Real Scary Media Made Simple

scary media
Optional audio transcript

You love to watch something scary that happened in real life. That anxiety that it could happen to you is a notion that life makes it worth living. Demons, ghosts, and serial killers could be at your doorstep, in your basement, right behind you. So, what media is based on a true story? Quite a bit of them in majorly known media. These movies will, of course, exaggerate what the story is all about, but you don’t care. You want the scare in scary media. Sadly, the exaggeration is what scares people, so do not expect the scary man on the top of the stairway to be real.

Psycho (1960), The Silence of the Lambs (1991), and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

All three of these movies have one thing in common: Ed Gein. This serial killer and grave robber has been the insight to many movies. Although Psycho wasn’t based on the actual story of Ed Gein, there were similarities in Robert Bloch’s novel. Since the two lived fairly close to one another, the book may have been inspired by Gein’s actions if Bloch was aware of them. As much as I would like to believe this, there are definitely other influences with serial killer actions. With the Silence of the Lambs, Gein was a partial influencer for Buffalo Bill.

In The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, there was Gein influence again, but very loosely. It is reported that there is also influence from Elmer Wayne Henley according to director Tobe Hooper. So, these movies really are just many serial killers into one Leatherface.

Although none of these are really based on the actual murders, Ed Gein deserves a spot on this list because of how much he inspired in horror.

The Haunting in Connecticut (2009)

Oh, I wanted this one to be real. Based on a true story, with an emphasis on story. So, the house itself was a prior funeral home, which the family apparently knew about. With Ed and Lorraine Warren (expect to see them plenty around here) investigating, the truth may have been skewed as there was skepticism after the Amityville situation. Different noises heard in the home, like chains scraping, were explained by neighbors to be just things happening in the neighborhood.

Barn in Connecticut by David Mark scary media
Barn in Connecticut by David Mark 

The entire situation was overwhelmingly deemed a scam by critics and pranksters visiting the home may have ramped up belief in the supernatural via, well, pranks. There was also no real exorcism at the house done by actual priests.

The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)

This is one of my favorite movies because of how well it is done to portray how someone goes through a possession, even if it is only inspired by true events. The actual victim, Anneliese Michel, underwent 67 exorcisms in her lifetime. When she was 16, she started to black out at school and couldn’t remember where she went.

A year later, she started having seizures. She was diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy, which is helped by medication, but may not be a “cure all” by any means. It also may have an unknown cause. At 18, one report states she was diagnosed with tuberculosis, which could explain some symptoms as well.

With this in mind, it could be very plausible that her medication didn’t stand up to her conditions and she kept having seizures, blackouts, and hallucinations.

That is when she turned to religion. She would see the devil’s face at times and had demon-like auditory hallucinations. It took a while to get a priest to do the first exorcism, and the prior ones kept urging medical assistance. Two priests ended up performing all the exorcisms and ultimately, she died 10 months later of malnutrition at the age of 23.

The movie is a bit different in the context of how much Anneliese denied medical help and with how many exorcisms were shown. It would have been a much longer movie in this case, so we can forgive on the latter.

The Conjuring (2013-2021)

I am going to go over the whole series, as each movie has their own issues with stories. Ed and Lorraine Warren are very real demonologists, but the stories may have also been exaggerated. The only one that I see having any real footing is Annabelle, which is a possessed doll that does not like to be messed with, although she really did not escape the museum.

While the houses themselves may have had some issues, there is no way to confirm what happened in them. Both houses in the two films, one in Harrisville, Rhode Island and another in Enfield, England, are not deemed haunted anymore. The movies were aided by Lorraine Warren herself, so some actions may be true. In the second film, though, there is a report that the Warrens weren’t even at the English property for no more than a few minutes.

Costume of The Nun, scary media
Costume of The Nun

The external movies, The Nun and The Curse of La Llorona are not exactly set directly in the universe, but they do have some true events. The nun itself is all Hollywood, but Valak is real according to The Lesser Key of Solomon, published in 1904 by Aleister Crowley and Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers. This book is basically a guide to demonology. Parts of the book are much older than the publication, dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries.

There is no evidence that I could find as to why Lorraine Warren chose that demon, except that she had a vision of something in a hooded cloak at her home. You may never know.

La Llorona is a folktale from Mexico, so it’s seat in the universe could be merely a shot at another horror film for the Conjuring Universe. There is the plot point of Annabelle being in the movie, but it isn’t a Warren ordeal.

From The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, scary media
From The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It

Whether you want to watch it or not, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is a real film, and you cannot make me watch it again. The possession plea may have been set because of the uprising of exorcisms with The Exorcist. The family and friends state that much of what happened in the movie was not true.

The Exorcist (1973)

Speaking of exorcisms, we cannot forget the most famous one. This movie begins with a demon named Pazuzu, which is also the gargoyle creature that Professor Farnsworth is buds with on Futurama. Both have wings and that is all the similarities. He forbodes trouble.

Now, Pazuzu isn’t the main demon and I’m not sure how he fits with the true story, but they needed a demon, so there is one.

Besides the gender swapping of the main character, the story and main movie plot are roughly the same including calling on Jesuit priests. That is, until the actual exorcism. In the true story, the boy ended up in a hospital, and there the last exorcism was conducted. There, the demons were exorcised. The priests also all lived until the end.

So, all in all, Hollywood does make horror more horrifying on the screen when it is needed, which includes stretching the truth. Amityville Horror does not get a section and I will tell you why: I’ve already talked about it. It was deemed a hoax. The movies are fun, though.

What are your ideas on horror movies making the real unreal? Do the stories even matter? Are they even true to begin with?

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