As a follow on from our first post on scary true stories turned into movies, we look at more of those horror films we know and love which are based on true events. Let us know your thoughts in the comments box provided below!
We all know that ginger haired, freckle faced doll with a penchant for knives. The tale of Chucky, written by Don Mancini was in fact inspired by a real life doll named Robert.
Clothed in a sailor looking suit and clutching a stuffed lion, Robert – who is often referred to as Robert the Haunted Doll – is a one of a kind doll that was once owned by a Florida painter named Robert Eugene Otto – thus the name, Robert. According to the stories, Eugene (as he was often called) was given the doll as a child by a female servant that tended to his abusive parents’ house. This servant just so happened to be well versed in the art of voodoo. Legends suggest that the girl possessed the three-foot-tall doll as a way to get back at the Otto family, and it was young Eugene who would experience the brunt of the doll’s wrath.
Robert is said to have the ability to speak. Eugene’s parents would often hear him having conversations with the doll, up in his bedroom, they would hear their son talking to the doll and then also hear responses back, in a completely different voice than Eugene’s. Whenever strange things would happen in the house, or misfortunes would befall the family, Eugene would always place the blame on Robert, stating “Robert did it!” Always adamant that the doll was doing these things.
According to various reports Robert would blink and emit this eerie childlike giggle, and neighbors would often see him walking around through the windows of the house when the Otto family wasn’t home. Eugene’s parents were quite often awoken in the night by the sound of their son screaming bloody murder with Robert always found at his bedside.
When his mother and father died, Eugene inherited the house and moved in with his wife, Annette. Discovering Robert in the attic, tossed up there many years prior, Eugene reportedly developed a deep connection with the doll as soon as he once again laid eyes on it. His wife was so freaked out by it that she insisted it stay locked away in the attic but this didn’t sit well with Eugene, who demanded he be let out into the house, and given a room of his own with a view.
Kids that used to walk by the house started to get scared to look up at the window of the guest room on the 3rd floor as Robert would glower down at them, mocking them and dance around. A plumber once ran from the house screaming after saying he had heard the doll giggling and had noticed it scowling at him.
Eugene and Ann’s marriage slowly started to deteriorate as Eugene would lash out, scream and smash things, all of a sudden snapping out his ‘trance’ and back to himself again. He would always apologized to Ann with the same statement, “It was Robert, Robert did it!” Ann started to question her husband’s sanity.
When Eugene became ill, instead of spending time with his wife he locked himself alone in the guest room with Robert by his side and when Eugene died, he was still in the guest room with the doll beside him. Heartbroken Ann quickly sold the house left, but not before leaving Robert behind, buried up in the attic under a pile of boxes.
Several years later, another family brought the home and discovered Robert nearly squashed beneath boxes in the attic. After similar incidents with their young daughter to Eugene’s childhood the family got rid of it for good and brought it to the Key West Florida Martello Museum.
Robert the Haunted Doll now calls the Key West Martello Museum home, where he’s visited by tourists who are captivated by his frightening story. Even within the confines of the museum, behind a glass case, Robert still manages to terrify and bewilder. Several employees have reported that he has changed position overnight, and in one case even had dust on his feet in the morning, suggesting that he was walking around when no one was in the building. If you want to take a picture of him, you must ask politely and apparently he will tilt his head in permission. If he doesn’t and you take a picture anyways it is said a curse will befall upon you and anyone who accompanied you to the museum. Something that has seen to be true as the museum constantly receives apology letters for Robert from visitors who didn’t ask permission and bad luck of sorts had befallen them.
THE HILLS HAVE EYES-
Directed by the famous Wes Craven and a classic horror movie, The Hills have eyes was about a cannibalistic clan hunting an innocent travelling family in modern day America – based on a 15th/16th century tale.
The real life gruesome tale is that of Sawney Bean, a Scottish man born circa the 15th/16th century. Bean married and had 14 children, many of which were the product of incest and the family were cannibals.
Legend has it that Bean ran away with this lover to a nearby cave, which could not be easily seen by passersby. The cave was close to Ballantrae on Bennane head in Ayrshire, although other sea caves along the Ayrshire and Galloway coast have also been associated with the story.
Having no means to make a living as they didn’t work and couldn’t buy food, the couple would wait until nightfall and set a careful ambush to rob, kill and then eat travelers or small groups of people. The family soon became bigger and their reign of terror did not go unnoticed as hundreds of people went missing over the years. The Beans became so successful in their butchery that they would cast unwanted limbs into the sea which were washed up on distant and local beaches, much to the horror of the coastal communities.
