Stories Behind the Movie Screen

This year, if you’re like me, you might have watched some scary movies to celebrate Halloween. This week, I’m rounding up stories that some popular horror movies are based off of. Some films that have been inspired by true stories include Psycho, Silence of the Lambs, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but since they aren’t supernatural, I don’t find this as shocking. So, I’ve chosen films that are a bit more out of the ordinary. Hopefully if you haven’t seen these movies, you’ve at least heard of them and know what they’re about.


The Shining, 1980: This movie was adapted from a book by Stephen King (also titled The Shining), which tells of a family who moves to an isolated hotel. When they’re trapped by a snowstorm, the father (Jack) is impacted by a supernatural force that causes him to try to murder his family. King found inspiration for The Shining at the Stanley Hotel in Colorado. The eerie hotel is like a maze, and is said to be haunted by the ghost of a housekeeper. To this day, the hotel celebrates the fact that it was an inspiration for one of the most successful horror books/movies of all time, and it recreates scenes from the film and even plays it on a loop for its guests. I think it’s really interesting that King was inspired by a location, not a story. I often read about authors who hear a story, and then expand on that and turn it into something of their own. The way that King was able to look at a place, and develop an elaborate plot is really interesting to me, and makes me want to visit the Stanley Hotel some day to see what inspired him!


A Nightmare on Elm Street, 1984: A Nightmare on Elm Street tells of a group of teenagers who are terrorized by a man with a severely burnt face and a claw glove (Freddy Krueger). However, it’s no ordinary nightmare – when Freddy kills them in their sleep, they also die in real life. Wes Craven, director of A Nightmare on Elm Street, actually found inspiration by reading an article in the L.A. Times. The paper described a boy who was haunted by nightmares after his family was almost killed. He was scared to sleep in case the monster in his dreams would get him, and sometimes he would stay awake for days. One night, his parents heard screams and found that he had died during one of his nightmares. If you’ve seen A Nightmare on Elm Street, you can draw obvious parallels between the true story, and the film. The report about the boy who passed away during a nightmare is both haunting, and really sad, so it’s understandable why Craven decided to make a horror movie from it.


Child’s Play (Chucky), 1988: Child’s Play, which is commonly known as “Chucky”, is a film about a doll possessed by the spirit of a serial killer. The inspiration for Child’s Play comes from a handmade doll, 40 inches tall, called Robert. The doll belonged to a young boy named Gene, and whenever Gene would misbehave, he pointed to the doll saying “Robert did it.” After Gene passed away, footsteps were heard in the attic of his home. At one point, a plumber heard giggling and when he turned around, the doll had moved to the other side of the room all by itself. People said that when Robert was in the room, his face looked as though he were following the conversation. Later, Myrtle Reuter bought the old home and kept Robert. She later donated the doll to a museum, because she said it was haunted and moved around the house on its own. Upon Robert’s arrival at the museum, they started to experience technical malfunctions, and there was a dark shift in the air. Less than a year later, Myrtle died.

I found this story to be really, really unsettling. Since there were so many reports of the doll moving, it’s hard to believe that this is a coincidence. Dolls are so creepy already, because they look like humans, only something about them is off. If you’re interested in a similar story, you should read about Annabelle the doll (she makes appearances in The Conjuring and Annabelle), which are both based off of real-life stories.


The Conjuring, 2013: When The Conjuring came out two years ago, it was applauded as one of the scariest films of the year. It involves a family who moves into a house haunted by malevolent spirits. When things start to get out of hand, they call in paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine to rid the their home of the evil entities. However, what some people don’t know is that Ed and Lorraine Warren really are paranormal investigators. They have been involved in several cases which have been turned into movies, including Amityville, Annabelle, the Perron family (which The Conjuring is based off of), and the Enfield Poltergeist (coming out in 2016, titled The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Poltergeist). In the film, one of the family members becomes possessed (I won’t say who, for spoiler purposes), and it is said that this individual really did become possessed in real life. Supposedly, she levitated, flew across the room, and spoke in a strange language. One of my favorite parts of the film is that they made it seem like it really did happen. Aside from all paranormal occurrences, The Conjuring also focuses on Ed and Lorraine Warren, which gives it an authentic feel.


Lusk, Darien. “A Visit to the Historic Hotel That Spawned “The Shining”” CBSNews. CBS Interactive, 24 Oct. 2014. Web. 31 Oct. 2015.

Moore, Trent. “Wes Craven Reveals the Terrifying True Story That Inspired Freddy Krueger.”Blastr. N.p., 20 Oct. 2014. Web. 31 Oct. 2015.

“Fort East Martello.” Key West Art Historical Society Fort East Martello Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Oct. 2015.

Alexander, Bryan. “The ‘true’ Story behind ‘The Conjuring'” USA Today. Gannett, 23 July 2013. Web. 31 Oct. 2015.


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