7 Actual True Story Horror Movies

Herner Klenthur

I despise True Story Horror Movies that end up being 90% B.S. Or in the case of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre pretty much near 100% crap. Don’t get me wrong I like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre but saying it is based on a true story is like saying The Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny is real.

Sorry if I crushed anyone telling you The Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy are not real. So since I truly love true story horror movies I wanted to take a minute to share 7 Actual True Story Horror Movies that are truly fantastic and should be on all of your lists of films to watch.

Wolf Creek

This movie is VERY barely a true story but it makes the list since so many think its based entirely in truth. The film is based on the abduction of British Tourist Peter Falconio and the attack on his girlfriend Joanne Less in July 2001 by Bradley John Murdoch. This film was being released while the trial was going on so the courts filed an injunction to prevent it swaying the outcome.

Those who have seen Wolf Creek and know the story should recognize that this movie is more based on the Australian Backpack murders by Ivan Milat  then the single murder by Peter Falconio.  John Jarratt who plays the killer in Wolf Creek went to great extremes to get inside the head and become Ivan Milat the backpack killer. It worked because he was scary as hell in Wolf Creek!

Wolf Creek Image

Open Water

Open Water was released in 2003 and was based on Tom and Eileen Lonergan an American Couple who were stranded in 1998 after going scuba diving. They were accidentally left behind by the boat crew who did not do a proper head count and found themselves stranded in open water with the lion of the seas… sharks. Made for $130,000 it went on to gross $55million dollars and is a great film for fans afraid of the water.


The Girl Next Door

The Girl Next Door tells the story of a girl who is kidnapped by her neighbor, tortured, raped and mutilated in the basement by the local neighborhood kids. Jack Ketchum’s dark and disturbing movie is so surreal and violent that it actually made my stomach turn.

What is even scarier is when you look up the case files of the actual crime you will find that Jack Ketchum’s telling of the tale was no stretch of imagination. The Girl Next Door is sadistic, disturbing and will have you locking your kids up if you have any. Without question one of the best real-horror movies I have seen in my entire life.

Worth noting their is another version of this film called An American Crime which stars Ellen Page but I for one think The Girl Next Door is not only a better film its also much more disturbing. An American Crime had a more well known cast but its not nearly as good as the film based on Jack Ketchum’s book.

Ruth Chandler Girl Next door

The Zodiac:

The Zodiac killer was never caught and the true story thriller starring Robert Downey Junior is one of the best crime-thriller movies made in years. Touting a fantastic cast and a script true to the actual events the movie is riveting, creepy and although by no means true ‘horror’ it will give you the willies.

The big draw for ZODIAC for me was definitely the collectors edition DVD which included interviews with the only survivors as well as the police officers who investigated the crimes, including the first one. The film is a masterpiece of suspense and storytelling and the only thing that makes me feel warm and fuzzy about this killer is that if he is still alive he is to old to really harm me now.

I am pretty sure I could take him since he is likely 80+ years old. That’s not saying I will want to try though. I will keep my manly gestures on this blog and nowhere else. ( Here is hoping the Zodiac is not reading )

zodiac movie


This one is another new one and its by no means a masterpiece but the fact it’s based off the sadistic real life killing of the Mexican Drug Lords makes it a favorite of mine.

The Mexican Cartels tapped a man to be their enforcer and he also had a satanic site and took to ritually killing hundreds of people and torturing them in all kinds of sadistic and disgusting ways. This story hit the news in a big kind of way when Mexican Authorities and DEA agents found a farm that was used by then leader of the ‘cult’ to torture, dismember and commit sadistic ritual killings.

The only good news is this killer wont be able to get you since he died in a massive hail of bullets at the hands of Mexican Special Police. Borderland is well shot, with a fascinating story that mixes a fair bit of fiction around a group of young adults who encounter the cult but also just enough real facts to make it a really creepy and entertaining tale.


Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer

This movie is by no means one of my top films but I put it on this list for being very real in its style of film making and extremely gritty. It tells the story of two killers who worked in tandem to murder people.

The real life killer Henry Lee Lucas went on to confess to over 600 murders but it is widely believed those confessions were done for no other reason then to get him better privileges in jail.

As well while he was confessing the police flew him around the United States to participate in the investigations and he was treated like a celebrity. Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer is very dark and very surreal and a disturbing film based on a true story although it’s still a mystery just how many people Henry Lee Lucas really did kill.


From Hell:

There have been so many tellings of the story of Jack The Ripper it’s almost become its own sub genre in horror. Most of them are mystical with supernatural twists but From Hell is the first one I have watched that matched great story telling with actual facts to try to tell the actual story of Jack the Ripper through the eyes of one of the investigators played by Johnny Depp.

The film is to the point, violent and visually impressive as it takes you through the actual murders. This film much like the other Ripper tellings has its fair share of fiction mixed into it but this one at least goes through the actual crimes and tries to tell it from a straight up angle without the need for ghosts and goblins.

