There are nights when all we want to do is curl up in bed and watch a horror movie. We all love doing that, but what makes a scary movie scarier is knowing that it is based on a true story. Knowing that somebody went through that terror, in reality, is something that does not let one sleep easily. If you like horror movies based on true stories, then you are at the right place. This list of scary movies based on true stories is not for the faint-hearted.
Here are 45 horror movies based on true incidents that you need to see. You can find these horror movies based on true stories on Netflix or any other streaming platform. Read on below.
|Year It Released
|The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
|A Nightmare On Elm Street
|The Amityville Horror
|The Girl Next Door
|The Haunting In Connecticut
|The Exorcism Of Emily Rose
|Deliver Us From Evil
|Fire In The Sky
|Curse Of The Zodiac
|The Conjuring 2
|10 Rillington Place
|The Golden Glove
|The Mothman Prophecies
|My Friend Dahmer
|The Craigslist Killer
|The Toolbox Murders
|Things Heard & Seen
1. The Exorcist (1973)
The Exorcist is based on a book which is based on the real-life of a boy named Roland Doe who was possessed by demons in 1949. The real exorcism was so scary that there have been books written on people who witnessed it. This story will give you goosebumps, all for real reasons. Starring Linda Blair, Ellen Burstyn, and Jason Miller, the movie made $112.3 million worldwide. The movie is rated 8.1 on IMDb and you can stream it on Amazon Prime Video.
2. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
This movie is loosely based on America’s famous serial killer Ed Gein who had nine human skin masks in his possession at the time of his arrest. Spooky, isn’t it? The movie made abandoned houses and slasher films popular in mainstream media. Directed by Tobe Hooper, the movie is rated 7.4 on IMDb. The movie grossed more than $30 million in the United States and Canada. Starring Marilyn Burns, Gunnar Hansen, and Edwin Neal, the movie is iconic.
3. A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010)
Love blood, gore and knife-fingered ghosts? This is it then! The makers of this movie were inspired by a group of Laotian refugees who had died in throes of a nightmare. The medical reports said there was nothing wrong with them physically. This supernatural horror film won the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Horror Movie. Starring Jackie Earle Haley, Kyle Gallner, and Katie Cassidy, the movie made $11.77 crores at the US box office. It is rated 5.2 on IMDb and you can watch it on Amazon Prime Video
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4. Child’s Play (1988)
The script was based on a nurse who allegedly put a voodoo curse on author Robert Eugene Otto which transformed one of his childhood dolls into a night-time menace. We all have seen scary movies with possessed dolls but knowing that the doll existed is spooky! This killer doll horror movie is rated 6.6 on IMDb. Directed by Tom Holland, the movie stars Alex Vincent, Brad Dourif, and Catherine Hicks.
5. The Amityville Horror (2005)
The movie is based on the events that took place in 1975 at 112, Ocean Avenue, the new house of the Lutz family in Amityville. This has been a very discussed case among paranormal researchers. A married couple moves into a new house but their happiness is short-lived when unexplainable things happen at their new abode. You can watch the film that has been rated 5.9 on IMDb on Amazon Prime Video. Directed by Andrew Douglas, the movie stars Ryan Reynolds, Melissa George, and Chloe Grace Moretz in lead roles.
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6. Psycho (1960)
This thriller-horror movie is loosely inspired by Ed Gein’s crimes and Wisconsin murders. There have been various follow-ups of this movie. It is an absolute must-watch. This Alfred Hitchcock movie won the Oscars in 1961 for Best Directing. Rated 8.5 on IMDb, you can rent the movie on YouTube. The movie stars Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, and Vera Miles in lead roles.
7. The Girl Next Door (2007)
This movie is loosely based on what is said to be the most terrible crime in Indiana state. Sylvia Likens was tortured and eventually killed by Gertrude Baniszewski in 1965 and the movie is inspired by it. Rated 6.5 on IMDb, the movie is directed by Gregory Wilson. The movie stars Blythe Auffarth, Daniel Manche, and Blanche Baker in lead roles. Shot on a budget of $21 million, the movie grossed $14 million.
