Most horror movies are based on terrifying urban legends and ghost stories. But what if we told you that the scary stories you hear around campfires aren’t fiction?
The creatures, serial killers, and haunted houses in popular culture are all inspired by real-life events. With this list of the best horror movies based on true stories, you’ll witness movies that have terrified audiences for years.
Each one is based on a different real-life event, ranging from a mass murder spree to demonic possession. From gruesome murders to demonic possessions, these tales are enough to make even the most hardened moviegoer scream in terror.
Check out our list of the 24 best horror movies based on true stories. These spine-tingling films will have you hiding behind your popcorn bucket in no time.
The Exorcist (1973)
Enjoy one of the most terrifying and influential horror movies of all time, The Exorcist. This best horror movie based on true story tells the story of a young girl who experiences a demonic possession and the lengths her mother will go to save her.
It is considered one of the greatest films of all time and has frequently been cited as the most frightening film ever made. If you need a horror movie that will truly terrify you, look no further than The Exorcist.
Also, some great horro movies are also available on Hulu and you can watch Hulu in Canada with the help of a VPN.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Based on the disturbing true story of Ed Gein, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has become one of the best horror movies based on true stories. The film tells the story of five friends who head to rural Texas to visit the grave of a grandfather.
On the way, they stumble across what appears to be a deserted house, only to discover something sinister within. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a classic example of why sometimes truth is stranger – and more terrifying – than fiction.
This one of the best horror movies based on true stories follows a group of individuals as they battle a large, man-eating shark. The movie is set in the summertime, specifically on the Fourth of July weekend, when beaches are jam-packed with people enjoying the warm weather.
Jaws quickly become a summertime classic. Many consider Jaws to be one of the best horror movies of all time, and it is easy to see why.
The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976 / 2014)
If you need to witness the best horror movies based on true stories, look no further than The Town that Dreaded Sundown. This film tells the story of a ruthless killer who terrorized the small town of Texarkana, Arkansas, in 1946.
This movie is based on a true story, and it’s sure to send chills down your spine. If you’re looking for a truly frightening film, add The Town that Dreaded Sundown to your must-watch list.
The Hills Have Eyes (1977)
Find the most harrowing movie from our recommendation of best horror movies that based on true stories, The Hills Have Eyes. The family in the movie is driving through the desert when their car breaks down, and they’re stranded in an area inhabited by a group of savage cannibals.
As the family tries to survive, they’re faced with horrifying obstacles, and they must use all their strength and ingenuity to escape. Get a glimpse into the nightmarish reality of life in Bean’s clan.
The Amityville Horror (1979)
For many, the word “horror” brings images of monsters and ghosts that go bump in the night. But sometimes, the terrifying monsters are the ones that walk among us, like in the case of The Amityville Horror.
This chilling movie is based on the true story of a family who moved into a house where a horrific mass murder had taken place. Soon after they moved in, they started to experience strange and inexplicable manifestations, which strongly affected everyone in the household.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Nancy Thompson’s world is turned upside down when a series of grisly murders start happening in her neighbourhood. The police are stumped, but Nancy knows that the killer is closer to home than they think.
She must face her fears and confront the killer before it’s too late. A Nightmare on Elm Street is one of the most classic and best horror movies based on true stories of a group of teenagers who were terrorized by a spirit with a bladed glove.
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)
Introducing Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer, one of the best horror movies based on true stories. This film follows the chilling tale of real-life serial killer Henry Lee Lucas.
In the early 1980s, Lucas confessed to murdering over 600 people, making him one of the most prolific killers in American history. And this movie documents his gruesome crimes in graphic detail.
This truly harrowing film will leave you feeling terrified and disgusted. Get a fascinating look into the mind of a madman.
Dead Ringers (1988)
Get ready to be scared out of your mind with Dead Ringers: Best Horror Movies Based on True Stories. Watch as the twin gynecologists take full advantage of their identical appearances, and then see how their relationship begins to unravel.
You’ll also see a woman who is haunted by a demonic entity and a family that is terrorized by an evil spirit. These are not just fictional stories that have been embellished for entertainment value. These are real-life scare fests that will leave you feeling truly terrified.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Looking for a truly chilling movie experience? Check out The Silence of the Lambs. Featuring an iconic performance by Anthony Hopkins as the cannibal killer Hannibal Lecter makes it a perfect match for the best horror movies based on true stories for any fan of horror.
FBI cadet Clarice Starling is tasked with tracking down a serial killer who has been kidnapping and murdering young women. She turns to Lecter for help, he agrees to assist her in catching the killer in exchange for information about Starling’s past.
Cannibal! The Musical (1993)
Director: Trey Parker
Writers: Trey Parker, Matt Stone
Cast: Dian Bachar, Trey Parker, Stan Brakhage, Stephen Blackpool.
IMDb Rating: 7.0/10
It tells the story of a group of miners who become stranded in the mountains. Now, the men resorted to eating their dead to survive. The story is based on Alexander Pearce, convicted of cannibalism in Tasmania in 1824.
The movie itself is a dark comedy, and it has been praised for its black humor and satirical take on the genre. If you are a fan of horror movies, then Cannibal the Musical is worth watching.
You can’t afford to miss a scary movie to watch that’s based on a true story, Scream. This film is guaranteed to give you chills and keep you up at night. The movie follows the story of a group of teenage friends terrorized by a killer who seems to take inspiration from horror movies.
