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10 Horror Movies You Didn’t Know Were Based On True Stories

11 March 2013 | Features, Film Lists, Guest Posts | by David Zou

horror movie true story

Even though some people just can’t get enough of watching horror movies, the horror genre is always the first to jump on the bandwagon of any sort of marketing gimmick to get people in the movie theaters.

If there’s one thing more abundant in horror films than elaborate death scenes and gory details, it would be clichés. The one cliché that tops them all in terms of ridiculousness, however, is the simple tagline “Based on True Stories.” The number of horror films with this line plastered across the poster is astounding. It’s gotten to the point that Hollywood could get away with saying that because there were once dinosaurs, Jurassic Park is based on true stories.

So since I love true story horror movies I wanted to take a minute to share 10 horror movies that were really inspired by true stories and should be on all of your lists of films to watch.


10. The Strangers

The Strangers

The Movie: The home invasion thriller stars Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman as a couple who’s stalked and assaulted by weirdoes in masks and ultimately run through the bloody wringer during a romantic getaway at their summer home. They are terrorized, beaten, stabbed and killed by complete strangers with no motive aside from simply wanting to inflict harm on others. The attackers get away and are never caught.

The True Story: On the morning of April 12, 1981, 14-year old Sheila Sharp left a next-door sleepover and returned to Cabin 28 at the popular Keddie Resort, where her family had been living for the past two months. What she found there would cast a permanent shadow over this bucolic vacation spot in the northern Sierra Nevadas of California. The walls and furniture had been destroyed and were covered with blood. Amid the chaos were the bound, mutilated and nearly unrecognizable bodies of her mother Glenna Susan “Sue” Sharp, 36, her brother John, 16, and his friend Dana Wingate, 17. Her sister Tina, 13 was missing; three younger children, her two other brothers and their friend, were unharmed in another room. In a gruesome coda, Tina’s head was found three years later near a waterfall fifty miles down the hill. The case has never been solved.


9. Dead Ringers

dead ringers

The Movie: The tagline of the movie says it all: Love is the deadliest diseases of them all. But instead of romantic love this movie tackles the love between two brothers who acted like one, and the intruder that separated them. Dead Ringers tells the story of Beverly and Elliot Mantle (both played by Jeremy Irons), two identical whose life closely mirrored each other, from professional choices (they are both gynecologists), to sharing the same women. The extremely symbiotic relationship begins to shatter when a new patient, actress Claire Niveau, enters into their lives, bringing havoc.  As the tag-line reads, “Separation Can Be A Terrifying Thing”, with dire consequences for the two brothers.

The True Story: Sutton Terrace, the Uppers East Side apartment complex near Gracie’s Mansion, was built to house the city’s finest medical minds. But on July 19, 1975, apartment 10H at 450 East 63rd Street made front-page news when the decomposing, emaciated bodies of identical-twin gynecologists Stewart and Cyril Marcus were discovered. The 45-year-olds shared nearly everything: a thriving practice, teaching appointments at New York Hospital, a house in the Hamptons and a debilitating barbiturate addiction. “We cannot tell if they had wanted to stop, or simply had no strength to go get some more drugs,” said the medical examiner’s office, in ruling that the twins died of extreme withdrawal.

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  • Anno00001

    I hate to mention that ‘The Strangers’ is wrong – although it makes perfect sense as to why the murders were thought to be. The director even stated himself that it was because one night as a kid some strangers knocked on his door and all the houses around got robbed but their house didn’t. – that’s the production notes. Either way, good article; learned some new stuff.