10 horror movie scenes based on true stories

When we watch horror movies, we can kindly tell ourselves “this isn’t real” so we can get some sleep at night. However, some movie scenes depict real life horrors that ordinary people have experienced. If you’re brave enough, here are 10 horror movies with scenes based on true stories.

1. Strangers

The foreigners is a combination of four terrifying real-life stories. Director Bryan Bertino added a scene he recalled in his own life. In the movie, someone knocks on the door asking for “Tamara” who doesn’t live there. One night when Bertino was home alone, it happened to him and left him with a strange feeling that stayed with him. The scenes with the graphic stabbings were inspired by the Manson murders, specifically the murder of Sharon Tate.

2. The Exorcist

Roland Doe inspired the famous film, The Exorcist. There are many scenes where Reagan, a 12-year-old girl, goes through terrifying situations similar to those of Roland Doe. As the film shows, during Roland’s exorcism, the mattress shook violently and scratches appeared on his body. He also spoke randomly in a strange, guttural voice.

3. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Although the scenes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre were loosely based on real events, there are connections to the Ed Gein murders. As in the movie, Ed Gein would also create a mask made up of his victim’s scalp and face. Inside the house The Texas Chainsaw Massacreyou see furniture made from body parts, much like what was found in Ed Gein’s house.

4. Amityville Horror

Much of what we see in The Amityville Horror depicts what happened in the real DeFeo family home. Ronald DeFeo shot and murdered his entire family as they slept, claiming demonic voices in his head were urging him. Although Lutz is seen wielding an ax in the film, both in the film and in the DeFeo household, the family members are murdered in their beds, face down.

5. Emily Rose’s Exorcism

In Germany, a young woman named Anneliese Michel will experience disturbing events that will inspire The Exorcism of Emily Rose. The characters Emily Rose and Annelise Michel would experience seizures and hallucinations. Following failed exorcisms, Annelise Michel died, as did the character of Emily Rose.

6. Zodiac

One of the scariest scenes we see in Zodiac represents a couple at the edge of a lake having a picnic. The Zodiac Killer approaches them and attempts to murder them both, though the boyfriend survives. Even scarier, this scene is based on the actual victims, David Faraday and Betty Lou Jensen. Additionally, murder suspect Arthur Lee Allen is featured in the film wearing a watch containing the zodiac symbol.

7. The Fourth Kind

The fourth kind may be one of the most terrifying alien abduction movies out there, especially since it’s based on real events. In Nome, Alaska, several people would suddenly disappear, untraceable. While in real life they don’t suspect any alien abductions, both in the movie and in Nome, law enforcement is baffled by these strange disappearances.

8. The silence of the lambs

Buffalo Bill isn’t just a movie character, he’s based on real-life serial killer, Gary Heidnik. Buffalo Bill and Gary Heidnik would capture women and torture their victims. One of the most famous scenes of Thesilenceofthelambs depicts a victim trapped in a hole as Buffalo Bill says “He rubs the lotion on his skin or he gets the hose.” Heidnik himself had a terror cellar where he kept his victims, much like in the movie.


Like with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, psychology also draws inspiration from the infamous Ed Gein. Director Alfred Hitchcock read that psychologists speculated that Gein would dress as a woman because of his obsession with his mother. Gein also created a shrine to his mother after her death. Like Gein, Norman also had an overbearing mother he would eventually obsess over, even creating a similar sanctuary.

10. Birds

The birds is a 1960s film that recreates the true horror a California town experienced when a mass of birds were attacked. A few years before the film was produced, flocks of birds were flying disoriented, making crash landings and flying randomly into buildings, much like what would be portrayed in the film. At the time, no one knew why the birds acted so mysteriously. Now the mystery is solved. In California, the birds apparently went crazy at the same time due to ingesting toxic algae.

Andrea G. Henderson