What could be scarier to watch than paranormal movies based on true stories?! As soon as you see "based on a true story" come up in the beginning of a movie, your scare factor is immediately going to escalate. Normally there's always a little bit of safety you feel after watching something really scary because you know it's not real. However, in the case of these movies...you may be wrong! Here are 7 paranormal movies based on true stories to keep you up at night!
Table of contents:
- the amityville horror
- an american haunting
- the exorcism of emily rose
- the mothman prophecies
- the possession
- the shining
- audrey rose
- hard candy
- the haunting in connecticut
- shadow people
- the zodiac killer
- the possession
- from hell
1 The Amityville Horror
Let's start this list of paranormal movies based on true stories with one of the most popular "true" ghost films most of you may have already heard of. This story has been remade and rewritten many times into many different films, including sequels and even a 3D version! The most recent remake is the 2005 version starring Ryan Reynolds and Chloe Moretz. In both the movie and real life, the DeFeo family was murdered in the Amityville house by one of its own members. Later, the Lutz family moved into the same house and eventually fled in horror after experiencing paranormal activity. The movies are generally based around the book the Lutz family wrote afterwards. However, bits of the movie such as George Lutz chasing his family with a shotgun and Butch DeFeo blaming voices for his murders are both untrue. All the other strange events the Lutz family claim happened won't ever be proven real or not, but they sure do make a great movie!
2 An American Haunting
When this film came out, it was marketed as the only case in US history where a spirit caused the death of a man. The film was based on the Bell Witch hauntings that took place in the 1800s. The Bell family was living in a small town in Tennessee when they began experiencing poltergeist activity such as hearing knocking and scratching on the walls of their house. Slowly the activity began to grow more violent as the young Bell daughter was constantly slapped or pinched out of nowhere, strange bruises would appear, and other family members felt hair pulling or being kicked. Eventually, John Bell fell into a sickness and eventually died next to a black bottle that contained some type of poison. There are numerous theories about what the Bell family actually experienced and one of these are shown in the movie "An American Haunting." I don't want to tell you which theory is shown because I wouldn't want to ruin the movie for you!
3 The Exorcism of Emily Rose
"The Exorcism of Emily Rose" is a story based on the life of Anneliese Michel, a 17 year old student who was believed to be possessed by demons in the 1970s. The film revolves around a negligent homicide courtroom case involving the death of Emily Rose. The movie cuts to flashbacks of Emily Rose slowly slipping further and further into madness (or possession), shows tapes that were recorded during an attempted exorcism, and a bunch of other events that were said to have happened around the real life exorcism of Anneliese Michel. In real life, the case has been labeled as a misidentification of mental illness, negligence, abuse, and religious hysteria. However, the film works to leave this open ended for the audience to decide for themselves whether the possession was real or not.
4 The Mothman Prophecies
This film was based on the sightings of an enormous, moth-like creature said to be seen in Point Pleasant, West Virginia between 1966 and 1967. There were numerous reports from various people in the town who said they saw a moth-like creature flying around their area as well as other unexplained incidents. The "Mothman," as they began to call it, was later seen hovering over a bridge in the town called the Silver Bridge on several occasions. The bridge unexpectedly collapsed during rush hour traffic, killing as many as 46 people. Afterwards, the Mothman was never spotted again and the mystery remains.
5 The Possession
One of the most recent horror films, "The Possession" is said to be based on the unusual events surrounding the dibbuk box. The dibbuk box is a supposed Jewish haunted wine cabinet. The box became well known after being auctioned on eBay with an accompanying horror story and sold for $280. The buyer's story consists of breaking glass, horrified employees, shared nightmares, and even his mother having a stroke, all of which he blames on the box. The movie does not follow the story that was originally told but instead involves a young girl becoming possessed by this haunted box.
6 The Shining
Believe it or not, the movie "The Shining" was based on a real hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. It is called The Stanley Hotel and over the years, many people have reported witnessing paranormal activity in the hotel. The majority of sightings were reported in the large ballroom where kitchen workers at the hotel heard loud music, dancing, and conversation in the ballroom, only to find nothing. People have also heard the hotel's pianos playing at odd hours and also reported seeing a large number of apparitions. Author Stephen King and his wife decided to take a mini-vacation to the Stanley Hotel which prompted him to write "The Shining," which inevitably led to the film.
