True Horror is Far More Disturbing Than Fiction
There’s nothing like the words “Based on a true story…” to ensure that a horror movie will be lodged in my memory for life. With that terrifying but admittedly overused phrase, I can’t help but dig into a movie’s background, often to the detriment of my sleep schedule. This first happened when I was 9 years old and started extensively researching The Exorcist. I still can’t look at a crucifix the same way after this brutal scene.
Most people are aware of the story behind The Exorcist, but even lesser known films can have extremely terrifying backstories. Here are six real-life stories that have inspired horror movies but remain even scarier as facts of life.
Constanzo’s early life was steeped in mysticism and crime, the perfect recipe for raising a future cult leader. After learning about Voodoo from his mother, he became an apprentice to a sorcerer who introduced him to the religion Palo Mayombe, which involves animal sacrifice. His stepfather was also involved in Palo Mayombe as well as drug dealing.
From there, he was just a morbid hop skip and a jump away from actual human sacrifices, which involved “magical” concoctions of brains, blood, spiders, scorpions, bones, and more in his cauldron, a nganga. His blood sacrifices were cheered on by his partner drug cartels in Mexico City, and the cult felt like the spells were responsible for all their success. After they were finally caught, following an American’s abduction and murder, police found at least fifteen mutilated bodies buried on Constanzo’s property.
The film Borderland loosely follows the crimes of Constanzo and his second-in-command/high priestess Sara Aldrete, and it doesn’t hold back when it comes to the grisly scenes of brutality.
Stuck / Hit and Run
You know a story is particularly memorable if it’s inspired multiple films all released at the same time. Stuck and Hit and Run—along with a Bollywood adaptation Accident on Hill Road—follow one young girl who hits a homeless man with her car after a night of heavy partying. She then drives back home with the man lodged in her windshield, parks him in her garage, and leaves him to bleed out and die.
The story is shocking and a tad absurd, which makes the fact that that this is a true story all the more grim. In 2001, Chante Jawan Mallard was allegedly under the influence of marijuana, alcohol, and ecstasy when she struck a man with her car. After bringing the entrapped man back to her home, the former nurse’s aide did not even try to get medical attention for the dying man. After disposing of the body with the help of her friend, Mallard was eventually convicted to 50 years in prison after bragging about the incident at a party.
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The film 247°F is a harrowing tale about a group of friends who get locked in a hot sauna with no one around to free them from being cooked alive. It’s like the tanning bed deaths from Final Destination 3, but much more drawn out. Shockingly enough, this somewhat ridiculous premise actually happened in real life.
In the country of Georgia, four friends were enjoying a sauna when one of them suddenly left for the bathroom. He never returned, and in his haste, he locked the rest of them in. As they sweltered together, their friend passed out, and when he woke up, he had no memory of going in the sauna. Luckily, this story doesn’t end quite as tragically as the movie version: the friends were able to shut off the heat, but the temperature diminished very slowly. They lingered for 10 hours in desertlike conditions before they were finally found.
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