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These Are The Real Life Stories That Inspired Cult Horror Films

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These Are The Real Life Stories That Inspired Cult Horror Films

If you always reassure yourself that horror movies aren't real at the end of an ultra scary one, then I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but they are.

It's hard to believe that some of the scariest films out there have taken inspiration from real life stories, but flicks such as Nightmare On Elm Street, Scream, Halloween, Candyman and many more have done just that.

So if you are looking to give yourself reoccurring nightmares, then read one to find out more about these true tales of terror.

Nightmare On Elm Street:

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What's it about? A group of teenagers fall prey to Freddy Krueger - a disfigured midnight mangler who preys on the teenagers in their dreams, killing them in reality.

What's it based on? Director Wes Craven said that he got the idea for the horrifying story from a newspaper article on several mysterious deaths of Hmong refugees from South East Asia. They fled to the US in 1975 away from communist dictatorship, Pathet Leo, which had hold of their country.

The Hmong people were in danger from reprisal of the dictatorship as many of them had served as anti-communist soldiers during the Vietnam War. But they knew very little English when they resettled in the US, meaning they found great difficulty in adjusting to their new lives.

And the move was so difficult for the Hmong refugees, that they sought out doctors to treat outbreaks of imaginary venereal diseases and parasites, which they believed were living under their skin. All 18 of the refugees were found dead in their beds, with cause of death being cited as 'probable cardiac arrhythmia'.

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However, others believed that they died from 'oriental nightmare death syndrome, now known as Sudden Unexpected Death Syndrome. The syndrome affects mostly men, with them dying out of fear of their dreams. Hmong culture believes a spirit of a jealous woman - dab tsuam - takes men to the afterlife in their sleep - with men dressing as women before bed to fool it.

Credit: New Line Cinema
Credit: New Line Cinema

The Scream Films:

What are they about? A fright-masked knife maniac terrorises a group of high school students in middle class suburbia. There have been four Scream movies to date, with the most recent being released in 2011.

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What are they based on? You'll probably be horrified to learn that the Scream franchise was based on a real life series of murders in Gainesville, Florida in August of 1990.

The brutal murders of five students were carried out by serial killer, Danny Rollin, and the details will shake you to the core. Danny stopped targeting students, and by the time police linked him to the crimes, he was already in prison on another charge. He was sentenced to death after he was found guilty at trial.

Scream's writer Kevin Williamson was so disturbed after reading about them that he decided to pen a film about them. The Weinstein Brothers snapped up the story, which has now grossed around $175 million.

Credit: Dimension Films
Credit: Dimension Films
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Halloween:

What's it about? High school students are terrorised again in this flick, as masked killer Michael Myers brings horror to the streets of fictional town, Haddonfield. He stalks and knives the residents, making for a terrifically horrifying watch.

What's it based on? A creepy encounter for the film's director and co-writer John Carpenter is what inspired the first 1978 flick. John was attending Western Kentucky Universtity, where he visited a mental institution as part of his psychology class, which provided the idea for his scary serial killer.

"We visited the most serious, mentally ill patients. And there was this kid, he must have been 12 or 13 and he literally had this look," John said in a documentary on the movie. That 'look' was a blank, pale and emotionless face with the blackest eyes, which became synonymous with Mike Myers in Halloween.

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When John was approached by a film producer with the basis of a horror, he instantly thought back to the young boy at the institution. "It was unsettling to me, it was like the creepiest hing I'd ever seen as a stranger," he added.

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The Exorcism Of Emily Rose:

What's it about? A young girl dies while in the care of her parish priest, who goes on trial over her death. The girl, Emily, believed she was possessed by six demons, and was submitted to an exorcism by Father Moore, but she died a couple of days later.

What's it based on? Scarily, this flick is loosely based on the real life exorcism of Anneliese Michel, who believed she was possessed by demons too. She became 'intolerant' of various religious objects, and was hearing voices, with doctors trying to medically treat her.

Her condition worsened and when medication failed to improve her symptoms, her family believed a demon had possessed her body.

They went to the Catholic church for help, and an exorcism was performed on Anneliese by two priests. She stopped eating food and died from malnourishment and dehydration, and the two Roman Catholic priests were found guilty of negligent homicide, being sentenced to six months in jail.

Credit: Screen Gems
Credit: Screen Gems

Candyman:

What's it about? Legend has it that saying the Candyman's name five times in a mirror will make murderous soul appear with a hook stuffed into his bloody arm. A student doesn't believe the myths, summoning him to the mirror. But when a series of murders begin, it seems like the urban legend might well be true.

What's it based on? In 1974, two young children went trick or treating with their father, only to be given poisoned candy. The young boy died after eating what was actually cyanide, leaving the family distraught and the dad pointing the finger at neighbours.

But after a police investigation found no evidence on the residents, the blame turned to the children's dad, Ronald. At trial, it was found that Ronald had put poison into sweetie wrappers before handing them to the kids, and he was executed in 1984 by lethal injection. His fellow prisoners named him the "Candy Man".

While these events might not have inspired the movie, a real life Candy Man existed, and that's enough spookiness for us.

Credit: TriStar Pictures
Credit: TriStar Pictures

Looks like we won't be sleeping tonight.

Featured Image Credit: Dimension Films

Topics: Horror, TV Entertainment

Rachel Andrews
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