Reading the words “Based on a true story” has never been so chilling…
7. Eaten Alive (1977)
The owner of the Starlight Hotel, situated within deep swampland, has a nasty way of dealing with anybody he takes a dislike too. Lurking within the swamp is a crocodile. Should any hotel guest outstay their welcome, it won’t be too long before they become crocodile food.
The True Crime
In the 1930s, Joe Ball, alias the ‘Alligator Man,’ allegedly killed numerous women and fed them to his pet alligators who resided in the backyard of his saloon, the ironically named ‘Sociable Inn’.
Joe entertained his guests by feeding stray animals to the alligators. People also believed that several women had become alligator food too after they completely disappeared from the town. Joe’s wife lost an arm, and it was believed Joe had cut it off and fed it to his pets.
When he came under investigation from the police, Joe killed himself. His handyman confessed to assisting Joe with the killings. The remains of some victims were found buried. Others were never found, leading to the assumption that they had been completely eaten by the alligators.
6. Psycho (1960)
Norman Bates, the unhinged owner of the Bates Motel, welcomes wary guests with a twitch and a smile. One guest named Marion Crane is on the run from the police and takes solace at the Motel. Unfortunately, she is not going to survive her stay.
The True Story
Norman Bates was loosely based on the serial killer Ed Gein. He had a troubled childhood and an overly emotional relationship with his mother. When she died his obsession with her continued.
Ed created a copy of his dead mother by skinning exhumed corpses from nearby graveyards. He made a ‘woman suit’ and face mask from the skin of the dead.
When police investigated Ed after a local woman went missing, they found that he had also killed at least two women. A decapitated head was found in his shed. The police also found leggings made from human leg skin, four noses, a belt made from human nipples, a brain, and other gruesome discoveries.
Ed spent the rest of his life in a variety of mental institutions until his death in 1984.
5. Borderland (2007)
Three college friends head to Mexico for a weekend of strip clubs and booze. Unfortunately, their trip does not turn out as expected and they are forced to do battle with a human-sacrificing cult.
The True Story
Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo, a drug dealer and cult leader who practiced ritual animal sacrifice during the 1980s, inspired the film. It was thought his voodoo spells were responsible for the success of the drug cartels he supported.
Adolfo made some powerful enemies, and it is thought he turned to human sacrifice to dispose of them. Around 20 people were killed, mainly from rival cartels, and their body parts were allegedly used in ritual sacrifices. Body parts of the dead were later found, including ears, eyes, and in one case, the spinal column of an unfortunate victim.
Adolfo’s henchmen abducted pre-med student Mark Kilroy, from Texas, while he was on a spring break with friends in Mexico. They murdered him with a machete, and his mutilated body was later found in a shallow grave, along with 14 other bodies.
The cult leader was eventually caught and shot to death by the Mexican Special Police in 1989. On investigating his ranch, the police discovered mutilated corpses, a dead cat, and a human brain. All were evidence of sacrificial voodoo practices.
4. The Hills Have Eyes (1977)
A family’s holiday is cut short when their car breaks down in the Nevada desert. To make matters worse, they meet a family of cannibals, who are hunting for their next meal.
The True Story
The film was based on the legend of Alexander “Sawney” Bean, who, in the 15th-century, raised a large family through incest in Scotland. This family would ambush travelers under the cover of night, take them back to their cave, dismember and eat them. Local villagers searched for those who had vanished, but with no success.
One night the Bean family ambushed the wrong person. They attacked a married couple and mutilated the wife. However, the husband put up a brave fight, keeping the savages at bay. During the conflict, a number of townspeople arrived to help and the Bean family fled.
Word was sent to King James IV of Scotland who hunted down the cannibals. On their capture, the Bean family was condemned to death. The men were castrated, had their hands and feet severed, and slowly bled to death. The women and children were all burned alive – a horrible end for a savage family.
