Based on the true story of Ralph Sarchie, a former NYPD sergeant in the South Bronx, who also does exorcisms as a Catholic Christian demonologist. He wrote a book about his work called Beware the Night, which became the basis for the film.
Eric Bana and Olivia Munn, both who appear in the film, claimed to have seen exorcism footage from Sarchie. Bana tried to convince Munn to not watch the footage; Munn said at Wondercon, "I said, ‘If I can’t see them, then I have to see them,’ and I watched them and [Bana] was right. I watched half of one and I cried and then I kept the lights on and then they’re still on.”
In 2014, Sarchie claimed that demonic possessions were on the rise. He's since retired from the force, but still goes after "demonic infestation[s] around the city."
There is also the likely possibility that it's based on the horrific experience of Peter Falconio and Joanne Lees, two British tourists attacked by a mechanic named Bradley John Murdoch. Murdoch convinced the pair that they needed to pull over on the highway so he could check their car. He shot and killed Falconio and then kidnapped Lees. Lees managed to escape and received help from two truckers who happened to be coming by.
In 2005, Murdoch was tried and convicted.
The Haunting in Connecticut
Supposedly based on Carmen Snedeker and her family; according to Wikipedia, "Ed and Lorraine Warren claimed that the Snedeker house was a former funeral home where morticians committed necromancy and/or necrophilia with the corpses, and that there were 'powerful' supernatural 'forces at work' that were cured by an exorcism."
A book, In a Dark Place: The Story of a True Haunting, was written about the haunting but apparently the author, Ray Garton, was encouraged by Ed Warren to make shit up.
Robert the Doll is currently waiting for you to visit him in Key West!
Robert was brought over from Germany in 1904. According to the official Robert the Doll website, "his unusual size indicates he may have been fashioned in the image of his constant companion – a boy named Robert Eugene Otto. The doll took Robert as his name, while the boy simply went by ‘Gene’."
Robert the Enchanted Doll can move and change his facial expressions. Prior to being banished to the museum, in his former home he would be heard walking and giggling. He's also allegedly responsible for "car accidents, broken bones, job loss, divorce and a cornucopia of other misfortunes" and if you disrespect him when you visit him at the East Martello Museum prepare for some "post-visit misfortunes." Robert has gotten about a thousand letters from visitors begging forgiveness.
I totally forgot about this movie until I worked on this post. Primeval is based on the true story of Gustave, "the most prolific serial killer in history." Gustave also happens to be a 20 foot long crocodile in Burundi known for eating people; Gustave has chowed down on approximately 300 of them.
He's in his 60s now and presumably still going strong, but hasn't been seen since 2015.
The Town That Dreaded Sundown
One of the earliest slasher films, The Town That Dreaded Sundown is based on the Phantom attacks in Texarkana, aka The Texarkana Moonlight Murders, which took place in 1946 by a serial killer who was never found. A total of eight people were attacked, five of them killed, by this unknown killer. He targeted young couples who were in private areas on the weekends. The main suspect, Youell Swinney, was never officially charged with the killings.
The film is controversial for a couple of reasons: The brother of a victim sued the producer/director, Charles B. Pierce, for how the film portrayed his sister, and Texarkana officials threatened to sue over the film's tagline, which stated, "In 1946, this man killed five people...today he still lurks the streets of Texarkana, Ark." The victim's brother lost his lawsuit, but the film's tagline was removed.
But it doesn't seem like the badblood(.mp3) between the film and the townspeople persists today: Texarkana has had a tradition since the early 2000s to show the film in a public viewing every Halloween.
SOURCES 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
There were a lot more I could have added, but maybe I'll do a part II sometime. That said... CREEPY POST!!!! And of course, favorite horror-movie-based-on-real-life-events post!!!