7 Audrey Rose
This film is the oldest of the list but is still pretty interesting when you look at the story it was based on. The movie centers around a family and their daughter, whom they believe is possessed by a ghost named Audrey Rose. The original book that the movie came from was written by Frank De Felitta. Frank's six-year-old son, who'd never taken piano lessons, began playing music perfectly on the family piano. After consulting a Los Angeles occultist, he was told that his son's talent was an "incarnation leak," explaining that the boy had lived many lifetimes.
This movie is based on the crimes of serial killer, Ed Gein. Apparently, he was raised by a devout and religious mother who instilled a hatred of women in him. In return, he dug up dead bodies and used them to as home decor. Once that gets boring, he begins a killing spree that is bloody and, as the movie title implies, deranged. The character in the movie takes things a bit further than Gein did, but this movie will definitely scare you big time.
9 Hard Candy
It might not sound scary but this movie will leave you seeing people in an entirely new way. The movie is based on the stories of Japanese girls who tempt businessmen into private locations, then torture, beat and rob them. In the movie, is after a young girl, who in turn captures him and tortures him. You wouldn't believe that a young girl would be capable of such violence, which is what makes the entire premise of this flick so very terrifying.
10 The Haunting in Connecticut
Here's a movie that will have you rethinking a possible move. In the flick, a family moves into a new home hoping that it will give their mentally ill son a fresh start. Instead, they soon learn that the house used to be a mortuary and that past residents (dead, of course) are still there. Talk about scary. The ghosts of the dead haunt the new homeowners. The movie is based on a real life family who bought a previous mortuary as their home and were subject to some very disturbing activity that got many paranormal researchers involved.
11 Shadow People
Imagine going to bed perfectly healthy and happy and never waking up. That's the premise of this movie, which is based on research from the 1970s surrounding a phenomenon called Sudden Unexplained Nocturnal Death Syndrome. Much like it sounds, it means death during sleep with no explainable cause. Well, many people came forward saying it was the work of shadow people who killed during sleep. Scared yet? In the movie, the shadow people are supposedly responsible for the disappearance of a number of people.
12 The Zodiac Killer
You've heard of him , right? He terrorized the residents of San Francisco during the 1960s and 1970s. Not only did this guy kill a bunch of people, but he bragged about in the press. He was proud of his crimes, which is enough to strike fear into the heart of anyone. The movie makes the old story about the Zodiac Killer even more terrifying. You'll get a closer look at his murders, his downright alarming mental health and how he got away and has thus far never been identified.
13 The Possession
This movie centers on a young girl you who discovers an old box at a thrift store. After bringing it home, her behavior takes a very scary turn, which her divorcing parents hope is a result of the upheaval in their lives. However, based on the story the flick is made from, the box was actually one whose previous owner was a evil spirit and that she became possessed by it after opening the box. In fact, there are many stories of such a think happening.
Most people have heard of Jeffrey Dahmer, a killer who killed nearly 20 men, dismembered them and stored their body parts in his freezer. He also engaged in cannibalism and necrophilia. Was he insane? That would be scary enough, but he was ruled sane, which makes his crime spree even scarier. The truly terrifying part? He blamed his actions on the divorce of his parents.
15 From Hell
No horror movie list would be complete without one that centers on Jack the Ripper. This one features Johnny Depp as the investigator on the case. The crimes of Jack the Ripper, who killed and mutilated the bodies of several women in London during the 1880s, has never been solved and the story strikes fear into everyone. After all, how could such heinous crimes occur without any clues as to who did them. Jack the Ripper is long dead, but his story still scares people all over the world.
The majority of movies that are based on true events don't depict what actually happened accurately. Many times, Hollywood gets involves and attempts to exaggerate or add to real stories in order to make them even better to audiences. So if you see a movie and are interested in the original story, I would definitely suggest doing some research to learn the truth behind it! What horror movies have you seen that were based on true events? Did this make them scarier to you?
This article was written in collaboration with editor Eliza Martinez.
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