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8. The Conjuring (2013)
Ed and Lorraine Warren are real-life paranormal investigators who claim that this case was exceptionally hard for them to deal with. Fan of possessed dolls? We have it here for you. The Perron family consult the Warrens to get rid of the evil entity that has possessed their farmhouse. Directed by James Wan, the movie is rated 7.5 on IMDb. Starring Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, and Sterling Jerins, the movie made $319.5 million. Stream it on Amazon Prime Video.
9. Deranged (1974)
Ever loved someone so much that you kept their body even after their death? This 1974 movie is exactly about that. It is inspired by the life of America’s most notorious serial killer and grave robber, Ed Gein and gives you a glimpse into the confessions made by the necrophile. Directed by Jeff Gillen and Alan Ormsby, the movie is rated 6.4 on IMDb. This psychological horror film stars Roberts Blossom, Cosette Lee, and Robert Warner in prominent roles. You can stream it on MUBI.
10. Ravenous (1999)
We all enjoy a good meal but what if you had to eat human meat for your next meal? Yes, this is one of the most underrated movies on cannibalism which will spook you as nothing else can. Because you are what you eat, quite literally. Directed by Antonia Bird, the movie stars Guy Pearce, David Arquette, and Robert Carlyle in lead roles. It is rated 6.9 on IMDb and is based on the real-life horror story of The Colorado Cannibal, Alfred Packer, who survived the snowy San Juan Mountains by eating five companions.
11. The Rite (2011)
Like stories on exorcism and the devil? Based on the life of one of the most famous exorcists in America, Father Gary Thomas, this movie will scare the hell out of you. One piece of advice: Don’t try to watch this movie alone. The film made $9.66 crores at the US box office. Directed by Mikael Hafstrom, the movie stars Anthony Hopkins, Marta Gastini, and Colin O’Donoghue in lead roles. The film is rated 6 on IMDb and you can stream it on Amazon Prime Video.
12. The Haunting In Connecticut (2009)
The plot of this movie is not new. You buy a new place to live and you are not happily received by the ghosts. What is scary is that we know this really happened to Al and Carmen Snedeker who had their house over a funeral parlour. The movie is rated 5.8 on IMDb. Directed by Peter Cornwell, the movie made $7.7 crores. It stars Virginia Madsen, Kyle Gallner, and Amanda Crew in lead roles.
13. Borderland (2007)
Based on a real cult leader Adolfo de Jesús Constanzo, this movie has gory details of how human sacrifice was practised by the cult. Spoiler: Toes. fingers and even their brains were cut out by him, and you can watch all of that in this movie. It is not for the faint-hearted. Directed by Zev Berman, the movie is rated 5.6 on IMDb. It stars Sean Astin, Brian Presley, and Jake Muxworthy in lead roles.
14. The Strangers (2008)
This movie has psychopaths and murderers. The director of this movie drew inspiration from the murders committed by serial killer Charles Manson and a series of events that took place near his childhood home. Love gripping movies that scare till the very end? If yes, then this is it. The movie is rated 6.1 on IMDb and you can stream it on Amazon Prime Video. Directed by Bryan Bertino, the movie stars Liv Tyler, Scott Speedman, and Glenn Howerton. It made $82.4 million at the box office.
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15. The Entity (1982)
In 1974, paranormal investigators Kerry Gaynor and Barry Taff worked at a place where they saw moving objects. This movie is based on the same incident where the ghost abused the woman sexually. The plot might seem distressing to many. Rated 6.7 on IMDb, the movie is directed by Sidney J. Furie. It made $13.3 million. The film stars Barbara Hershey, Ron Silver, and Margaret Blye in lead roles.
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16. The Exorcism Of Emily Rose (2005)
This is based on the life of Anneliese Michel who was possessed by demons so strong that her exorcism took nearly a year to accomplish. It is one of the most famous exorcism movies and it is all real! The movie stars Jennifer Carpenter, Laura Linney, and Tom Wilkinson in lead roles. Directed by Scott Derrickson, the movie was dubbed in Latin, Telugu, German, Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Syriac. It is rated 6.7 on IMDb and it made $14.42 crores at the US box office.
17. The Possession (2012)
This movie is based on the real haunted dybbuk box story. Whoever bought that box faced its consequences. Numerous owners of the box reported strange things happening to them on eBay. So are you looking for a box to keep your wine bottles safe? Rated 5.9 on IMDb, the movie was also made in Polish. It starred Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kyra Sedgwick, and Natasha Calis in lead roles. The movie made $8.29 crores.