3. The Town That Dreaded Sunshine (1976)
In 1946 Arkansas, a hooded killer terrorizes a small town. The townspeople live in fear, as each night, the ‘Phantom Killer’ looks for his next unsuspecting victim.
The True Story
Based on the ‘Phantom Killer’ who, in the 1940s, murdered eight people within ten weeks in a small Texas town. In fear, the townsfolk began to lock their doors and windows, fearful of going out at night. People suspected their neighbors. They booby-trapped their homes to foil the killer, and brave teenagers laid out traps in popular dating spots, ready to catch the ‘Phantom’ in action.
The first attack happened in the February of 1946. 24-year old Jimmy Hollis was on a date with his girlfriend,19-year old Mary Jean Larey. At a secluded spot in the park, the killer struck. Waving around a .32 caliber pistol, the killer ordered them to get out of the car. They were both assaulted, but the killer ran when another car approached. It was a lucky escape, but others were not so fortunate.
The horrors in the town continued. People were attacked, raped and murdered. The case became known as the ‘Texarkana Moonlight Murders,’ as the killer only struck at night. Despite the police being on high alert, the killer was never found. One day the killings just stopped as suddenly as they had begun.
2. The Sacrament (2013)
Three journalists investigate a reclusive religious commune known as ‘Eden Parish.’ The community appears to be happy on the surface, but the visitors soon discover all is not right in paradise.
The sinister Father rules the flock, and his motives are not well intentioned. It’s not long before the journalists are asked for help from the frightened community.
The True Story
The film is based on the ‘Jonestown Massacre’ of 1978. It is now known as the largest mass suicide in history. Named after its self-proclaimed Messiah, Jim Jones, who led his adoring flock to Guyana, promising them refuge from the outside world. A self-sufficient community was formed, and the congregation built their own homes and grew their own food. Whilst many people doubted Jones’ views,’ they were fearful to express it, such was the power he held over them.
In November 1978, congressman, Leo Ryan, visited the community to investigate allegations of human rights abuse. An NBC news crew followed him and they were welcomed by Jones and his followers but it became clear that this was not the promised land. Notes were handed to the news crew from residents asking to be rescued. When an attempted rescue mission took place, Leo Ryan, along with his staff, and some of the news crew were killed by Jonestown guardsmen.
A short while after the massacre, Jones ordered his congregation to kill themselves, promising them glory in death. Fruit drinks were laced with cyanide, and despite protestations and anguish from some, the 909 people of Jonestown laid down to die. 304 of them were children.
Jim Jones died from a self-inflicted gunshot to the head.
1. The Amityville Horror (1979)
When the Lutz family move into their new home, they discover that its previous owner had killed his family with an axe. It seems he had been possessed by a demon, and the family discovered that the evil spirit still resides within their house, turning their dream home into a house from Hell.
The True Story
Before the address was permanently changed to number 108 Ocean Drive – the home was previously known as 112 Ocean Drive.
On the night of November 13th, 1974, Ronald “Butch” DeFeo Jr. shot his parents, two brothers and two sisters with a .35 caliber rifle, all whilst they slept peacefully in their own beds.
Above is the DeFeo children (back row, left to right): John (age 9), Allison (age 13), Marc (age 12). (Front row): Dawn (age 18) , Ronald “Butch” Jr. Their parents Ronald (age 44) and Louise (age 42) are not pictured.
At around 6.30pm, Butch then burst into Henry’s Bar in Amityville and screamed: “You’ve got to help me! I think my mother and father are shot!” When police entered the home, they discovered the bodies of the DeFeo family, all of whom had suffered fatal gunshot wounds – two each for the parents and one each for the children.
Butch was immediately arrested and after a long interrogation, he finally confessed to the murders telling officers: “Once I started, I just couldn’t stop. It went so fast.”
After the killings, Butch’s defense attorney tried to gain an insanity plea and helped Butch testify that he heard voices telling him to murder his family. Little did they know that this fabrication of the truth would result in one of the most well-known murder stories ever told – The Amityville Horror.