7 Deadly Movies Based on Real-Life Serial Killer Cases

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) | Director Tobe Hooper

Body snatcher Ed Gein served as the inspiration for some memorable movie monsters including Norman Bates (Psycho), Buffalo Bill (The Silence of the Lambs), and Leatherface (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre). Gein exhumed corpses from graves of recently buried women, who reminded him of his mother, and fashioned furniture from their bones and skin.


Scream (1996) | Director Wes Craven

Single-handedly reviving the slasher genre, Scream was based partly on the real life case of Danny Rolling, also known as the Gainesville Ripper, an American serial killer who raped and murdered five students in Gainesville, Florida. In total, Rolling confessed to killing eight people. He was sentenced to death in 1994 and executed by lethal injection in 2006.


Zodiac (2007) | Director David Fincher

The Zodiac Killer was a serial killer who operated in California in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. The killer’s identity remains unknown. The Zodiac murdered four men and three women between the ages of 16 and 29 but there may have been many more victims. The killer originated the name “Zodiac” in a series of taunting cryptographic letters sent to the San Francisco Bay Area press.


Wolf Creek (2005) | Director Greg McLean

Wolf Creek has a crazy-eerie real-feel to it and leaves you feeling like you’ve just been hit in the head with a hatchet. It’s inspired by a spate of gruesome backpacker murders that took place in Australia, between 1989 and 1993, committed by Ivan Milat. The bodies of seven missing young people aged 19 to 22 were discovered partially buried in the Belanglo State Forest. Milat is currently serving at a maximum-security correctional centre.


IT (2017) | Director Andy Muschietti

John Wayne Gacy, who killed at least 33 young men and children, was arrested less than a decade before Stephen King penned “IT” leading to the belief that the nightmare inducing clown ‘Pennywise’ was inspired by Gacy’s self-created alter-ego ‘Pogo the Clown.’


The Strangers (2008) | Director Bryan Bertino

Bertino stated that his main inspiration for the script was the true crime book Helter Skelter about the infamous 1969 murders of actress Sharon Tate and four others at the Los Angeles home of Tate and her husband, director Roman Polanski, by members of the Manson Family, acting under the instructions of cult leader Charles Manson.


Snowtown (2011) | Director Justin Kurzel

The Snowtown murders (also known as the bodies-in-barrels murders) were a series of murders led by John Bunting between 1992 and 1999, in South Australia. The trial was one of the longest and most publicised in Australian legal history. The details of the case, as well as the movie, are incredibly disturbing.


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One thought on “7 Deadly Movies Based on Real-Life Serial Killer Cases

  1. Pingback: 7 Deadly Movies That Have a Remake or a Reboot at the Ready – 7 Deadly Things

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