18. Deliver Us From Evil (2014)
Like exorcism movies with twisted old tricks? This is what will save you. It is based on a book called Beware The Night which is based on non-fictional events. Book yourself in for this. Starring Eric Bana, Edgar Ramirez, Olivia Munn, Sean Harris, and Joel McHale, this movie is rated 6.2 on IMDb. Directed by Scott Derrickson, you can stream this horror movie based on a true story only on Netflix.
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19. Eaten Alive (1980)
Want some alligator-related horror flick? Keep this up on your list. This is based on Joe Ball, a man who killed around 20 women and watched the alligators feed on them. It’s so gory but it’s worth it because it did happen for real! This Italian horror film based on a true story is rated 5.1 on IMDb. Directed by Umberto Lenzi, the movie stars Janet Agren, Ivan Rassimov, and Me Me Lai in lead roles.
20. Fire In The Sky (1993)
Can you guess how it would feel to be captured by aliens and lie in a cocoon next to the corpses of other people from Earth? Travis Walton alleges that aliens captured him in 1975 and this movie revolves around what happens to him. It’s a scary science fiction you just can’t miss! The movie is rated 6.5 on IMDb and is directed by Robert Lieberman.
21. Curse Of The Zodiac (2007)
Based on a serial killer called the “Zodiac”, this horror movie has a lot of cryptic messages and codes to decode. But at your own risk! In real life, this serial killer took responsibility for the unsolved murders he carried out in the 1960s and ’70s in San Francisco. The movie has been rated 1.3 on IMDb and you can stream this Ulli Lommel movie on MUBI.
22. Silent House (2011)
It is an independent psychological American horror movie based on a real incident in Uruguay. If you like “real-time” footage in your horror movies, then this is it. The movie made $1.31 crores at the US box office. Directed by Laura Lau and Chris Kentis, it stars Elizabeth Olsen, Adam Trese, and Adam Barnett in lead roles.
23. Annabelle (2014)
The opening scene of this movie is just like that of The Conjuring. And the story continues with the scariest possessed doll there has ever been. It is also true that people who taunted the doll in the museum faced near-death or fatal accidents. Spooked? So are we. Rated 5.4 on IMDb, you can stream this spooky film on Netflix. Directed by John R. Leonetti, the movie stars Annabelle Wallis, Alfre Woodard, and Brian Howe in lead roles. The movie grossed $256.7 million at the box office.
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24. The Dentist (1966)
One thing we know for sure is that after seeing this movie, your next visit to the dentist will be really hard. It is based on a dentist who turned out to be a serial killer. This American slasher film directed by Brian Yuzna stars Corbin Bernsen, Linda Hoffman, Earl Boen, and Ken Foree in lead roles. A successful but mentally unstable dentist goes on a murder spree in Los Angeles. The movie is rated 5.3 on IMDb.
25. Wolf Creek (2005)
What did your mom say about not talking to strangers? This movie is loosely based on two men, Ivan Milat and Bradley John Murdoch and their crimes. This movie will send shivers down your spine and make you think twice before asking the locals for help on your next backpacking trip. Rated 6.2 on IMDb, the movie stars John Jarratt, Kestie Morassi, and Andy McPhee in lead roles. It is directed by Greg McLean who also has a cameo in the film.
26. The Conjuring 2 (2016)
The latest in The Conjuring franchise, The Conjuring 2 is another tale of paranormal investigators – Ed and Lorraine Warren. Set in England, the movie deals with the infamous Enfield Case. You can stream the movie on Netflix and on Amazon Prime Video. Directed by James Wan, the movie has the same cast as it was in the prequel. It raked in $321.8 million at the box office and is rated 7.3 on IMDb.
27. Poltergeist (1982)
Directed by Tobe Hooper, this movie is loosely based on the paranormal disturbances Lucille Herrmann and her family suffered when they moved to their dream home. The family admitted to hearing strange noises and thought local teenagers were playing pranks on them. But it wasn’t so. The movie stars Heather O’Rourke, JoBeth Williams, and Craig T Nelson in lead roles. Rated 7.3 on IMDb, the film grossed $121.7 million at the box office. Stream this movie on Amazon Prime Video.
