10 Horror Movies and The Depraved Acts That Inspired Them

Based on a True Story,’ or “Inspired by Actual Events”; are just two phrases that, when added to a cinematic production are guaranteed to raise eyebrows as well as ticket sales. Why; well it seems that when we see phrases such as these, our proverbial antennas rise and immediately we won’t know about the horrible tale that happened to somebody just like ourselves. Already attracted to the film by either enjoying a previously written novel about the movie’s subject matter or as a result of the film’s top-notched marketing team creating a movie trailer so alluring it becomes a “must see” production in your weekend’s “to do” list. We rush to the theater, but no longer are we simply going to the movies; because of the simple phrase, we are now preparing to see a cautionary tale. In other words, a 90-minute public service announcement letting us know that if you find ourselves in similar situations, and if you aren’t careful; the events that occur in this motion picture could happen to you, enjoy your movie.

1) BORDERLAND is a 2007 horror film based on the life of Adolfo de Jesús Constanzo. A major player in the drug trade of the 80’s, Nicknamed, “El Padrino de Matamoros”, (The Godfather of Matamoros ) Constanzo believed Borderland - Copythat his spells, potions, and beliefs kept he and his cartel free from police intervention and allowed them to operate in complete anonymity. After rumors of him being the leader of a religious cult that practiced human sacrifice, the media dubbed Constanzo and his followers, “Narco-Satanists.” It would be the kidnapping and murder of University of Texas junior, Mark J. Kilroy, in the spring of 1989 that would lead to the cult’s exposure and downfall.

2) THE ENTITY is a 1982 horror film starring Barbara Hershey as a woman who is raped and tormented by an invisible THE ENTITY 2assailant. Originally a novel, the film is based on the alleged poltergeist assault on Doris Bither. In 1974, Doris Bither, a single mother of four, alleged that the ghosts of three Asian men were raping her. She claimed two would hold her down while the third raped her. During the investigation into her claim, supernatural professionals were contacted as well as mental health experts. During the investigation, it was uncovered that Bither had a history of physical and substance abuse. Throughout her life, she had been in multiple abusive relationships and had a traumatic childhood.

3) THE HILLS HAVE EYES is a horror film from Wes Craven. The film is centered around a family of severely deformed inbred, mutant, cannibals as THE HILLS HAVE EYES - Copythey trap, attack and kill unsuspecting travelers. The movie is based on the life of Sawney Bean and his clan. Sawney Bean was said to be the head of a 48-member clan in Scotland somewhere between the 13th and 16th centuries. The clan was reported to blame for the robbery, murder, and cannibalization of over 1,000 people. King James VI of Scotland (later James I of England) was made aware of the clan and their crimes and lead a manhunt of 400 men and several bloodhounds. The Beans were found in a cave in Bennane Head. The cave was scattered with human remains and was the crime scene for countless murders and cannibalistic acts. The clan was executed without trial; the men had their genitalia cut off, and were hanged, drawn and quartered and soon bled to death. After watching the men die the women and children, were burned alive.

4) CHILD’S PLAY is a 1988 horror movie about a widowed mother who gives her son a doll for his birthday. Unbeknownst to all, the doll is possessed by the soul of an infamous serial killer portrayed by Academy Award nominee and one of my favorite actors, Brad Douriff. The movie is inspired by the story of Robert Gene Otto and his doll, Robert.

According to the story, Robert Gene Otto was given the doll by his grandfather CHILD'S PLAYas a birthday gift in 1904. Otto named the doll Robert, “family and friends referred to Otto as Gene”, and soon became Gene’s, “best friend.” As the legend goes, Otto and Robert were inseparable. Various mishaps would happen around the Otto home and young Gene would adamantly blame the doll, Robert. It was said that on occasions Gene could be heard in his room, sitting in his room with the door closed; speaking to someone that answered back in a totally different voice. While at school, Gene would sit Robert in a chair facing the window. Neighbors swore that they would see the doll moving from room to room as well as wave from the window.

