Halloween countdown: The best horror movies based on true stories

Kino. Der Exorzist, (THE EXORCIST) USA, 1973, Regie: William Friedkin, LINDA BLAIR. (Photo by FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives via Getty Images)
Kino. Der Exorzist, (THE EXORCIST) USA, 1973, Regie: William Friedkin, LINDA BLAIR. (Photo by FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives via Getty Images) /

We’re counting down the weeks until Halloween 2021 with some of our favorite horror movies! This Friday, we’re looking at the best horror movies based on true stories.

In the following slides, we share details about the film Amityville Horror and other scary movies that were inspired by true events.

Ghosts are special in both the horror and in the regular world, and even more so on the day of October 31. Ghosts represent memories and memories haunt us. Stories about haunted houses, hotels, buildings or any place where someone died seem to offer some sort of comfort, even if they’re scary.

They mean we have an afterlife waiting for us on the other side, but like promises of an eternal afterlife, spirits have a stronger presence in stories than they do in reality. Ghosts, unlike other supernatural creatures that represent sin, act as proof of the human soul’s existence. No one wants to think that there’s nothing after death, that their thoughts and memories will fade away into nothing and they’ll never see their loved ones again.

We’ve put together a list of our favorite horror movies based on true stories (well, allegedly). Do you believe in ghosts? Which horror movie featuring ghosts is your favorite?

Check out our list and be sure to share which horror movies you’ll be watching this Halloween 2021 season.

This post has been edited by FanSided staff.

What are the best horror movies based on true stories?

The Amityville Horror

First up, we’ve got The Amityville Horror. If you’re like me, you watched this movie way too young and it haunted your dreams for several nights after. There’s supposedly a true story behind it that even paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren examined.

The Haunting in Connecticut

Need more terrifying scares than The Amityville Horror? You can’t go wrong with The Haunting in Connecticut, another one investigated by the Warren’s.

The story is based on the horrors inflicted on the Snedeker family, detailed in the book “In a Dark Place: The Story of a True Haunting” by Ray Garton, The Haunting in Connecticut is one of the more darker horror films to ever be based on “true” events.

The Entity

This is a weird one, and it was inspired by an equally weird, though harrowing, story. An adaption from the book by Frank De Felitta, who also wrote the screenplay, The Entity is about a woman (Barbara Hershey) that is raped and tormented by an invisible assailant-assumed to be a spirit. As she tries to figure out what’s happening, she has to deal with doctors and others who simply think she’s delusional.

A parable for female sexual victimhood, the film was slightly controversial when it was released in 1982, but against all odds, it turned out to have been based on a real-life assault case.


This movie is one of the most popular movies on this list of horror movies based on true stories. The story is about a family whose home is invaded by spirits that abduct their daughter and take her to another realm, Poltergeist is loosely based on the “true” haunting that took place in a house on Long Island, New York. A family was terrorized by what that thought was a poltergeist, they referred to as Popper, that only seemed to appear when their children were around.

The Conjuring

Another Ed and Lorraine Warren case that made its way into film, and possibly their most popular case.

The Conjuring, directed by James Wan, directs the focus to Ed and Lorraine Warren themselves (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) who are called when a house appears to be haunted. The Warrens come to the assistance of the Perron family as the angry spirit of a long-dead witch starts to torment them.

The real Perron family has come out and said that most of the spirits they encountered in the house were harmless and that they ended up living there until 1980. Imagine spending nine years inside a haunted house because “most of the spirits” inside seemed semi-friendly. The ghosts stunk of rotting flesh and usually would levitate their beds at 5:15 a.m. No thanks!

Horror movies based on true stories to watch

The Shining

Okay, so the The Shining by Stephen King isn’t exactly a “true story” but the hotel itself was inspired by a real hotel. Give King credit for making his own story instead of just recapping a haunting that may or may not have happened.

The Changeling

This is a horror classic and one of the best haunting movies ever made. Released in 1980, directed by Peter Medak, The Changeling (not the movie starring Angelina Jolie) tells an eerie tale about a composer that moves into a New York mansion that he comes to realize is haunted.

Honestly, one of the best things about this movie is the refreshing absence of religious wives that way too many haunted house movies incorporate. The protagonist in The Changeling is a widower that lives alone, which allows the film to take on a more psychological aspect. Are the ghosts real or are they in his head?

The story is based on the claims of playwright Russell Hunter when he stayed at Henry Treat Rogers mansion in Cheesman Park, Denver, Colorado in the 1960s. After a series of unexplained events, Hunter found a journal locked away in a hidden room that detailed the sad life of a disabled boy kept locked away in isolation by his parents.

The Exorcist

Finally, we have The Exorcist, a movie about the exorcism of a young girl, events that were inspired by the real exorcism of a young boy in 1949, what is known as the St. Louis exorcism. The identity of the child has been kept a secret, but many details have leaked since.

How many of these horror movies based on true stories have you seen? Which should we add to the list? 

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