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Top 10 Horror Movies Inspired by True Events

Horror movies inspired by true events show us that the world is a pretty scary place after all.

Do you believe in the supernatural? Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 horror movies inspired by true events. 

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#10: “The Blob” (1958, 1988)

The Blob seems like one of the most unlikely movies to be based on true events, but truth is stranger than fiction! It’s based on the “star jelly” case in Pennsylvania, where four police officers found a dome-shaped blob of jelly that dissolved when they tried to pick it up. Turns out, star jelly is a jelly that supposedly lands on Earth during meteor showers. Whatever it is, it worked as the movie’s monster. 

#9: “The Entity” (1982)

This chilling movie about a women attacked by a poltergeist is based on the similar real-life events of Carla Moran. She was attacked again and again, each time more serious than the last. Moran’s real son even described an event where his arm was broken by the evil force. Eerily enough, during the film’s shooting, the actor playing her son also had his arm broken while shooting a similar scene. Just a coincidence, perhaps…

#8: “Jaws” (1975)

Jaws is in large part responsible for people’s fear of sharks; but the specific events of the movie mimic a particular shark attack in 1916. During a particularly gruesome 11 days, four people were killed and one was injured by sharks off the Jersey Shore. This incident was one of the most reported of its time, creating hysteria over the animal. The movie, on the other hand, was a critical and commercial success, winning three Oscars. 

#7: “The Amityville Horror” (1979)

In 1975, the real-life Lutz family bought the home of their dreams… the only problem was that a mass-murder had been committed there 13 months earlier. The family soon began to experience paranormal activity: they heard children’s voices, were unable to bless the house, and they even developed strange rituals themselves. Audiences flocked to see the big-screen adaptation of this spooky tale, and it was the highest grossing independently made movie of its time, spawning a series of films. 

#6: “The Hills Have Eyes” (1977, 2006)

Believe it or not, this movie about cannibals was based on Sawney Bean’s family, a group of cannibals in medieval Scotland. The tribe of 48 was believed to have killed and eaten over 1,000 people. It’s unknown how exaggerated their exploits were; but Wes Craven took their story and set it in modern Nevada. The movie is known for its references to other horror films and has become a cult classic in its own right. 

#5: “The Conjuring” (2013)

Ed and Lorraine Warren, a real life couple of paranormal investigators, devoted their time to solving the problems of those who believed paranormal forces were wreaking havoc in their lives. The couple investigated over 10,000 cases in their career and, in fact, they were the first to investigate the home of the Amityville murders. The film version of their lives was a smash success; haunting viewers from start to finish. 

#4: “The Girl Next Door” (2007)

Of all the films on our countdown, this is one you’d hope wasn’t true. Gertrude Baniszweski was meant to care for real-life Sylvia Likens and her sister while their parents travelled. But instead, Baniszweski tortured Sylvia, even enlisting the neighborhood kids to abuse her, before she finally killed the young girl. The story was loosely adapted into The Girl Next Door, and while some details may’ve changed, the movie still polarized critics with its shock value. 

#3: “The Mothman Prophecies” (2002)

This movie boldly states that it’s based on events dating from November 1966 through December 1967 in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Townspeople claimed to see a mythical “mothman,” a winged prophetic animal that appears before disaster. In the real-life account, the mothman appeared before a bridge collapse that killed 46 people, among other events in the town. The film was met with mixed reviews; but whether it’s real or not, it’s a pretty unusual story. 

#2: “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974)

Perhaps the most prolific serial killer of all time, Ed Gein was the inspiration for this—and many other—films. A serial killer who snatched bodies, murdered, and even played with his victim’s parts, Gein prompted the creation not only of Leatherface but also Norman Bates of Psycho and Buffalo Bill of The Silence of the Lambs. But this movie stands out as one of the greatest horror films ever, spurring countless re-makes and sequels.

Before we unveil our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

  • Dead Ringers (1988)
  • The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)
  • The Strangers (2008)
  • Wolf Creek (2005) 

#1: “The Exorcist” (1973)

Based on the case of Roland Doe, a Maryland boy who was exorcized in 1949, this movie was a cultural phenomenon. Though Doe wasn’t quite as animated as Regan in the movie, he did have bouts of violence and telekinesis that required the aid of a Catholic priest. Not only that, The Exorcist was known for strange on-set occurrences that led some to say the film was cursed—lending even more credence to its creepy legacy.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite horror movie based on a true story? For more spine-tingling top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.

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