Some horror movies are designed to make you feel like you are watching real life events, like the “found footage” horror subgenre. But what about films that are really based on true events, or at least supposedly true events? Is truth really stranger than fiction when it comes to horror? Here’s a list of some of the most notable “based on a true story” horror movies, and the real events that inspired them.
The Conjuring (2013)
This movie about a malevolent ghost is based on the case files of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. They investigated the eerie goings on in the Perron family’s Rhode Island farmhouse. One of the Perron sisters also wrote a book about their experiences called House of Darkness House of Light. The spirit Bathsheba was a real woman, believed to have killed her child and thought by locals to be a witch. The current owners of the house have also reported some mild unexplained disturbances, but not nearly as violent as what the Perrons say they experienced.
The Haunting in Connecticut (2009)
True life events are also the basis for this haunted house story. The house in the film really was a funeral home for many years. The real life Snedeker family assert that the scary events depicted in the film really happened. They also say that they did find embalming equipment in the basement, as well as pictures and personal items of dead people. Ed and Lorraine Warren were also involved in the real-life investigation of the paranormal activity going on in the house. The verdict? The hauntings were caused by necrophilia practiced by funeral home workers, although no documentation of the crimes has been found.
Once you see the creepy peeking alien in the film version of Whitley Strieber’s book Communion: A True Story, you won’t be able to forget it. Christopher Walken plays Strieber, a man who believes he encountered aliens while staying at a remote house in the woods. Strieber claims he was abducted by the aliens and, yes, subjected to the usual alien examinations and probings. Strieber (who just conveniently happens to be a horror writer) wasn’t sure if he really met extraterrestrials or was just going mad, so he saw a psychiatrist and underwent hypnosis to uncover the truth.
The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)
This supernatural horror movie is based on circumstances surrounding a real life court case involving the death of a 19 year old girl. Anneliese Michel was a German girl who underwent torturous Catholic exorcism rites and died as a result. Her parents and two priests were charged with homicide. The sad true story was that Anneliese was an epileptic who also had some serious psychological problems. Her family believed she was possessed and in 1975, priests performed a months-long exorcism on her in secret. They were found guilty of negligent homicide.
The Girl Next Door (2007)
A teenage girl is subjected to horrific torture and abuse by an older woman and a group of kids. This grim movie is based on the real life story of the torture and murder of Sylvia Likens by Gertrude Baniszewski and a group of kids in 1965. Sylvia’s parents placed her in Gertrude’s care and the unstable woman locked her in the basement and inflicted unspeakable abuse on the girl, who died at the age of 16 from her injuries and malnutrition. Gertrude and her accomplices were found guilty of murder and spent various amounts of time in prison.