The teens must use their own knowledge of horror films to try and survive the night. If you’re looking for a true horror story, this is the movie for you.
Follow the story of Jeffrey Dahmer, one of the most notorious serial killers in American history. His gruesome crimes terrorized the Midwest in the 1980s and 1990s, and he was finally caught and convicted in 1994.
Despite his criminal career, Dahmer left a lasting impression on the world. Now, you can see his story in the film, Dahmer that made it one of the best horror movies based on true stories. This biopic explores both the past and the present of America’s most famous killer.
The Mothman Prophecies (2002)
Looking for a truly spine-tingling horror movie? Look no further than The Mothman Prophecies! This spellbinding film is based on true events that took place in a small town in West Virginia.
Reporter John Klein is investigating a series of strange events, including psychic visions and the appearance of bizarre entities.
He discovers that a series of strange occurrences are connected to the legend of the Mothman. The Mothman Prophecies is a haunting and suspenseful film that will give you chills.
Open Water (2003)
Welcome to Open Water, the best horror movie based on a true story. This heart-stopping thriller follows the terrifying ordeal of two scuba divers who are accidentally stranded in shark-infested waters after their tour boat has left.
With sharks circling and time running out, the divers must find a way to safety before it’s too late. Open Water is the perfect movie for anyone who loves a good suspenseful thriller. Open Water is a must-see for any horror fan.
Wolf Creek (2005)
This movie follows three backpackers who are stranded after their car runs out of gas. They are soon met by a local named Mick Taylor, who offers to help them. However, they soon discover that Mick is a sadistic psychopath who intends to torture and kill the backpackers.
Wolf Creek is a gritty and ultra-violent horror movie that is not for the faint of heart. It is a well-made film that will send chills down your spine.
Three college friends, travel to a Mexican border town for a night of partying. However, their fun quickly turns into a nightmare when they stumble upon a human-sacrifice cult. Borderland is a heart-pounding thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end.
This one of the best horror movies based on true stories projected the real-life case of the serial killings of several women in Ciudad Juarez in the early 2000s.
Black Water (2007)
Get ready for the scare of a lifetime with Black Water: Best Horror Movies Based on True Stories. This harrowing tale tells the story of a group of vacationers who find themselves stranded in the middle of a remote swamp, being stalked by a massive crocodile.
With tension mounting and panic setting in, they must use all their ingenuity and courage to survive against all odds. Featuring pulse-pounding suspense and heart-stopping scares, Black Water is a must-see for any fan of horror movies.
The Girl Next Door (2007)
We all like to think that we know our neighbours. But what if the person next door is capable of unspeakable evil? The Girl Next Door is a horror movie based on true events that will make you think twice before letting someone in your home.
The film follows the story of a teenage girl who is tortured and abused by her aunt. The girl’s only hope for salvation lies with the boys who witness the abuse and have the power to stop it.
The Strangers (2008)
The movie is inspired by the Manson Family murders, which took place in 1969. However, the movie is not a retelling of those events. Instead, it follows a young couple who are terrorized by three unknown assailants.
The movie is extremely suspenseful, and the assailants are never shown onscreen. The ending is also very memorable, as it leaves the couple’s fate up to interpretation. Overall, The Strangers is an excellent horror movie that will leave you feeling shaken.
The Possession (2012)
Looking for a truly spine-chilling horror movie? Look no further than The Possession, one of the best horror movies based on true stories. This hair-raising tale tells the story of a young girl who unknowingly purchases an antique box that contains a malicious ancient spirit.
As the spirit starts to take control of the girl, her father must find a way to end the curse. The Possession is packed with suspense and will have you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end.
The Conjuring (2013)
Director: James Wan
Writers: Chad Hayes, Carey W. Hayes
Cast: Ron Livingston, Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor.
IMDb Rating: 7.5/10
The Conjuring tells the tale of the Warrens, paranormal investigators who are called to help a family terrorized by a dark entity in their farmhouse. The Conjuring is based on the true story of the Perron family, who lived in a farmhouse in Harrisville, Rhode Island in the 1970s.
The family had no idea what they were dealing with when they started experiencing strange activity in their home.
The Sacrament (2013)
This spine-tingling movie follows a news team as they trail a man searching for his missing sister in the world of Eden Parish. However, it quickly becomes apparent that this paradise may not be as idyllic as it seems.
The Sacrament portrayed the real-life Jonestown Massacre, and director Ti West does an excellent job capturing the eerie feeling of cults and their hold over people. It is a must-watch for any horror fan looking for their next adrenaline fix.
The Conjuring 2 (2016)
Find a harrowing movie that is based on the case files of Ed and Lorraine Warren, world-renowned paranormal investigators. When Warrens travel to North London to help a single mother raising four children alone, they discover that a supernatural spirit plagues the house.
The movie is filled with suspense and scares, and it will keep you glued to your seat from beginning to end. If you’re interested in the paranormal, then you should definitely check out The Conjuring 2.
What can be more scarier than a horror movie based on true events? These movies are based on real-life horrors that will have you hiding behind your cushions in fear. With this list of the best horror movies based on true stories, you’ll see just how terrifying reality can be.
From the based-on-a-true-story classic, The Exorcist, to the modern classic, The Conjuring, these movies will have you looking over your shoulder for days. These are the best horror movies based on true stories that will keep you up at night.