Top 20 Horror Movies Inspired by True Events


“Monsters are as real as ghosts. They live in us and sometimes – they win,” said Stephen King, one of the most famous horror writers. Of course, he did not literally mean ghosts and monsters, but used these words to describe the dark side of man. And he was right. Below we bring you films that are inspired by people and based on true incidents, but note that they are still only a films, so don’t expect just about everything in them to be a literally retold reality.

The Serpent and the Rainbow

In the film, an anthropologist from Harvard goes to Haiti to explore the voodoo rituals by which people are transformed into zombies with the help of a mysterious plant powder. Wes Craven’s film is based on a book by anthropologist Wade Davis. Davis really researched the process of turning people into zombies and voodoo rituals in Haiti and wrote a scientific paper about it. The book has been sharply criticized in scientific circles, but Davis claims it is all true.

Deliver Us from Evil

The supernatural thriller Deliver Us from Evil, was filmed based on real cases led by New York police officer Ralph Sarchie (Sarchie also wrote a book).

It is a tense horror / thriller in which the aforementioned police officer in addition to struggling with personal problems begins to investigate a series of disgusting and unexplained crimes. He soon joins forces with priest who knows a lot about exorcism rituals. They work together to fight against the demonic phenomena that terrorize the city.

The director of the film is Scott Derrickson, probably best known to a wider audience for directing another horror film based on true events – Emily Rose’s Exorcism. The screenplay for the film Derrickson is co-written with Paul Harris Boardman who also wrote the screenplay for Exorcism by Emily Rose.


The plot of this cult 1973 classic revolves around the demonic obsession of a 12-year-old girl and follows her mother’s desperate attempts to save from the demon her possessed child through exorcism. Judging by Brian Dunning’s statements, some scenes of this film were not made up and happened in reality: “The film is based on the real case of an unknown boy from 1949 under the pseudonym Robbie Mannheim or Roland Doe,” The boy survived and resumed a normal life mostly because the whole case was not quite as dramatic as shown in the film itself.

The Amityville horror

The plot of “The Amityville Horror” revolves around the Lutz family and the strange manifestations they allegedly witnessed after they moved into a house in New York where the entire family that previously lived in it was brutally murdered. The film itself is based on the book of the same name published by Prentice-Hall in 1977. It is a book that is inspire several other successful horror films including the already mentioned “Exorcist”. Because its cover read that it was a “true story”, the book found its way onto the shelves of true crimes in bookstores around the world. Since then, a dozen more films have been made based on the same story. But is this really the true story? “It is true that the film contains a certain fiction; but if we are to be objective, the book by Jay Anson also contained a fair amount of fictional elements, exaggeration and artistic freedom, ”said Dan Nolte, author of However, Nolte also argues that fiction should not overshadow the “real life events” experienced by the Lutz family, which included “depictions of human-like ghosts, moving beds up and down,” and other paranormal events. “All Hollywood wants is to make a good horror film and no one can blame it for that. People in Hollywood are known to like to fictionalize real events. A large part of the film is a true story, and only some parts are fictional, “said Nolte.

Emily Rose Exorcism

Film critic Roger Ebert called Emily Rose’s “Exorcism” an “intriguing, confusing film achievement.” The plot of the film follows the trial of Richard Moore, a priest accused of killing a young girl, Emily Rose. The girl died as a result of a failed exorcism. Judging by the statements of the author Brian Dunning, certain parts of the film are by no means fiction. “The story is based on the 1976 case of German girl Anneliese Michel who died of dehydration and starvation after months of intense exorcism by two Catholic priests… Anneliese was subjected to psychiatric treatment for many years and today we believe she suffered from schizophrenia and acute personality disorder, ”says Dunning. Dunning also adds that Michelin’s parents and two priests were subsequently found guilty of murder and that the case itself inspired some members of the Catholic Church to reform the exorcism ritual.

Nightmare on Elm Street

When Wes Craven made the film ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ 31 years ago, many did not sleep at night. Freddy Krueger’s face is hard to forget.

It is interesting that the film returned all the invested funds in just 72 hours from its showing in cinemas. Yet the most interesting is the story itself according to which Wes Craven recorded this masterpiece. In early 1981, an interesting story appeared in the newspapers about young people suffering from horrible nightmares. Some of these people reportedly died in their sleep. Wes was particularly intrigued by the story of a young man who was driven to the brink of madness by nightmares.

The young man claimed he would die if he fell asleep. He drank large amounts of coffee along with pills that were supposed to help him stay awake. His father, a psychiatrist, prescribed him sleeping pills that he did not want to take. When he finally fell asleep after three days, his parents were awakened by eerie screams coming from his room. When they ran into the room it was already late, the young man died in his sleep. Under his pillow they found sleeping pills he hadn’t taken, and a coffee machine was hidden in the closet.

That’s how the idea for the film came . But what actually happened ?. The young man suffered from a rare disorder known as Bangungot or Sudden Night Death Syndrome. In the early 1980s, an epidemic of this gruesome syndrome appears to have occurred in the Philippines. Many young men refused to sleep because in their sleep they were, as they claimed, haunted by demons.

Wes collected all the newspaper articles on the subject and built on them a whole franchise of films based on dreams and nightmares that we still don’t know much about today. In the film, young people are haunted by Freddy Krueger, the ghost of a murderer and child abuser who was captured by his parents and burned alive. The idea for Freddy’s famous glove with knives, Wes was found by watching his cat to sharpen his nails.

