Friday, October 28, 2011

Scary movies with real life backgrounds

**The $25 Amazon Gift Certificate goes to... Brenda!**

Thanks, everyone, for your comments.

As Spooky Day approaches, I thought I'd take a look at some popular scary movies that have more behind them than just a screenwriter eager to cash in on the paranoramal craze. These are oldies but goodies, and if you haven't seen them (or if you have), you might want to search them out for your Halloween fright-fest. Your friends might not believe you when you them them the background of these movies!

Jack Nicholson in The Shining
The Shining (1980)

This movie takes place in an isolated location, a large and luxurious hotel that is closed down for the winter due to impassable roads. This means the few who remain (caretaker, etc.) are trapped there as both the snow and the isolation deepen. Terrible things have happened at the hotel and left ghostly impressions behind that aren't exactly friendly to the humans in their midst. It's a psychological drama as well as a horror movie that will have you breathing fast.

Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, CO
The background: The movie was based on the book The Shining by Stephen King. He was inspired to write it after a stay in Room 217 of the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. In 1911, a housekeeper was nearly killed by a gas leak explosion in Room 217. Doors open and close and lights turn on and off by themselves in that room. Stephen King spotted the ghost of a small child who calls out to his nanny on the second floor. According the the staff, Room 418 is the most haunted room in the hotel. Ghosts of children playing can be heard in the hallway. The movie was not filmed in the Stanley Hotel, as many think, but the hotel does offer ghost tours and ghost hunts based on its many reported hauntings. EMF paranormal detectors are provided. There are tunnels beneath the hotel. Ooh!

Hollywood's Amityville Horror House
The Amityville Horror (1979)

In this movie, a newly married couple and their three children move into a large house on the coast of Long Island. They've been warned about the house's history by the real estate agent. A man had murdered his sister, two brothers, and father in the home, claiming that ghosts had lead him to do it. The couple bought the house anyway because it was perfect for their family and because the price was low due to the tragedy. But there's an evil spirit in the house, or is it the house itself that's evil?

112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville, NY
The background: The movie was based on The Amityville Horror: A True Story by Jay Anson. The book was a purportedly factual accounting of the paranormal experiences of the family of George and Kathy Lutz. In 1974, Ronald DeFeao did murder his four relatives in the Amityville home at 112 Ocean Avenue. George and Kathy Lutz moved in, dismissing the warnings by locals that the house was haunted. The next 28 days convinced them otherwise. Among the sightings in the house were a little boy on the second story landing and a dark cloaked figure. The one that creeped me out the most was that daughter Missy had a ghost friend named Jodie. Missy described Jodie as an "angel who could change shapes" who told her "You'll live here forever." Uh oh. The Lutz family fled the house on a dark and stormy night.

Movie's Regan, possessed girl
The Exorcist (1973)

During the early 1970s, there were several movies dealing with possessed innocents (or not so innocents), including Rosemary's Baby, The Omen, and The Exorcist. Entertainment Weekly considers The Exorcist the scariest movie of all time, a prime endorsement for your Halloween entertainment. I've seen this movie several times, and it has me ready to run screaming from the room every time. Mom Chris MacNeil has a good relationship with her daughter Regan until the girl begins having seizures and levitating, all the while cursing creatively. After exhausting all other avenues (doctor, psychiatrist), Mom turns to a pair of priests to force the demon from her daughter.

Ronald E. Hunkeler,
possessed boy

The background: The movie was based on the book The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty, describing the lengthy exorcism procedure performed on a teenage boy in 1949. The boy's name is Ronald Edwin Hunkeler. First in a private home and then in the psychiatric wing of Alexian Brothers Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, Fr. Raymond J. Bishop, Fr. Walter Halloran, and Rev. William S. Bowdern performed the ritual of exorcism. Rev. Bowdern took the main role; he was The Exorcist. The bed shook, Ronald spit and cursed, markings appeared on his body, and Ronald broke Father Halloran's nose while thrashing around in bed. A detailed diary was kept. Forty-one witnesses, including the priests who performed the ritual, signed statements that they believed the exorcism was authentic. Today Mr. Hunkeler is a married man with three children who lives in Maryland and has only vague memories of the events that took place when he was 14 years old.
What do you think of these supposedly true stories? Let me know by commenting below for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift certificate. The drawing ends at midnight CST on November 2nd. Plenty of time to trick-or-treat and still enter!