In time the areas reputation reached the ears of the authorities and many innocent people were executed because of the Bean family crimes. The hardest hit were innkeepers as, more often than not, the missing persons were last seen in an inn or lodgings and suspicion naturally fell on those who had seen them last. This happened on so many occasions that numerous innkeepers fled to take up other less risky occupations, and the area became a shunned and depopulated place.
In time their family grew to an incestuous gang of around 45-50 sons, daughters, grandsons and granddaughters. The Bean’s family had now started to attack larger groups, although never more than they thought they could overwhelm. They became more confident that they would not be discovered and that the cave that they had chosen kept them well hidden from prying eyes. The tide passed right into the mouth of the cave, which went almost a mile into the cliffs. It was estimated that in their 25-year reign of terror they had killed more than a thousand men, women and children. They were finally discovered by fortunate chance.
A man and his wife were returning from a local fair on horseback when they were ambushed by the Bean family. The husband put a furious struggle with his sword and pistol and managed to plough through the villainous host. Unfortunately his wife lost her balance and fell from the horse, and was butchered by the female cannibals, who ripped out her entrails and started to feast on her blood. Her horrified husband fought back even harder and was lucky that 30 or so other revelers from the fair came along the path.
The Bean family made a hasty retreat back to their hideout, as the man explained to the crowd what had happened. The husband went along with the group to Glasgow, and the magistrates were informed, who in turn told the King, James IV, who was so enthralled with the case that he took personal charge. Equipped with bloodhounds the King and a posse of 400 men made their way to the scene of the slaughter and the hunt began.
The bloodhounds get all the credit for the capture of Sawney Bean: the King’s men did not notice the well-hidden cave but the dogs could not ignore the strong smell of flesh that surrounded it. The men entered the cave and found a horrible scene: dried parts of human bodies were hanging all from the roof, pickled limbs lay in barrels, and all around piles of money and trinkets from the pockets of the dead lay in piles. The Beans made no attempt to escape all were caught alive and brought to Edinburgh in chains.
The entire family was executed for the murder and cannibalization of over 1,000 people. The execution was a slow one: the men bled to death after their hands and legs were cut off, and the women were burned alive after they were forced to watch the execution of the men. It is said they all died without the least sign of repentance, but continued cursing and vending the most dreadful imprecations to the very last gasp of life.
THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES-
The Mothman Prophecies, directed by Mark Pellington and starring Richard Gere and Laura Linney, was based on the sightings of an enormous, moth-like creature said to be seen in Point Pleasant, West Virginia between 1966 and 1967.
On November 12th, 1966, five men who were digging a grave at a cemetery near Clendenin, claimed to have seen a man-like figure fly low from the trees over their heads. This is often identified as the first known sighting of what became known as the Mothman.
Shortly after on November 15th, four individuals, two married couples, Roger and Linda Scarberry, and Steve and Mary Mallette spotted the creature while driving around midnight. They described it as being around six or seven feet tall with red eyes and a wing span of 10 feet; a man with wings. They also pointed out that its head was not an outstanding characteristic. They estimated that it flew at about 100 miles an hour, stating that it flew across the top of their car. The incident was reported to the local sheriff and the account was ridiculed in the local press but more and more people started seeing this creature.
People kept calling with reports of a strange bird seen in the area. One man in the area, Newell Partridge saw his television screen turn fuzzy with colors he had never seen before. At the same time his dog began howling loudly, and a loud screeching sound came from outside. When he walked outside, he saw two glowing red eyes just before whatever it was flew off into the night. Almost immediately his dog raced after it, and didn’t return.
The popularity of the creature continued to grow, as news stations and papers around the world caught on. Dozens of locals continued to tell the stories of what they saw, and everyone clamored for even the smallest piece of information. In the end the press dubbed the creature the Mothman, partly based on the hit television show Batman running at the time.
For the next thirteen months, over 200 individuals had some interaction with some strange phenomena. Though creepy experiences weren’t limited to appearances of the Mothman, incidents such a mutilated dogs, UFO sightings, and other weird things were going on, but about a hundred of those said they actually saw the Mothman.
John Keel, author of the book The Mothman Prophecies, got an assignment to go up to Point Pleasant as a news reporter and got a contract to write a book about UFOs.
As Keel began to talk to people and gather information, the journalist found himself getting more deeply involved in the events, to the extent that it is said that entities communicated with John by phone. As Keel analyzed the events, he found Point Pleasant to be a vortex of phenomena, and couldn’t really tell one from the other, becoming a really scary situation for him.
