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Scary Horror Movies Based on True Stories

Updated on February 25, 2014

Horror Movies Based on True Stories: A Truly Frightening Experience

To me, there is nothing more frightening than watching a scary horror movie and knowing that it was inspired by real life events. These are the movies that "haunt" me and have me waking up paralyzed with fright in the middle of the night.

I saw The Blair Witch Project immediately when it came out and it was still widely believed to be a real video found by real missing people. I was totally horrified and kept thinking "All the times I thought I heard ghosts it was real!". I didn't sleep a wink that night thinking of all the spooky moments in my life and wondering if it was really a supernatural occurrence. I was disappointed, yet relieved, when I found out the movie was an ingenious hoax, but it served it's purpose at the time extremely well. (I was young, ok?)

These are terrifying or disturbing movies based on true stories and links to the stories they are based upon.

The Exorcist: The Book


The Exorcist - A Horror Classic

The Exorcist is based upon the story of Roland Doe, a pseudonym for a young boy born circa 1936 who underwent an exorcism by the Catholic church. If you have never heard of this film you have probably been living under a rock somewhere, and if you haven't seen it, go watch it!

This movie is a true horror classic and features wonderfully spooky music. I have the song Tubular Bells as my spooky Halloween ringer (which actually never gets changed even after Halloween) and I have learned to play it on the piano as well as having it on tape.That's right, tape. While it is a spooky song, it is beautiful as well.

The Mothman Prophecies Book


A Very Interesting Book


Listen to Tubular Bells

Here is a shortened version of Tubular Bells. Listen and then vote in the poll below!

Tubular Bells Poll

Now that you've watched the video and heard the song tell us what you think.

What do you think of the song?

See results

The Amityville Horror

The Amityville Horror is a book marketed as the true story of the Lutz family's paranormal experiences, which took place after moving into their new home where six brutal murders took place. It is now believed to be untrue.

While it may now be thought to be a made-up story, it is still a pretty good horror flick!

The Amityville Horror Collection (The Amityville Horror/ The Amityville Horror II: The Possession/ The Amityville Horror III: The Demon/ Bonus Disc - Amityville Confidential)
The Amityville Horror Collection (The Amityville Horror/ The Amityville Horror II: The Possession/ The Amityville Horror III: The Demon/ Bonus Disc - Amityville Confidential)

The Amityville Horror Collection is a nice little DVD box set. You get 3 movies: The Amityville Horror * Amityville II: The Possession * Amityville 3-D * and a Bonus Disc - Amityville Confidential.


The True Story Behind The Exorcism of Emily Rose - Anneliese Michel

Photo still from the movie
Photo still from the movie

The Exorcism of Emily Rose is based on the story of Anneliese Michel, a young woman who died at the age of 23 from starvation and dehydration resulting from exorcism rites. The movie covers the resulting court case against one of the priests and reveals the story through flashbacks. Jennifer Carpenter plays Emily and does an amazing job portraying a young girl who's been possessed.

What Do You Believe?

Do you believe in demon possessions and exorcisms?

See results


Did you know that Jaws was inspired by a rash of shark attacks on the Jersey Shore in 1916? In a 12-day period in July of that year, five people were attacked; four of them died. A great white shark was killed soon after whose stomach contained human remains.

Scary Horror Movies: Grimm Love

A truly disturbing story

I am mentioning this film, not because I like it, but because it is an extremely disturbing story. I had to watch it despite it's lousy reviews because I was so intrigued by the tale.

Grimm Love was inspired by the true story of Armin Meiwes, a sicko who posted ads on the internet looking for voluntary victims to slaughter and kill. When Bernd Jürgen Brandes answered the ad, he and Meiwes together tried to consume Brandes' severed penis (which had been sauteed in a pan with garlic), but it proved to be too tough to eat. Meiwes then slit Brandes' throat and consumed the majority of him over the next several months.

He was originally only convicted of manslaughter but was retried in 2005 and convicted of murder.

