Dearest Truthseekers,

Being an adrenaline junkie with a lust for anything disgusting and scary, I’ve done it all in the name of psychotic euphoria. Because let’s be honest fellow horror freaks, nothing is better than having the absolute shit scared out of you for funsies. Maybe it’s a weird fetish, maybe it’s the traumas of life. Fuck it, maybe I’m just bored with serenity, but it’s true, and ironically, what’s true is what’s terrifying.

Haunted houses and scare zones are frightening, sure, and believe me I’ve been through my fair share, but what I find that makes me the most uneasy is the real horrors of life. From movies to books, nothing can make me crawl out of my skin quite like the true tales of dread from others who have experienced the horrible and the unknown. At this point you may be asking, “What horror flicks are really based on true events, not any of that loosely inspired bullshit?”

Luckily, my dear readers, you won’t have to answer that question alone, because I already have. Below is a list of five spooky films that are ACTUALLY based on a true story. So, buckle up and get ready to have recurring nightmares for the next week. Because for all you know, it could happen to you!

(And no, Amityville Horror is not included in this list, you’re welcome alright).

I. The Girl Next Door (2007)

Girl Next DoorTorture and humiliation. Something you’re used to seeing as an avid movie-goer, and something that seems to get easier to watch with each film you see. However, the torture in Gregory Wilson’s The Girl Next Door is particularly hard to stomach, especially when you know the sad and heart-wrenching story behind the film is based on a very real, and very sickening murder. Sylvia Likens, only sixteen, was held captive and subjected to unimaginable humiliation and abuse by the Baniszewski family in 1965. Sylvia was beaten by multiple members of the family, as well as friends of the Baniszewski family children. She was forced to eat dog food, her body was used as a punching bag, she was burned, starved, and belittled by the entire family for months. Her fingers had been burned, her head bludgeoned, and her stomach had been branded by Gertrude Baniszewski, the mother of the sick and sadistic family. Sadly, Likens passed after the unimaginable abuse. While the film is loosely based on these events, it doesn’t make it any easier to watch, especially when you know that a poor sixteen-year-old girl really had to experience even more intense torture than was shown on the screen.

II. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Nightmare on Elm StreetCheck this shit out, Freddy Kreuger was one hundred percent inspired by a true story. A creepy one, too. Horror legend Wes Craven had stumbled across an article in The L.A. Times that told the story of a young boy who was plagued with terrible nightmares. Too fearful to fall asleep, the boy decided to stay up for days at a time to avoid falling asleep and coming into contact with the thing that was chasing him in his dreams. When he inevitably failed to stay awake, his parents heard screams in the next room. It was too late, the boy had died in his sleep before they could do anything to help him. That’s what became the premise for Freddy, the unseen horror that was experienced in this child’s dreams.

III. The Exorcist (1973)

The Exorcist

Demonic possession sounds unbelievable in itself, but it becomes even more unimaginable when you learn that what is considered one of the best horror films of all time is actually based on a series of exorcisms on a boy in the late 1940s. In Missouri, Roland Doe, a synonym used for the anonymous 14-year-old, was said to be possessed and was exorcised by the priests of the Roman Catholic Church after a series of unexplainable and supernatural events surrounded him. Ronald’s family stated that this demon that had possessed their son was levitating objects, using household objects as weapons, and could pull out of restraints that would be impossible for a boy of his age, or any age for that matter, to break free of. Although some priests and witnesses say that Robbie was just a mentally disturbed child, others would argue that something beyond had taken over him.

IV. The Sacrament (2013)

The Sacrament

TI West’s The Sacrament is inspired by (very obviously) the Jonestown Massacre that occurred in 1978. Under the direction of cult leader Jim Jones, over 900 followers of the People’s Temple were led to their death by cyanide poisoning, which still holds the sickening record for the largest mass suicide in history. The movie sticks very closely to the mold of the true story. Congressman Ryan really did infiltrate the cult in 1978, and just like the movie, upon his departure, he was ambushed and murdered by the direction of Jim Jones.

V. When A Stranger Calls (2006)

“The call is coming from inside the house”. Something you hear in so many films, something you never want to hear, and something that is frighteningly real. Based on the unsolved murder of Jannett Christman in 1950, When A Stranger Calls can strike fear into even the coldest of hearts. Christman was only thirteen when she was found brutally strangled and murdered by the family she was babysitting for. A few feet away dangled the phone that Jannett had desperately tried to contact police with moments before she was tragically slain. Coincidentally, four years prior only blocks away from the scene of Jannett’s death, another young girl was murdered similarly. What makes this so terrifying is that whoever did this heinous crime was still lurking… even years after the murder.


Looking into these true events really has me fucked up. It would be incredibly nice to think that the tales you see played out on screen are simply a figure of some halfway sane person’s imagination. You know, something outlandish just for an easy scare. But when you acknowledge that these things are real, and scarily enough watered down for consumption… that’s when the true horror makes its way through. So next time you sit down and grab a bag of popcorn for your next movie date, do some research to see what’s really going on in the atmosphere around you.

And maybe lock your door.

Yours ghouly,


About the Author (of Your Doom)

Haley Williamson Bio