drama film, directed by Rupert Goold and written by David Kajganich. Based on the memoir by Michael Finkel, the film stars Jonah Hill, James Franco, ...more

20
27 22
The Boston Strangler is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Movies Based on Real Murders
The Boston Strangler Henry Fonda, Tony Curtis, George Kennedy The Boston Strangler is a 1968 American film based on the true story of the Boston Strangler and the book by Gerold Frank. It was directed by Richard Fleischer, and stars Tony Curtis as Albert ...more

21
20 15
The Hunt for the BTK Killer is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Movies Based on Real Murders
The Hunt for the BTK Killer Michael Michele, Maury Chaykin, Robert Forster The Hunt for the BTK Killer is a 2005 biographical telefilm directed by Stephen T. Kay. First shown on CBS it is based on the true story of Dennis Rader killing ten people from 1974 to 1991. ...more

22
20 15
Pain & Gain is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Movies Based on Real Murders
Pain & Gain Dwayne Johnson, Mark Wahlberg, Ed Harris Pain & Gain is a 2013 American crime comedy film directed by Michael Bay and starring Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie. The film is loosely based on a story published in a ...more

23
16 14
Rosewood is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Movies Based on Real Murders
Tre Cooley added Rosewood Jon Voight, Don Cheadle, Ving Rhames Rosewood is a 1997 film directed by John Singleton. While based on historic events of the 1923 Rosewood massacre in Florida, when a white mob killed blacks and destroyed their town, the film ...more

24
2 2
Billionaire Boys Club is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Movies Based on Real Murders
Billionaire Boys Club Ansel Elgort, Taron Egerton, Kevin Spacey Billionaire Boys Club is a 2018 American biographical crime drama film directed by James Cox. Led by their fellow preppie friend Joe Hunt (Ansel Elgort), a group of wealthy boys in 1980s Los ...more

25
14 17
10 Rillington Place is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Movies Based on Real Murders
10 Rillington Place John Hurt, Richard Attenborough, Robert Hardy 10 Rillington Place is a 1971 British crime drama film, directed by Richard Fleischer. It stars Richard Attenborough, John Hurt and Judy Geeson and was adapted by Clive Exton from the book Ten ...more

26
13 19
Zero Day is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Movies Based on Real Murders
Zero Day Cal Robertson, Christopher Coccio, Johanne Keuck Zero Day is a 2003 American film directed by Ben Coccio about a school shooting. It was inspired by the 1999 Columbine High School massacre.

27
9 17
The Honeymoon Killers is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Movies Based on Real Murders
The Honeymoon Killers Doris Roberts, Tony Lo Bianco, Shirley Stoler The Honeymoon Killers is a 1969 American crime film written and directed by Leonard Kastle, and starring Shirley Stoler and Tony Lo Bianco. It is inspired by the true story of Raymond Fernandez ...more

28
8 17
Deranged is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Movies Based on Real Murders
Deranged John Ratzenberger, Rory Calhoun, Roberts Blossom Deranged is a Canadian-American horror film made in 1974 and directed by Alan Ormsby and Jeff Gillen. It is also known by the title Deranged: The Confessions of a Necrophile in the USA. It is a ...more

29
10 20
Karla is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Movies Based on Real Murders
Andy Hope added Karla Laura Prepon, Misha Collins, Brandon Routh Karla is a 2006 American-Canadian psychological thriller film. The film is based on the true story of Canada's two most notorious serial killers, Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka, though the ...more

30
4 20
Polytechnique is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Movies Based on Real Murders
Polytechnique Karine Vanasse, Johanne Marie Tremblay, Sébastien Huberdeau Polytechnique is a 2009 Canadian film directed by Denis Villeneuve and written by Villeneuve and Jacques Davidts. Set in Montreal, Quebec and based on the École Polytechnique massacre, ...more