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20 Real-World Places That Inspired Horror Films

Halloween has just passed but that doesn't mean that the time for horror movies is over.

This is a unique genre of film that has received a lot of popular attention and critical acclaim. But where do our favorite horror writers get the ideas for their scripts? Many of them rely on real-life events for their inspiration. Several writers have said that they have traveled to the scene of actual events while writing their screenplays.

For some films, you can find a direct link from the film itself to the events that inspired it. This article will discuss the 20 real-world places that inspired horror films, some of which we're very inclined to stay far, far away from.

The actual plot of these films may have diverged from the actual events but I think that some of the best films are the ones that got a feel for a real-life spooky location. If you know of any spooky locations that inspired horror films that didn't make it into our article, make sure that you list them in the comments section.

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20 Amityville Horror- Long Beach, NY

via fanfest.com

It is easy to track down the inspiration for the classic horror film, the Amityville Horror, because the original film was based on a real house.

112 Ocean Avenue, in Long Beach New York, was once the site of several dark events. Years later, the Lutz family moved into the house. This family shortly left the residence, claiming that malevolent spirits had threatened the safety of them and their children.

The Lutz family only stayed in the home for 28 days and they claim that all of the events from the original film are true.

19 The Mothman Prophecies- Point Pleasant, WV

via the13thfloor.tv

Studios have had a hard time developing a good cryptid movie and the Mothman Prophecies is no exception. The real Mothman story stems from a series of Bigfoot-type sightings in the area of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Several eyewitnesses claimed they saw a large (almost seven feet) winged creature with glowing red eyes.

Several famous names were also reported to have been in northwest West Virginia at the time. The makers of the movie didn’t stick to much of the true Mothman story but they did film part of the movie in Point Pleasant, W.V., the place of the actual sightings.

18 The Shining- Estes Park, CO

via bustie.com

Stephen King has written more classic horror novels than anyone since H.P. Love craft. To many, his scariest work was the Shining, a book about the haunted Overlook Hotel.

King's book is a complete work of fiction but the Overlook itself is based on a real place. King has stated in interviews that Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado provided him with the inspiration for The Shining. When King stayed at the Stanley he, and his wife, were the only guests. This gave the hotel an ominous feel, which King translated into his novel. All the talk of ghosts, however, were a complete work of fiction.

17 Texas Chainsaw Massacre- Kingsland Texas

via:The 13th Floor

The movie from my childhood that scared me the most was probably the TCM remake. At the end of the film, there was a scene which showed "uncut footage" of Leatherface escaping, followed by writing that told the viewers that he has never been caught.

This was completely fabricated but it is true that the TCM was based on a true story. The Leatherface character is loosely based on Ed Gein, a famous criminal who has inspired a lot of horror flicks. Several of Gein’s victims were at the Sawyer House, a now infamous location in Kingsland, Texas.

16 The Legend of Boggy Creek

via thebloodydisgusting.com

The Legend of Boggy Creek is a horror movie from the 1970s that has developed a cult following. The film is very artfully done for time and gives off an eerie feel that would be appreciated in any era. Boggy Creek’s notoriety, however, didn’t end with this documentary.

The events, and the subsequent film, has inspired numerous projects. The most famous of these is probably The Blair Witch Project. The makers of that film even traveled to Boggy Creek to film some of the scenes for their movie.

15 Eaten Alive- Elmendorf, Texas

via:Daily Mail

An extremely graphic movie about a man who feeds his victims to alligators isn’t the type of film that you would expect to be based on a true story.

The movie Eaten Alive proves all of these assumptions wrong.

This film is based on the story of Joe Ball, whose victims were dozens of women in the 1930’s. Ball is famous because he would feed his victims to the six alligators that he had trapped in a pond near his home. Joe’s own wife was reportedly one of his victims.

14 The silence of the Lambs- Plainfield, WI

via vanityfair.com

Our readers might be surprised to learn that Buffalo Bill, the antagonist from The film the Silence of the Lambs, was actually inspired by a real criminal in Texas.

Ed Gein was a famous outlaw (he also provided the inspiration for Leatherface in the TCM films). The writers of the film used some of Geins personality traits and practices to construct the character of Buffalo Bill. For example, Gein reportedly kept some of his victims locked up underneath his house, which is exactly where we find Buffalo Bill carrying out his actions in the film.

13 The Conjuring- Harrisville, Rhode island

via:thoughtcatalog.com

The Conjuring franchise has fallen out of favor in recent months (sequels are rarely as good as the originals) but when the first film debuted, I was very impressed with the plot.

The storyline seemed so realistic, which makes sense because this film is loosely based on a true story. When the Perron family moved into their new home in Harrisville, Rhode Island, they had no idea about the things that they were about to go down.

The Perron’s dealt with a malevolent spirit for months before they were finally able to sell their home. I wonder if the new owners had as interesting an experience as they did.

12 Jaws- Cape Cod, Massachusetts

via:CNN.com

There are some films that make their debut with a ton of hype but there are others that rocked the world with how good that they are. The iconic film Jaws was one of the latter, as no one thought that a movie about a shark in Massachusetts would be that good.

Jaws takes place off of the Cape of Massachusetts and they filmed the movie at an island called Martha's Vineyard. The island still plays up its movie heritage; there are museums and monuments signaling places on the island where parts of the movie was filmed.

