No matter how terrifying a horror movie is, you know in the back of your mind that the events that are taking place before your eyes aren’t real.Or are they?
Here are 15 movies which are inspired by or based on real-life events.
1. The Exorcist
The film: When a 12-year-old girl is possessed by a mysterious entity, her mother seeks the help of two priests to save her daughter.
The true story: In 1949, several newspaper articles printed anonymous reports of an alleged possession and exorcism of a young boy. The source of these reports is thought to be the family’s former pastor, Luther Miles Schulze.
According to those reports, the family started experiencing strange noises after the boy’s aunt passed away. They claimed that the furniture would on its own accord, and ordinary objects would fly or levitate when the boy was nearby. The family eventually turned to Schulze for help.
A diary kept by Father Raymond Bishop, detailed the 3 exorcisms which were performed on the boy.
2. The Amityville Horror
The film: A young couple are terrorized by demonic forces after moving into a large house that was the site of a grisly mass murder a year before.
The true story: On November 13, 1974, Ronald DeFeo Jr. shot and killed six members of his family at 112 Ocean Avenue, on the south shore of Long Island, New York.
A year later, the Lutz family moved into the same house. 28 days later, the Lutzes left the house. They claimed that they were terrorized by a paranormal entity during their stay.
George Lutz claimed that he used to wake up every night at 3:15 am which eerily was the time DeFeo carried out his murders. He also used to wake up in the middle of the night only to spot his wife and his two sons levitating in their beds.
The Lutz family eventually brought in a priest to bless the home, but he left after hearing a voice telling him to get out. But, he did deter them from sleeping in a specific room.
3. The Conjuring
The film: A pair of paranormal investigators attempt to rid a family of their home’s irate spirits.
The true story: In January 1971, the Perron Family moved into a farmhouse in Rhode Island, where Carolyn, Roger, and their five daughters claimed that they noticed strange things happening almost immediately after they moved in.
The home had been in the same family for generations and many of them had died under mysterious and horrible circumstances. Several children were also found drowned in a nearby creek, one was murdered, and a few of them were found hung to death in the attic.
According to the Perrons, it started out small. Carolyn would notice that the broom would go missing or seemed to move from place to place on its own. She would also hear the sound of something scraping against the kettle in the kitchen when no one was there. The girls would also notice spirits around the house, though, for the most part, they were harmless.
The demonic spirit that was depicted in the film, Bathsheba, was the worst of them all. As it so turns out, a certain Bathsheba Sherman did live in the property in the mid-1800s. She was rumoured to be a Satanist and there was evidence that she had been involved in the death of a neighbour’s child. The Perrons believed that it was her spirit that tormented them.
Over the ten years that the family lived in that house, the Warrens made multiple trips to investigate the unexplainable events. They also conducted a seance to rid the house of the demonic spirit. After the seance, Roger kicked the Warrens out, worrying about his wife’s mental stability.
The family continued to live in the house due to financial stability until they were finally able to move out in 1980.
4. The Conjuring 2
The film: A single mother seeks the help of occult investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren when she and her children witness strange, paranormal events in their house.
The true story: It all started in 1977 in a quaint little home in Enfield, London, when Peggy Hodgson, a single mother of four children claimed to hear loud noises coming from her daughters’ bedroom. Peggy claimed that went she to settle them down, she found them huddled in a corner with terrified expressions on their faces.
After a few more unexplainable incidents, they sought help from their neighbours, Vic and Peggy, who too claimed to hear strange noises coming from around the house. When the strange incidents continued, Peggy called a popular publication to investigate the supernatural occurrences.
The publication called the Society for Psychical Research (SPR), who sent Maurice Grosse, a paranormal researcher to investigate the case. During his stay at the house, Grosse has said he witnessed more than 2,000 different incidents of supernatural nature.
It was during this time in the house that the supposed poltergeist started speaking through one of the daughters, Janet. The young girl would often go into a trance-like state where she would speak in a deep, scratchy voice, claiming to be the ghost of a man named Bill Wilkins, who had died in the house years before.
In the 18-month period, a number of paranormal researchers visited the house, including the famed demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren but they failed to rid the house of the spirit.
The film: A couple begins to experience terrifying supernatural occurrences involving a vintage doll shortly after their home is invaded by satanic cultists.
The true story: In 1970, a girl by the name of Donna was gifted an Annabelle doll by her mother on her birthday. Donna was living with her friend Angie at the time. According to her, the doll swiftly made its true nature known and became a real nightmare for the girls. It started out small – a hand movement here and there. There could’ve been a logical reason for that. But after the movements of the doll increased, their explanations dried up.