Meiwes had many people respond to his ad who backed out. He let them go.

The Mothman Prophecies - Another Scary Film

The Mothman Prophecies
The Mothman Prophecies

This movie claims to be based on true events which occurred in Point Pleasant, WV in the 1960's. The Mothman is a legendary creature spotted by different people over a four week period. The descriptions varied from a 10-foot winged man to a large bird but all reported glowing red eyes.

After watching this movie I still don't like looking out of the windows at night!


We've all heard of the movie Psycho. Did you know it was inspired by the serial killer Ed Gein?


Psycho (Collector's Edition)
Psycho (Collector's Edition)

Alfred Hitchcock's landmark masterpiece of the macabre stars Anthony Perkins as the troubled Norman Bates, whose old dark house and adjoining motel are not the place to spend a quiet evening. No one knows that better than Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), the ill-fated traveler whose journey ends in the notorious "shower scene." First a private detective, then Marion's sister (Vera Miles) searches for her, the horror and the suspense mount to a terrifying climax where the mysterious killer is finally revealed.


Speaking of Ed Gein....

There have been several movies which claim to be inspired by this particular serial killer.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (2-Disc Ultimate Edition)
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (2-Disc Ultimate Edition)

Leatherface wore his victims skin as masks which was taken from Gein, but the murders were changed to make the movie more gruesome.

Jeepers Creepers
Jeepers Creepers

The Creeper's lair is decorated similar to the scene police found in Gein's home... human skin decorating the walls and furniture.

The Silence of the Lambs (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)
The Silence of the Lambs (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)

Another movie where the serial killer likes to wear his victim's skin and body parts.


A Haunting in Connecticut

The story: In the 1980s the Snedeker family had hit hard times. They had three children, one of which had cancer, and also took care of a cousin. They jumped at the chance to rent a "dream" home which was large enough for their family and affordable, but quickly realized it's secret: it used to be a funeral home. Soon the family started to experience frightening supernatural events.

I was first introduced to this story by the Discovery Channel who aired two specials, the other being A Haunting in Georgia. I love these types of shows and I have watched each of them several times. Luckily, due to strong ratings, the Discovery Channel spun a series off of these two shows called A Haunting.

Here is the TV series, you can find the movie below.

These Movies Are Based on True Events, Too!

Dead Ringers
Dead Ringers

This film is based on the story of two twin brothers who both become gynecologists. Steven and Cyril Marcus frequently switch places with each other in both their personal and work lives, and both commit suicide together when their lives begin to spin out of control.

The Hills Have Eyes (Unrated) [Blu-ray]
The Hills Have Eyes (Unrated) [Blu-ray]

Wes Craven said he got the idea for this movie from the Sawney Beane Family, who lived in Scotland in the 1700's. There was a road running through the area and people thought it was haunted because so many people disappeared on it. A couple was attacked and one of them got away and led the authorities back to the area where they found a gaggle of wild, naked and feral people. Supposedly.

The Serpent and the Rainbow
The Serpent and the Rainbow

Another Wes Craven film; this one is based on a non-fiction book published in 1985 by Dr. Wade Davis, who spent time in Haiti studying the Voodoo religion which is practiced there. He extensively charts the use of ritual and cultural drugs, including one which induces a state of catatonia and is used in zombiefication rituals.


Paranormal SquidAngel Blessings

This lens has been blessed by Paranormal Angels, a now extinct form of squid.

Let me know you stopped by and leave a comment.

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    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 

      5 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      I am not a big fan of horror movies. I like true crime though, which is horror!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      An American Crime is also a true story. Not really horror scary, but scary it happened.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      These films are very good,nice job and great lens!

