8 True Stories Behind Horror Movies

3. The Exorcism of Emily Rose

The Exorcism of Emily Rose covers the death of a 19-year-old teenage girl who had died due to self-inflicted wounds and malnutrition following an exorcism attempt. It turns out, however, that these flashbacks were based on a real events that took place in Germany in the 1970s.

Anneliese Michel began to suffer from convulsions when she was 17. She was diagnosed with epilepsy, and was admitted to hospital briefly due to the severity of the fits and the depression that followed. She began to see things, and heard voices which told her to “stew in Hell”. Her parents visited various pastors seeking an exorcism and were repeatedly denied as she didn’t meet their specifications of possession, recommending that they continue medical treatment instead.

Anneliese got increasingly worse, insulting and attacking her family. She refused to eat because the demons would not allow it, slept on the stone floor, ate spiders, and even began drinking her own urine. She would scream and destroy any crucifix or religious object she came across. The Catholic church eventually agreed and exorcism sessions took place twice a week between 1975 and 1976. She was chained up; for several weeks she refused all food, and her knees ruptured due to the 600 genuflections she performed during each exorcism.

She began to suffer from pneumonia, and was so exhausted her parents helped carry her through the motions of the sessions. Her last words were “Beg for Absolution” and “Mother, I’m afraid”. After her death, it was ruled that she died of starvation. Her parents and those involved in the exorcism were found guilty of manslaughter from negligence and omitting first aid, and received six months in prison. Her mother later stated that “She died to save other lost souls, to atone for their sins”.

4. Wolf Creek

The plot of Wolf Creek follows three backpackers in Australia whose car breaks down in the middle of the outback. They are taken in by a supposedly helpful man who offers to fix their car at his property, but he soon shows his true colours, imprisoning and torturing the tourists. The writer-director Greg McClean revealed that he weaved aspects of a few real-life Australian serial killer cases into the plot: The Backpack Killer and The Outback Killer.

The Backpack Killer, later identified as Ivan Milat, picked up travellers near Belango State Forest, offering rides before torturing and killing them. The bodies of seven missing people were discovered buried in the forest. Much like a similar scene in the film, Milat wounded the spines of his victims so they could not escape, before shooting and stabbing them. He kept belongings of his victims as trophies, which only served to incriminate him further. Milat was given seven life sentences in 1996.

The Outback Killer, Bradley Murdoch, was convicted of killing British tourist Peter Falconio in 2004. Peter and his girlfriend Joanne were pulled over by Murdoch, who claimed to see sparks from their exhaust. When Peter went to check it out, Joanne heard a gunshot. Her hands were then bound and she was dragged into the back of Murdoch’s truck, but fortunately escaped. Peter’s body was never found, and Murdoch still claims to be innocent, despite the fact that Peter’s DNA was found on a pair of handcuffs Murdoch owned.

During the trial in 2005, a judge felt that Wolf Creek was so similar in plot to the murder case that it may potentially influence the case of Brad Murdoch, so the film was not released in Northern Australia until after the trial.

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