Great film, great storytelling and all around an awesome tale.

Gothic-From Hell

So those are 7 of my favorite True Story Horror Movies that actually contain more fact than fiction which leads me to, what are yours? Sound off in the comments with your own favorites and more importantly why.

I also encourage you to read CaptHowdy’s fantastic editorial on True Story Horror Movies, How True Are they?


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      1. rooster March 30, 2013 at 7:07 pm

        good list of great movies! haven’t seen borderland or girl next door, but will definitely be checking them out now

      2. shadow48 April 2, 2013 at 7:25 am


      3. Matthew Hagerty April 4, 2013 at 5:32 am

        Psycho was based off the same real life killer Texas Chainsaw was

        • Travis March 29, 2014 at 9:21 am

          Ed Gein.

      4. rhic April 27, 2013 at 11:57 am

        lpve it

        • momo July 26, 2013 at 2:47 am

          No…it isnt..

        • Jennacide August 5, 2013 at 6:20 pm

          Yes it is… M.H. is right

        • Jennacide August 5, 2013 at 6:25 pm

          They’re both based, very loosely, on the story of serial killer Ed Gein

      5. smexy_gurl123 April 29, 2013 at 12:55 am

        ya know. i really didnt care for the serial killer one, but girl next door freaked me the hell out.

      6. LittleKrystalHorrorMovieGirl June 14, 2013 at 10:53 pm

        Mine would be The Strangers. :)

      7. JustmeNu July 3, 2013 at 1:39 am

        The Girl Next Door was very disturbing. The fact that the real facts were almost identical is horrifying. Love the information on the movies! Thank you so much!

        • ed July 22, 2013 at 9:00 pm

          the strangers” is a 99% fake crap..do some research.

      8. gothartgirl July 9, 2013 at 12:15 am

        Really great list! I saw them all except Borderland, but it is now on my list of must see movies. Thanks!

      9. zhenzkie July 29, 2013 at 9:17 am

        this is the nice movie that i ever saw

      10. flor July 29, 2013 at 9:18 am

        i never forget this movie

      11. Jennacide August 5, 2013 at 6:22 pm

        I really like Borderland… there’s something truly terrifying about a crazy Mexican drug cult

      12. adel August 11, 2013 at 1:37 am

        Bordertown starred by Jennifer Lopez and Antonio banderas should also be included since it’s also based on true events wherein women mostly young ladies are being kidnapped, raped, killed, and dumped and that is in Mexico.

      13. caninot August 15, 2013 at 2:33 am

        Actually The Strangers is based on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keddie_Murders

      14. Stephanie Jo Viera September 26, 2013 at 12:03 am

        ugg.omg this movie made me wanna throw up..

      15. Sallie Garrant-Heckard September 26, 2013 at 12:03 am

        saw this just recently…very disturbing movie.

      16. John Ryan September 26, 2013 at 12:11 am

        This was horrible!! Wanted to beat her and her kids ass!!

      17. Jennifer Reich Foltz September 26, 2013 at 12:13 am

        I remember reading The Girl Next Door…then I wished I could unread it. Shudder.

      18. Jeremy Fink September 26, 2013 at 12:21 am

        The Girl Next Door wasn’t a horror movie… it was a thriller!

      19. Omar Carbona September 26, 2013 at 12:26 am

        The Girl Next Door, that’s a great movie. Sad and cruel, but well done nonetheless. From your list I also dig From Hell and Henry. Michael Rooker is really good in Henry. Interestingly enough, The Hills Have Eyes was based on some family in Scotland from the 16th century that lived in the mountains and were cannibals that ambushed people and ate them. Both the original and the remake are awesome.

        • Rupert Hay June 4, 2014 at 11:23 pm

          The family from Scotland were all on reds and the top boy of the clan was called sawny bean look it up and see what the Scottish done to them it was very extreme then again so is eating people I guess 😉

        • Rupert Hay June 4, 2014 at 11:24 pm

          I meant Inbreds not red :/

      20. Leyla Havok September 26, 2013 at 12:26 am

        Didn’t you just wish her death scene was a little more brutal. I know I did! Ughh sadistic fuck!

      21. Jessica Marie Haggerty September 26, 2013 at 12:31 am

        The girl next door was def a movie to never forget! Now I know is based on a true story makes it even worse!!! Cruel bitch, she deserved more. The worst part was the blow torch!

      22. Rui Espadinha September 26, 2013 at 12:44 am

        I’d say The Girl next Door, but I never watched From Hell.

      23. Traci Osborne September 26, 2013 at 1:05 am


      24. Feña LaLa September 26, 2013 at 1:18 am

        evil dead jajaj

      25. Benjie Navarro September 26, 2013 at 1:24 am

        Luved & own The Girl Next Door & From Hell…When I show friends The Girl Next Door they. think something is really wrong with me for liking it. That mother is a Hoot!!!

