We’ve all seen the dreaded (no pun intended) words in scary movie trailers – “based on a true story.” Some of you may roll your eyes at the phrase, as we all know Hollywood has a way of stretching the truth. But it turns out that more than a few horror masterpieces are legit – based on real-life paranormal events, serial killers and supernatural experiences.
Grab your popcorn and be ready to be “IRL” scared, because we have the top 10 scary movies and series based on true events that you can now stream on Hulu!
Any scary movie enthusiast will know about The Amityville Horror, the 1970’s supernatural horror film that tells the story of one of the most famous mass murders and haunted houses of all time. This remake is a modern telling of what happened after Ronald DeFeo Jr. murdered his family in 1974, recounting the Lutz family’s paranormal experiences inside the house and all of its spooky history. Being a remake of the famous 1979 Amityville Horror it’s not shocking that Rotten Tomatoes was not favorable as that iconic film will always be a high bar. At least a few critics favored it over the original though.
One of the more underrated horror films of the 2000’s, this story is based on true events experienced by the Snedeker family in 1986. Famous paranormal researchers Ed and Lorraine Warren claimed that the Snedeker’s house used to be a funeral home in which morticians practiced necromancy, along with many other paranormal experiences. If you want an old-fashioned ghost story and plenty of dead bodies, look no further than this supernatural flick.
3. The Exorcist (TV Series) (2016)
Why they cancelled this series after only two seasons, we’ll never know. It was pretty great. Serving as a sequel to the 1970’s classic scary movie of the same name, which was based on the real-life exorcism of 14-year old Rolan Doe in 1949, the TV series featured plenty of straight-up scares and excellent special effects.
From American Horror Story to this indie masterpiece, it seems Dylan McDermott has a talent for playing serial killers. The titular character is based on Dennis Rader, a mass murderer who killed countless people over the span of nearly 20 years before being caught. As a community leader and Boy Scout guide, nobody suspected Rader of being dangerous… until they did.
That’s right, the film about a terrifying and murderous doll come to life is based on true events. Chucky is based on the world’s creepiest doll – Robert. He was made in the early 1900’s by a servant who knew black magic and voodoo, and gifted to Key West author Robert Eugene as a child.
The haunted doll began to mutilate Robert’s other toys, speak to him in a terrifying voice and cause havoc around the house. Robert’s parents claimed they saw the doll running through the hallways, as well as the little girl who adopted him after Robert’s death. How do you know he’s worse than Chucky? The doll is still on display in a museum in Florida, in a thick glass case so he can’t escape!
Rotten Tomatoes: 39%
Spanning 7 years, multiple sequels and plenty of terrifying Halloween masks, The Purge has become a fixture in horror. Though it’s set in a dystopian future America where any and all crime is legal for a certain time period, it’s not as unrealistic as you think. The plot is based on historical records dating back to the time of Roman Pagans, who celebrated a festival called Saturnalia.
What is this, exactly? A weeklong period of debauchery that gave citizens permission to kill, maim and spread terror throughout the city. They were encouraged to drink heavily and act out their desires without fear of retribution – very similar to The Purge. At least that was only 12 hours, and not a whole week of terror!
Possession films are a dime a dozen, but this one from Lionsgate is based on a highly publicized story reported by the Los Angeles Times in 2004. A small wooden box with Hebrew letters engraved – just like the one in the film – was sold on eBay to museum curator John Haxton.
Inside were oddities like locks of hair, a granite slab, one dried rosebud and supposedly a “dibbuk,” a spirit popular in Yiddish folklore. The box was said to have caused bad luck and paranormal occurrences with previous owners. However, this means hair falling out and bizarre accidents, not stabbing people with a fork like the little girl in this film.
While this Hulu original lacks paranormal elements, there’s nothing scarier than being betrayed and abused by the ones meant to love you the most. The Act tells the true story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard, who was forced to fabricate illnesses and disabilities by her mother Dee Dee due to Munchausen syndrome by proxy, and Dee Dee’s eventual murder.
If you need proof of how great this series is, just look at its Emmy nominations and glowing reviews. Gypsy’s story is full of mystery and heartache and is as intriguing as it is terrifying.
A direct sequel that came nearly 40 years after The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, this slasher flick is all kinds of good fun. You’ll get to see the return of Leatherface, the insane dude with the chainsaw who was based on infamous serial killer Ed Gein.
We won’t lie… this film isn’t exactly a masterpiece, but it’s great for a date night or scary movie marathon with friends.
Can you imagine being kidnapped by a (literal) couple of serial killers? That’s exactly what happens in Hounds of Love, and in real life! The story is eerily similar to that of one of the most high-profile serial killer couples ever – David and Catherine Birnie. They murdered four young girls in 1986 and hailed from Australia, where director Ben Young happens to hail from. Coincidence? We think not!
I am a lifelong pop culture junkie with immense passion for all forms of art and entertainment. On a typical weekend, I can be found at a concert or musical, chasing ghosts on the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland, or watching way too many makeup tutorials on YouTube.