Texas Chain Massacre

Tobe Hooper’s “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” follows a group of friends who visit the house where one of their relatives once lived, and are soon haunted by a “Leatherface” and his cannibal family. The film was advertised as a “true story” during its marketing campaign, and after its release in cinemas, it was banned in several countries due to numerous complaints from the public about its violence. Michael Newton, author of The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers and numerous other books written based on real events, argues that there is truth in the film itself. “The premise of the film draws on a real case from the 1950s in the state of Wisconsin, and includes a man named Edward Gein.” “Crazy Ed, like Hooper’s character Leatherface, wore the scalps and faces of his victims and decorated his farmhouse with human remains.” Newton says there is no evidence that Gein enjoyed cannibalism, but he doesn’t rule out that possibility either. “The officers who arrested Gein found the heart of one of the victims in a pan on his oven,” “When asked if he planned to eat his heart, Gein reportedly replied, ‘Do you think I’m crazy?'” Gein killed two women and exhumed dozens of corpses from local cemeteries. He was sentenced to treatment in a psychiatric institution. Gein’s crimes allegedly served as the inspiration for several other films, including classics such as “Psycho” and “When the Lambs Go Silent.”

Prime Evil

The plot of the film “Prime Evil” from 2007 revolves around a team of journalists who were sent to Burundi to film a huge, seven and a half meters long crocodile. But, as in all horror movies, the task turns out to be by no means simple and soon becomes deadly when the group is attacked by a giant crocodile. The giant seven-and-a-half-meter-long crocodile may seem unrealistic to viewers, but the inspiration that served for the film was a crocodile six meters long and weighing over 900 kilograms. Gustave, as the crocodile was called, lived in the Nile River and is believed to be responsible for the deaths of hundreds of villagers in Burundi. However, the details of the film (like its main protagonists) are entirely fictional judging by the writings of Michael McRae, a journalist who has written extensively about Gustave in National Geographic.

The Conjuring

Ed and Lorraine Warren were real-life researchers who claim to have investigated more than 10,000 cases in their careers. One of these cases was the Perron family, whose home was haunted by a malicious witch named Bathsheba Sheran, who lived there in the 19th century. From the beginning of its distribution, its veracity was doubted. Ed Warren died in 2006, and his 86-year-old wife was not available for comment on the allegations. However, Tony Spera – head of the New England Society for Psychic Research, an organization founded by the Warrens in 1952 – said the events in the film were true. “The film is very similar to the actual events that traumatized the family,” Spera said. “Unusual banging, sounds, scratching, images of ghosts and a frightening sense of presence are really the events that took place in that house.”

The girl next door

Based on the novel of the same name by Jack Ketchum, the film details the horrific torture and harassment of a teenage girl cared for by her aunt. The story is based on the murder of 16-year-old Sylvia Marie Likens. The teenager was tortured to death in 1965 by her aunt Gertrude Baniszewski, as well as her children who also lived in the house. At trial, the prosecutor described Sylvia’s death as ‘the most horrific crime ever committed in the state of Indiana’.

The Hills Have Eyes

A disturbing film about cannibals who lives in the hills of the US state of Nevada is inspired by the story of the Sawney Bean clan.It is a group of alleged cannibals believed to have lived in a cave in Scotland in the 16th century and looted, killed and ate victims.


The film is based on the true story of Mexican serial killer Adolf Constanz. Adolfo learned to sacrifice animals from his mother who performed voodoo rituals (and was even considered a witch). When he grew up, he began to apply what he learned to people. In addition to being a maniac, he was also a cannibal.

The Dentist

We are sure of one thing, after watching this movie, going to the dentist will be a real nightmare for you. The film is based on the true story of a dentist who turned out to be a serial killer.


Another film inspired by Ed Gain. Have you ever loved someone so much that you guarded their bodies after their death ?! Just look at what the most notorious American serial killer is doing.

Wolf Creek

Two men provided the inspiration for Greg McLean’s film. The first was Ivan Milat, who kidnapped hitchhikers and tortured them in the woods in the 1990s, and the second was Bradley John Murdoch, who was responsible for the murder of a British tourist.

I Spit on Your Grave

Writer / director Meir Zarchi took the inspiration for the film from his own experiences in Central Park in 1974. There he came across a woman who had been raped and beaten, but when he took her to the police, she was allegedly treated unfairly. Zarchi said the character of Jennifer Hills came from that incident: she is someone who takes matters into her own hands.

The Haunting In Connecticut

The theme of the film is similar to that in “Amitville Horror”, and the script is based on the traumatic confession of the Reed family, who were haunted by ghosts and demons in their house in Soutington during the eighties, and various paranormal phenomena happened to them every day.

The Rite

If you love stories and movies about exorcism, this is the right thing for you. Based on the life of one of the most famous American exorcists, Father Gary Thomas, this horror will simply blow you away.


Craven created one of the most recognizable villains in the history of film. In SCREAM, we will find out the true story on the basis of which the film was created and the panic and chaos that reigned during the five-day murders committed by Danny Rolling the so-called butcher from Gainesville .

Conjuring 2

Known as the English Amityville, the Poltergeist of Enfield is the best documented case of the paranormal. In this film, we again see Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) in the role of paranormal investigators, who will travel to England this time. The story is based on true events that took place in a house in the English town of Brimsdown between 1977 and 1979. It is one of the most documented paranormal cases in the world to hit the Hodgson family, and Ed Warren cited this case as one of the most horrific experiences of his career. This case is the subject of numerous books, documentaries, horror and TV series.


Verónica is based on true events from the early 90s and show us what happens when the game turns into a creepy reality. At the very end of the film, you can even see real photos taken by the police who responded to the call for help on June 15, 1991. Veronica is actually 14-year-old Estefania Gutierrez Lázaro from Vallecas (southern Madrid), who tragically passed away in August 1991. According to her parents, Estefania became interested in the occult as a teenager.

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