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Scare Your Pants Off: 5 Horror Films You Never Knew Were Based On Real Life Events

June 26th, 2016 by Cassie Comments


Everyone loves a great horror film now and then and even more so when the film is based on real life events! When you’re looking for a fright, there’s nothing better than a horror flick that’s based on facts instead of fiction. It just wouldn’t be a horror movie without the thrill, right?

Of course, these movies do tend to have theatrical additions to their storylines, but the thought of there being any truth to them is enough to leave some viewers visibly shaken. It’s not uncommon for a horror flick to be based on or inspired by serial killer Ed Gein (there have been many!), but what about the films that weren’t so obviously based on real life events?

Not all of them make it apparent by captioning the beginning of the movie with “based on a true story,” and a lot of them can be somewhat unbelievable anyways. But if you’re ready to scare your pants off and leave fictitious cheesy thrillers in the past, here are five horror films you never knew were based off real-life events.

1.    The Dentist (1996)

As if going to the dentist couldn’t be frightening enough, “The Dentist” gives you a preview of your fears come to life on the big screen. Inspired by serial killer Glennon Engleman, who also happened to be a dentist, this movie is really what nightmares are made of.

The film takes you into the life of a successful dentist by the name of Dr. Alan Feinstone (Corbin Bernsen) who begins to lose his mind after discovering his wife’s infidelities the day of their anniversary. As he begins to hallucinate, things quickly take a turn for the worse, eventually landing him in a psychiatric hospital. The fun doesn’t end there though, as a sequel was released in 1998.

2.    The Mothman Prophecies (2002)

If you love a great mystery, “The Mothman Prophecies” might interest you. Based on reported sightings of an unidentified creature in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, “The Mothman Prophecies” follows a reporter (John Klein) who goes on a quest for answers after his wife mentions seeing a moth-like creature shortly before her passing from a car accident. John (played by Richard Gere) remained unharmed from the incident, but his wife’s encounter never left his mind.

Two years after the accident, John travels to West Virginia after realizing there may be a link between his wife’s death and the town of Point Pleasant. Upon speaking with the locals, John quickly discovers that there have been multiple sightings of the “mothman” in Point Pleasant, many occurring shortly before tragedy strikes. Overall, “The Mothman Prophecies” is a must see for those who take an interest in cryptozoology and enjoy a good thriller.

3.    The Rite (2011)

Many people have heard of exorcists before, but it’s uncommon to actually find one and perhaps even more uncommon to hear about how someone becomes an exorcist in the first place. Although there are of course some theatrical additions to the story, “The Rite” gives you a look into the life and training of an exorcist. Based on a book that was written about Father Gary Thomas, the film takes you to Italy where a seminary student named Michael Kovak (Colin O’Donoghue) travels after being encouraged to take a course in exorcism.

Already questioning his faith before leaving to Italy, Michael skeptically approaches a case with his mentor, Father Lucas. Despite witnessing preternatural events, Michael remains skeptical, but when his mentor begins showing signs of possession, he may be the only hope.

4.    The Exorcist (1973)

For those lucky enough to be able to see “The Exorcist” as it premiered on the big screen, a complimentary barf bag was included with each ticket. It was by far the scariest movie of its time and so much so that people even passed out during it. Still frightening people to this day, it has set the stage for nearly all of the exorcism movies that were produced thereafter.

The film was based on a novel by William Peter Blatty, which was inspired by the exorcism of an anonymous boy (documented under the pseudonym “Roland Doe”) in St Louis, MO. Roland Doe was reportedly possessed after playing with an Ouija board in the late 1940s. The home that one of the exorcisms was performed in still stands today in Missouri and was investigated by the popular “Ghost Adventures” team back in 2013.

The film follows a similar story but instead it’s a 12-year-old girl who begins exhibiting absurd behavior shortly after using an Ouija board. Luckily, a priest steps in, but this battle won’t be won without a fight!

5.    The Possession (2012)

Though there have been plenty of movies made about possession in the last five years, this one is worth the watch. This film focuses on a young girl who buys an antique box at a yard sale. Shortly afterward, her father (Clyde, played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan) notices that she is becoming obsessed with the box, and her behavior is changing.

Unfortunately, his ex-wife doesn’t take notice of their daughter’s change in behavior and decides to get a restraining order on Clyde instead, leaving him on his own to seek out help from a professor who can identify the box. It turns out the box contains a dybbuk and his daughter opening the box let it loose. Perhaps the creepiest part of all of this is that this box actually exists and was recently featured on Travel Channel’s show “Deadly Possessions.”

There’s more…

This list only covers five horror films that are based on real life events, but there’s much more. Though the majority of them are inspired by Ed Gein, they’re still worth the watch and frightening nonetheless! Regardless of who or what it was inspired by, there’s nothing creepier than a movie based on reality, even if the subject matter has been a little overused on the big screen.

Do you have a favorite horror film that’s based off real life events? Let us know in the comments section below.

About the Author: Cassie is an entertainment and technology blogger who enjoys a great film now and then. When she’s not blogging for Secure Thoughts or Culture Coverage, she’s scouring Netflix for the next best horror flick.

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Cassie has always enjoyed watching movies. After her first "scary movie" as a child she was hooked and hasn't turned back. She also enjoys traveling and has learned that you sometimes need a VPN to watch your favorite movies when traveling. She recommends Secure Thoughts ( as the best place to find great reviews of VPNs.