11 Horror Movies Inspired by Real-life Events


If you’re into horror movies, you’ve probably wondered where the writers find the inspiration for all of the endless plots.

When it comes to romantic dramas, documentaries, and comedies, it’s easy to follow as the stories are often reflections of our lives.

But when it comes to horror movies, it’s completely different. Most horror movies are very unlikely to be based completely on real-life events. However, some of them may be based loosely around first-hand experiences and tailored and exaggerated to make for good television.

We’re going to dive into the world of horror movies and discuss some that are actually based on real stories.


The Girl Next Door (2007)

11 Horror Movies Inspired by Real-life EventsNot to be mistaken for the 2004 romantic comedy with the same name, The Girl Next Door is a horror film that dates back to 1965. It tells the disastrous story of Sylvia Likens, a16-year-old girl who lives in the state of Indiana.

Sylvia was supposed to be taken care of by a woman called Gertrude Baniszewski who instead kept her captive and tortured, abused and humiliated her for nearly three months.

The young girl, unable to stand the terrible torture, finally died a tragic death. While some details may have been changed for the movie, the actual events were just as unnerving and monstrous. This is one of those movies where you really wish the story wasn’t real.

The Amityville Horror (1979)

Dating back to 1975, The Amityville Horror was the highest-grossing independently-made horror film of its time. It begins with a couple who bought the home of their dreams only to find out that a mass murder had taken place there only 13 months earlier, by Ronald DeFeo Junior.

The family soon began to experience paranormal activities and even began to develop eerie rituals themselves. The Lutzes moved out after just 28 days, reporting something unusual about the house, such as bad odors, weird sounds, and other terrifying circumstances.

A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010)

11 Horror Movies Inspired by Real-life EventsIt’s hard to believe that there is an element of truth in this incredible blockbuster movie. But sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

Director Wes Craven said the story was loosely based on a few articles he’d read in the LA Times about some mysterious deaths back in the early 1970s.

In the film, a group of Cambodian refugees experienced horrific nightmares which led to insomnia and then worse. Some of them died in their sleep without any telltale signs to be found in the autopsy. That’s how the nightmare figure of suspected pedophile Freddy Krueger was born.

The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)

Emily Rose, AKA Anneliese Michel who the story was based on, was the daughter of devoted German parents.

Anne was diagnosed with epilepsy at an early age. Due to her strict upbringing and physical illness, she didn’t have much of a social life which meant that she developed a few psychopathic disorders, including an aversion to religion.

Based on the latter issue, her parents called in priests who tried to beat the ghosts out of her. Eventually, after having undergone 67 deadly exorcisms between 1975 and 1976, Anne succumbed to death from malnourishment and pneumonia.

Her parents and the priests were charged with negligent homicide and sentenced to six months in prison.

The Exorcist (1973)

A young girl of 12 years old is possessed and two catholic priests try to rid her of her demons.

Based on the book by William Peter Blatty, the movie was inspired by the 1949 newspaper articles about the exorcism of a young boy, documented by Ronald Doe or Robbie Mannheim.

This was an official sanction exorcism supposed to be carried out by priests. Much like is shown in the movie, the boy was said to be able to move things with his mind, show eerie and unnatural physical flexibility and speak in tongues.

The Hills Have Eyes (1977, 2006)

11 Horror Movies Inspired by Real-life EventsThis frightening movie, which so rightfully became a cult classic, is about cannibals. It’s based on the real story of a tribe of 48 people in 16th-century Scotland.

This group of barbaric savages are believed to have killed and eaten at least 1,000 people in the 25 years they’ve been active.

Director Wes Craven took the story and fit it perfectly inside modern Nevada. The movie adaptation tells the story of a family that’s left stranded after their car breaks down in a desolate area of California.

They come into contact with some rather hungry cannibalists.

The Rite (2011)

This movie is based on the life of a priest, Father Gary Thomas, who was one of 14 Vatican-certified diabolists that worked in the United States.

The movie revolves around a student who travels to Europe and meets a woman with a supernatural aura around her.

The real-life story is similar to another story about a married woman called Lisa who was treated by Father Gary Thomas in 2005. Thomas claimed to have felt a strong presence of unnatural paranormal creatures around her; thus explaining the inexplicable seizures and serpent-like behavior.

3096 Days (2013)

11 Horror Movies Inspired by Real-life EventsThis is a terrifying biographical horror film where a little girl named Natasha is abducted by a psychopathic pedophile named Wolfgang Pricklapel.

Wolfgang carefully planned everything and kept the girl captive in a tiny soundproofed room located 2.5 meters underground.

Without any contact with the outside world, Natasha grew into a wild, isolated animal. When she finally came out, she had already spent six years in captivity.

The Conjuring (2013)

This movie follows a ghost hunter couple who begin to investigate an 18th-century farmhouse owned by the Perrons. The Conjuring and its sequel are based on the real lives of a couple named Ed and Lorraine Warren who were paranormal researchers or demonologists.

They devoted their time to solving the problems caused by supernatural or paranormal activities and investigated over 10,000 cases throughout their careers.

The Warrens were involved in many such cases which later were adapted to blockbuster horror films such as The Amityville Horror, The Anabelle series, The Haunting in Connecticut, etc.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

11 Horror Movies Inspired by Real-life EventsA necrophiliac serial killer called Leatherface roams around with a chain-saw, steals the bodies of the people he has murdered and even plays with the bodies. He makes masks, suits, and even lamps out of the skins of his victims.

Perhaps the most prolific serial killer of all time, Ed Gein was the inspiration for this demonic movie and many other films of the same genre where you get to learn of the creepy facts of his life.

Gein prompted the creation of not only Leatherface but also Norman Bates in Psycho and Buffalo Bill in The Silence of The Lambs. However, this one remains one of the greatest horror films of all time.

The Haunting in Connecticut (2009)

The Haunting in Connecticut tells the tale of the Campbell family who move into a new house to be near to the hospital. Eventually, they start to experience supernatural activities in their new home, only to discover a whole new sinister history: it was once a funeral home.

This movie was originally based on the predicament of the Snedeker family who, in real life, after experiencing all of these weird events, called in a priest and a ghost hunter couple to perform an exorcism in 1988. This is probably the one case where the true story may be scarier than the film.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to horror movies, almost all of them are inspired by real-life events in some way or another. And that just makes them all the scarier!

So go on, grab some popcorn and enjoy! But don’t say we didn’t warn you.

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