Do not worry it’s just a movie! That’s what we usually repeat to ourselves when we watch a horror movie that manages to sow real fear. And repeating that in our heads usually works until we come across a movie that is based on real events.
That’s something that Hollywood is very aware of, which is why there are so many horror films – classic and contemporary – that are inspired by real occurrences. Some of these films move away from the limits of reality, while others remain faithful to their original material. But whatever it is, they are all terrifying in their own way.
What follows is a list of 8 movies based on real events that show that there is nothing more terrifying than a true horror story.
1. The Hills Have Eyes (1977)
Screen fiction: A middle – class family heads to California to spend a quiet holiday with your caravan. Things go wrong when a breakdown forces them to leave the road and go into the desert to seek help. Without knowing it, they have just entered an area that years ago served the army to test nuclear weapons. The Carter family will have to kill a group of mutant cannibals if they want to survive.
The harsh reality: Wes Craven wrote the script after being inspired by the legend of Alexander “Sawney” Bean, head of a clan of the 16th century who lived in caves. They lived there for 25 years, devouring about 1,000 people before being discovered and killed.
2. The Amityville Horror (1979)
Screen fiction: A family moves to a house that begins to show signs of paranormal activity after investigating, its members discover that it was built on an Indian cemetery.
The harsh reality: Ronald DeFeo, Jr. executed his parents and four brothers while they slept. A year later, a family moved to the house where the crime took place and shortly afterward reported that paranormal events were occurring inside.
3. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Screen fiction: A child killer, Freddy Krueger, is released from prison, but the enraged parents of the community decide to take justice into their own hands and burn him alive. Years later, Krueger returns to continue his murderous streak, now from the world of dreams.
The harsh reality: The creator of the saga, Wes Craven, declared that the idea of people killed simultaneously in their dreams and real life came from a series of articles that he read in the 70s about Cambodian refugees who were terrified of the simple notion of sleep. Some of them did not resist and fell asleep never to wake up.
4. Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)
Screen fiction: Henry Lee Lucas had an unhappy childhood. He was imprisoned for stabbing his mother. Since his release, he has been killing indiscriminately. He arbitrarily chooses his victims and kills them with a different method each time. One day, Becky, Otis’ sister, a fellow prisoner, arrives and stays to live with them. Soon an attraction is created between Henry and the woman. One night, Otis and Henry kill two prostitutes in an alley, this being the beginning of the end …
The harsh reality: The character of Henry is loosely based on the stories of real-life serial killer Henry Lee Lucas, who claims to have killed up to 3,000 people. Although that has not been verified (and Lucas even retracted those testimonies), he was involved in 11 murder cases and defended himself by saying that he had been a victim of “bullying” which was the primary cause that made him a murderer.
5. From Hell (2001)
Screen fiction: A maniac is on the loose in the streets of London in 1888 murdering prostitutes and mutilating their bodies with surgical precision.
The harsh reality: The film is an adaptation of the graphic novel From Hell, in turn, based on the crimes of Jack the Ripper, serial killer that terrorized London in the late nineteenth century and whose true identity could never be proven.
6. Wolf Creek (2005)
Screen fiction: Three young hikers enter the Wolf Creek National Park in a ramshackle ranch that they have just bought from a dubious salesman. After the inevitable breakdown, the boys run into a friendly inhabitant of the area who promises to repair the vehicle in their camp. The trip will become a terrifying crossroads.
The harsh reality: Greg McLean was inspired by Ivan Milat, in the nineties, kidnapped and tortured hitchhikers in the forest. It is believed that Milat spent a lot of time with their victims before dispatching them, offering to take them in their car or spending long moments chatting with them in their camps, as we have seen in the first chapter of the first season of the WOLF CREEK series. Milat’s reign of terror came to an end when Paul Onions, a young British man who managed to escape, identified him and Milat was arrested on May 22, 1994.
7. Hostel (2005)
Screen fiction: A hostel in Slovakia serves as a front for trafficking with people who are sent to a hidden complex in an abandoned factory, in which eccentric millionaires finally torture and murder them after having paid absurd sums of money.
The harsh reality: Eli Roth said he found a motivation to write and direct the film after he accidentally came to a Thai website whose main attraction was to pay a large amount of money to be entitled to kill a person.
8. The Conjuring (2013)
The fiction on screen: A family is besieged by evil spirits that put at risk the integrity of all members, leaving them to hire the services of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren.
The harsh reality: The movie is based on one of the cases of the real Warren, marriage specialized in the paranormal, particularly in demonology and clairvoyance.