Keel then begun to be given “prophecies” by the entities he was dealing with in Point Pleasant.
The Mothman was seen hovering over a bridge called the Silver Bridge, which crossed the Ohio River between Gallipolis, Ohio, and Point Pleasant, West Virginia on several occasions. On the 15th December the bridge unexpectedly collapsed during rush hour traffic and 67 people fell into the river. 46 died and they found 44 bodies. Several people who died were related to witnesses of Mothman.
The collapse of the Silver Bridge is seen as the climax of Keel’s Mothman experience and John Keel published his account of these events in 1975. Mothman is a case that has almost been too scary for people to get close to. At the time, everyone knew about Mothman but it was so bizarre no one could characterize it.
By all indications, that was the last time the Mothman was seen though some believe it hasn’t stopped, just that people have stopped reporting it.
The story has fascinated people for decades now and no one really knows the exact creature that people spotted in the sky and/or if it really was foretelling tragedy about to come.
The scary home invasion movie The Strangers is loosely based on, but more so inspired, by writer and director Bryan Bertino’s experiences as a kid among other things.
Bryan has said in his production notes that “As a kid, I lived in a house on a street in the middle of nowhere. One night, while our parents were out, somebody knocked on the front door and my little sister answered it. At the door were some people asking for somebody that didn’t live there. We later found out that these people were knocking on doors in the area and, if no one was home, breaking into the houses. In The Strangers, the fact that someone is at home does not deter the people who’ve knocked on the front door; it’s the reverse.”
Bertino’s other inspirations for the story, however, are based upon other gruesome true stories.
The killers, a principle male assailant and female accomplices, is based upon Charles Manson and the Manson killings, for example:
On July 25th, 1969, Manson sent sometime family member Bobby Beausoleil, along with Mary Brunner and Susan Atkins to the house of acquaintance Gary Hinman, to persuade him to turn over money Manson thought Hinman had inherited. The three held the uncooperative Hinman hostage for two days, during which Manson showed up with a sword to slash his ear. After that, Beausoleil stabbed Hinman to death, ostensibly on Manson’s instruction. Before leaving the Topanga Canyon residence, Beausoleil, or one of the women, used Hinman’s blood to write “Political piggy” on the wall and to draw a panther paw, a Black Panther symbol.
Beausoleil was arrested on August 6th after he had been caught driving Hinman’s car and police found the murder weapon in the tire well. Two days later, Manson told Family members at Spahn Ranch, “Now is the time for Helter Skelter.”
On the night of August 8th, Manson directed Watson to take Atkins, Linda Kasabian, and Patricia Krenwinkel to “that house where Melcher used to live” and “totally destroy everyone in it, as gruesome as you can”. He told the women to do as Watson would instruct them.
The frantic “there’s blood everywhere” 911 phone call was based on the killings in Cabin 28, also known as the Keddie Killings:
The murders took place in cabin 28, during the late evening of April 11, 1981 or early morning of the 12th. The victims were Glenna Sharp, known as Sue (age 36), her daughter Tina (age 12), her son John (age 15), and his friend, Dana Wingate (age 17). Tina was determined to be missing after the crime was first discovered, but her skull and several other bones were recovered in 1984 near Camp Eighteen, California, in Butte County. Sue’s oldest daughter, Sheila, had been with next-door neighbors in cabin 27 that night and discovered the murders the morning of April 12th. Sue’s two youngest sons and their friend, who were having a sleep-over at cabin 28 that night, were found, uninjured, in the boys’ bedroom that morning. Sue had apparently called 911 frantically repeating “there’s blood everywhere”.
The basic story of a couple being terrorized by a group of people was based on the famous killings in the Czech Republic, which was also made into a French Film titled Ils, translated to mean “Them.”
In these murders an Australian couple were terrorized in their vacation home by teenagers and are later killed in the forest when they try to escape. Apparently the assailants were children aging from ten to fifteen years old and when questioned about their crimes the one screamed out “THEY wouldn’t play with us!”
So in the end The Strangers inspired by a true story claim is definitely true, but more a combination of several stories.
Directed by James Wan and starring Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, The Conjuring has more than one true story within it.
Roger and Carolyn Perron moved their family into an 18th-century farmhouse in Burrillville in 1971, and shortly after, they said, demonic spirits began to haunt them.
Mrs. Perron said she awoke before dawn one morning to find an apparition by her bed; the head of an old woman hanging off to one side over an old grey dress. There was a voice reverberating, “Get out. Get out. I’ll drive you out with death and gloom”. Doors slammed shut or would not shut and a young voice would sometimes be heard crying “Mama. Maaama.”