    • cocomoonbeams profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @cleanearth: Yeah, I feel a little silly by the fact that I was scared by Blair Witch, but it's a fact, and I own up to it. :)

    • cleanearth profile image


      5 years ago

      Really enjoying this lens and great horror films, although can't say I even liked the "Blair Witch Project" I watched it, but wasn't scared at all about it, seemed like some city kids who'd never been in the woods, went out and the noises from the woods scared em, which turned out to be entire movie! They kept talkin about hearing noises, which no matter how many times I watch, I don't hear any noises, except for their talking lol. Very disappointing, and especially so, when we all found out it wasn't even a true story. But you've got a great lens here and thanks for sharing! I loved the music to "The Exorcist" too!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      O HELL YEAH!!!!......

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      great films but just sad that they are true events

    • norma-holt profile image


      5 years ago

      Horror is bad enough when it is happening around you but on a film is ten times worse. Blessed.

    • RaidaMoon profile image


      6 years ago

      Great lens. I was actually surprised by a couple of these movies. ie: Psycho - I had no idea it was based on Ed Gein. Don't know how that one slipped under my radar. Good job!

    • Angelgirl1976 profile image


      6 years ago


      Loved this lens as I love all things scary, unusual and dam right poo ya pants stuff lol.

      I really enjoyed this lens, loved the Tubular Bells tune and all the info about the scary films. I am addicted to YouTube, that's where I watch things like Most Haunted, A Haunting, The Dead Files etc like I said Im addicted lol.

      Brilliant lens and thanks for the effort into this, I really loved it :) if I was an angel I would bless you ;)

    • mihgasper profile image

      Miha Gasper 

      6 years ago from Ljubljana, Slovenia, EU

      I like how you connected scary movie with music. Now we'll always know how scary story is behind...

      Thumbs up!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great picks for some truly disturbingly scary movies - blessed by a SquidAngel!

    • TSLOPEZ profile image

      Tania S Lopez 

      7 years ago from Fayettevile, NC

      I am not a big fan of horror movies and the reason being that a lot of it could be true! I am such a chicken! Great lens!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great topic choice! I didn't realize there were quite so many movies made from true events. The Exorcist movie/s, Emily Rose, and A Haunting In Connecticut are also among my favorites. Love this page!

    • iWriteaLot profile image


      7 years ago

      Creepy lens! But anything that has info from The Exorcist always grabs my attention LOL Grimm Love sounds horrible!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Glad I browsed into your lens. Thanks for the poll questions too, liked doing them. If you like to browse lens as I do, mine has a great educational topic with poll questions for my readers to enjoy.

    • cocomoonbeams profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      @Surfer83: Yes, Wes Craven said he got the idea from the Sawney Beane Family, who lived in Scotland in the 1700's. There was a road running through the area and people thought it was haunted because so many people disappeared on it. A couple was attacked and one of them got away and led the authorities back to the area where they found a gaggle of wild, naked and feral people. Supposedly. :)

    • Surfer83 profile image


      7 years ago

      Didn't know that the movie "hill have eyes" is a true story.

      Thanks for sharing =)

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 

      7 years ago from New Zealand

      Great lens covering horror movies, I do not watch horror movies, used to but as I got older, I found I could not content with the scary parts, heart pulsations. Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed the read. **Blessed**

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Love these kind of movies too! Consider yourself blessed by the paranormal SquidAngel!! :D

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      What a scary lens! I've seen most of these movies and they are the reason why I stopped watching horror movies alltogether, lol.

    • cocomoonbeams profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      @NoobWriter LM: It is definitely horror... it does have some gross out moments, but it is not a blood and guts movie.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Nice article! Scary as it goes, I would still watch horror movies.

    • NoobWriter LM profile image

      NoobWriter LM 

      7 years ago

      I have listened many things about the exorcist but I think I have too see it now. Hope its really a horror or is it a just blood movie(all about cutting hands and heads....yakk)!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This was a good read! Thanks.

    • cocomoonbeams profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      @JebbieBlue: I watch so many horror movies that if I have a hard time sleeping afterwards, I know it was a good one!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I don't watch many scary movies because I find it hard to sleep afterwards, but I enjoyed Psycho, the Exercist, and the Haunting.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      The first time I watched The Exorcist I had to turn the volume down.


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