Horror movies with aliens, crazed killers, and evil ghosts are terrifying enough but what makes a scary movie even scarier is knowing that it is based on a true story. Knowing that somebody actually went through that terror in reality is something that does not put one to sleep easily.
Hollywood has a way of bending the truth from time to time. Horror movies like "The Conjuring" and "Annabel" are famous as they are based on true stories but little do we know of the real story behind such horror movies.
So let us dig into the real stories behind some of the scariest movies based on paranormal activity.
1. The Exorcist (1973)
"The Exorcist" was the greatest horror movie of its time back in 1973. The actual exorcism was so scary that there have been books written on people who witnessed it. This story will give you goosebumps, all for real reasons.
The director of "The Exorcist (1973) - William Friedkin, was inspired by the actual exorcism of a 14-year-old boy - Roland Doe in a St Louis hospital and used the fictionalised account of the St Louis possession (changed to a 12-year-old girl played by Linda Blair) to make a film that commented on the mystery of faith.
Perhaps that unique approach to the supernatural horror, as well as its origin in a real event, are what have kept audiences intrigued and horrified for more than 40 years since "The Exorcist" was first released. It deeply affected the American cultural discourse and people's view of the Roman Catholic Church.
Based on the story of the teen, the 14-year-old Roland Doe, who began to exhibit strange behavior in 1949, "The Exorcist" goes on to explore a dimension of human experience that is perhaps as old as human existence.
Roland's family reported furniture moving on its own, scratches all over Doe's body, and loud, disembodied voices.
After a cross-country move did little to help Doe's strange affliction, his family looked for help from the Catholic Church. One of the priests involved in the Doe case, Father Raymond Bishop, recorded his experience in his diary of dealing with the supposed demonic possession.
One of his entries stated: "At midnight, the Fathers planned to give (Roland) Holy Communion, but Satan would have no part of it. Even while the institution of the Blessed Sacrament was explained, his body was badly scratched and branded. The word 'HELLO' was printed on his chest and thigh."
Eventually, after multiple attempts by the priests of the Church, the "demon" was exorcised and Doe returned to normalcy. He never spoke of the incident publicly.
2. The Amityville Horror (1979 and 2005)
The Amityville Horror (1979) and its remake from 2005 are based on the events that took place in 1974 at 112, Ocean Avenue, Lutz family's new house in Amityville, New York. This has been a much discussed case among paranormal researchers.
It inspired the 1977 novel The Amityville Horror, which was made into a film two years later, starring James Brolin and Margot Kidder as George and Kathy Lutz, who find a great deal on a house where a mass murder was committed a year before. A man had murdered his entire family with a shotgun in their home and that was the supposedly haunted house that the clueless couple bought a year later.
Soon, they begin to fear that the crime was influenced by a demonic presence in the house and worry they would be the next victims.
While the murder event in the infamous Amityville house was true, there is no real evidence to support any actual haunting happening there.
The original film, however, still pops into conversation as one of the best horror movies, mostly by those who still believe in its ghostly legend. The movie did very well at the box office becoming the "second highest-grossing-movie of 1979.
The story in short is this: On November 13, 1974 at 3:15 am, Ronald DeFeo Jr stole his father's shotgun and murdered his entire family in their home in Amityville, New York, claiming that voices in the house made him do it. He was later convicted and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
A year later, the Lutz family moved into the home and claimed to experience paranormal Events almost immediately.
George — the patriarch of the Lutz family — claimed to wake up frequently at 3:15 am (the time of the murders) and hear gunshots. His daughter Missy gained an imaginary friend Jodie, which was also the name of a DeFeo daughter. Missy said she did not know anything about the murders at the time.
The Lutz family fled their home only 28 days after moving in, sparking one of the greatest debates in paranormal history.
3. The Haunting in Connecticut (2009)
The plot of this movie is not new. You buy a new place to live and you are not happily received by the ghosts.
The scary part is that this really happened to Al and Carmen Snedeker who had their home in what used to be a funeral parlor. "The Haunting in Connecticut" is based on the plight of the Snedeker family (changed to Campbell in the movie).
The Snedekers moved into a new home in the 1980s to be closer to the University of Connecticut's hospital, since their son Phillip was undergoing treatment for cancer. The family soon realised that the house they had moved into used to be a funeral home.
According to the mother - Carmen, Phillip quickly became withdrawn and angry, and started seeing a ghostly man who would tell him to lash out. She eventually sent him away, though it is unclear whether he went to stay with family, or whether she had him committed (there are reports of both).
Either way, after Phillip left things allegedly got a lot worse for the rest of the family.
They eventually called in a priest to perform an exorcism.
Ed and Lorraine Warren, self-taught paranormal investigators, investigated the Snedeker's funeral parlor home by moving in for weeks to get the full demonic experience. The investigators declared that the morticians that worked there practiced necromancy and had infused the home with a deep evil. The Warrens performed an exorcism of the property and eventually declared it safe for the family to return.
4. The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)
This film is based on the life of Anneliese Michel who was possessed by demons so strong that It took nearly a year to exorcise her from the possession. It is one of the most famous exorcism movies.
The story of Anneliese Michel — renamed Emily Rose in the film — however, is tragic.
When Michel was 17, she experienced the first symptoms of her alleged possession. She was diagnosed with epilepsy and given medication to help treat the disease. But the meds did not help.
Michel continued to have seizures and began to claim she was having visions and hearing voices telling her she was a sinner. She became depressed and turned to religion.
By the time Michel was 23, she had been treated with dozens of different medications, and had undergone 67 exorcisms in 10 months but nothing helped.
She eventually stopped eating and died of starvation in 1976. Her parents and two of her priests were later found guilty of negligent homicide for allowing her to starve.
5. The Possession (2012)
"The Possession" is loosely based on a true story and is about a haunted wine cabinet, otherwise known as a dybbuk box. The wine box is supposed to be haunted by a dybbuk, a restless, usually malicious spirit.
In the movie, a young girl is drawn to an antique wooden box she finds at a yard sale but in real life, this wooden box was actually sold on eBay.
In both versions, fictional and real, strange and spooky things started happening to the new owners of the box.
The original buyer, Kevin Mannis, says that this box was purchased at the estate sale of a 103-year-old Holocaust survivor. Before the buyer could even get home with the box, Mannis received a nervous and frantic call from one of his employees at the furniture shop that he owned, claiming that someone was in the shop destroying the place.
Mannis gave the box to his mother for her birthday and within minutes of receiving the box, she had a stroke and lost the ability to speak for some time. Mannis attempts to give the box to many of his friends and family members; all of which who did take the box gave it back to him shortly after. All of the family members who had taken possession of the box suffered from the exact same nightmare.
Mannis was so afraid to destroy the box that he worried it would cause whatever evil spirit that he believed might be haunting it would stay with him forever. Traditionally, if something like this happens they say you are supposed to formally transfer ownership for the spirit to move on, except he could never find anyone who would keep it for more than a couple of days. So instead, he sold it on eBay.
Many buyer brought the box from eBay and the passed in on again with the same website.
Currently the box is in the hands of a university museum curator by the name of Jason Haxton in the Still College of Osteopathic Medicine Museum in Kirksville, MO.