10 True Stories Behind Famous Horror Movies

Horror movies are so much scarier when they are based on a true story.

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Arrow Films

It’s been a practice in horror movies for a long time to slap the phrase “Based On A True Story” on the poster or in the trailer in the hopes it will generate extra buzz for a release because, after all, what’s scarier than something that actually happened?

Admittedly, some films use the phrase rather loosely, with some taking only a single element to include in their movie. A classic example of this is The Texas Chain Saw Massacre claiming to be based on a true story, although the film only takes one facet from its inspiration - Ed Gein, the Butcher of Plainfield having inspired certain elements of Tobe Hooper's iconic 1974 picture.

On the other side of this, there are other movies that found their inspiration in real world events but aren’t as keen on portraying that fact. Even so, there’s still an undeniable aura to movies which can claim to be based in true events.

In this article, we’ll explore ten true stories that have served as the inspiration behind popular horror movies - from spooky haunts, to real world criminals whose insanity is beyond belief.

There’s a spoiler warning for the films below as well as a content warning for some of these entries. You have been warned.

10. The Amityville Horror

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You know this story, and it is the quintessential haunted house tale.

A family move into a house that’s beyond their affordability, they got a cheap deal because the house has a dark past. In this case, the murder of an entire family by eldest son Ronnie DeFeo Jr.

That’s pretty much exactly what happened to George and Kathy Lutz, as well as Kathy’s children, when they moved into 112 Ocean Avenue, a house that would become infamous around the world.

The Lutz family lasted 28 days in their dream house, during which they heard strange bangs and scrapings, found it impossible to heat the house, and felt besieged by something strange. A catholic priest came to bless the house but fled in terror, claiming to have heard a demonic voice telling him to get out. George became irritable, short-tempered and even downright nasty – all apparently out of character for him. George and Kathy refused to ever tell the story of what happened on their last night in the house, but heavy speculation has it that George was driven to hurt the family in some way. Whatever happened, the family chose to flee, leaving behind all of their possessions and never returning for them.

The story exploded into nationwide attention following the publication of The Amityville Horror. Shortly afterwards, the movie of the same name was released.

Over the years, the story has altered slightly - many believe that the whole thing was a hoax, whilst others swallow it whole-heartedly - and, in the later years of their lives, George and Kathy were more open and, whilst they always maintained that the haunting did happen, they felt the media had exaggerated the events for entertainment purposes.


I'm Jamie, I am a writer and filmmaker based in Essex, UK. My key interests are in film and TV, particularly horror and comedy. I've published several short stories and hoping to publish a novel soon. Specialist subjects include Resident Evil, horror movies and Doctor Who.