10 Horror Movie Scenes That Are Based on True Stories

When watching horror movies, we may gently tell ourselves “it isn’t real” so we can get some sleep at night. However, some movie scenes depict real-life horrors everyday people have experienced. If you are brave enough, below are 10 horror movies with scenes that are based on true stories.

1. The Strangers

The Strangers is a combination of four terrifying real-life stories. Director Bryan Bertino added a scene that he recalled in his own life. In the movie, someone knocks on the door asking for “Tamara” who does not live there. One night when Bertino was home alone, this happened to him and left him with an eerie feeling that stayed with him. The scenes with the graphic stabbings were inspired by the Manson murders, specifically the murder of Sharon Tate.

2. The Exorcist

Roland Doe was the inspiration for the famous movie, The Exorcist. There are many scenes where Reagan, a 12-year-old girl, goes through similar terrifying situations that Roland Doe did. As shown in the movie, during Roland’s exorcism, the mattress would shake violently and scratches would appear on his body. He would also randomly speak in an eerie, guttural voice.

3. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Although the scenes in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre were loosely based on real events, there are some ties to Ed Gein’s murders. As in the movie, Ed Gein would also create a mask made out of his victim’s scalps and faces. Inside the house in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, you see some furniture made out of body parts, much like what was found in Ed Gein’s house.

4. The Amityville Horror

Much of what we see in The Amityville Horror depicts what happened in the real DeFeo family house. Ronald DeFeo shot and murdered his entire family while they slept, claiming that demonic voices in his head urged him. Although Lutz is seen wielding an ax in the movie, in both the movie and in the DeFeo house, the family members are murdered in their beds, face down.

5. The Exorcism of Emily Rose

In Germany, a young woman named Anneliese Michel would experience disturbing events that would inspire The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Both the character Emily Rose and Annelise Michel would experience convulsions and hallucinations. As a result of failed exorcisms, Annelise Michel died, much like the character, Emily Rose.

6. Zodiac

One of the most chilling scenes we see in Zodiac depicts a couple out by a lake enjoying a picnic. The Zodiac Killer approaches them and attempts to murder them both, though the boyfriend survives. Even more frightening, this scene is based on the real-life victims, David Faraday and Betty Lou Jensen. Additionally, murder suspect Arthur Lee Allen is featured in the movie wearing a watch containing the Zodiac symbol.

7. The Fourth Kind

The Fourth Kind may be one of the most terrifying alien abduction movies, especially considering it is based on real events. In Nome, Alaska, multiple people would go suddenly missing, never to be found. While in real life, they don’t suspect alien abductions, in both the movie and in Nome, law enforcement is baffled by these strange disappearances.

8. The Silence of the Lambs

Buffalo Bill isn’t just a movie character, he is based on the real-life serial killer, Gary Heidnik. Both Buffalo Bill and Gary Heidnik would capture women and torture their victims. One of the most famous scenes in The Silence of the Lambs depicts a victim trapped in a hole as Buffalo Bill says “It rubs the lotion on its skin or it gets the hose again.” Heidnik himself had a cellar of terror where he would keep his victims, much like in the movie.

9. Psycho

As with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Psycho also draws inspiration from the infamous Ed Gein. Director Alfred Hitchcock read that psychologists theorized that Gein would dress as a woman because of his obsession with his mother. Gein also created a shrine of his mother after her death. Like Gein, Norman also had an overbearing mother that he would end up obsessing over, even making a similar shrine.

10. The Birds

The Birds is a movie from the ’60s that replicates the true horror a town in California experienced as a mass of birds attacked. A couple of years prior to the movie production, flocks of birds were flying around disoriented making crash landings and flying haphazardly into buildings, much like what would be depicted in the film. At the time, nobody knew why the birds were acting so mysteriously. Now, the mystery has been solved. In California, the birds seemingly went insane at the same time due to ingesting toxic algae.

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