This week the true story of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) and their effort to help a rural family with a demon in their farmhouse in The Conjuring. More horror movies than you’d think are based on true stories, so if you want to spend a few weeks jumping at every little bump in the night, take a look at some of these horror stories made all the scarier for being rooted in true events.
One year after a man named Ronald DiFeo brutally killed his family in their Long Island home, a young couple moves in with their three children and soon finds out that the voices DiFeo claimed told him to kill his family may not have been in his head.
When the Campbells move with their young son into a former funeral parlor, the boy is soon warning his folks about evil spirits and a creepy former employee of the funeral parlor returns to step the evil up a notch.
One of Wes Craven’s early classics is a modernized retelling of the legend of the 16th-century cannibal cult of Sawney Bean: a family on a road trip finds itself being hunted by a family of very weird-looking cannibals.
Another Wes Craven film, this one based on a book about a doctor’s trip to Haiti to find a rumored “zombie drug” used in voodoo ceremonies, which puts him in conflict with the local voodoo priest — somewhere you emphatically do not want to be.
The creation of the very fictional Dr. Frankenstein is said to come from a very real night of strong drink, strong drugs, and deep conversation among poets Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, and Shelley’s wife Mary, in a 19th-century Swiss villa, here dramatized in a 1986 film with Gabriel Byrne, Julian Sands, and Natasha Richardson.
One of the Manson Family’s more disturbing habits — an odd flavor of home invasion called “creepy-crawling” — is the jumping-off point for this 2008 frightener starring Liv Tyler and Scott Speed man as a couple with the bad luck to be home when three weirdos try to rob them.
A couple accidentally left behind on a scuba-diving trip in the middle of the ocean is a thing that actually happened; this movie takes that true event, and the fact that the divers were never found, as the jump-off point to imagine how those divers met their very unfortunate fate.
David Cronenberg has made a lot of creepy movies, but this one may be the creepiest, creepier still for being based on the true discovery of twin gynecologists (?!) dead in their shared apartment (?!?!?) of a barbiturate overdose. Jeremy Irons gives one of the weirdest, creepiest (there’s that word again) performances ever as both twins. One of the oddest and most underrated movies of the ’80s.
Only once in American history has a human death been officially blamed on the supernatural: in early 19th-century Tennessee, when a normal family is terrorized first by a wolf with yellow eyes and then by a disembodied voice. And then things got scary. Donald Sutherland and Sissy Spacek lead the cast.