When horror movies are touted as “based on a true story” or the ever-popular “inspired by true events,” it’s usually done to simply pique audience interest. To put it bluntly, it’s a marketing tactic used to lure viewers into the seats and eyes to the screens. While certain events and people depicted may have happened or existed at some point, it’s a safe bet that much of the film’s material is highly exaggerated.
Some “true story” horror films at least try to maintain the structure of their source material, but there are also those that go completely off the rails. But if they almost lost the plot in their adaptations, nothing says that they finally did not find an audience.
Winchester is not a perfect film, not by far. But that doesn’t mean it’s not entertaining. It’s an overly cliched haunted house movie, but at least Helen Mirren gives a great performance as Sarah Winchester. And while it’s the standard haunting, the star of the production is the house itself.
The Winchester Mystery House is responsible for the inspiration for several different fictional haunted houses, including the Hill House and even Disney’s Haunted Mansion. Like the movie, the property is full of winding hallways, doors that go nowhere, and other oddities, but it lacks the over-the-top CGI spirits.
The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)
While he will always be known as the spirit behind freddie and Scream, Wes Craven also created a highly underrated zombie movie in the form of The Serpent and the Rainbow. But while viewers are undoubtedly swept away by its tale of zombies and ancient voodoo spells, it can be easy to forget that there’s a real narrative hidden beneath the rites and rituals.
Inspired by the book by Wade Davis, a scientist who investigated the zombification techniques seen in Haitian voodoo. The book itself is a dive into the world of black magic, psychedelic drugs, and other peculiar practices. Although the work was criticized for some discrepancies, it laid the groundwork for a truly memorable horror film.
The Possession (2012)
The possession is a little trickier when it comes to sifting through what’s true and what’s been made up for the big screen, especially since the film’s inspiration came more from an urban legend. The tale of the possessed girl was dramatized for the film, but the Dybbuk Box itself was an actual artifact found at an estate sale.
The box was linked to several paranormal events, and supposedly the death of an owner’s mother. Its history and mysterious contents have since been the subject of many legends and supernatural/paranormal investigations.
The Conjuring (2013)
Thanks to the iconic Conjuring series, the names of Ed and Lorraine Warren have been thrust into the forefront of modern horror media. But while the demonologist duo’s investigations surround real supernatural phenomena, the films they inspired are wildly over the top.
That’s right, the Warrens were a pair of real investigators, but the hauntings and manifestations they encountered were not entirely so visual or so violent. Apart from a few named entities such as Annabelle and Bathsheba, the spirits were mostly harmless. That said, any form of haunting has its risks and dangers.
The Birds (1963)
Alfred Hitchcock is a titan of horror, a fact that is pretty much common knowledge. Besides taking his viewers on a trip to the Bates Motel, Hitchcock also brought to the screen a voracious swarm of birds that terrified audiences everywhere in the early ’60s.
By modern standards, the film is a bit far-fetched and overdone in its plot, spectacle, and presentation, but it was inspired by a real event that hit Monterey Beach. While seagulls having fits of contaminated plankton might not seem worthy of a horror movie, Hitchcock certainly went all the way with the idea.
The Town That Dreaded Sunset (2014)
The original 1970s feature The city that dreaded sunsetinspired by the current Texarkana Moonlight Murders stuck a bit closer to the script than most, but its 2014 remake/sequel suffered from a mixture of identity issues that pushed what was once a scary, borderline exploitation film into an entirely free-to-play slasher flick. .
This slasher meta-sequel features a copycat murderer wearing the mask of the Phantom Killer and MO to create a kind of Texas alternative to Scream. It’s violent, it’s intense, but it’s also a bit dated and bloated to the point that it becomes something completely disjointed.
The Amityville Horror (2005)
The original film based on the Amityville murders is one of the most infamous haunted house stories ever told. With tales of spiritual disturbances, demonic entities, and other forms of supernatural and paranormal activity, the terror of The Amityville Horror has hung around the media for years.
Despite the reputation of the original, the 2005 remake starring Ryan Reynolds went completely beyond and even ventured into silly territory with some of its visuals. Reynolds or not, it was a far cry from the horrors conjured up by the 70s classic.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Any slasher movie fan worth their salt will know that Norman Bates, Leatherface, and Buffalo Bill can all trace their existence back to Ed Gein, the infamous “Butcher of Plainfield.” That being said, most of the movies inspired by his horror acts are nearly all grossly over the top, especially Tobe Hooper’s 1974 splash fest.
While it’s true that Gein had masks, furniture, and other items made from human flesh, he didn’t go hunting a bunch of hippies on his farm. Leatherface was simply a crude embellishment created to sell tickets and create a franchise.
Stephen King’s Annie Wilkes comes from a strange place, both real and fictional. The character of Annie herself is supposed to be inspired by a murderous real-life nurse, but both the book and the film as a whole originate from a source that hits a little closer to home for the author. prolific.
While a more metaphorical horror story than the one it inspired, Misery derives its existence from the author’s struggle with addiction and a ruthless fan base. Similar to how Annie kept Paul Sheldon prisoner until he wrote another bestseller, King was prisoner to a very vocal fan base after writing dragon’s eyes as well as his addiction to drugs and alcohol. Art, as they say, imitates life.
Cannibal! The Musical (1993)
An inspired musical the infamous Alfred Packer written by the creators of South Park already looks like something completely out of the Parker and Stone animated series, but it was Trey Parker’s first movie before he and Matt Stone successfully transitioned into South Park. It’s a horror film inspired by a real historical figure, but it goes beyond the over-the-top campy and kitschy nature.
Katana-wielding cooks, song-and-dance numbers on snowmen, and even a Cyclops are just a few of the weird and unusual elements that go into this incredibly unusual musical. It might not keep many viewers awake at night, but it has something of a cult following and it even received its own Off-Broadway adaptation in 2001.
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