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17 Unsettling True Stories That Were So Fucked-Up They Became Horror Movies

Holy shit.

We asked the BuzzFeed Community for the scariest movies that are based on a true story. Here are the terrifying results.

1. Child's Play (1988)

MGM / Wikipedia Commons / CC BY 2.0 / Via

Chucky is based on a real toy: Robert the Doll. In the early 1900s, a Florida kid received Robert as a gift and soon learned it was a life-size voodoo doll. But unlike Chucky, it isn't possessed by the spirit of a serial killer. Now Robert sits in a glass case, but if you bother him, prepare to feel his wrath.


2. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Orion Pictures /

In 2013, it was revealed that cannibal Hannibal Lecter was based on Dr. Alfredo Ballí Treviño, a Mexican surgeon who killed and mutilated his friend, his lover, and quite possibly several hitchhikers.


3. The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976)

American International Pictures / Wikipedia Commons / Public Domain

This spooky ’70s movie is loosely based on the Texarkana Moonlight Murders, which plagued the small Texas town of Texarkana from Feb. 22 to May 3, 1946. The "Phantom Killer" preyed on young couples in parked cars. The murders remain unsolved.


4. Zodiac (2007)

Paramount / Warner Bros. / Fair Use

In the ’60s and ’70s, the Zodiac Killer murdered seven people and then sent cryptic letters to authorities to taunt them about his identity. The case is still unsolved, and this movie is about a reporter trying to figure out who the dude was.

—Jennifer Miskell, Facebook

5. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

New Line Cinema / Netflix

Wes Craven said he got the idea for a monster who kills people in their sleep from a news story in Laos, where men were literally dying of fright because of how terrifying their dreams were. Holy shit.

—Katie May and Michael Moore, Facebook

6. The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

Vanguard / Wikipedia Commons / Public Domain

The weird-ass movie about cannibals living in the hills of Nevada is based on the Sawney Bean clan — a group of cannibals who were thought to have lived in a cave in 16th-century Scotland. They'd rob and eat villagers, and they murdered over a thousand people. (So this is more of a ~tall tale~ but it's still SCARY, OK?!)


7. Wolf Creek (2005)

Mushroom Pictures / Wikipedia Commons / Fair Use

Wolf Creek is based on the backpacker murders carried out by Ivan Milat and Bradley John Murdoch between 1989–93 in Australia. IRL, the bodies of seven backpackers were discovered in Belanglo State Forest, and in the movie, a group of backpackers come face-to-face with a deranged murderer.


8. The Witch (2016)

A24 / Wikipedia Commons / Public Domain

While this movie is based on the witches who were tried during Puritan times, the man behind The Witch did extensive research to make this film more true to what happened during those times — and that's what makes this movie freaky as HELL.


9. The Possession (2012)

Lionsgate /

So this movie's about a dybbuk box, aka a box haunted by a malicious spirit. Got it? Great. Apparently in real life some little girl opened one and all hell broke loose and demons attached to her. So don't go buying spooky boxes, K?

—Maria Kanno, Facebook

10. Jaws (1975)

Universal Pictures / Wikipedia Commons / CC BY 3.0 / Via

In the summer of 1916, a giant great white shark took five people as its victims off the Jersey Shore. These attacks were said to have been the inspiration for the most infamous shark film franchise of all time.


11. The Mothman Prophecies (2002)

Screen Gems / Wikipedia Commons / Fair Use

In 1966–67, residents of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, claimed to see a giant, winged creature with glowing red eyes. Then, when a local bridge collapsed, leaving 46 dead, the "Mothman" never appeared again. Coincidence? Who knows.


12. The Amityville Horror (1979)


The Lutz family moved into their beloved Amityville, New York, house in December 1975, where a slew of murders happened only a year prior, and now the their story is infamous. Sure, people are skeptical, but it's still a fun tale.


13. The Conjuring (2013)

Warner Bros. /

The movie is based on the story of the real demonic haunting of the Perron family in Rhode Island in the ’70s, and the oldest daughter says her family actually suffered from the hauntings for nine years. NINE.


14. A Haunting in Connecticut (2009)

Gold Circle Films /

The real-life haunting in Connecticut is very true to the film: Mom Carmen Reed moved to a former funeral home for a few years to be closer to her son's cancer treatment center, and while they lived there, "malevolent forces" would slap, grope, and threaten them.


15. The Exorcist (1973)

Warner Bros. /

The 1949 St. Louis exorcism of a boy named Roland Doe inspired what is now one of the top 10 highest-grossing movies of all time. Except unlike the film, the real exorcism took several months to complete. MONTHS, folks!!

—Tracy Adams Messenger, Facebook

16. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

Bryanston Pictures / Wikipedia Commons / Fair Use

The movie's villain, Leatherface, is based on serial killer Ed Gein. Gein killed two women and cut them up, and he made furniture from body parts from a local graveyard. That's fucked up.


17. The Strangers (2008)

Universal Pictures / Wikipedia Commons / Public Domain

The Strangers is about a couple who gets taunted all night in their cabin in the woods by three masked strangers. This horrifyingly realistic movie is supposedly based on the 1981 Keddie murders, an unsolved quadruple homicide that happened in a cabin in the woods of California. WHAT THE FUCK.

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The town of Point Pleasant is in West Virginia. An earlier version of this post stated that it was in Virginia. A big thank you to the readers who pointed that out!

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