When a writer writes a story, they derive the inspiration from the personal experiences or real life events, incidents about which they have heard in the news or read in the newspaper. And when it comes to writing horror stories, making horror movies, these screenwriters can take inspiration from real life sources and make a very powerful and terrifying script which will scare the viewers. 

So next time when you see your favorite horror icons like Leatherface, the serial killer Freddy Krueger, just remember they aren’t just a figment of writer’s imagination, their creation is based on some terrifying real facts.

So let’s take a look at 10 Scary & Disturbing Horror Movies That Are Based On True Stories!

10. Nightmare on Elm Street

 Nightmare on Elm Street

Suspected pedophile Freddy Krueger is burned alive by the parents of his supposed victims. After his death he haunts the children and parents alike and takes his vengeance on them. He finds his victim while they sleep and murders them in their dreams obviously no nightmare murder existed. 

However, Wes Craven was inspired to write the story after reading in the LA Times the detailed deaths of Cambodians in their sleep! The paper featured three articles on three different deaths, but never connected the stories together. One death in particular grabbed Cravens interest about a man who was petrified of falling asleep when he finally did, days later he died for unexplained reasons.

9. The Mothman Prophecies

 The Mothman Prophecies

This film details the fictionalized encounter with the legendary Mothman creature. It appears to be a winged human and is said to foretell ominous events. This story is far from fiction, The Legend of the Mothman is alive and well in the eastern US.

 Many people have encountered this creature going back as far as 1966 when two young couples told police they saw a large white creature whose eyes glowed red when the car headlights picked it up. They described it as a large flying man with 10 foot wings following their car one they were driving. 

After the 1967 December collapse of the Silver Bridge and the death of 46 people, it gave rise to the legend and connected the Mothman sightings to the bridge clamps. People still claimed to see the Mothman every now and then.

8. The Hills Have Eyes

The Hills Have Eyes 

A car breaks down and a family’s left stranded in a desolate area of California that is not intended to be traveled on.. What they encounter it’s a group of cannibalistic savages who are looking for something to eat. While the true story dates back to the 16 century Scotland, it is still terrifying. 

Alexander Bean was the leader of a group of 48 cave dwellers who got their food by trapping, killing, and eating humans. Over 1000 people are estimated to have been killed and eaten in the 24 years this group was active.

7. Jaws


A massive great white shark terrorizes the small island town of Amity Maine. So the new chief of police, a scientist and a local fisherman team up in order to hunt down the man eating monster and stop the attacks. All the size of the shark is exaggerated. During 1966 there was a string of shark attacks along the New Jersey coast line that inspired the story of Jaws. The hysteria ended when the fishermen caught the shark which added to the legend of Jaws.

6. The Conjuring

The Conjuring 

Unknowingly a family moves to a new home with the mysterious past. After experiencing strange and dangerous paranormal events they invite paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren into their home to help get rid of the evil entity.

 The movie stays early close to the real life story of the event the real paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine did enter an old farm house owned by Roger and Carolyn Perron and the five daughters who were allegedly terrified and even possessed by spirits.

 After investigating their home Ed and Lorraine Warren declared that it was indeed haunted by witch named Bathsheba Sharon. Apparently the spirit had lived there in the 19 century and tormented the family for the length of their residence.

5. An American Haunting

An American Haunting    

John Bell is cursed by notorious witch Kate Batts. After a dispute over land, the witch sets loose an entity that begins the terrorize his daughter. This film is based on the 1995 novel “The Bell Witch” which is an American haunting by Brent Monahan. The Bell witch is a Portuguese legend from Southern folklore centered on the 19th century Bell family of Adams, Tennessee. The Bell family were apparently under attack by which during they claimed that the Portuguese name was Kate and that she regularly curses at the family out loud. The cursed Bell family also often heard scratching noises outside their door after Bell found a half dog half rabid creature.

4. The Exorcism of Emily Rose

The Exorcism of Emily Rose 

Emily Rose is possessed by an evil spirit and dies during an exorcism. The priests who perform the exorcism is in put on trial for murder as no one truly believed the girl was possessed.

 The movie is based on the 1960-70’s attempts to remove demons from a German girl named Anneliese Michel. After endurance 67 rites of exorcism Anneliese died of pneumonia and malnourishment, but skeptics claimed there was no possession and the priests as well as her parents were charged with negligent homicide and sentenced to six months in prison.

3. Psycho


A woman steals a sizeable amount of money from her boss and goes on the run. She stops in a remote hotel only to be greeted by creepy inn keeper who runs the motel with his dead mother. The story spirals into a murderous and deeply deranged tale as the audience discovers the truth behind the motel. 

Norman Bates was only one of a few characters based on the real world psycho Ed Gein. He was a murderer and grave robber. and collected human skin from his victims. Out of this he made masks, belts and furniture coverings. 

Novelist Robert Bloch changed this character to create Norman Bates, but other writers picked up where he left off. Leatherface from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs were also based on Ed Gein.

2. The Exorcist

The Exorcist 

A young girl possessed by the devil and two Catholic priests attempt to rid her of a demonic infestation. The author of “The Exorcist” William Peter Blatty based his book on an 1949 article that detailed the exorcism of a young unnamed boy. This was an official sanctioned exorcism and it followed the priests who were charged with the task. Much like in the film, the boy was said to speak in tongues, hovering inexplicably and move things with his mind.

1. Fire In The Sky

Fire In The Sky 

An Arizona logger mysteriously disappears for five days in an alleged encounter with a flying saucer in 1975. This terrifying UFO abduction is based on real life events. While working with the logging crew in the Apache-Sitegreaves National Forest in Arizona, logger Travis Walton claims he was abducted by UFO in November 5th. 

While warden was missing his crew were interrogated by police to whom they claimed they saw a hovering UFO craft that eventually abducted Travis Walton. 

Walton reappeared naked beside a highway after five days searched and claimed the awoken in a hospital like room been observed by three short bald creatures. They eventually let him go, the Walton case received mainstream publicity and remains one of the best known alleged alien abduction stories.


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