They claimed that notes started appearing around the apartment only a few weeks in. But, the girls had no idea where it came from. Each note had a different message – ‘Help Lou’ and ‘Help us’ were just two of the terrifying scrawls, seemingly in a child’s handwriting. One day, Donna saw that the doll had blood on her hands. It was the final straw and they proceeded to call in help. The medium which they hired informed them that the doll had brought the spirit of a 7-year-old girl, Annabelle Higgins into their apartment.
Reportedly, once, when Donna’s friend, Lou was staying over, he seemed to be unable to move. He glanced down and saw Annabelle at his feet. The doll began gliding up until her hands around his neck, trying to strangle him. Ed and Lorraine were summoned at the recommendation of a local priest who then locked the doll up in their occult museum.
6. The Exorcism of Emily Rose
The film: A lawyer takes on a negligent homicide case involving a priest who performed an exorcism on a young girl.
The true story: In reality, ‘Emily Rose’ was a girl named Anneliese Michel who was born to devoutly German parents. She was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 16. Between her illness and her strict upbringing, Anna lost much of her social life and retreated into a state of depression. Eventually, she began to hear voices.
She reportedly also developed a strange aversion to religious symbols. This was the impetus for her parents’ belief that their daughter was possessed. Between 1975 and 1976, Father Ernst Alt and Arnold Renz performed 67 exorcisms on her during which she would scream, thrash, and bark. Anna stopped eating and would also bang her head against the floor.
Finally in 1976, Anna passed away. At the time of her death, she weighed just 30 kgs and was suffering from severe pneumonia. Following her death, Anna’s parents and the priests were charged with negligent homicide.
7. A Nightmare On Elm Street
The film: The monstrous spirit of a slain janitor seeks revenge by invading the dreams of teenagers whose parents were responsible for his untimely death.
The true story: The director of the original movie revealed that he came up with the idea for the movie after reading an article about a family that had survived the Killing Fields in Cambodia. The family made it to the United States but a young boy in the family still found himself haunted by the terrible nightmares.
The boy claimed that if he slept, the thing chasing him in his dreams would kill him. So, he tried to stay awake for days at a time. When he finally slept, his parents thought the crisis was over. But one night, they heard him screaming at the top of his lungs. By the time they got to him, he was dead. Apparently, he died in the middle of a nightmare.
8. The Hills Have Eyes
The film: When a family travelling to California is captured by psychotic cannibals, they are forced to fight and survive.
The true story: The story for the movie was inspired by the 15th-century legend of Alexander Sawney Bean. Sawney was the son of a landscaper who had no desire to follow in his father’s footsteps. Instead, he took his wife and headed for a coastal cave in Bennane Head, Scotland. He lived there for years and raised his family of 8 sons, 6 daughters, 18 grandsons, and 14 granddaughters and most of them were a product of incest.
Under the cover of the night, the Bean clan would ambush travelers, robbing and murdering them. The bodies were taken back to the cave where they were dismembered and prepared for dinner.
The family operated in secret for 25 years until King James VI dispatched soldiers to track them down. The soldiers were led by bloodhounds to a cave along the shore. Inside, they not only found the entire Bean clan, but also scattered remains of their half-eaten victims. The Beans were immediately condemned to death. The men were castrated before having their hands and feet chopped off. After being forced to watch the men of the family die, the women and children were then burned alive. During their reign of terror, the Bean clan is said to have claimed over a thousand lives.
9. Child’s Play
The film: A single mother gives her son a much sought-after doll for his birthday, only to discover that it is possessed by the soul of a serial killer.
The true story: The infamous Robert the Doll was once owned by painter and author Robert Eugene Otto. The doll is said to be possessed by evil spirits and has a terrifying reputation. Eugene was given the doll in 1906 by a Bahamian servant who apparently was skilled in black magic and voodoo.
Soon afterwards, the family realised that there was something ‘off’ about the doll. Eugene’s parents would often hear him talking to the doll and to their surprise, the doll would speak back. Although at first, they assumed that Eugene was simply answering himself in a changed voice. But, they later realized that it was the doll who was returning the speech.
The family claimed that the doll would emit a terrifying giggle and would often catch glimpses of it running from room to room. One night, Eugene apparently screamed, and when his parents ran to the room, they found the furniture knocked over and Eugene in bed, looking incredibly scared, telling them that Robert did it!
10. The Haunting In Connecticut
The film: After a family is forced to relocate for their son’s health, they begin experiencing supernatural behavior in their new home, and uncover a sinister history.