Robert Gene Otto married, raised his family and died in 1974 all with Robert the doll at his side. After his death, his home, as well as the doll within, was sold to Myrtle Reuter who owned them for an additional 20 years. During that time the mysteries and mystique surrounding the doll continued. In 1994 the doll was donated to the East Martello Museum and became a popular tourist attraction.

5) THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN is a slasher/horror movie based on the actual crimes that were known as the Texarkana Moonlight Murders. The unsolved attacks were attributed to an unidentified serial killer known asTHE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN the Phantom Killer. The Phantom attacked eight people between February 22 and May 3, 1946, in or near the town of Texarkana, Texas. Five of those attacked were killed hence the name Texarkana Moonlight Murders.

Most of the murders occurred in rural areas just outside Texarkana, in Bowie County, Texas. The residents of the area went into a state of panic throughout the summer of 1946. From sundown each evening the inhabitants heavily armed themselves and locked themselves indoors while police patrolled streets and neighborhoods. Despite various theories and opinions from crime experts, the murders are still unsolved.

6) HENRY; PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER is a 1986 horror/thriller starring Michael Rooker depicting the real-life exploits of serial killer Henry Lee Lucas. The movie covers the life and crimes of Lucas before and after his team up with fellow serial murderer Ottis Toole. The movie depicts Lucas and Toole as HENRY; PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLERsome sort of depraved buddy flick, however, does illustrate the gruesome heinousness of both of these killers. Already considered controversial by critics the movie was initially rated X by the MPAA due to the sheer brutality. Eventually editted to an unrated version the film was shot on 16mm in less than a month with a budget of $110,000 but brought in approximately 1,000,000 worldwide, despite being banned in many areas.

Arrested in 1983, Henry Lee Lucas confessed to over 1000 murders. Investigators had the task of deciphering the true confessions to those that were fictitious. When he started confessing to numerous unsolved cases, he was initially considered credible. Based on evidence collected police knew that he had truthfully admitted committing two killings. However, after further information was acquired in many cases, investigators found that many of Lucas’s confessions were made up to get out of his cell and improve his living conditions. Authorities did, however, treat several confessions as potentially genuine.

Henry Lee Lucas was convicted of 11 murders and sentenced to death. The sentence was commuted to life in prison in 1998 by Governor George W. Bush. On March 12, 2001, at 11pm Lucas was found dead in prison from heart failure at age 64.

7) THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT is a 2009 psychological horror film based on Carmen Snedeker and her family. In the film, we are also introduced THE HAUNTING IN CONNETICUTto Ed and Lorraine Warren. The Warrens were American paranormal investigators and authors associated with prominent cases of hauntings. The movie is based on an actual entry in their case files.

Sara Campbell, (portrayed by Virginia Madsen), her husband Peter and her cancer-riddled son Matthew are looking for a rental home near the hospital providing Matt’s cancer treatment. The couple finds the perfect house and moves in. Initially, all seems well until Matthew begins to see hallucinations and experience night terrors. The bottom line is that the home was formerly a funeral home where the owner practiced necromancy as well as necrophilia. This was true in the movie as well as in real life,

The actual validity of the based on true events tag has recently come under fire but since I’ve got it in here already and don’t feel like replacing it with another movie we will consider it real events.

8) JACK KETCHUM’S, THE GIRL NEXT DOOR is a 2007 horror film adaptation of Jack Ketchum’s 1989 novel of the same name. The title is written in such a way so not to be confused with the comedy movie of the same name. The film8) JACK KETCHUM'S THE GIRL NEXT DOOR - Copy - Copy is based on true events surrounding the torture and murder of Sylvia Likens by Gertrude Baniszewski during the summer of 1965.

The film is told from the point of view of David Moran, a child that grew up with the film’s main character and actually had a crush on her. The film opens in the current day, after attempting to assist a tragic car accident victim earlier that day David sits home alone later that evening and thinks back to the summer of 1958. His first teenage crush came that year in the form of Meg Loughlin. Meg and her sister Susan had come to stay with his next-door neighbor; their aunt, Ruth Chandler. Meg and Susan’s parents had been killed in a tragic auto accident.

