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DID YOU READ

10 Horror Movies Inspired By True Stories

Nightmare on Elm Street

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We go to horror movies to forget our real world problems. Who cares about paying the rent or your jerk boss when there’s a serial killer under your bed? But vampires, ghosts and zombies are just spooky stories we tell each other for kicks. Right? They’re so fun because they can’t really hurt us. Or can they? You might be surprised how many of your favorite horror movies are based on true stories. You know, the type that really can come and get you while you sleep. Here are 10 movie at least partly based on true stories.


10. Bram Stoker’s Dracula

The grandaddy of horror villains, Bram Stoker’s legendary vampire didn’t just appear out of thin air. Stoker is believed to have based him on Vlad III Dracula, otherwise known as “Vlad the Impaler,” a Romanian prince who’s said to have killed up to 100,000 people during his reign of terror. Stoker came to this association late in the writing of his novel, and thankfully made some last second edits. Can you imagine if he had stuck with the character’s original name, Count Wampyr?


9. Open Water

This 2003 thriller was inspired by the true story of Tom and Eileen Lonergan, an American couple accidentally left behind by a diving company in the Great Barrier Reef.  Shockingly it took two days for the company to realize what they’d done. While a search was quickly manned, the couple was never found. They were believed to have succumbed to dehydration or sharks, neither of which are things you want to succumb to.


8. A Nightmare on Elm Street

Director Wes Craven was inspired to write the first Nightmare after reading an LA Times article about a group of Cambodian immigrants who refused to sleep because of their vivid nightmares. Some of the men even died in the throws of their dreams. While Freddy Krueger wasn’t directly to blame, the idea of killer nightmares was too good for Craven to resist, and a monster movie legend was born.


7. The Amityville Horror

“Based on a True Story” can mean a lot of different things in the world of horror movies. Just because someone said something happened, doesn’t necessarily make it true. That might be the case here, thanks to real world paranormal detectives Ed and Lorraine Warren, who helped turn this haunted house story into a national sensation. They went on to investigate 10,000 cases in their ghost hunting career, some of which turned into other movies. This film is based on a book by Jay Arson, who took the haunted Lutz family, along with the Warrens, at their word.


6. The Conjuring

Ed and Lorraine Warren strike again, moving to centerstage in this haunted house tale. Tapes of the supposed haunting apparently made their way to producer Tony DeRosa-Grund, who spent 20 years trying to turn this “true story” into a feature film.


5. The Girl Next Door

This film is based on the real-life murder of Sylvia Likens, back in the summer of 1956. A seemingly typical teen girl, Likens was tortured to death by the woman charged with caring for her, along with her children and other neighborhood kids. The prosecutor of the trial called the murder “the most terrible crime ever committed in the state of Indiana.”


4. Wolf Creek

Two true stories helped inspire this film about a group of backpackers whose car breaks down in the Australian Outback, only to find themselves the target of a psychotic bushman. Ivan Milat kidnapped and tortured a series of hitchhikers in Australia back in the ’90s, while Bradley John Murdoch murdered a British tourist in a remote part of the Outback in 2001. Turns out dingoes aren’t the only things killing down under these days.


3. The Serpent and the Rainbow

Wes Craven’s zombie movie is loosely based on a non-fiction book by ethnobotanist Wade Davis, which explored the supposedly true accounts of people being brought back to life with local Haitian traditions and herbal medicines. While many of his accounts have come into questions, Davis no doubt helped popularize the notion of the real life zombie.


2. The Exorcist

Elements of the original novel, written by William Peter Blatty, were based on an actual exorcism performed by Jesuit priests William S. Bowbern and William Holloran in 1949. The name of the supposedly possessed boy has never been released, so we can only guess how similar the exorcism was to the film based on it. One would imagine it had substantially less pea soup.


1. Psycho…and Silence of the Lambs…and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Numerous movies have been based on the horrific exploits of Ed Gein, a serial killer famous for stealing bodies from graves that resembled his mother, and making furniture out of their skin. Details from his disturbing life have been used to motivate countless killers in the movies, including everyone from Norman Bates to Leatherface.

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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.