In the 1979 and 2005 films, the Lutz family moves into a house in Amityville, New York, where the previous owner, Ronald DeFao, brutally murdered his family. (RED FLAG. Never move into a murder house. Ever.) One terrifying, paranormal thing happens after another. Fridge magnets mysteriously spell out “KATCH EM, KILL EM,” blood drips down the walls, the priest’s holy water evaporates when he tries to bless the house... But the Lutz family is able to escape and leave the house forever.
Ronald DeFao did actually murder his family in the Amityville house, and the Lutz family did experience weird, paranormal occurrences while living there, but that’s about where the similarities stop. No, blood did not ooze out of the walls in the real life story, and the Lutz father did not become possessed and try to murder his family. Still, spooky stuff.
This 2009 horror film is based on the true story of the Snedeker family, whose claims are just as blood-curdling as the events in the movie. In the film, the Snedeker family moves into a creepy home in — you guessed it! — Connecticut, and they soon discover that the home was previously a funeral parlor. Scary things ensue, and eventually, the family calls upon demonologists, who proclaim that the house is infested with demons.
So here’s where things get a bit dicey. Apparently, the Snedeker family’s story has been the subject of much skepticism. Sure, the family has recounted their horrific experiences with demons (being raped by demons = actually the stuff of nightmares) on national talk shows, but the family lived in the house for more than two years before moving out… This begs the question — just how terrifying could the “haunting” in that Connecticut house have been?
After playing with a Ouija board, 12-year-old Regan becomes possessed by a very violent, very stubborn demon. (If there’s anything more haunting than a 12-year-old speaking in a demonic voice, I don’t know what it is.) When the priest comes to conduct the exorcism, he realizes he cannot actually expel the demon from Regan’s body. So instead, he casts the demon onto himself and commits suicide in order to banish the demon completely.
The Exorcist is based on the case of Roland Doe, a 14-year-old boy who was allegedly possessed after messing with a Ouija board in 1949. Apparently, this possession resulted in bizarre paranormal activity, such as mysteriously moving furniture and scratches randomly appearing on Doe’s body. The Doe family called upon an exorcist, who conducted more than 30 exorcisms on the young boy, who was eventually cured of the demon.
This cult classic was released in 1977, and it has since spawned several remakes and sequels. Apparently, horror film enthusiasts can’t get enough of savage cannibals murdering and eating people who are unfortunate enough to get stranded in the desert.
Here’s one bit of good news: The “true story” behind The Hills Have Eyes didn’t take place in the Nevada desert or even during any recent century. Now here’s the horrifying news: The “true story” did involve murder, cannibalism and more than 1,000 victims. The film was inspired by the story of Sawney Bean and his cannibalistic clan of followers, who killed and consumed countless people in Scotland during the 15th or 16th century.
The Conjuring follows the Perron family who moves into an old farmhouse that is riddled with paranormal activity. The Perrons call up Ed and Lorraine Warren, paranormal investigators (real life ghostbusters!), who discover that an evil spirit has latched onto the Perrons. The evil spirit ultimately possesses the Perron mother and tries to kill the children.
The film seems to stick pretty closely to the true-life story of the Perrons. The farmhouse was indeed haunted by the spirit of a woman named Bathsheba, and there was plenty of freaky paranormal activity that made the Perrons call in the Warrens. The main difference between the film and the true story: The Perron mother was never possessed and never tried to kill her daughters.
Here’s the haunting similarity between the movie and the real story: The murderer did actually wear his victims’ skin like masks. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is loosely based on the very true, very disturbing case of Ed Gein, who used human remains to create things like eating utensils, lampshades, belts and masks.
The 2005 film tells the story of Emily Rose, a young woman who is plagued by demons. Throughout the film, Emily has one terrifying, demon-induced seizure after another. The exorcism, which is conducted in the hopes of expelling the demons, ends up killing Emily.
Emily Rose is based on the case of Anneliese Michel, whose demon infestation was attributed to mental illness. Convinced that she was, in fact, possessed, Michel underwent 67 exorcisms. I don’t know about you, but if my demons haven’t left after 67 exorcisms, I’d start wondering if there was something else wrong with me.