Upon their arrival, Ruth immediately alienates her nieces. She starves Meg, accusing her of being a whore. The abuse dealt to the two girls by their aunt and her sons are sickening; especially to Meg. Ruth chains Meg in the basement while continuing to starve the girl; Ruth’s sons, her cousins are allowed to violate Meg in any way imaginable. The deplorable treatment illustrated in the movie depicts the real-life abuse that Sylvia Likens went through at the hands of Gertrude Baniszewski during the summer of 1965.

The Likens’ parents, were carnival workers. Initially, they left Sylvia and her sister, Jenny, in the care of the Baniszewski family, paying Gertrude $20 a week to care for the sisters. When his payment arrived late one week, Baniszewski beat the Likens girls on their bare buttocks with paddles. That was the beginning of the abuse that would not see an end until the death of young Sylvia Likens on October 26, 1965. Sylvia was only 16 years old.

9) THE STRANGERS is a 2008 horror film starring Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman. Kristen and James have come to the family vacation home for a relaxing retreat. There is a noticeable tension between the couple and we soonTHE STRANGERS find out that James actually proposed to Kristen earlier; she refused. As they make themselves comfortable there is a loud knock at the door. James answers and a mysterious woman asks for Tamara. He informs the lady that she is mistaken and she casually says see you later as she walks away.

Due to the tension, James takes a drive to the nearby convenience store. While he is gone Tamara receives another knock at the door however when she answers no one is there. James returns and from that point, they are engaged in a fight for their lives from three assailants that just happen to have picked their home to terrorize for no reason other than the fact that they were home.

The movie is based on The Keddie Cabin Murders. The Keddie cabin murders is an unsolved 1981 American quadruple homicide that occurred in Keddie, California. The murders took place in Cabin 28 of the Keddie Resort located in the small Sierra Nevada mountain communities of Keddie and Quincy in northern California late on the evening of April 11, 1981.

10) SAW is a 2004 horror film by James Wan and Leigh Whannell. The film never claims to be inspired by real events, I just thought the use of traps were ironic and eerily similar to those used by the man widely accredited as being the world’s first serial killer.

John Kramer, (portrayed brilliantly by Tobin Bell) is a man disappointed by what he feels mankind has become. Adding insult to injury Kramer finds outSAW that he is dying from inoperable cancer. contemplates suicide as he drives down the highway. Deciding to go for it he drives through the guardrail and into a trail. Severely injured but alive John Kramer has an epiphany and a new lease on life. He pulls himself out of the accident debris, not only deciding to live but determined to help others see just how much a blessing life is. From this point forward and for the duration of 8 films, John Kramer puts individuals to the test. He, with the help of his handpicked assistants, develops traps for those that he feels do not value their lives. The traps, for the most part; are designed that if the individual truly wants to live they will satisfy the requirements of the game and make their way out of the trap; at any cost.

Dr. H.H. Holmes aka Herman Webster Mudgett is quite possibly America’s first documented serial killer. Holmes arrived in Chicago in August 1886 and set up shop at the southwest corner of 63rd Street and Wallace Avenue in the Englewood area of my great city. He worked for the Holton’s pharmacy there until he was able to purchase property directly across the street. During this [period many of Holmes’ acquaintances came up missing, suspiciously, however for relevance sake I want to concentrate emphasis on his murder hotel.

In 1893, Jackson Park; an area 3 miles east of Holmes’ property, became the site of the 1893 World’s Fair. Also known as the Columbian Exposition, the event attracted more than 27 million visitors to Chicago. During this time Holmes built the hotel that would become known as his “Murder Castle”; a labyrinthine structure with shops on the first floor and small apartments and hotel rooms on the floors above.

