Horror Movies Based on True Stories


Some of the scariest movies are the horror movies based on true stories. With fiction, you can assure yourself that what happened on the screen could "never" happen in real life. However, with a movie that takes its basic plot from an actual event, it's harder to comfort yourself in that way.

Horror Movies Based on True Stories: Summaries

Texas Chainsaw Massacre

There are two versions of this movie. The original was released in 1974 and the remake was released in 2003. In the original, a group of teenagers on their way to visit their grandfather's grave run into a hitchhiker who has a knife he's too eager to use, then stumble across a family of cannibals. The teens are murdered one by one until only one is left. She tries to escape Leatherface, one of the psychotic cannibals, and his chainsaw. A few details are changed in the newer movie. For example, the hitchhiker is female and shoots herself in the van, and the teens are on their way to a Lynyrd Skynrd concert, not on a visit to a grave.

The story was one of several based on Wisconsin killer, Ed Gein, who murdered two women and dug up corpses of several others who reminded him of his mom in order to create a "woman suit." He was arrested in 1957 and spent the rest of his days in a mental institution.

The Girl Next Door

This is a 2007 film based on a Jack Ketchum novel by the same name. Sixteen-year-old Megan and her 10-year-old sister move in with divorcee Ruth Chandler after they're orphaned. Ruth has three boys and her house is a popular hangout because Ruth will let them drink beer and talk inappropriately with them. One day the three boys tickle and grope Megan, so Megan punches one and gets away. Ruth sides with the boys and maliciously punishes Megan's little sister in her place, which Megan makes it back in time to witness. Megan tries to alert the cops to the incident, but Ruth finds out and creates a twisted, torturous scenario in order to quiet Megan. Some of the friends who stay over at the house often do try to help, but their attempts are too small until the end; Megan eventually dies.

This movie was based on the story of Indiana girl, Sylvia Likens. She was tortured and killed in 1965.


Zodiac was released in 2007 and is inspired by the 1970s Zodiac Killer. It tells the story of two men, cartoonist Robert Graysmith and reporter Paul Avery, who become so obsessed with the Zodiac Killer with the help of his letters and cryptic messages that it takes over their lives.


This 2007 movie was based loosely on the story of Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo, the leader of a cult that conducted human sacrifices and took the life of a University of Texas student in 1989. The movie tells the story of three college students who take a trip to Mexico but are taken captive by drug-smuggling members of a religious cult who need to make a human sacrifice.

Additional True Story Horror Movies

There are dozens of horror movies out there based on true stories, though how much the events in the films follow the true events will vary from movie to movie. In the case of Wolf Creek, the story started out as fiction, but when the writer, Greg McLean, found out about a similar story in real life, he edited the events in his own screenplay to reflect the ones that really happened.

  • An American Crime (2007)
  • An American Haunting (2005)
  • Audrey Rose (1977)
  • Dahmer (2002)
  • Deranged (1974)
  • From Hell (2001)
  • Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)
  • Hillside Strangler (2004)
  • Jaws (1975)
  • Psycho (1960)
  • Nightstalker (2002)
  • Open Waters (2004)
  • Primeval (2007)
  • See No Evil: The Moors Murders (2006)
  • The Amityville Horror (1975 and 2005)
  • The Entity (1981)
  • The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)
  • The Haunting in Connecticut (2009)
  • The Mothman Prophecies (2002)
  • Wolf Creek (2005)

Final Thoughts

There are plenty of horror movies based on true stories out there, and there's something for almost every horror fan. It doesn't matter whether you prefer tales of otherworldly creatures or stories of serial killers. Search through horror movie facts to find the true stories behind the films if you're interested. Don't wait for Halloween to scare yourself silly with a scary movie marathon; there are enough to keep you busy year-round.

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Horror Movies Based on True Stories