When it comes to horror, nothing makes a freaky plotline even freakier than the words 'based on a true story.' Even when these so-called true stories turn out to be more fiction than fact, the mere suggestion is enough to induce goose bumps. Check out our favorite tales of (allegedly) true terror and rest assured, they didn’t really happen in real life...yet.
Amityville Horror (1979)
One of the most famous haunted house tales ever made, The Amityville Horror chronicles the paranormal happenings visited on the Lutz family of Long Island, as told in Jay Anson’s 1977 nonfiction bestseller. That bestseller itself – along with the testimonies of George and Kathy Lutz themselves – was since deemed to be 'mostly' fiction.
Blair Witch Project (1999)
When this faux-documentary debuted in 1999, there’d been nothing like it before. So you’re forgiven for believing – at least for its 86 minute runtime – that it was really found footage of three would-be filmmakers gone missing in the woods, forever lost to the legendary Blair Witch.
Faces of Death (1978)
Like its shockumentary brethren, Faces of Death purported to show audiences examples of extreme acts from around the world. But wait, were those scenes of (gasp!) human deaths the real deal? Save stock footage of wartime carnage the human deaths were staged -- though sadly, some of the animal deaths were not.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
When Tobe Hooper’s landmark slasher film about a lumbering killer named Leatherface debuted in 1974, it was marketed as a true story. Thankfully, it was not, although Hooper did base his psycho on real life serial killer Ed Gein.
Mothman Prophecies (2002)
When mysterious circumstances lead Richard Gere to Point Pleasant, Virginia, he discovers a local legend involving a winged creature known as the Mothman, who is thought to foretell disaster. Such a legend actually does exist in Point Pleasant, where locals allegedly witnessed the creature prior to a fatal 1967 bridge collapse.
The Exorcist (1973)
Little Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair) may not have existed in real life, but a version of her did; novelist William Peter Blatty, whose fictional novel was adapted into William Friedkin’s The Exorcist, drew inspiration from the 1949 exorcism of a young boy he’d read about years earlier.
Wolf Creek (2005)
Even Australians have their own 'true' horror stories. Take Wolf Creek, which is not itself a true story but was based on a few different infamous murders involving backpackers in the beautiful Australian wilderness.
The Strangers (2008)
Newbie director Bryan Bertino found inspiration for his sleeper hit in a childhood run-in with would-be robbers, although enterprising fans researched possible links to the Keddie Cabin Murders of 1981.
Open Water (2004)
In 1998, Thomas and Eileen Lonergan were left behind when their SCUBA diving group accidentally returned to shore without them. Eight years later, filmmakers Chris Kentis and Laura Lau turned the Lonergans’ story into a riveting ocean thriller that fictionalized what might have happened to the tragic pair.
Haunting in Connecticut (2009)
Like its predecessor, The Amityville Horror, this haunted house story came from a real life family, the Snedekers of Southington, Connecticut, who swore that their home was occupied by a variety of demons. Investigators, however, remain skeptic that anything spooky actually transpired.