We all love a good ‘based on true events’ horror movie or ghostly tale, I know it’s a simple phrase that will have me thinking about the film I’ve just watched or the story I’ve just read for weeks after.
So, for the 11th day of the Halloween advent calendar I thought I’d put together a compilation of some of the best ‘true’ horror stories or historic accounts to satisfy your morbid curiosities…
The Enfield Poltergeist
Retold in: The Conjuring 2, The Enfield Haunting
The Enfield story is one that’s always intrigued me. It’s a classic poltergeist tale not dissimilar to the concept behind the Exorcist which came out around the same time as the family’s story.
In the 1970s the Hodgson family were supposedly subjected to an encounters with an otherworldly force that took a particular interest in their 11-year-old daughter Janet and possessed her. Janet would talk in a low, male voice – lower than many believed a young girl could speak – and claimed to be the spirit of a man named Bill, who had died in the house.
Here is a YouTube video featuring the recordings of Janet speaking:
- As well as this, fires broke out in the house spontaneously, there was tapping in the walls, spoons would bend and objects materialised in thin air, according to witnesses. A police officer also said they saw a chair slide across the room on its own.
These witnesses also claimed to have seen Janet thrown around the room and levitated in mid air, there are even photos of the incident but many claim it looks as though Janet is simply jumping off the bed. Nevertheless it is one of the most investigated poltergeist ‘cases’ in the UK and one that has spurred numerous films, TV shows and documentaries.
Apparently the spirit is still causing havoc to this day, as actors on the set of the filming of the Enflield Haunting mini series claimed camera equipment regularly broke.
Elizabeth Bathory the Blood Countess
Retold in: Bathory
I’d read about Elizabeth Bathory, also known as the Blood Countess, a long time ago probably when I’d been doing some late night internet scrawling. Her story came up not so long ago on the Generation Why podcast (which is well worth a listen by the way) and it’s a pretty horrible one:
The Hungarian Countess is considered to be one of the most infamous female serial killers of all time and her supposed reign of terror lasted between 1590 and 1610. I say supposed because there are suggestions that the accusations against her were untrue and simply a way of denouncing her from her position in power.
However, let’s say she really was a serial killer, then the death count by her hand varies depending on the source, from just 16 to 650, but all were servants in her care.
The various ways Bathory supposedly killed her subjects are horror stories in themselves, but a few examples include:
- Stitching their lips and tongues together.
- Pricking under their fingernails and inside of their mouths with needles and cut their hands, lips and noses with scissors.
- Covered one girl with honey then left her outside to be bitten by ants and flies and stung by bees and wasps.
- Made them cook and eat their own flesh.
- Beat them to death and created so much blood the walls and beds were covered, and they had to use ashes and cinders to soak it all up.
So yeah, if it’s true she wasn’t a nice lady. The Blood Countess title comes from rumours that she bathed in virgin blood – highly unlikely because of how quick blood coagulates – and that she was actually a vampire.
The possession of Anneliese Michel
Retold in: Exoricism of Emily Rose, Requiem
The case of Anneliese Michel is one that reached the courts, as the priest who conducted her exorcism was trialed for manslaughter because she eventually died of malnourishment and dehydration.
Anneliese claimed to be possessed by six damned souls – Lucifer, Nero, Cain, Hitler, Judas and a disgraced priest Fleischmann – each of which took it in turns to control her and made her do things no sane individual could do such as eat insects and spiders, sit under the kitchen table and barked like a dog for two days and urinated on the floor before licking it up afterwards.
Anneliese’s possession began with convulsions, then she said she heard voices and saw demonic faces, she then began to talk in demonic voices and suffered through 67 rites of exorcism over 10 months.
The exorcisms took their toll on her body, as she had to perform genuflection, which is the act of falling on one’s knees in an act of reverence. Over time the ligaments in her knees ruptured as she performed the act over 600 times and on her last exorcism her parents had to carry her through the motions because she was too weak to do so herself.
It’s a tragic story and whether Anneliese was truly possessed or suffering from a mental illness, we will never know.
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Very few people know that the inspiration for this film series and the infamous Freddy Krueger actually came from a news story Wes Craven read in the L.A Times.
The news story featured a Cambodian family who had survived the killing fields and escaped to the US, however the young boy was so traumatised by the events that he would regularly suffer night terrors.
He told his family that there was something chasing him in his dreams and that if he went to sleep it would get him, so he tried to stay awake for days. However one night, his parents heard him screaming but by the time they reached him he was dead – he had died in the middle of a nightmare.
Craven took the story and created Freddy from it, as well as creating a horror franchise that would last a lifetime.
What ‘real life’ horror story do you enjoy reading and learning about? Share in the comments below!