      26. Mike Jones September 26, 2013 at 1:33 am

        This film still gives me the willies —

      27. Chantelle Marie Gaylor September 26, 2013 at 2:16 am

        Danni de Kerckhove

      28. Tiago September 26, 2013 at 2:47 am

        Great list. I would add citizen x, helther skelther (original) and elephant. Just to be provocative i would also mention the passion of christ.

      29. Lindsey Ward September 26, 2013 at 2:58 am

        Omfg… That movie.. Thanks Netflix for that one lol makes my girlie parts hurt just thinking about it

      30. Kenneth Virgil Lawver Jr. September 26, 2013 at 3:23 am

        The Exorcist.

      31. Aaron Whitsell September 26, 2013 at 3:52 am

        The Town That Dreaded Sundown!

      32. Rafizan September 26, 2013 at 3:53 am

        Lately there are so many movies based on true stories. Even the found footage ones. What I do know, no matter how true these movies claim to be, some exaggeration and dramatization are surely involved. Could be for entertainment purposes. To heighten up the element of surprise. I am sure THE CONJURING is a good example. Then again, what about UNITED 93? I have not had the privilege to watch it.

      33. Joe Minicilli September 26, 2013 at 4:20 am

        The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Wolf Creek, and believe it or not both Jaws AND A Nightmare on Elm Street ( Wes based the films off somes Cambodians that died from having nightmares).

      34. Leanne Fanson September 26, 2013 at 6:13 am

        Anoes was made after craven read about a teenage boy who died in his sleep. When they entered his room he had coffee and caffien tablets stored and was reported of being terrified to sleep!… I’d say girl next door was the most traumatising film I’ve ever seen. The ending was so tragic even though I knew the ending from knowing the true story I still broke my heart!

      35. Paul Birch September 26, 2013 at 11:04 am

        Emily Rose!

      36. Nick Green September 26, 2013 at 11:34 am

        I believe that would be from Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door

      37. Chad Butler September 26, 2013 at 1:23 pm

        The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Hoboken Hollow, The Entity, The Amittyville Horror, Karla, Black Water, Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer, Ed Gein, to name a few.

      38. Brenda Butler September 26, 2013 at 1:37 pm

        a killing in a small town

      39. Dennis Francis September 26, 2013 at 1:53 pm

        Great list. The only thing is you made a mistake on The Girl Next Door. She was living at the house. I believe it was her Aunt. The neighbor was the little boy who tried to save her.

      40. Esteban Lara September 27, 2013 at 3:07 am

        The girl next door… Sad but one of my faves ever

      41. MJ Napolitano September 30, 2013 at 7:31 pm

        Horrible movie

      42. Melissa October 13, 2013 at 4:22 pm

        Shadow people is based on a true story with real actual interviews afterwards. Another movie based on a true story is Man on Fire with Denzel Washington. What a great movie and it is a rivoting thriller that will have U on the edge of your seat until the very end!
        I did watch The Girl Next Door and I could not sleep afterwards! What scared me the most about the movie was how could so many kids stand by and watch! and be convinced to keep quiet and participate in the abuse! The most sad and disturbing movie I ever watched!

      43. jasmine October 25, 2013 at 1:09 am

        AS far as the Girl next door. She was not kidnapped, her mother left her with that family and paid the lady weekly. How is it you googled but yet report false info>? And how can you all like a movie that is based on a true story? Its not like its an uplifting true story this was straight vile and evil. Remember there was a real person that went through that ordeal,while you munched on your popcorn

      44. Theresa November 15, 2013 at 12:52 am

        Actually, in The Girl Next Door her parents died in a car accident an her & her sister were left with that crazy aunt. Very good movie but very sad. I actually own it & the book. My husband didnt care for it though & really disturbed by it.

      45. Theresa November 15, 2013 at 12:58 am

        I also love the Texas Chainsaw Massacres especially the one w/ Jessica Biel.

      46. leatta January 13, 2014 at 6:49 am

        From hell is the best. Jack the ripper was never found but some have thier suspicions of who he might have been

      47. Captain Bravo April 17, 2014 at 1:00 am

        “I wet fart on your grave” is my favorite. …

      48. gambino September 1, 2014 at 6:20 pm

        How jeepers creepers

        • Govind Choksi October 3, 2014 at 5:09 am

          Insidious ch 1 and 2 is my favourite horror movie ever

      49. HorrorLover29 April 19, 2015 at 12:57 am

        I love Girl Next Door I’m watching it right now

      50. Candie June 16, 2016 at 4:27 am

        Girl next door was disturbing yet great movie. This one I’ll never forget. And after looking up the real details…not so far off. Well done. #tearjerker

      51. Josué Díaz June 19, 2017 at 6:28 am

        please help me with this, I saw a movie in netflix which totally has the same story as the girl next door, but looks like a b movie list, the argument is similar, the father dies, the mother goes religious and crazy and abuses her son and daughters, at one point she starts to sell his older daughter into prostitution and then after a beating she dies and the younger one goes next….. I dont remember the name please help