Some horror movies that claimed to be based on real-life stories portrayed scenes that were too scary to be true. On the contrary, there were several real-life based horror films that have to be downplayed as the real-life scenes were too disturbing to be filmed for the public, thus their adaptations were not as thrilling as the real events.
Just last year, a horrifying film, “The Conjuring” was a box office hit grossing more than $300 million worldwide and have garnered positive reviews, making it one of the highest-grossing films of all time. After its huge success, rumors have been circulating that a sequel of the film has already been in the making.
The most horrifying of all true-story-based horror films is 1973 classic “The Exorcist”, which grossed more than $400 million in the 1970s, making it the world’s highest-grossing classic horror film next to “Jaws”.
10- THE CONJURING, 2013
The film was released in 2013, based from a true story of two paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, who investigated a 1970 Rhode Island farmhouse. The couple was contacted by the Perron family who had just moved into the house, and had experienced paranormal disturbance.
The entire film showcased scenes that were too scary to be true. Although many have questioned the accuracy of some chilling events in the film, it was still a huge box office hit grossing $318 million worldwide against its $20 million budget. The Conjuring is one of the highest-grossing horror films of all time.
9- THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT, 2009
The Haunting in Connecticut, is a 2009 psycho horror film based from the story of a family who moved into an old mortuary in the 1980′s. Some of the creepy events in the film were altered to appear as though not too scary for the audience. Some of the true intense scenes were too disturbing and have to be downplayed for a PG-13 rating.
This case was also investigated by famous paranormal experts Ed and Lorraine Warren. Lorraine would later say the actual case was “much, much scarier than any movie could ever be,” and that the film was “very, very loosely based” on their investigation of the house. The film grossed over $77 million worldwide.
8- THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, 1974
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a psycho thriller film that was released in 1974. The scenes portrayed were too violent that the film was banned in several countries. It follows the story of a group of friends who fall victim to a family of serial killers and cannibals.
The killer was nicknamed Leatherface who wore a mask made of human skin. Although its plot was entirely fictional; however the character of Leatherface and minor scenes were inspired by the murders of real-life killer Ed Gein. The film was a huge box office hit grossing more than $30 million compared to its $300,000 budget.
The popularity of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre led to a franchise that continued the story of Leatherface and his family through sequels, remakes, even video games, and comic books. The story of Ed Gein was also an inspiration for the films Silence of the Lambs and Psycho.
7- NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, 1984
New York Times included this film on The Best 1000 Movies Ever Made list of 2012. A Nightmare on Elm Street is about a disfigured serial killer who wore a glove with razor-sharp knives embedded in the fingers. The creepy bogeyman-like enters his victims dreams during the night to kill them.
The movie was said to be based on the unexplained deaths in the Southeast Asia, where many were dying in the middle of nightmares with no clear cause of death. The film was well-received grossing more than $26 million in the box office against a $1.8 million budget. A 2010 reboot to the film was released with the same title which grossed more than four times the original film.
6- THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, 2007
The film was based on the adaptation of Jack Ketchum’s novel of the same name, which depicted a real-life killing and torture of a 16-year old girl in Indiana in 1965. The film was based on real-life story of Sylvia Likens a daughter of travelling circus couple who was tortured to death by Gertrude Wright a.k.a Nadine Van Fossan, her children and other neighborhood kids.
Sylvia Likens died of a brain hemorrhage, shock and malnutrition after multiple beatings, burnings, and scalding baths. The case was considered “the single worst crime perpetrated against an individual in Indiana’s history”. The film was well-received, and was given a 67% rating by Rotten Tomatoes.
Famous modern horror novelist Stephen King claimed “the film is authentically comparable to the 1986’s Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.”
5- THE AMITYVILLE HORROR, 1979
The original film “The Amityville Horror” was released in 1979, it was a film based on a true story of the Lutz family and some disturbing visions and frightening paranormal events in their New York house. The movie was based on a book The Amityville Horror: A True Story documenting the experience of the Lutz family after they moved in a haunted house in Amityville, New York, where a mass murder had been committed the year before. The film grossed more than $86 million against a $4.7 million film budget.
4- JAWS, 1975
Steven Spielberg’s 1975 thriller film Jaws is based on Peter Benchley’s novel of the same name. The film tells a story of a police chief who was hunting a giant man-eating great white shark that was attacking beachgoers on Amity Island. The story was based on a string of real shark attacks on the Jersey Shore in 1916.
The film was a box office hit on its first-weekend release and recouped its production costs in two weeks. Jaws were the highest-grossing film of all time until Star Wars, which debuted two years later. It’s worldwide gross reached over $470 million against a $9 million budget.
3- EATEN ALIVE, 1977
The film Eaten Alive is an American horror film, that was released in 1977. It tells the story of a small town hotel owner who is a serial killer. The twist to this thriller film, is that the psycho killer Judd kills and feeds the bodies of his victims to a large pet crocodile named Nile. The film was based on a similar story of “The Alligator Man”. Joe Ball who operates a small inn in Elmendorf, Texas in the early 1900′s.
The alleged serial killer kept a pond with five alligators next to the Inn. Rumors claimed that Ball had killed more than 20 women including his wife and former girlfriend, and fed their remains to his alligators. Eaten Alive has received a negative response from critics and was tagged as one of the “video-nasties” by the British National Viewers’ and Listeners’ Association because of the film’s violent scenes.
2- THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE, 2005
The Exorcism of Emily Rose is a courtroom drama horror film released in 2005. The film follows the trial of Father Richard Moore who was charged with negligent homicide after a failed exorcism. Father Moore performed an exorcism ritual to Emily Rose, who was believed to be possessed by six demons.
The exorcism rites failed and Rose died. The film was based from the true story of Anneliese Michel, a German woman who underwent Catholic exorcism rites in 1975 and died the next year, due to dehydration and starvation after months of intense exorcism. The priests who initiated the exorcism and Michel’s parents were found guilty of manslaughter and inspired the church to reform exorcism policies.
“The Exorcism of Emily Rose” grossed more than $144 million worldwide against a $19 million budget. Jennifer Leann Carpenter who starred as Emily Rose took home several awards for the film including the 2006 MTV Movie Award for “Best Frightened Performance”.
1- THE EXORCIST, 1973
The 1973 supernatural horror film was an adaptation of the novel “The Exorcism” written by William Peter Blatty. The novel was inspired by the real-life story of Roland Doe, who was plagued with demonic possession in the late 1940s. The film adaptation tells the story of a 12 year old girl who was possessed by demons and her mother’s desperate attempts to get her child back, sought help from two priests who performed an exorcism.
The film was named the scariest film of all time by Entertainment Weekly and Movies.com. It was even placed at No. 2 in Channel 4’s The 100 Greatest Scary Moments in the United Kingdom. The film grossed more than $441 million against a $12 million production budget.