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10 Terrifying True Stories That Deserve Horror Movie Adaptations part1


Some of the sickest killers and creepiest tales that cinema has seen have been inspired by real events. The infamous Ed Gein was the source of inspiration for Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho as well as Texas Chainsaw Massacre's chainsaw-wielding Leatherface. The mysterious serial killer called The Monster of Florence was the basis for The Silence of the Lambs' Hannibal Lecter, and even this summer's hit The Conjuring recounts a true story of an out-of-hand haunting.

The world is full of mysteries, murders, and deeply disturbing true stories. So with Halloween just around the corner, here are ten true stories that seem perfect for a horror movie re-imagination of their own. Admittedly, some of these have gotten low-budget movie versions. But we think they deserve something a bit more substantial and deserving of their richly spooky roots.

H.H. Holmes
The Story: Often credited as America's first serial killer, Holmes's body count is thought to be somewhere between 27 (the number he confessed to) and 200 victims. How is such a thing possible? The simple answer is that Holmes built a hotel in a bustling part of Chicago in the 1890s, and designed it to be a perfect killing floor for his sick desires. Later called "Murder Castle," it was designed to be a maze of windowless rooms, making escape virtually impossible for those Holmes chose to trap. No one aside from Holmes knew the full layout of the place as he repeatedly hired and fired new builders to construct this killing castle in portions. Some of the weirder attributes of this hotel were doors only able to be opened from the outside, doorways that open on brick walls, a safe big enough to put a person inside (to suffocate them), and a chute that allowed him to dump bodies from the upper floors straight to the basement, where two massive furnaces and large supplies of flesh-stripping acid were stored.

The Pitch: Some version of Holmes' story is said to be in-development withLeonardo DiCaprio attached. But while we wait for news on that could-be project, let's imagine another. Typically, when it comes to serial killers, we don't center the film on them but on someone trying to escape them. For Holmes this would likely be a young woman who'd come to work at his hotel, as was the case with many of the victims he confessed to killing. She could be in Chicago for the 1893 World's Fair, and her story of smalltown girl gone to the big scary city goes dark as she tries to escape from the labyrinthine Murder Castle. Whether she does or not would be up to the screenwriter of course, but along the way she would learn the true depths of this respected entrepreneur's depravity.


The Winchester House
The Story: One of the strangest structures in the United States is the home of the late Sarah Winchester. The widow of gun magnate William Winchester, Sarah believed the ghosts created by her husband's Winchester rifles would come for vengeance. To protect her, she built a mansion in Northern California that was endlessly under construction for 36 years. It is said she believed that keeping it always in flux would ward off spirits who'd do her harm. But the construction is nonsensical at best. There are windows that look into other portions of the home rather than outside. There are doors and stairwells that lead nowhere. All told an estimated $75 million dollars by today's rates was spent on the house, which has been a tourist attraction since 1923, five months after she died of a heart failure at 83. Learn more about the house in the Ghost Adventures episode above.

The Pitch: Technically, the house has inspired a movie, but it was made by the dedicatedly low-budget schlock maker The Asylum. Instead, imagine the story of Sarah Winchester told in a gothic setting. It could begin after the death of her infant daughter in 1866, before leaping to the death of her husband in 1881. Then move ahead to her alone in the home and feeling lost. It could play out a psychological thriller, where the audience is kept on their toes about whether or not the house is haunted, or if Sarah is just deranged from so much grief. Tonally, think of The Others. In the end, Sarah would die as she did in life. Construction on the home would stop. And the final image could be her ghost wandering the halls of her home, looking for her lost husband and daughter.


Elisa Lam

The Story: The unexplained death of Elisa Lam has been gone viral this month because of its bizarre circumstances. You can read a full rundown of what is known at Vigilant Citizen, but here are the key details. Early this year, a 21-year-old student named Elisa Lam was reported missing. Her body was later discovered by a maintenance worker in one of the rooftop water tanks of Los Angeles' Cecil Hotel, after guests had complained about the water tasting funny. Police found the above surveillance tape from the hotel's elevator, which may be some of Lam's final moments. You really have to watch it yourself to understand why it's been given so many the heebie jeebies and is inspiring paranormal activity theories. Keep in mind, no sign of alcohol or drug use were discovered in her autopsy.

The Pitch: Lam's strange demise is just one of stains on the Cecil Hotel's history. The shady locale has also played host two serial killers, including the Nightstalker, who is known to have murdered 13 women, and developed a reputation for being a hot spot for suicide from jumping out its windows. Basically, if I were going to make a movie of these events, it would be in the way of The Shining or American Horror Story: Murder House, where a location is essentially evil, driving those who stay there to commit incredible acts of violence. Maybe it could center on a detective, who is investigating a Lam-like case and begins to uncover the many skeletons the hotel has in its closets.
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