I'm starting a Facebook fan page because my profile page is going to hit the 5,000 friend limit. Please like the Dakota Banks page, where you can enter a drawing to win a Nook Color e-reader (drawing ends November 15th). Let your friends know, too!


Unknown said...

What do I think of those supposedly true stories? I think that they are probably mostly based on true (remember, truth is stranger than fiction). However, I don't like to watch scary TV shows or theatre movies or read those kinds of books. I do like to watch such shows as Ghost Hunters.

Thanks for the contest/giveaway! I've previously 'Liked' your fan page.

Lea Ellen {night owl in IL}

Unknown said...

Oops - meant 'based on truth'

JenM said...

I never know what to make of those "true" stories. I do believe in paranormal activity, but at the same time, the human mind (and the group mind) is very suggestible, so I tend to take the stories with a grain of salt.

jen at delux dot com

Unknown said...

Oh - THE SHINING (original movie) is still one of the most scary I have seen. The scene with "Here's Johnny . . ." still gives me shivers. I believe that not all of these stories are purely fiction. I LOVE scary movies!!

baychriz at gmail dot com

Billie Miller~ *Writer*Poet:*Humanist said...

Dont forget the Bell/Blair witch/Andrew Jackson. I use to really believe in the paranormal somehow I got more skeptical. I really do want to believe.

Sharon Stogner said...

I think knowing something is based on a true story makes it a little scarier. I think the Texas Chainsaw Massacre is based on a real person! How scary is that?

Anonymous said...

i love all those but my favorite has to be the amityville horror :)

Paris said...

I believe a lot of those true stories are based in some truth and then probably exaggerated upon. But when I watch those scary movies I like to just pretend that it all really happened because it's scarier that way and I love to be scared.

Amy Valentini said...

Hi Dakota,
Great post and you picked some of the best scary movies ever! As someone who has personally experienced some very strange things - some of which I'm going to share on my blog in honor of Halloween this Monday - I get excited about any book or movie that begins with 'based on a true story'! Of course, Hollywood glams it up with extreme visuals and special effects - it's about making money afterall - but I love 'em. A really good one, if you haven't seen it yet, is THE RITE with Anthony Hopkins. Based on a true story about exorcism and believe me, it makes you guard your thoughts for a while. Hope you'll all stop by UNWRAPPING ROMANCE and take a peek, featuring our fave devil from DEVIL WITHOUT A CAUSE today.

Brenda Hyde said...

I liked your facebook page, and love it-- so much cool information:)

Here is the odd thing with me and scary stuff. When I was about 14 or so I read every scary book I could get my hands on from the library. LOVED them. Movies are an entirely different story. I STILL cannot watch The Exorcist. I tried several times over the years and can't make it through it.

I'm really torn on whether things like that are true. I tend to think they aren't but at the same time I think there is true evil in the world, and perhaps it's not a stretch to think there is more going on than meets the eye. I've had some really weird experiences in my life and to be honest the things that scare me the most are people who believe that Satan is around every corner waiting to temp them and force them to do things. I've met people that really believe that and live their life frightened that demons will attack them. Sigh. Religion can be downright frightening.

Didn't mean to get deep and cynical:) I love Fall, and Halloween-- I really do!

Na said...

I love scary ghost movies, not the gory ones but an actual scary one and especially when they are based on true events. One of my favorite is The Amityville House. I dont kow if it's true but I'd to believe so, at least that would mean the son did the murders upon hearing demonic voices and under trance. One of my favorite tv documentaries is The Haunting on the Discovery Channel, which sadly stopped producing a couple of years ago.


Jessica @ a GREAT read said...

I like knowing the supposedly true stories. It makes the movie/book/whatever creepier! Of course that's not to say I'll go watch it! Never saw those movies, think the idea of them being based on true stories freaks me out more than if it was fictional!

But still, I love knowing about true hauntings or other creepy events. Used to watch Haunted History all the time when it was on!


Cylver said...

