Horror Movies Based on True Stories

By Playboy.com Staff

<p>Discover the chilling backstories behind Hollywood's scariest flicks.<br></p>

There’s plenty to dig at Halloween time. And we’re not just talking sexy zombie nurse getups, though of course we’re grateful for the throngs of hot zombie rides/pizzas/Princess Leias populating our towns this time of the year.

But apart from the carnival of stapled-together naughty costumes and their ensuing strobe-lit make-out crime scenes, scaring ourselves sleepless is the number one thing we like best about All Hallows’ Eve. (We also like us some pumpkin-flavored desserts, but that’s way less Playboy, so.)


Binge-watching classic horror flicks is a fun tradition for the psychic ghost whisperer wannabes who walk among us. And this year, we suggest you raise the bar (lower the bar?) on spooky: Theme-stream only horror movies based on bloody, real-life, totally freaky debacles.

Why? Because when you learn the big, bad wolf (aka the psychopath cannibal serial killer decked out in skin suits) is actually based on a real person who nutted out and did some very bad deeds, you will be disturbed. You will be chilled to the core.

And that’s as good a way to get your Halloween jollies on as any.


Who’s the scariest real-life psycho killer to be fictionalized again and again in some of Hollywood’s best horror flicks? That would be Ed Gein. It’s hard to imagine anyone as frightening as Gein—his misdeeds definitely put him at the top of the who’s who of terrifying. His life is so rich in crazy that Hollywood has made a number of films using him as inspiration without ever telling the same story twice. Think: Psycho (1960),The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), Deranged (1974), The Silence of the Lambs (1991), In the Light of the Moon (2000), Ed Gein: The Butcher of Plainfield (2007) and American Horror Story: Asylum (2013).

The lowdown: Gein wasn’t just your regular murderer. On his off-hours, the man also dug up the corpses of middle-aged women who resembled his mother from his local graveyard and tanned their body bits into usable items. Like a nipple belt, a face lampshade and a mouth drawstring. He was also working on making himself a “woman suit.”

Of course Gein had a freaky mama named Augusta, and of course she was a fervent Lutheran who liked to read the dirty parts of the Bible aloud to him and his brother, Carrie-style. When they weren’t getting their Jesus on, Gein and his brother helped their mother run the family farm in Wisconsin. They were forbidden from socializing with other children after school. People reported that Gein exhibited strange behavior, such as laughing for no apparent reason.

After his mother and brother’s deaths, Gein locked up most of the house to keep it pristine and lived in a small room off the kitchen, stinking up his space with bachelor habits and, we imagine, all those rotting carcasses.

In 1957, Gein was arraigned for the first-degree murder of hardware store owner Bernice Worden. Her decapitated body was found hanging in his shed, field dressed like game. Gein was found to be legally insane and was sent to a maximum-security institution.

His family farmhouse burned down in 1958. When he was told, Gein allegedly said, “Just as well.”

If this story alone doesn’t rock your scary boat—if you’re less the real-life murderer crime flick lover, more the shapeshifters, hauntings and exorcisms type—may we suggest the following five based-on-real-life horror movies for your terrifying-yourself-shitless enjoyment.

Happy Halloweening.

  1. The Blob (1958)

It’s hard to believe this campy flick is based on anything remotely real, but apparently it is. Irvin Yeaworth’s cult 1958 story about an alien blob from outer space is based on a 1950 case in Philadelphia where policemen found a saucerlike disk of “quivering jelly” measuring six feet in diameter. The substance, called “star jelly,” can be typically found by meteorite landings. Though in this case, due to its location not being New Mexico, the “blob sighting” is now believed to have simply been a dump of industrial waste from a local gas company. Meh.

  1. The Exorcist (1973)

Say it ain’t so. Just thinking about Linda Blair’s pocked-up face puking that pea soup is upsetting enough. But The Exorcist is, in fact, loosely based on a true event: the actual exorcism of a 14-year-old boy conducted in 1949. The boy, known as Roland Doe, tried to talk to his dead aunt via a Ouija board. Priests apparently conducted as many as 30 exorcisms on the boy, who was, eventually, “cured.” Bonus: In real life, no one died. So that’s cool.

  1. The Amityville Horror (1979)

Probably the most famous true story horror movie, The Amityville Horror was based on a book written by real-life couple George and Kathy Lutz. The couple moved into a new place in Long Island in 1976. Turns out, their digs were the location of a mass murder. Some of the creepy stuff that went down in their place included hearing disembodied voices during the day, witnessing demonic imagery and, apparently, their walls “bled” green slime. They moved out after having only lived there 28 days.

  1. The Haunting of Emily Rose (2005)

This flick was based on the story of a 16-year-old German girl named Anneliese Michel, who in 1968 went from bopping around like a regular teenager to acting like she was possessed by demons. In 1975, with her parents convinced she was possessed by demons, two priests performed an exorcism that lasted 10 months. Michel hardly ate during that time and, in 1976, she died of starvation. Both her parents and the priests were tried and convicted of manslaughter.

  1. The Haunting in Connecticut (2009)

This story is heartbreaking and scary as all get-out. In 1986, Carmen Snedeker and her husband rented a house in Connecticut so that they could be close to the specialists who were treating their 14-year-old son Paul for cancer. It turned out the house had been a funeral parlor. Paul started to experience demonic visions and, allegedly, saw spirits. The Snedekers claim to have heard disembodied voices and reported seeing shadowy figures. Ed and Lorraine Warren were called in to investigate. Lorraine told reporters that the actual case was “much, much scarier than any movie could ever be.” You can watch the movie anyway. If you’re brave enough.


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