Real-Life Stories That Inspired Streaming Horror Films Perfect for A Halloween Movie Marathon
'Tis the season to scare oneself silly by streaming scary shows and films (loosely) based on true stories.
As if world events weren't frightening enough these days, here comes Halloween and an entire new season of opportunities to intentionally scare oneself silly.
So if trick-or-treating and haunted house visits aren't enough to sate your internal scare-o-meter, simply log into your favorite streaming platforms and watch of host of horrifying entertainment brought to you by Hollywood.
We've gathered a tasty sample of treats inspired (sort of) by real-life events (or scary stories) that spooked the bejesus out of folks in real time and on the screen. They're all available for your streaming (and screaming) needs.
The Watcher (2022)
Courtesy of Ryan Murphy, the creator of such hits as "Glee" and "American Horror Story," comes a new harbinger of doom in the form of a seven-part miniseries. It's based on the house in Westfield, New Jersey, that has been notoriously stalked by someone sending harassing missives signed by "The Watcher."
The notes, received in real life by Derek and Maria Broaddus, sent them packing before they even moved in. During renovations to the home they purchased in 2014 for $1.3 million, a series of bizarre notes started appearing containing such chilling lines as "Have you found all of the secrets (the house) holds yet? Will the young blood play in the basement? Or are they too afraid to go down there alone?"
The Broaddus family sold the house in 2019 and took a $400,000 hit. Police have never found the writer of the letters.,
Murphy's very embellished version stars Naomi Watts, Bobby Cannavale, and recent Emmy-winner Jennifer Coolidge.
The Watcher is streaming on Netflix.
"The Amityville Horror" (1997)
If living on New York's Long Island ever seemed like suburban hell, it doesn't get much worse than inhabiting this house in Amityville, made infamous in 1974, when Ronald DeFeo Jr. shot and killed six members of his family in the home.
DeFeo was convicted of murdering his parents and siblings, Dawn, 18, Allison, 13, Marc, 12, and John, 9. DeFeo was 23 at the time. He died last year in prison.
Five years after the murders, the Dutch Colonial was bought by George and Kathy Lutz, who moved in with their three children. They fled after 28 days, claiming they were terrorized by unexplained spirits and events.
Their stories would later be questioned and branded by some as a hoax, but that didn't stop the film and a book from becoming hits. A long list of film sequels followed the original scary movie, starring Margot Kidder, James Brolin and Rod Steiger.
The Amityville Horror is streaming on Hulu.
"Child's Play" (1988)
The original installment that launched a legion of sequels featuring foul-mouthed Chucky, a kid's doll inhabited by a dead killer. The movie's storyline centers on a voodoo ritual performed by murderer Charles Ray (played by Brad Dourif) that transfers his soul into a "Good Guys" doll.
Much mayhem and gruesomeness ensues, replete with camp and laugh-out-loud scenes that made the movie a cult hit.
It's almost all fictional, save for the possessed plaything, which is said to have originated with Robert the Doll in 1906. The toy was given to a young boy named Robert Eugene Otto in Florida's Key West. Otto was besotted with the doll and carried it with him into adulthood, and to the day he died.
Robert is reportedly on display at the Fort East Martello Museum in Key West, where he receives flocks of visitors and fan mail. The Chucky franchise continues to thrive and includes seven sequels, a remake and a television series.
Child's Play is streaming on Prime Video and Amazon Prime via AMC.
Helen Mirren starred in this spooky film about a real house in San Jose that nearly defies description. The acclaimed actress plays Sarah Remington, a woman who marries into the Remington family (of repeating-rifle fame). Grief-stricken by the deaths of her husband and her daughter, Sarah consults a medium who tells her she will be haunted by the souls of those killed by Remington weapons unless she builds them a house.
And so began renovations in 1886 to Sarah's farmhouse in Northern California, which didn't stop until her death in 1922, resulting in seven stories, about 160 rooms, 47 stairways and thousands of doors and stairways that sometimes led to nothing or sudden high drops. Famed escape artist Harry Houdini visited in 1924 to try to detect spectral activity and dubbed the strange structure "The Mystery House," a name that stuck.
It remains a tourist attraction to this day.
Winchester is streaming on Prime Video
"Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story" (2022)
Lurid fascination with one of the most despicable serial murderers in American history seems to have no end. Currently running as 10-part series, this installment of Jeffrey Dahmer's killing atrocities is told largely from the viewpoint of his victims.
