Hollywood takes some liberties, sure, but these real life horror stories gave screenwriters some chilling jumping off points. Some of these movies turned out more frightening than others, but there’s no doubt that the actual incidents at their center would be enough to send any of us running for the hills.
As long as they don’t have eyes, natch.
#10. The Silence of the Lambs
It turns out that Hannibal Lecter isn’t the product of someone’s sick, overactive imagination – he’s based on a Mexican surgeon named Alfredo Balli Trevino who killed and mutilated his friend, his love, and (allegedly) several hitchhikers.
If you hadn’t heard of the Zodiac Killer, who murdered people in the 60s and 70s and then sent taunting notes to the police, you probably looked him up during the 2016 Presidential election. The cases were never solved, but this movie is a look at one reporter’s attempt to do just that.
#8. Child’s Play
A small boy received Robert the Doll in the early 1900s only to find out the seemingly innocent gift was a voodoo doll. Though there’s no proof that it’s possessed by the spirit of a serial killer (or anything else for that matter), there’s no doubt that – like all dolls – it’s creepy as hell.
#6. The Mothman Prophecies
In 1966-1967, the people of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, claimed to have been terrorized by a “mothman” who appeared to several townspeople over several months. After the deadly collapse of a local bridge in 1967, he was never seen again.
#5. The Hills Have Eyes
It is possible that this is more of a tall tale than actual history, but who can say for sure where these things begin? Either way, the Sawney Bean Clan was said to be a family group of inbred cannibals who lived in a cave in 16th century Scotland. They ambushed, robbed, and ate travelers in the countryside.
#4. The Conjuring
The Perron family claims to have been haunted for nine years before finally asking for help, and the movie follows the famous psychic and demonologist couple Ed and Lorraine Warren as they attempt to make sense of the happenings in the Rhode Island house.
#3. The Town That Dreaded Sundown
From February 22nd to May 3rd, 1946, the “Phantom Killer” preyed on young couples parked in cars in the small Texas town of Texarkana. The 70s film is loosely based on these Texarkana Moonlight Murders, which have never been solved.
#2. The Witch
The writers of this movie did extensive research into instances of women (typically) accused of practicing witchcraft during the Puritan history of the United States.
#1. The Strangers
In 1981, 4 people were brutally murdered in the Keddie cabins in the California woods. The case was never solved, and the movie takes some liberties, as it follows a couple who are stalked and terrorized in a remote location before being murdered at dawn.