11 Poltergeist- Simi Valley, California

via independent.co.uk

Poltergeist no longer has the legendary status that it once had but when it first debuted in 1982, it was a big deal. Part of the film's aura stemmed from the fact that the plot was based on a true story.

The Freeling family moved into a new development in Simi Valley, California that had been built over a burial ground. The family soon began to experience weird events that they attributed to unfriendly spirits.

You can visit the old Freely house but it is inhabited so you can't go inside. It is strange that such a quiet suburban neighborhood could have been the site of such an incident.

10 Dahmer- Milwaukee, WI

via inverse.com

America has a fascination with dark material. They focus and obsess over criminals in so many ways (especially serial ones). Some places have even created tourist attractions around the places where these dark events occurred.

The Dahmer House in Milwaukee, Wisconsin is the perfect example. Jeffrey Dahmer is believed to have made victims of at least 17 men and boys, many at this very house. These were the inspiration for the 2002 film, Dahmer.

Before Dahmer was identified, the press referred to him as the Milwaukee Cannibal, luckily for that city, this name has lost some of its notoriety.

9 The Exorcism of Emily Rose- West Germany

via The 13th Floor

The film is loosely based on the real-life exorcism of Anneliese Michel. But for Michel, it wasn’t performed in a single day, it was actually several events that happened over the course of a year and were still going on when she perished.

The film stays true to a lot of the aspects of Michel’s story. The only major difference in the film is that it is heavily adapted for the USA. Michel actually lived in Western Germany.

8 The Haunting in Connecticut- Southington, CT

via aceshowbiz.com

If I was looking for a place to live, one of my most basic objectives would be a place that is not directly above a funeral parlor.

Al and Carmen Snedeker didn’t have such qualms about their new place in Southington, Connecticut. The pair moved into the house in 1986.

According to Carmen, the staff was involved in unnatural activities that led to paranormal events happening upstairs. There is some debate about how closely the film follows the Snedeker events, but it does seem like the stories are at least partially coherent.

One of the most memorable scenes from the movie, when the weird glyphs that would appear on the people's skin, did supposedly happen to the Snedekers.

7 Wolf Creek- The Aussie Outback

via:Cult Reviews

Australia is one of the most sought-after vacation destinations in the world but perhaps it wouldn’t be if more people had seen the movie Wolf Creek.

Wolf Creek is loosely based on two men, Ivan Milat and Bradley Murdoch who were both responsible for well-publicized, crimes in the Australian outback. Both of these men were eventually caught, which is vastly different than in the film, which created a lot of questions about how careful tourists should be in the Australian outback.

Luckily, some of the more colorful parts of this film are entirely from the imaginative minds of the screenwriters.

6 Scream- Gainesville, Florida

via:The Ringer

Scream is often grouped together with other slasher films like Halloween and the Friday the 13th franchise but its origins are much darker.

The original Scream movie is loosely based on a 3-day spree that happened in Gainesville, Florida. In August of 1990, Danny Rolling, later nicknamed the Gainesville Ripper, made 5 students his victims. Rolling was arrested and plead guilty to these, plus three more.

The city of Gainesville has done its best to forget this event.

5 Nightmare on Elm Street- Los Angeles

via alternateending.com

Do you ever wonder where authors and screenwriters get their inspiration? If you acclaimed horror director Wes Craven, the newspapers are a good place to start.

Craven reportedly got the inspiration for the Elm Street franchise from an article that he read in the Los Angeles Times. The article talked about a Cambodian family who moved to LA. The son in this family constantly complained about bad dreams.

One night his parents discovered that he had fallen asleep and never woke up, seemingly due to a seriously bad dream. This is one of several films in the same genre that have been inspired by the City of Angels.

4 The Rite- San Francisco

via bookmyshow.com

Because of the success of The Exorcist franchise, there are a ton of possession movies out there. Many of these films claim to be based on a true story, but the vast majority of them are the works of fiction. Those films that are based on a true story almost exclusively take place outside of the United States.

One exception to this is The Rite. This film is unique not only because it tells the story of events that took place in the United States but also because an actual priest was used as an advisor for the film. 

3 The Conjuring 2- Brimsdown, England

via:Medium

I think that one of the coolest things about The Conjuring franchise is that all of the films are supposedly based on true stories. How accurately these films depict the actual events varies from film to film, but The Conjuring 2 is supposed to be the most accurate of these films.

This movie is based on the Enfield Case, one of the most notable investigations in the archives of Ed and Lorraine Warren. The Enfields were a family in Brimsdown, England that had a battle with an especially malevolent poltergeist. Not everything is rosy in jolly old England.

2 The Hills Have Eyes- Scotland

via: The Castle Cinema

There isn’t always a direct tie between a famous horror movie and the real-life event that inspired it. Take for example, The Hills Have Eyes. The original version of this film was confronting to many audiences, and they were even more surprised to learn that it was loosely based on a real story.

No, those kinds of people don't exist in the deserts of Arizona (that we know of...) but the events of the film drew their inspiration from a family in medieval Scotland. Sawney Bean once led a clan of people that was attributed with turning hundreds of peoples into statistics.

1 Ulli Lommel's 'Curse of the...' - Northern California

via twiles.com

If this list is any indication, there are a ton of films that are based on real-life people. Why then, has there been only two films about one of the most famous criminals in US history?

I think it’s possible that screen writers have turned down the chance to tell the story of this guy because it does not have a happy ending. He was responsible for several crimes in Northern California in the 1960’s but he was never caught and his true identity was never revealed.

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