Dahmer murdered and dismembered 17 men and boys from 1978 to 1991. In his Wisconsin apartment, police would ultimately find freezers full of body parts, and learn that Dahmer engaged in cannibalism and necrophilia.
"For what I did I should be dead," Dahmer told officers as they searched his apartment when he was arrested in 1991 after one of his intended victims escaped and flagged down police. Inside Dahmer's horrid-smelling flat, investigators found severed heads, gallons of acid and bleach, and permanently preserved body parts.
His heinous life has launched more than a dozen films, TV series and documentaries.
Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is streaming on Netflix.
"The Birds" (1963)
This Alfred Hitchcock classic never gets old. Though the inspiration for the film is often linked to writer Daphne du Maurier's short story, "The Birds," a real event in California is also credited with being the impetus.
In 1961, the small coastal California town of Capitola woke up to a bizarre sight. Thousands of dead birds littered the streets while live ones hid in trees or low canopies. Residents reported an overnight deluge of thuds and bangs as seemingly deranged birds dropped on their roofs, hurled themselves at windows and dropped dead in their yards.
The cause was later linked to toxin-laden algae and anchovies, which killed the birds and drove others mad with seizures. Hitchcock had a home near the Monterey Bay enclave, and filming began that year for his follow to "Psycho."
Starring Tippi Hedren, Jessica Tandy and Rod Taylor, the frightening saga of murderous birds in a seaside California town terrified audiences.
The Birds is streaming on Amazon Prime
"Nightmare on Elm Street" (1984)
It's hard to believe, but horror director Wes Craven has said Freddy Kreuger, the homicidal, sweater-wearing demon who haunts your nightmares, came from a story he read in a newspaper.
“I’d read an article in the L.A. Times about a family who had escaped the Killing Fields in Cambodia and managed to get to the U.S.," he told Vulture.
"Things were fine, and then suddenly the young son was having very disturbing nightmares. He told his parents he was afraid that if he slept, the thing chasing him would get him, so he tried to stay awake for days at a time," Craven said.
"When he finally fell asleep, his parents thought this crisis was over. Then they heard screams in the middle of the night. By the time they got to him, he was dead. He died in the middle of a nightmare. Here was a youngster having a vision of a horror that everyone older was denying. That became the central line of 'Nightmare on Elm Street.'"
Nightmare on Elm Street is streaming on HBO Max, Amazon Prime, and Peacock
The saga of Lizzie Borden and her infamous axe have provided fodder for a slew of movies, including "The Legend of Lizzie Borden" starring "Bewitched" actress Elizabeth Montgomery, who was nominated for an Emmy for her 1975 performance.
The latest entry stars Chloe Sevigny as the repressed Lizzie, living at home with her authoritarian father and her stepmother in Fall River, Massachusetts. In this depiction of the legendary murders that have fascinated people for more than a century, Lizzie develops a romantic relationship with the family's Irish maid, played by Kristen Stewart.
In 1892, Lizzie's father and stepmother are brutally murdered with a hatchet in the family home. Lizzie is tried and acquitted of the killings, and despite being ostracized by the community, she stays in the home until she died at age 66 in 1927. The family estate is now a museum and bed-and-breakfast site.
Lizzie is streaming on Netflix.
"The Haunting in Connecticut" (2009)
In 1986, the Snedeker family moved from upstate New York to 208 Meriden Avenue in Southington, Connecticut, to be near UCONN hospital for their son's cancer treatments. The Connecticut house had been the Hallahan Funeral Home for decades, and not long after the Snedekers moved in, strange things started happening, according to Carmen Snedeker and her children.
Lights flashed on and off even though the light bulbs had been removed, Carmen said. Her son began seeing a figure with long dark hair. Paranormal experts were brought in and an exorcism was performed the mother said. There is much dispute about the accuracy of her claims.
In the 2009 film, Virginia Madsen plays the mother of a fictional family named Campbell, but the plot is taken from the Snedeker's claims. After the film debuted, the house was deluged by people wanting a look at it, much to the dismay of the new owner, who said the house is not haunted and nothing weird had ever happened in the time she had lived there.
The Haunting in Connecticut is streaming on HBO Max and Amazon Prime
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