I love stories like these! I remember reading once that Jay Anson gave a friend of his a copy of the manuscript of The Amityville Horror to read overnight. That night, his friend's house caught fire. His friend got out safely, but the house was a total loss. Everything inside was burned - except the manuscript. Creepy!

Even though I love reading about haunted places and supernatural occurrences, I think I'd be too much of a wuss to visit the Stanley Hotel.

Thanks for the great giveaway!

donnas said...

The Exorcist freaks me out, still does. The Shining was a bit scary but not as much. For Kind the scariest for me is Salems Lot but that has no basis in real truth. And I really have doubts about Amityville.

bacchus76 at myself dot com

June M. said...

I'm one of those people who are skeptical about "true" stories but don't NOT believe them, the same thing about ghosts and such. But I think stories about true life killers are more scary because they actually happened, as opposed to movies such as Nightmare on Elm ST etc. I love them all, but those about serial killers, etc give me chills because they have or could actually occur.
manning_j2004 at yahoo dot com

Dakota Banks said...

Great comments coming in! I'm really enjoying hearing from all of you. Just ate a mini Butterfingers, my favorite. I hope the rest of the candy lasts until Halloween!

Bonnie said...

What a fun post, I love scary movies and books especially when they start based on a true story... Thanks for the info.

Barbara E. said...

Great post. I've seen The Shining, but never watched The Exorcist of The Amityville Horror. I've never been one for scary movies, unless there are aliens involved or something paranormal. These movies all seem to be designed to give me nightmares, so I've kept as far away from them as I can. I'm not sure what I think of the stories the movies are based on. Probably pretty skeptical.

Vivien said...

I love the urban legends...they're such a staple. I've always thought that they are based on mostly truth. These are always my favorite kind of story.

deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

Chelsea B. said...

I didn't know these movies came from true stories! Kinda makes them more scary! Hmmmm, I don't know if they are true, but if they are it is definitely frightening!


Llehn said...

I am rather susceptible to suggestions so I tend to believe these stories.


Roni said...

The Shining scared the crap out of me, so I didn't see the whole thing. If these movies are based on truth then I believe it happened. I've had a few very strange things happen to me; things I didn't think were possible.

Amy said...

Wow, those are some scary stories. The Exorcist scared me the first time I saw it. I think for this Halloween, I will be watching Paranormal Activity and its sequel. Those were some of the scary movies I saw in the recent years.

SacredmOOn said...

I do believe in paranormal activity. There's allot of things we can't "explain" out there and probably never will. So I have no doubt that things like that happen. TY for the giveaway chance!
DeAnna @SacredmOOn1

vijaiksharma said...

Normally I do not watch scary movies, though it is one of the varieties of entertainment(if it can be called so). They may be based on true stories or imagination. There are some persons who like such stories. I like the posts and the Facebook page. Thanks for the giveaway.

Tiffany Drew said...

I love watching movies that are supposedly based on "true" events. Whether or not they are true, I don't believe so. I think that something may have happened and along the way it got morphed into something else. But who knows, I wasn't there so I can't be certain. Either way, it makes a movie much scarier if you know that it is a possibility that it actually happened to someone!


Jess said...

I like watching movies based on true stories, whether or not it's true It still makes you wonder "what if".

Thanks for the giveaway!


Helen Lowe said...

While I believe it is important to keep an open mind, I tend toward the skeptical myself and am particularly perturbed by the atrocities that arise out of mass fear/hysteria, such as the Salem witch trials, recent "witch" murders in Kenya, and the also recent manslaughter of a woman in an excorcism-gone-wrong here in NZ.

SandyG265 said...

I think the true stories probably are based on something that actually occured but then the stories got embellished.

sgiden at

Cate said...

It's scary that these movies are based on true stories! These events have actually happened to somebody! After watching Amittyville and the shining scares my soo much that I can't sleep without lights! Thanks for the giveaway! Kayko118(at)yahoo(dot)com

Anonymous said...

i think the the movies based on true stories make it much more scary because it has happened. If it can happen once it can happen again, at any time, to any one. Supernatural/true supernatural are my favorite to watch and read.

Jennifer Mathis said...

i have been to the stanley hotel . I never seen anything but it does have a very creepy feel to it