The structure he built consisted of stairways to nowhere, Doors that opened to brick walls. Holmes hired and fired various contractors during the castle’s construction, this insured that no one other than himself knew the full layout of the building. Holmes’ booby-trapped Murder Castle made use of various manners of traps and torture methods that guests would find themselves in. Some rooms were soundproofed so the cries of tortured victims could not be heard. Other rooms had been made airtight, he would pump toxic gas in through the vents. The hotel consisted secret passages and a disorienting maze of hallways and staircases. The rooms were also outfitted with trapdoors over chutes that dropped Holmes’ unsuspecting victims to the building’s basement. The basement consisted of acid vats, pits of quicklime (often used on decaying corpses) and a crematorium, which the killer used to turn his victims into ash.

Holmes lured many visitors to the Columbian Exposition to his sinister lair. It is said that Holmes’ over 200 victims fell prey to the traps of his “Murder Castle; though the exact number of his victims is still debated by historians. After family members of victims came forward concerning the whereabouts of their missing relatives Holmes fled Chicago. Holmes was apprehended in Boston in October 1893, following the conclusion of the World’s Fair. After a brief incarceration, Holmes was hanged for his crimes in Philadelphia in 1896. He is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery.

Well, that’s it, 10 movies and the real-life acts of depravity that inspired them. Were there others that you were thinking about. If so let me know. Don’t forget to share, like and subscribe and until next time take care.

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The Hills Have Eyes on Scottish Beans and Other Recipes

“Based on a true story” or “Based on actual events” are two phrases that, when added to the synopsis or plot of a production adds intrigue and peaks added interest in the mind of the viewer or reader.  A few of my favorite movies bore this phrase.THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE was inspired by the life and crimes of Ed Gein.

Ed Gein
Ed Gein

The movie CHILD’S PLAY was based upon Robert Eugene Otto’s doll that was said to be possessed. One of my all-time favorite movies is THE HILLS HAVE EYES. Until recently I’d always assumed that the storyline and plot had simply come from the mind of Wes Craven. Imagine the amazement that I felt when I discovered that the events of this movie really happened, mind you it was some 500 years ago, but it HAPPENED.

For those that don’t do horror. THE HILLS HAVE EYES is a movie about a family of mutants that reside in the deserts of New Mexico.  In the movie, it is hinted that the mutated state of this family came as a result of military weapons experiments. As the movie unfolds we soon realize that this mutant family consists of inbred cannibals that make meals out of unsuspecting travelers. For those that haven’t seen the movie I will end my description here but as I said previously, I always assumed that the movie was as fictional as a movie can get. During my nonstop search of the acts of depravity committed by mankind, I found that I had been completely mistaken with my assumptions about this movie.

It seems that some 500 years ago the Bean family lived in Scotland. According to the legend, Alexander “Sawney” Bean was born during the 1500s. His father was what we consider a landscaper in modern terminology. Young Sawney Bean wanted no parts in that manner of work. Considering himself a gentleman of leisure, he wanted a less

Alexander “Sawney” Bean
Alexander “Sawney” Bean with wife shown in the rear carrying human body parts for consumption

strenuous and more lucrative manner of bringing in an income. As a young man, he met and married a sinister woman with the same ideals and lack of morals. Together they procreated and brought forth 14 children into the world. These 14 children became devout practitioners of incest and soon the family expanded to the 48 member clan recorded in history.

As previously stated the couple, unwilling to work in the traditional capacity; raised their family with the same lack of work ethic. Needing housing, the Bean clan took residency in a coastal cave where they lived undiscovered for some twenty-five years. The cave was 200 yards deep and during high tide, the entrance was blocked by water. Needing income and food, the clan developed a plan to satisfy both sets of needs. Under the cover of night, the Bean clan would attack those that journeyed near their lair as their cave remained unseen to most. Unsuspecting travelers were ambushed by the family members and robbed. Clan members would also take their victims deep into their caves where they were killed and cannibalized. Uneaten body parts were either pickled for future use or cast into the nearby lake. It is said that their victim’s number in the thousands as people just disappeared from nearby villages and towns

