The monsters are always more frightening when you know they could be real.
1 THE EXORCIST
While the movie was adapted from the 1971 novel, the novel was inspired by a real priest who conducted an exorcism on a boy in 1949 from Cottage City, Maryland. No word on the backward spider walk or the spinning head, but if that was also taken from real life, we'd rather not know about it
2 THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE
Oh, a film based on another real-life exorcism? Great. The Exorcism of Emily Rose is loosely based on the exorcism of Annaliese Michel, a German woman who had epileptic psychosis, among a number of other mental illnesses. After her death, the treatments she received were deemed ineffective (naturally), but her story lives on through Emily Rose.
3 A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET
Honestly, we apologize for making this a reality, but A Nightmare on Elm Street, the film about a killer being able to murder you in real life via your dreams, is based on an actual case. The story is based in part on a boy who died during a nightmare after staying up for days because he was afraid of the thing chasing him in his dream. When his parents heard screaming, they ran to him, but by the time they got there he had died in his sleep.
4 THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was inspired in part by murderer Ed Gein, who exhumed bodies and murdered people in his home state of Wisconsin. What did he do with the bodies? Oh, you know: made them into trophies and skin masks. Casual. The film's antagonist, Leatherface, had to get his name from somewhere.
5 OPEN WATER
Loosely based on the story of Tom and Eileen Lonergan, Open Water is your shark nightmare come to life. In real life, Tom and Eileen went on a scuba trip near the Great Barrier Reef and were accidentally left behind. All that was found were their life vests. The reimagining of their story features actual live sharks, as opposed to mechanical ones used in films like Jaws.
6 THE AMITYVILLE HORROR
The Amityville Horror has people torn because, though it is said to be based on the real life paranormal experiences of George and Kathy Lutz and the house at 112 Ocean Avenue, a string of lawsuits have proven otherwise. Either way, no one is really jazzed to stay in the Dutch colonial home in Long Island.
7 THE CONJURING
Remember that time that George and Kathy Lutz lived in that terrible house in Amityville? Well, the people who investigated it are Ed and Lorraine Warren, and their story is captured in The Conjuring. I'm still not entirely sure why you'd want to go around chasing murder ghosts, but hey: It's turned into a whole franchise, so good for Ed and Lorraine.
8 THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS
It's he most critically successful horror movie of all time (and the only one to date to win Best Picture), but most people don't realize that Hannibal Lecter was based on a real surgeon in Mexico who murdered and hacked up his boyfriend. Yikes. Was he putting the lotion on the skin? Maybe not. But the real Hannibal Lecter doesn't seem like a much better guy than the fake one.
As you might have guessed, Dahmer is based off the story of Jeffrey Dahmer, the cannibal serial killer who had a bad habit of making his victims snacks later on. The real man was convicted on 15 counts of murder, totaling over 900 years of sentencing in jail. The film adds in some characters, but the story? Well, who needs to make anything up?
10 THE SHINING
You have to love The Shining, but it's the only one on the list that kind of breaks the rules. The film, based on the 1977 novel of the same name by Stephen King, was actually inspired by King's own stay in The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. He had a dream that night that his son was running through the corridors of the hotel. When he woke up, he collected himself, but by the time he was ready for bed again, he had the plan for his next horror.
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