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28. 10 Rillington Place (1971)
This movie is based on the British serial killer and alleged necrophile, John Christie, who committed many of his crimes at his house at Rillington Place. No one suspects John because he has a calm demeanour. Rated 7.5 on IMDb, the movie stars Richard Attenborough, John Hurt, and Judy Geeson in prominent roles. Richard Fleischer directed this film.
29. Open Water (2003)
This movie will make you rethink going out with scuba diving groups. Two divers are accidentally left behind in the Great Barrier Reef when their boat leaves them as they did not take a headcount. These two struggle for survival in shark-infested waters. The movie is rated 5.8 on IMDb and you can stream it on Amazon Prime Video, Directed by Chris Kentis, it stars Blanchard Ryan, Daniel Travis, and Saul Stein. The film made $5.55 crores.
30. The Birds (1963)
If it’s an Alfred Hitchcock movie, you better brace yourself for the best. This natural horror-thriller film is based on a 1952 short story of the same name written by Daphne du Maurier. The story is based on a real incident that took place in Bodega Bay, California where people experienced sudden and violent attacks by birds. Rated 7.6 on IMDb, the movie stars Rod Taylor and Tippi Hedren.
31. Winchester (2018)
Rated 5.4 on IMDb, Winchester is based on Sarah Winchester who never stopped building a house for vengeful ghosts. The seven stories tall house had hundreds of rooms that served as a prison for spirits. Starring Helen Mirren, Jason Clarke, and Sarah Snook, this film is directed by The Spierig Brothers. The film grossed a worldwide total of $46 million. Stream it on Amazon Prime Video.
32. Rogue (2007)
A journalist joins a group of tourists on a crocodile-watching river cruise in Australia when all of a sudden something hits their boat splitting it from the side. Their boat is stuck in a crocodile’s territory and they have to leave ASAP because the island will submerge at night. The story is based on Sweetheart, a giant male saltwater crocodile that attacked boats in the late 1970s. Rated 6.2 on IMDb, the movie stars Radha Mitchell, Michael Vartan, and Sam Worthington. You can stream it on MX Player.
33. Snowtown (2011)
Based on the Snowtown murders that were committed by three people between August 1992 and May 1999, this movie is not your average horror movie. The film is rated 6.6 on IMDb. Directed by Justin Kurzel, the movie stars Daniel Henshall, Lucas Pittaway, and Louise Harris in lead roles. This Australian biographical crime drama was Justin Kurzel’s debut directorial project.
34. Dead Ringers (1988)
Directed by David Cronenberg, the movie stars Jeremy Irons, Genevieve Bujold, and Heidi von Palleske in lead roles. This film is rated 7.2 on IMDb. It is based on the Marcuses’ story – the story of twin gynaecologists who practised together in New York City. When a patient deceives one of the twins, he slips into a state of madness. The movie made $14 million worldwide.
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35. 247°F (2011)
Directed by Beqa Jguburia and Levan Bakhia, this movie is rated 4.8 on IMDb. Three friends get locked in a sauna when one of their friends left, went to sleep and forgot they were in there. It is based on a true story where these survivors suffered from extreme heat and difficulty. The film stars Scout Taylor-Compton, Christina Ulloa, Travis Van Winkle, Michael Copon and Tyler Mane in prominent roles.
36. Black Christmas (1974)
A group of sorority sisters receive anonymous phone calls that are of a sexual nature. One by one the members of the group go missing and are murdered. It is based on a true story that took place in Montreal, Canada. The film is rated 7.1 on IMDb. Directed by Bob Clark, the movie stars Olivia Hussey, Margot Kidder, and John Saxon in lead roles.
37. The Golden Glove (2019)
Based on the real-life horror story of the notorious serial killer Fritz Honka, this movie is a retelling of the heinous murders he committed in Hamburg’s red light area in the 1970s. The film is rated 6.7 on IMDb. Directed by Fatih Akin, the film stars Jonas Dassler, Margarete Tiesel, and Heinz Strunk in lead roles. The film is an adaptation of a German novel by the same name.
38. The Mothman Prophecies (2002)
This supernatural-mystery film directed by Mark Pellington stars Richard Gere and Laura Linney in lead roles. It is based on the legend of the Mothman – a humanoid creature that was spotted in West Virginia in the 1960s. Rated 6.4 on IMDb, you can stream the movie on Amazon Prime Video. The film is based on a 1975 book of the same name written by a parapsychologist.
