Staying in this Halloween and watching horror movies? Maybe you want to double check the doors are locked and you don’t have any creepy dolls lying around. Here are ten horror films and the scary, real-life events that inspired them.
1.The Hills Have Eyes (1977; 2006)
General Plot: During a road trip, a family gets stranded in a place where government testing used to take place. They think they’re alone, but quickly realize there is a mutant family watching and waiting to murder them.
The True Story: According to Wes Craven himself (the writer and director of the original), this movie was inspired by Sawney Bean, the leader of a 48-member clan between the 13th and 16th centuries Scotland who murdered and cannibalized over 1,000 people. Historians argue over whether this man existed, but as a figure, he has been passed down in folklore for centuries.
2.The Blob (1958; 1988)
General Plot: Simply put, this film is about, well, a blob that crashes into the earth from space. It consumes everything in its path, growing larger and larger with every victim.
The True Story: In 1950, in Philadelphia, policemen reported a mass falling to earth. They described it as a “purple jelly” that pulsated and glowed. According to some sources, this can be described as “star jelly”—blobs of the stuff are carried to earth via meteorites. People argue whether this is real, but it’s been reported for over 700 years, so maybe not a legend?
3. Annabelle (2014)
General Plot: Part of The Conjuring series, Annabelle is the story of a haunted doll who wreaks havoc on the family it belongs to.
The True Story: Tales of haunted dolls are not uncommon, but Annabelle is a specific case. In reality, Annabelle was a Raggedy Ann doll a woman got for her mother in 1970. At first, it was just your average doll, but as time passed, they realized it would change positions from the last time they’d seen it, and then it would move into entirely different rooms by itself. One night the daughter came home to see the doll on her bed with blood on its hands and that’s when they called a medium. Annabelle Higgins had been a little girl allegedly killed in the place where their apartment now stood, and she had attached herself to the doll. But that didn’t explain the blood, the eerie feeling they got whenever they were around the doll. Claw marks started appearing on one of the girl’s friends, who openly disliked the doll, then healed almost as quickly as they were etched into the skin. Finally, Ed and Lorraine Warren (famed demonologists) stepped in. Eventually, the Warrens were given the doll and it now resides in a locked case in their Occult Museum.
4. Child’s Play (1988)
General Plot: This film is about the infamous Chucky doll. A widowed mother buys one, unaware that is possessed by a serial killer.
The True Story: This is another instance of a haunted doll (see, told you it was common). Like Annabelle, Chucky is based on another famous doll named Robert the Doll. He was made out of wire, cloth, and straw, and supposedly given to the artist Gene Otto in 1906. Another thing about the doll: it was given to Gene by one of his servants and apparently contained his own hair. Gene’s other toys were destroyed when no one else but Robert was around. Neighbors saw the doll watching from windows when no one was home. People reported it laughing at them, blinking, and changing expressions. In 1974, Gene died and the house and Robert were sold. It resided briefly with a family who had a ten-year-old daughter, whose other dolls turned up destroyed. She also claimed he tried to attack her more than once. Currently, Robert is in the Fort East Martello Museum in Key West, where you must as his permission for a photo. The museum also houses letters apologizing to Robert from those who do not ask.
5. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
General Plot: A young couple moves into a new apartment with strange neighbors. The woman becomes pregnant with very abnormal symptoms, and she soon realizes her neighbors are part of a coven that wants her baby for their own.
The True Story: This story was first a book by Ira Levin, but there are rumors it was based on the legend of the Devil Baby of Hull House. Supposedly, as the story goes, a Catholic woman hung a picture of the Virgin Mary and her atheist husband tore it down, saying he would rather have a devil child than it hanging in their house. When they did have their first child, it was said it was born with pointed ears, horns, and a tail. Not knowing what else to do, the parents took the baby to Hull House where they tried to baptize it to no avail and it was locked in the attic until its death. This report is largely denied, but it does make one wonder what parts could be true.
6. The Mothman Prophecies (2002)
General Plot: A reporter goes to West Virginia to investigate strange events and reports of a mysterious entity.
The True Story: The story of Mothman takes place between November 12, 1966, and December 15, 1967, in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. The first sighting was by five men digging a grave at the cemetery who saw a man-like figure flying from the trees. After that, on November 15, there were two reports from couples who saw a “large flying man” with red glowing eyes. Then the sightings started coming in droves from all over the town. Others experienced strange symptoms after Mothman sightings such as buzzing in their ears, rashes, swollen eyes, along with knocking on the walls of their homes with no discernible cause. This all culminated in the collapse of the Silver Bridge in December. 46 people died and many reported that they had seen the Mothman on the bridge just before the incident. After which, he wasn’t seen again.
7. The Serpent and The Rainbow (1998)
General Plot: An anthropologist travels to Haiti to study a drug used in black magic that turns people into zombies.
The True Story: In 1962, a man found himself sick and was soon pronounced dead, but he was fully conscious of his “death”, witnessing his grieving family and friends at his own funeral. Later, he awoke, sedated, in his own coffin. It was later discovered that the man’s brother, with the help of a Voodoo Shaman, gave the man “zombie powder”. This rendered the man defenseless, unable to move, but aware of everything around him while he appeared dead. The man was then “exhumed” by the shaman and made to drink “Datura Stramonium”, which made him zombie-like as he was forced to work in sugarcane fields. The man finally fled after two years of this torture.
8. Audrey Rose (1977)
General Plot: A young girl is believed to be the reincarnation of a stranger’s dead daughter.
The True Story: It isn’t hard to figure out that this particular story comes from the idea of reincarnation, but is there more to it? The author of the novel and screenplay the movie was based on (Frank De Felitta) supposedly took very eerie inspiration from his life. He and his wife were on the porch when they suddenly heard piano music coming from inside, where they six-year-old son was. Only one thing: he didn’t know how to play piano and had never done so before. When asked how he was playing so well, the son said: “my fingers are doing it”. After the event, the father talked to a medium, who said his son was displaying talents from a previous life.
9.The Possession (2012)
General Plot: An antique box is purchased at a yard sale and the little girl who owns it becomes possessed by an evil spirit who dwells within.
The True Story: In 2004, this box was very real to John Haxton, who bought it on eBay for $280. Inside, he found “two locks of hair, one granite slab, one dried rosebud, one goblet, two wheat pennies, and one candlestick”. It had been listed as a Dybbuk Box, and in its description, it was said that it had plagued all its previous owners with bad luck and paranormal experiences. Among these experiences were swarms of insects, the owner’s hair falling out, recurring nightmares of an old hag when they hadn’t had them before, and now, the new owner, John, said as soon as he laid hands on the box a bad feeling overcame him. He had the box resealed and hid it in a secret location, but now it resides in Zak Bagan’s (Ghost Adventures) museum.
10.The Blair Witch Project (1999)
General Plot: Film students go into the forests of Maryland to film a documentary about the Blair Witch legend; only their footage remains.
The True Story: This comes from a story known as the legend of the Bell Witch. From 1817-1821, a Tennessee farmer and his family (the Bells) were tormented by a poltergeist later come to be known as “Kate”. After seeing a ghostly dog carrying the head of a rabbit, the farmer, and his family experienced sounds of scratching and lips smacking, and sheets were pulled off beds. It particularly attached itself to the youngest daughter Betsy. No one knows for sure if these events were the cause of actual paranormal phenomena or if the family was afflicted with some sort of hysteria, but no matter the case the Bell Witch was a terrifying figure throughout the small town.