Local villagers noted the disappearance of travelers but were totally unaware of an entire family living in the cave. As more and more people came up missing searches were organized but few ever noticed the cave and those that did refuse to believe that anything remotely human could live inside of it. During searches, several innocent people were taken into custody and killed in their search for justice. Innkeepers of the area often caught much of the suspicion as they were often the last people to see many of the disappeared. Though others were executed the disappearances did not stop. That was until one night, the Beans attacked a newlywed couple. Unbeknownst to the Beans, the couple rode ahead of a massive wedding party that followed the couple. As they jumped the couple they soon found that the male was a skilled fighter however the wife was fatally wounded during the melee. While attempting to subdue the groom the rest of the wedding party moved forward and witnessed the attack initiated by the Beans. Realizing that they had finally been exposed the clan hastily retreated into the cave.

3several innocent people were taken into custody and killed in their search for justice. Innkeepers of the area often caught much of the suspicion as they were often the last people to see many of the disappeared. Though others were executed the disappearances did not stop. That was until one night, the Beans attacked a newlywed couple. Unbeknownst to the Beans, the couple rode ahead of a massive wedding party that followed the couple. As they jumped the couple they soon found that the male was a skilled fighter however the wife was fatally wounded during the melee. While attempting to subdue the groom the rest of the wedding party moved forward and witnessed the attack initiated by the Beans. Realizing that they had finally been exposed the clan hastily retreated into the cave.

The king soon received a detailed report of the on-goings of the evening. Infuriated, he led a 400 member manhunt into the cave. While there they were shocked to find human remains pickled in mason jars as well as simply cast to the side of the cave interior. Shocked by what they had seen during the manhunt the whole clan was immediately taken into custody. Charged with murder and treason, the clan was executed without a trial. The men had their genitalia cut off, hands and feet severed, and were allowed to bleed to death; the women and children, after watching the men die, were burned alive.

The story of Sawney Bean is one of Scotland’s most shocking and gruesome legends. Over time it has turned into somewhat of an urban legend, a piece of folklore so to speak. The thing is that, while attempting to research and verify the existence of Alexander “Sawney” Bean, actual historical documents, such as newspapers and diaries during the era when Sawney Bean was supposedly active, make no specific mention of him or his clan. However, research did cite several instances of the disappearance of a great many people during the reign of King James VI of Scotland as well as that of James I of England. Furthermore, we do know that cannibalism was not unknown in medieval Scotland. All of these facts lead me to believe that the Bean story may have a basis of truth but the precise dating of events has become obscured over the years. Through research, I found that the Sawney Bean legend closely resembles the story of Christie-Cleek.

Christie-Cleek, whose real name was Andrew Christie, a butcher during the mid-fourteenth century. A severe famine-plagued Scotland in 1340. During this time Christie joined a group of scavengers in the foothills of the Grampians. A member of the party died of starvation; Christie wasted no time in putting his skills to work on the corpse and provided his companions with a hearty meal. Over time the group developed a taste for human flesh and under Christie’s leadership, they began to ambush unsuspecting travelers. Letting nothing go to waste the party would feed on their bodies as well as the bodies of their horses. It is alleged that before attacking, Christie’s apparent weapon of choice was a hook on a rod. Using this he would snatch his victims from their mounts and commence the attack, this implement was the “cleke” (i.e., “crook”) from which his nickname was derived. It is said that no less than thirty riders died at Christie’s hands. Eventually, the company was defeated by the king’s armed forces. Everyone was taken into custody; everyone except for Christie himself, who supposedly escaped and re-entered society under a new name. It is said the man known as Christie-Cleek died many years later, a married man and prosperous merchant.

In our society, the mere thought of cannibalism shocks us to our core, however; we are well aware of the fact that we share this world with all manner of people. History shows us that humans are capable of all manner of atrocities just as we are capable of greatness beyond measure. As I sit and actually think; is it really that big of a stretch to believe that the acts depicted in The Hills Have Eyes really happened somewhere? As I sit and read back over past posts as well as watch the local news, I really must admit to myself; no, not at all.