That was just the start of a series of incidents that culminated in an investigation by ghost hunters Ed and Lorraine Warren.
Andrea, the eldest of the Perron daughters, and 12 at the time of the house move, has been the most vocal of the group to help others understand their story. But there are some things she will not just talk about stating, “Let’s just say, there was a very bad male spirit and five little girls.” Her sister Christine has been the most reluctant to talk about her experiences in the house, but all have said the paranormal experiences started as soon as the family moved in and seemed to be particularly focused on the mother.
The haunting culminated in a terrifying night during which Carolyn Perron was possessed by suspected witch Bathsheba Sherman.“We were not prepared for what happened that night,” said Andrea Perron, noting that the Warrens had arrived for an intercession with “a caravan” of people, including “a priest, a medium and technical people.”
She said it was “not technically an exorcism,” but that she and her sister Cindy were hiding and “saw everything that happened, the power of evil in this life.”
“The only time I was truly terrified in that house was the night I thought I saw my mother die,” she said. “She spoke in a voice we had never heard before,” and a force of power not of this world threw her 20 feet into another room.
Carolyn Perron described the events that night as “dreadful,” and added that “the Warrens tried to help, but we essentially found things got worse around them.” Andrea Perron said her father was so upset by the events of that night that he asked the Warrens to leave.
“She was possessed,” Roger Perron, now 77, recalled. “Carolyn’s entire body was distorted and it lasted several hours until the Warrens de-demonized her, and then I threw them out”.
Although the movie portrays the events of that night as ending the haunting, the Perrons recall several more years of learning to live with as many as nine spirits.
“Eventually,” Mrs. Perron said, “our family accepted the fact that we were not living there alone.”
One of the creepiest parts of the truly scary The Conjuring is the evil possessed doll Annabelle, who makes up the cornerstone of Ed and Lorraine Warren’s spooky museum of trophies.
In real life Annabelle was just your run of the mill Raggedy Ann doll.
Donna got Annabelle from her mother in 1970 after her mom bought the used doll at a hobby store. Donna was a college student at the time, and living with a roommate named Angie, and at first neither thought the doll was anything special. Over time they noticed Annabelle seemed to move on her own; at first it was really subtle, just changes in position, the kinds of things that could be written off as the doll being jostled. But the movement increased, and within a few weeks it seemed to become fully mobile. The girls would leave the apartment with Annabelle on Donna’s bed and return home to find it on the couch.
Their friend Lou hated the doll. He thought there was something deeply wrong with it, something evil, but the girls were modern women and didn’t believe that sort of thing. Soon Annabelle’s actions got even weirder – Donna began to find pieces of parchment paper in the house with messages written on it. “Help us,” they would say, or “Help Lou.” Just to make the whole thing that much creepier nobody in the house had parchment paper.
The escalations continued and one night Donna returned home to find Annabelle in her bed, with blood on her hands. The blood – or some sort of red liquid – seemed to be coming from the doll itself. That was enough; Donna finally agreed to bring in a medium. The sensitive sat with the doll and told the girls that long before their apartment complex had been built there had been a field on that property. A seven year old girl named Annabelle Higgins had been found dead in that field. Her spirit remained, and when the doll came into the house the girl latched on to it. She found Donna and Angie to be trustworthy. She just wanted to stay with them. She wanted to be safe with them.
Being sweet, nurturing types – they were both nursing students – Donna and Angie agreed to let Annabelle stay with them. And that’s when all hell broke loose.
Lou started having bad dreams, dreams where Annabelle was in his bed, climbing up his leg as he lay frozen. Sliding up his chest to his neck and closing her stuffed hands around his throat, choking him out. He would wake up terrified, head pounding like all blood had been cut off to his brain.
A few days later he and Angie were hanging out, planning a road trip, when they heard someone moving around in Donna’s room. Lou threw open the door and everything was as it should be – except Annabelle was off the bed and sitting in a corner. As he approached the doll Lou was consumed with that feeling, a burning on the back of the neck that indicates someone was staring at you and he spun around. Nobody was there. The room was empty. He then felt a sudden pain on his chest. He looked through the buttons of his shirt and saw a series of raking claw marks, rough ditches in his flesh that burned. He knew Annabelle had done it.
The weird claw marks began healing almost immediately. They were totally gone in two days. They were like no wounds any of them had ever seen before. They knew they needed more help, and they turned to an Episcopalian priest, who in turned called in Ed and Lorraine Warren.