The only thing scarier than a scary movie is one based on actual events. It’s one thing to see a fictionalized account of bad things happening to unsuspecting people; it’s another to know those terrible things happened to real people. When a participant in an online movie community asked for suggestions for movies that were true stories, the responses provided were shocking and disturbing.
1. The Entity (1982)
The 1982 film starring Barbara Hershey and Ron Silver is based on a 1974 case in which a woman contacted a parapsychologist with claims that she had been repeatedly attacked and assaulted by multiple unseen entities in her home. In real life, the parapsychologist did find evidence of paranormal activities.
2. Open Water (2003)
The tragic story of Tom and Eileen Lonergan was the premise of the 2003 movie Open Water. In January 1998, the couple embarked on a tourist group dive of the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia. The company in charge of the dive unintentionally left the Lonergans behind, not realizing they were missing until two days later. The pair were never found and are presumed to have drowned at sea.
3. The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)
A German woman named Anneliese Michel underwent an exorcism that resulted in her death and criminal charges against her parents and the priests who performed the ritual. Years later, her experience was loosely adapted for the film The Exorcism of Emily Rose.
4. Monster (2003)
The life of female serial killer Aileen Wuornos is depicted by actress Charlize Theron, who won an Academy Award for her gritty portrayal. Wuornos killed seven men before she was convicted and executed for her crimes in 2002.
5. Scream (1996)
1996’s Scream and the highly successful movie franchise came to pass after the screenwriter was inspired by the horrific 1990 serial murders of five college students in Gainesville, Florida.
6. Poltergeist (1982)
Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster about a family who unwittingly moves into a house built on top of a cemetery and is subsequently menaced by the angry spirits of the dead has real-life origins. Like the fictional Freelings, the Hermann family was run out of their Long Island, New York home due to supernatural activity, which they suspected was built adjacent to a Native American burial ground.
7. The Mothman Prophecies (2002)
A creature known as the Mothman was spotted in West Virginia in the 1960s. Other unexplained supernatural happenings were also reported. The story of the Mothman was recorded in the 1974 book before being made into a movie. Today, the Mothman is one of the most famous cryptids in America.
8. The Amityville Horror (1979)
The real-life Lutz family lasted 28 days in their Amityville, New York home before being run out of it by evil spirits. The residence had been the site of a mass murder the previous year, in which one of the residents murdered his entire family. The Lutz saga was the basis of several books and movies.
9. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Wes Craven’s classic horror movie about a serial killer haunting young people in their sleep was based on newspaper stories from 1981. The story is about 26 young Southeast Asian refugees who inexplicably died in their sleep after expressing fears that their nightmares would cause them to die.
10. The Haunting in Connecticut (2009)
The fictitious Campbell family was the Snedeker family in real life. When the Snedeker moved into a rental home previously operated as a funeral home, they found themselves harassed by demons.
11. Stuck (2007)
In 2001, a homeless man named Gregory Glen Biggs was the victim of a hit-and-run accident in which he became stuck in the driver’s windshield. The driver, Chante Jawan Mallard, left him to die in her car rather than summon help. The 2007 film is based on this incident, except the victim in the movie manages to turn the tables on his assailant.
12. The Strangers (2008)
This movie about a nightmarish extended home invasion is based on a quadruple home invasion homicide that occurred in the director’s neighborhood when he was a child and the Tate murders carried out by the Manson family.
13. The Haunting of Sharon Tate (2019)
The Haunting of Sharon Tate is based on the true and horrific story and Charles Manson and his group killing the pregnant Sharon Tate. Played by Hilary Duff in this retelling, the low-rated movie is a dramatization of the murder of Tate back in 1969.
14. Jaws (1975)
According to the author of the book, Jaws, the story isn't based on a real series of events, but a lot of people draw a lot of similarities to the 1916 New Jersey shark attacks that killed four people. While there might not be an exact story the book and film are based on, there are enough real shark attacks that make us weary when talking about Jaws.
15. The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
The Hills Have Eyes is apparently based on the chilling story of a Scottish clan who lived in the 16th century and cannibalized numerous people throughout their time.
Freelance Writer and Technical Writer
- Areas of expertise: Technology, user experience, pop culture, and entertainment.
- Education: West Chester University of Pennsylvania and Kutztown University of Pennsylvania
Her articles have appeared in publications such as Wealth of Geeks, MSN (US), MSN Ireland, Flipboard, The Facts, The Cents of Money, A Dime Saved, The Times (Frankfort), Invested Wallet, Chronicle-Tribune, Mama of Five Blog, Lafourche Gazette, The Herald-Press, Kinda Frugal, Peru Tribune, and Financially Well Off. Stephanie Allen got her start in writing by teaching college writing and technical writing courses. She transitioned to working as a contract technical writer specializing in information technology. Her love for writing on various subjects led her to Wealth of Geeks.