LIfe TV & Film

The True Stories Behind 13 Of The Scariest Horror Films

18 October 2019

The reason why the horror genre loves to throw in the ‘based on true events’ line at the beginning of movies is to hook us in like bait and terrify us even more. It makes the nightmares so much worse and makes feel like our lives are over the next time we’re alone and hear a creepy sound. These are the movies that’ll make you think twice about leaving your blinds open and not locking the doors at night.

So, read on if you dare…

The Conjuring, 2013 

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The Conjuring was met with critical acclaim when it was released. Based on Ed Warren, a demonologist and Lorraine Warren, a clairvoyant who investigate terrifying hauntings in the home of the Perron family. All the characters are based on real people and the real Lorraine Warren even consulted with the cast during filming. The real Perron sisters also provided their own personal accounts during the filming process. It was believed they were tormented by previous inhabitants of the house. The scariest spirit depicted in the film is 100% Bathsheba, who tormented every mother figure of the families that moved in. 

The Exorcism of Emily Rose, 2005

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This movie is based on the real investigation of Anneliese Michel, who died in 1976 after enduring more than 67 exorcisms. It’s now been concluded through medical research that Anneliese was not possessed but suffered from epilepsy and schizophrenia. However, due to her unusual behaviours like eating spiders and biting the heads off birds, her parents believed she was possessed. In 1978, four people were found guilty of negligent homicide, including her parents, the priest and pastor. 

The Amityville Horror, 2005 

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In 1974, Ronald DeFeo murdered his family in their sleep. He claimed that he was hearing voices in the house telling him to do it. After the murders, the house sold for a low price to George and Kathy Lutz who lasted only 28 days in their new Amityville home. They reported that slime would come out of the walls and knives would throw themselves across the room. George apparently even saw his wife levitating. Everyone was sceptical about their story (naturally) but both of them passed a lie detector test. 

The Haunting In Connecticut, 2009 

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The Snedeker family moved into this Connecticut house in 1986 and claimed that they were terrorised by ghosts. To rid their house of these spirits, they contacted none other than Ed and Lorraine Warren. However, even they admitted that they couldn’t find any evidence that the house was haunted. 

The Sacrament, 2013 

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In 1978 (side note why TF did everything happen in ’78), over 900 members of a religious cult, Jonestown committed mass suicide. The saying ‘drinking the kool-aid’, comes from this tragedy as they were all poisoned by consuming this grape flavoured drink laced with cyanide.

Veronica, 2017 

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A Netflix movie so scary that most people can’t watch it to the end. The story is about Estefania Gutierrez, who died a few months after performing a seance in her school. While in the middle of the seance, a teacher interrupted and broke the Ouija board that was used. Afterwards, she suffered from seizures and hallucinations before dying in 1991. The credits of the film include real-life police reports by her parents who, after her death believed their house was haunted. 

The Strangers, 2008

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Director Bryan Bertino took inspiration from something he experienced as a child. One night when his parents were away, someone knocked on the door and his little sister answered. They were asking if someone who didn’t live there was home. Later, they found out that if no one was home, these people would break into the houses. In the movie, the character played by Liv Tyler asks one of the masked figures why they’ve been terrorising her. They answer, ‘because you were home’. 

Zodiac, 2007 

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There have been many movies and TV show specials about the Zodiac Killer. During the late 60s and 70s, this serial killer terrorised the city of San Francisco. The scary part about all of this is that it remains America’s most infamous unsolved crimes. Get ready to be super freaked out and then terrified that the killer might still be out there.

Wolf Creek, 2005 

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This Australian horror flick was inspired by Ivan Milat. In 1996, he was convicted of seven murders and is currently still serving time in a high-security prison. The opening sequence of the movie is enough to make your skin crawl. One you see the words, “30 000 people in Australia are reported missing every year, 90% are found within a month. Many are never seen again” you’ll cancel your road trip plans.

Annabelle, 2014 

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A spin-off from The Conjuring franchise, Annabelle focuses again on the famous paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. In 1970, a woman called Donna received Annabelle as a present from her mother but when she took the doll home something was not right. Apparently, the doll would move by itself and leave messages around the apartment. You can see the doll that inspired the story at The Warren’s museum. She’s locked in a glass case and supposedly people who have mocked her all experience fatal or nearly fatal accidents when they leave. 

Deliver Us From Evil, 2014 

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The movie is about NYPD detective Ralph Sarchie who comes face to face with the supernatural realm when he investigates New York residents who are possessed. Assisting in more than 25 exorcisms in, the movie is based on his memoir Beware The Night published in 2001. 

When A Stranger Calls, 2006

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Inspired by the unsolved murder of Jannet Christman and the urban legend of The Babysitter and The Man Upstairs, this movie will make you give up that babysitting side hustle. After repeat freaky phone calls, a babysitter calls the police. When they trace the call a bombshell drops. The calls are coming from inside the house! Super scary right?! While there’s no evidence that the killer phoned Jannet Christman, she was found dead in a Missouri home after skipping a party to babysit.  

The Girl Next Door, 2007 

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This movie is based on the true story of Sylvia Likens, a girl who was brutally tortured and mutilated. Sylvia died of shock, malnutrition and a brain hemorrhage. Gertrude even got her own children and some neighbourhood friends to join in on the torture which is difficult to comprehend that someone could be so cruel and manipulative. She got out of prison after serving only 20 years even though she received a life sentence.

Spooky stories by Tamara Bose