The true story: In 1986, the Snedeker family – Allen, Carmen, and their four children, decided to rent a house at 208 in Southington as one of their sons needed to be closer to the hospital in Hartford. When they moved in, they discovered that the house had been a mortuary for many years called Hallahan Funeral Home. The family even found various mortuary tools in the basement.
The family also found a small graveyard out the back. The older son claimed that he witnessed spirits and terrifying visions at home. Even the parents claimed that they were raped and sodomized by the demons. Reportedly, the evil force would take on different forms to attack them.
Finally the family contacted Ed and Lorraine Warren who proclaimed that their house was infested by demons.
11. The Rite
The film: Michael, a seminary student, journeys across Europe to an exorcism school. Here, he meets Father Lucas who engages him to help exorcise a woman named Angeline.
The true story: The real-life story revolves around famed exorcist, Father Gary Thomas who was assigned to ‘treat’ a married woman called Lisa in 2005. She was brought to his office after her family members showed concerns over her unexplainable violent outbursts.
Thomas claims that he’d feel a huge presence in the room and when he’d pray, he’d notice that her face would apparently become distorted. She’d also speak in a language that was foreign to him. She’d spit and hiss while having the look of a serpent in her eyes. Once when he laid a crucifix on her, she let out a huge scream confirming his belief that she was indeed possessed.
The film: A teen girl finds herself besieged by an evil supernatural force after she plays Ouija with two classmates.
The true story: The film takes cues from the so-called ‘Vallecas Case’, which took place in a small suburb in Madrid. It revolved around a teenage girl called Estefania Gutierrez Lazaro who died mysteriously in 1991. Her parents were convinced that her death had something to do with her interest in the Ouija boards.
According to a report by The Sun, Estefania held a seance at her school to contact the boyfriend of one of her friends. However, it was interrupted by a teacher after which her parents claimed that they saw a strange swirling smoke enter her nose and mouth. She apparently began having seizures and hallucinations days later. The parents claimed that over the subsequent months, doors in the house would slam of their own accord, shadowy figures would lurk around. Even a photograph of Estefania apparently burst into flames with no explanation whatsoever.
Over one year after Estafania’s death, her mother felt that someone was grabbing her feet, but there was no one around. The father would also sometimes notice his son being picked up and thrown on to the adjacent bed. Police Inspector Jose Pedro Negri who was investigating the case in a 2012 documentary revealed that when he first entered the room, he saw the crucifix turn upside down and the door had three to four deep scratches in them as if someone had clawed deep into the door.
The film: A young family are visited by ghosts in their home. At first the ghosts appear friendly, moving objects around the house to the amusement of everyone, but they soon turn nasty and start to terrorise the family before they ‘kidnap’ the youngest daughter.
The true story: The film was based loosely on the events experienced in 1958 by the Hermanns, a family from New York. Over the course of a two months, the family watched bottles exploding and caps flying across the room. A statue of the Virgin Mary did the same, breaking a mirror clean across the room as it struck it. The most dangerous of them all was when a large bookcase was pushed over by unseen forces.
Ultimately, they called the police, who sadly were of no assistance. Ironically, one of the officers was nearly hit by an airborne globe. They then sought help from a local priest. It’s unclear as to whether the priest was able to eliminate the poltergeist from the premises, but the haunting did eventually stop in March 1958.
The most commonly held belief is that the family lived atop a Native American burial ground which would explain the paranormal occurences.
14. The Mothman Prophecies
The film: A reporter is drawn to a small town to investigate a series of strange events, including psychic visions and the appearance of bizarre entities.
The true story: The film is based on the ‘otherworldly’ occurrences that took place in West Virginia from 1966 to 1967. On December 15, 1967, the Silver Bridge collapsed killing 46 people. What caused the bridge to collapse wasn’t a mystery – a crack in the bridge link led to the catastrophe. But the real mystery was the appearance of a strange visitor that was sighted several times by the citizens. The visitor ever since was dubbed the Mothman.
The Mothman first made it to the news when a couple who were driving down a highway claimed that they came face-to-face with a creature that was seven-feet-tall with large red eyes and a 10-foot wingspan. Terrified, the couple headed back to the town, travelling at almost 100 miles per hour. All the while, the creature cruised along the ground right behind them swiftly soaring fifty feet above their car.
The film: 3 college students take a road trip into Mexico for a week only to find themselves captive to a group of satanic Mexican drug smugglers who kill tourists and who are looking for a group of new ones to prepare for a sacrifice.
The true story: The film was very loosely based on the life of Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo – a serial killer and drug dealer who led Los Narcosatánicos. Constanzo was responsible for the brutal murder by machete of American student Mark Kilroy in March 1989.
Did we miss anything out? Let us know.