Top 10 Paranormal Movies Inspired By True Stories



Top 10 Paranormal Movies Inspired By True Stories

VOICE OVER: Peter DeGiglio WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
If these creepy movies are just 10% true, we're moving to Mars. For this list, we'll be looking at various supernatural movies that are based on actual reported hauntings. Our countdown includes “Poltergeist”, “Silent Hill”, “The Conjuring”, and more!

Top 10 Paranormal Movies Inspired By True Events

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Paranormal Movies Inspired by True Events.

For this list, we’ll be looking at various supernatural movies that are based on actual reported hauntings.

Which of these stories do you find the most fascinating? Let us know in the comments below!

#10: “Poltergeist” (1982)

A classic of the paranormal genre, “Poltergeist” helped further establish Steven Spielberg as a creative behemoth, even though he was only credited as a writer and producer. The movie’s story is original, but it was allegedly inspired by a haunting that occurred on Long Island in the late ‘50s. The hauntings affected the Herrmann family, who resided within the Seaford area. The Herrmanns were afflicted with various paranormal phenomena, and it eventually got so bad that a priest was called to investigate. The link with “Poltergeist” primarily lies in the house’s suburban location, the presence of parapsychologists, and the attachments that the ghosts shared with the house’s young inhabitants. As far as we know, though, the Herrmanns didn’t hop through demonic portals.

#9: “The Rite” (2011)

In Mikael Håfström’s “The Rite,” Anthony Hopkins plays an exorcist, Father Lucas Trevant. The movie seems like just another exorcism film, but it’s actually quite unique in that it’s based on a true story. The movie’s loosely adapted from a book called “The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist,” which was written by American journalist Matt Baglio. The book is about an exorcism-practicing priest named Father Gary Thomas, who was made into protagonist Michael Kovak for the film. Baglio personally attended some exorcisms conducted by Father Gary, who later worked as a creative consultant on the film. According to him, the exorcism scenes within “The Rite” are “very accurate.”

#8: “Child’s Play” (1988)

The soul of a serial killer inhabits the body of a plastic doll after practicing a voodoo ritual, and said doll goes on a killing spree. The story is obviously ridiculous, but it also shares eerie similarities with that of Robert the Doll, who allegedly terrorized the Otto family in the early 1900s. Numerous people reportedly witnessed the doll moving and laughing, and its child owner blamed various misadventures around the house on Robert - much like how Andy blames things on Chucky. Both stories also contain the use of supernatural magic, as Robert was allegedly given to the Otto family by a disgruntled servant who practiced voodoo. Take an old, creepy story, add in some social commentary about ‘80s consumerism, and you have “Child’s Play.”

#7: “Silent Hill” (2006)

Okay, obviously “Silent Hill” is based on a video game, first and foremost. But that doesn’t mean anyone adapting it couldn’t pull from other sources, too. Screenwriter Roger Avary was inspired by the real ghost town of Centralia, Pennsylvania and used it to model Silent Hill. In fact, the movie’s working title was “Centralia.” A mine fire began underneath the town in May of 1962, but it wasn’t until the early ‘80s that the devastating effects became apparent. The fire continues to rage under the town’s streets to this day, at one point opening up a large sinkhole that bellowed dangerous plumes of carbon monoxide. The government spent over $40 million relocating the residents, and Centralia quickly became the ghost town that it is today.

#6: “The Possession” (2012)

This movie, starring “The Walking Dead’s” Jeffrey Dean Morgan, is very loosely based on the story of the Dybbuk box. Previously owned by a man named Kevin Mannis, the Dybbuk box was sold on eBay with a tantalizing story. According to Mannis, the wine cabinet was once owned by a Holocaust survivor and is inhabited by a malevolent spirit that causes supernatural occurrences. Further owners of the cabinet confirmed Mannis’s claims, and the Dybbuk box soon became a sensation in paranormal circles. The story was even sold to Hollywood, who looked to capitalize on its success with “The Possession.” However, Mannis has since admitted that he made the whole thing up to sell an old cabinet.

#5: “The Entity” (1982)

Released just a few months after “Poltergeist” was the more adult-oriented “The Entity.” In this one, a single mother named Carla is harassed by a malevolent spirit. The movie is based on Frank De Felitta’s novel of the same name, which itself was inspired by the story of Doris Bither. Back in 1974, Bither contacted a parapsychologist with claims that an invisible entity had mistreated her. The parapsychologist and his team of investigators visited Bither’s house over the next ten weeks and confirmed that it was indeed haunted. However, there’s little evidence to support this, and other professionals remain dubious about Bither’s claims.

#4: “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” (2005)

Despite its title, this movie takes the age-worn exorcism story and steers it in another direction. For one thing, it’s more of a courtroom drama than a typical horror movie. The character of Emily Rose and the general story of the movie was largely inspired by the case of Anneliese Michel. A young woman from Bavaria, Michel had temporal lobe epilepsy and was diagnosed with psychosis. When traditional medication failed to treat her symptoms, her family brought in exorcists, believing that she’d been possessed. After a staggering sixty-seven exorcisms, Michel passed away from malnourishment and general neglect. Both of her parents and the so-called exorcists were given suspended prison sentences on charges of negligent homicide.

#3: “The Conjuring” (2013)

Perhaps the most popular haunting movie of the 2010s, “The Conjuring” has its roots in real life. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga play real paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, who found great fame and success throughout the 1970s. They began their careers by investigating the Annabelle doll, whose story was made into the popular “Conjuring” spinoff series. The Perron family from the first movie is also real, and they suffered large amounts of paranormal activity in their Rhode Island home. When the Warrens investigated, they deduced that a witch named Bathsheba had cursed the land upon which the house rested. Lorraine Warren served as a creative consultant on the film, and Andrea Perron has praised it for being realistic and true to history.

#2: “The Exorcist” (1973)

Like many classic movies, “The Exorcist” is based on a novel. William Peter Blatty published his book just two years before the movie was released, and the story was reportedly influenced by the exorcism of Roland Doe. That’s one of the pseudonyms given to a young boy from Maryland who underwent numerous exorcisms in the late 1940s. Like the movie, this young boy was seen by two priests, and they reported that the boy was speaking in a deep voice that was not his own. He also cowered in fear when shown religious objects and made objects fly across the room. Blatty also based the character of Father Merrin off an archaeologist he had met in Beirut named Gerald Harding.

#1: “The Amityville Horror” (1979)

One of the most successful independent movies of all time, “The Amityville Horror” shocked the world in 1979 and made its titular town a national symbol of paranormal activity. The movie is based on a book written by Jay Anson, which covers the claims made by the Lutz family. The Lutzes had moved into the house in which Ronald DeFeo Jr. killed his entire family. The Lutzes lived there for just under a month before fleeing in terror. According to them, the house was haunted and they were being terrorized by malevolent paranormal forces. While the book is an undeniable page-turner, it’s been subjected to large amounts of criticism, with many skeptics doubting the Lutzes’ story.