39. My Friend Dahmer (2017)
Directed by Marc Meyers, this film is a biographical psychological drama film based on the life of serial killer – Jeffrey Dahmer. The film stars Ross Lynch, Alex Wolff, and Anne Heche in lead roles. It explores the life of Dahmer and is based on the book by Derf Backderf. The film is rated 6.2 on IMDb and is one of the many fictional retellings of the horrors Jeffrey Dahmer committed.
40. Welcome Home (2020)
This Indian horror movie is inspired by a real-life incident in Nagpur, Maharashtra. Directed by Pushkar Mahabal, the movie stars Kashmira Irani, Swarda Thigale, Boloram Das, Shashi Bhushan, and Tina Bhatia. When two female government teachers reach an isolated house for a census report, they have no idea that the old man has been assaulting the pregnant woman for a long time. Rated 7.4 on IMDb, this movie will run chills down your spine.
41. The Craigslist Killer (2011)
Starring Jake McDorman, William Baldwin, and Agnes Bruckner, this movie is about a promising young medico who commits a series of brutal attacks and murders. The killings are connected to advertisements placed on Craigslist. This horror film based on a true story can be streamed on Netflix. Rated 5.1 on IMDb, the movie is directed by Stephen Kay.
42. The Sacrament (2013)
Directed by Ti West, the film is based on the real-life events of the Jonestown Massacre of 1978. A reporter attempts to locate his sister who has joined a reclusive religious commune run by a psychotic man. Rated 6.1 on IMDb, the movie is about two VICE journalists. It stars Joe Swanberg, A. J. Bowen, Kentucker Audley, Amy Seimetz, and Gene Jones in lead roles.
43. The Toolbox Murders (1978)
This slasher film is about a serial killer who wears a ski mask and murders women in a Los Angeles apartment complex with the contents of his toolbox. The killer methodically stalks women before murdering them. Rated 5.2 on IMDb, the film is directed by Dennis Donnelly. It stars Cameron Mitchell, Pamelyn Ferdin, and Wesley Eure.
44. Things Heard & Seen (2021)
This American horror film written and directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini is based on the novel All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage. The film stars Amanda Seyfried and James Norton in lead roles. Rated 5.3 on IMDb, it is loosely based on the story of a young artist in Manhattan who suffers from an eating disorder. The artist comes across some dark secrets that are hidden in her new house. You can stream this movie on Netflix.
45. Requiem (2006)
This German horror film is based on the true story of Anneliese Michel, a German woman who was allegedly possessed by six or more demons and had to undergo more than 60 exorcism rites. She had epilepsy and she died of malnutrition. Directed by Hans-Christian Schmid, the film stars Sandra Huller, Imogen Kogge, Friederike Adolph, and Jens Harzer in lead roles. The film is rated 6.9 on IMDb.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: How did Anneliese Michel die?
A: The German movie, The Requiem, shows that Anneliese Michel died of starvation and malnutrition after she underwent 67 exorcism rites. She died at the age of 23 in Klingenberg, Germany.
Q: Where is the Annabelle doll now?
A: The raggedy doll is housed in the occult museum of the paranormal investigators – Ed and Lorraine Warren. The doll has a movie franchise to her name and it played the antagonist in The Conjuring series.
Q: Did Steven Spielberg direct any horror films?
A: Steven Spielberg has not directed a horror film. In fact, he wrote the story for the 1982 American supernatural horror film – Poltergeist. The movie was directed by Tobe Hooper.
Q: Has a horror film ever won the Oscars?
A: The Silence of the Lambs (1991) is the only horror movie to ever win an Oscar for best picture. Directed by Jonathan Demme, the film is about Hannibal Lecter. The film has an illustrious cast of Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster, and Ted Levine.
Q: Where did Texas Chainsaw Massacre happen in real life?
A: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre took place at The Hewitt House in Texas. The film was banned in many countries and numerous theatres stopped showing the film because people complained about the intensity of the violence that was depicted in the film.
Bookmark this page for those days when you want to watch a horror film that is based on a true story. This comprehensive list of horror movies based on true stories will keep you up all night. If you happen to watch a movie from this list, we advise you to look under your bed just for that added protection.
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