It is said that the truth is stranger than fiction. Well, in the case of scary movies, there is probably a lot more horrifying truth than one would expect. Many of the scariest movies were inspired by real events - which, if nothing else, is something we should all lose a little bit of sleep over. This is a list of the best scary movies based on true stories to determine just what horrifyingly true story is the most teeth-chattering, nightmare-inducing, sleep-with-a-nightlight-for-the-rest-of-your-life cinematic masterpiece. So, what is the best scary movie based on a true story?
Here you'll find some of horror's (and cinema's) undisputed masterminds all drawing on real-world events to inspire some of their finest work. Heavyweights like Steven Spielberg, the "Master of Suspense" Wes Craven, and Alfred Hitchcock have all drawn from real headlines to create some of their most famous films.
There are many factors to consider here. Comparing a film up against another film (even in the same genre) can feel like comparing apples and oranges. So, it's on you, Ranker voters. Does it matter how closely the film adheres to the story that it was inspired by, like in a biopic like Dahmer? Or is it more important that the movie be genuinely, undeniably, amazing even though it strays a bit from its inspiration? Because maybe Jaws and Psycho win that battle.These are all almost impossibly tough calls, and there are a lot of classics to sift through... but isn't that what makes this fun? Vote up the top scary movies inspired by true events, and click Rerank to make a list of your own.
- 1,772410The Silence of the Lambs is a 1991 American thriller film that blends elements of the crime... more on Wikipedia
Based loosely on the relationship between serial killer Ted Bundy and criminal profiler Robert Keppel.
- 1,982503The Exorcist is a 1973 American supernatural horror film directed by William Friedkin, adapted... more on Wikipedia
Inspired by the alleged demonic possession of Robbie Mannheim.
Loosely based on a group of Cambodian refugees in the 1970's who were suffering disturbing night terrors after fleeing to the United States. Their nightmares were so terrifying, they began refusing to sleep.
- 1,317464Psycho is a 1960 American horror film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The film centers on an... more on Wikipedia
Loosely based on Wisconsin serial killer Ed Gein.
- 1,494429This movie is a 1974 American slasher film, directed and produced by Tobe Hooper, who cowrote... more on Wikipedia
Loosely based on serial killer Ed Gein.
- 1,357495Inspired by the experiences of the Lutz family as investigated by Paranormal Detectives, Ed and Lorraine Warren.
Based on the experiences of the Perron family as investigated by paranormal detectives Ed and Lorraine Warren.
- Based on the story of a 16-year-old German girl named Anneliese Michel who was believed to be possessed in 1968.The Exorcism of Emily Rose is a 2005 American courtroom drama horror film directed by Scott... more on Wikipedia
- 947445The Hills Have Eyes is a 1977 American exploitation-horror film written and directed by Wes... more on Wikipedia
Based on the sixteenth century cave-dwelling-clan leader Alexander Bean. He and his disciples ate an estimated 1,000 people.
- 980496Seriously. Based on Robert the doll, who is a doll, owned by author Robert Eugene Otto, who is a man. Robert (the doll) was said to be possessed by evil spirits.Child's Play is a 1988 American horror film directed by Tom Holland, written by Tom Holland,... more on Wikipedia
- 1,155595Inspired by a series of shark attacks off the New Jersey shore in 1916.Jaws is a 1975 American thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg and based on Peter... more on Wikipedia
- The Haunting in Connecticut is a 2009 American psychological horror film produced by Gold... more on Wikipedia
Inspired by the experiences of the Snedeker family as investigated by paranormal detectives Ed and Lorraine Warren.
- 742457The Zodiac Killer is a 1971 film directed by Tom Hanson. The film stars Hal Reed, Bob Jones,... more on Wikipedia
Based on the notorious San Francisco serial killer, the Zodiac.
- 747517Monster is a 2003 drama film about Aileen Wuornos, who was executed in Florida in 2002 for... more on Wikipedia
Based on the story of serial killer Aileen Wuornos who killed seven men in Florida while maintaining that they were all acts of self-defense.
- 710440Bram Stoker's Dracula is a 1992 American horror film directed and produced by Francis Ford... more on Wikipedia
Vlad the Impaler. Period.
- 532259Scream is a 1996 American slasher film written by Kevin Williamson and directed by Wes Craven.... more on Wikipedia
Based partly on the real-life case of the Gainesville Ripper.
- 678358The Strangers is a 2008 American horror film written and directed by Bryan Bertino and... more on Wikipedia
Writer/Director Bryan Bertino claims that the movie is based on a series of break-ins that occurred in his neighborhood as a child. The legitimacy of this claim is up for debate.
- 596374An American Haunting is a 2005 horror film written and directed by Courtney Solomon. It stars... more on Wikipedia
Based on the legend of the Bell Witch.
- 422370The Entity is a horror film based on the novel of the same name by Frank De Felitta. It stars... more on Wikipedia
Inspired by the experiences of Doris Blither, who claimed to be assaulted by invisible entities. This was documented by paranormal investigators Barry Taff and Kerry Gaynor.
- 484366Inspired by the murders committed by Jack The Ripper.From Hell is a 2001 American horror mystery film directed by the Hughes brothers and loosely... more on Wikipedia
- 521464Based on author John Keel's own investigations into the mysterious Mothman in the town of Point Pleasant.The Mothman Prophecies is a 2002 supernatural thriller film directed by Mark Pellington, based... more on Wikipedia
- 366391Wolf Creek is a 2005 Australian horror film written, co-produced, and directed by Greg McLean,... more on Wikipedia
Loosely inspired by Ivan Milat, who captured and tortured many hitchhikers and travelers during the 1990s.
- 356360Partially based on the torture and murder of 16-year-old Sylvia Likens in 1965.The Girl Next Door is a 2007 American horror film adaptation of Jack Ketchum's 1989 novel of... more on Wikipedia
- 276196Ted Bundy is a 2002 American crime drama film directed and co-written by Matthew Bright. The... more on Wikipedia
Based on the crimes of the titular Ted Bundy.
Inspired by the exploits of the Wallachian prince and serial killer Vlad III aka Vlad the Impaler