5 Horror Movie Plots You Won't Believe Actually Happened
Slasher flicks are fun. They give us our dose of murder-porn and fear, and at the end we can walk away guilt-free, knowing that none of it was real. Even the ones that say they're "based on true events" inevitably end up being bullshit. And that's a good thing. Sure, true crime is a popular genre, but what sort of sick puke seeks out true stories of horrific murder for pure, popcorn-munching entertainment? Well, unfortunately, you may have unwittingly done that ...
David Parker Ray Was a Real-Life Jigsaw Killer
In the Saw films, a serial killer known as Jigsaw captures people and tortures them using a variety of homemade devices, like a slightly less horrifying version of Martha Stewart. He usually does it in out-of-the-way areas where no one can interrupt his killings, typically leaving taped messages for his victims and instructions on how to get out. It's more realistic than, say, Freddy Krueger, but there's no way someone like that could operate in real life. The whole premise is ridiculous even by Hollywood standards.
"Hi, could you step into my windowless van?"
Except there totally was a real-life Jigsaw, only a few years before the Saw franchise began. In the 1990s, David Parker Ray was a serial killer who lived in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, where he kidnapped his victims and placed them in a soundproofed mobile home located on his property, which he referred to as his "toy box," because real life is sometimes far more terrible than anything our sick minds can make up. Isn't that right, KFC?
Just like the movies, he liked to leave taped audio messages for his victims to listen to upon awakening. He also had three accomplices who helped him commit his murders. He got caught only because one of his helpers left a key on a table where an imprisoned woman, Cynthia Vigil Jaramillo, grabbed it and escaped (but only after fighting off her jailer and and having to run nude across Ray's property until she found help). I like to picture her turning around at the last second to give her pursuer a long lecture about how much they suck at murder.
"The D in Saw 3D stands for duhhhhhhhh."
Here's the weirdest part: the similarities between the two stories are apparently totally coincidental. James Wan and Leigh Whannell, the creators of Jigsaw, have never once mentioned a real-life inspiration for their killer. They just wanted to make a horror movie that was mostly set in a single room in order to keep the costs down. So, either they're lying to prevent looking like they're glorifying real-life serial killers, or they share the same thought processes as real-life serial killers. I'm not sure which is more disturbing.
Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate: Real-Life Natural Born Killers
Oliver Stone's 1994 film Natural Born Killers, based on a script by Quentin Tarantino, features a pair of spree killers: the romantically devoted Mickey and Mallory Knox. Both are survivors of broken homes, each has a chip on their shoulder about the world, and the only thing they love more than each other is key lime pie. And murder. Probably murder first, actually. They go on a multi-state rampage, killing as many people as they can, while the cops seem helpless to stop them. Because it's a Tarantino movie, which means cops are just functional enough to speak and sometimes eat.
Half of their diet is scenery.
Turns out Mickey and Mallory are directly based on a real-life couple, Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate. In 1957 and 1958, the two killed 11 people on a rampage across Nebraska and Wyoming while the cops, once again, seemed powerless to stop them. And now it makes total sense when I think back to my grandma telling me as a young lad, "Sometimes life is exactly like a Tarantino movie."
"And that's why you must never lose your grandfather's watch."
Although neither actually came from a broken home (both sets of parents were by all reports normal), Starkweather definitely had antisocial tendencies. He was apparently a fan of Rebel Without a Cause and was known to be a town troublemaker. After killing a store clerk on his own, he reportedly developed a taste for murder. He recruited his girlfriend, killed her family, and set out on the road. There are no reports of key lime pie or their fondness thereof.
How could she say no?
The two were eventually caught during a chase with the police. Fugate claimed that she was a kidnapping victim, but Starkweather said she was a willing participant in the murders. He was executed via the electric chair and Fugate spent 17 years in prison. She was later released and remains a free woman to this day.
Albert Fish and Alfredo Balli Trevino Were the Blueprints for Hannibal Lecter
In real life, serial killers tend to be lower-class and not terribly socially functional. That's why Thomas Harris really had something going with Hannibal Lecter -- a high-class, extremely social murderer. A respected psychiatrist and consumer of culture who just happened to like to eat folks on occasion. And though you'd never want his lifestyle, you damn sure respect his grocery bills.
"I can afford such better Chianti now that I hunt my own meat."
For years, Harris was quiet about the inspirations for Hannibal Lecter. Some have noted that the character shares several parallels with Albert Fish, a turn-of-the-century murderer who killed and ate small children, then wrote polite letters to their parents describing how they tasted. But while some shades of Lecter are there, Fish was a poor day-laborer, not a social elite.
With the release of the 25th anniversary of The Silence of the Lambs, Harris shed a little light on Lecter's inspiration. He told of a Mexican doctor, to whom he gave the pseudonym Dr. Salazar, that he met while interviewing a death-row inmate in Monterrey. "Dr. Salazar" was a former surgeon who had killed his boyfriend in an argument and mutilated his body. (He was also suspected of killing others, but these were never proven.) Yet the doctor was well-respected in the prison because of his bearing (Harris said he always dressed well and was very social) and the fact that he could act as a de facto prison doctor. No word on his skill with fava beans.
Mexican Hannibal Lecter doesn't fuck around.
Enterprising researchers tracked down "Dr. Salazar" and discovered he was Alfredo Balli Trevino, a former death-row inmate who had his sentence commuted. Trevino actually returned to his profession as a doctor after being released. He also reportedly knew that he was the inspiration for Hannibal, which became a joke among his family members. Because, evidently, everyone in his family is equally goddamn crazy.
"Hahaha, but seriously, I will eat your liver."
Gary M. Heidnik Inspired Buffalo Bill's Lair
Speaking of Hannibal Lecter, let's talk about Jame Gumb, aka Buffalo Bill. While we've mentioned before that Ed Gein was one of Bill's influences, there are also some other pieces mixed in there. Ted Bundy, for example, liked to use the fake injury story to get people to come "help" him so he could kidnap them, just like Buffalo Bill does.
It didn't hurt that Ted Bundy looked like this.
One of Gumb's most defining features (besides the tucking bit) is the giant pit he has dug out in his basement where he keeps women. Turns out, that is taken directly from a murderer named Gary M. Heidnik.
Between November 1986 and January 1987, Heidnik captured five women and locked them in his basement. He also dug out a massive pit that he forced the women into at times as a form of punishment. At one point, he even filled it with water and used a power cord to electrocute the women, killing one of them, a woman named Deborah Dudley.
Another of the women, Sandra Lindsay, died of starvation. Finally, one of them, Agnes Adams, convinced Heidnik to temporarily release her to go see her family. She immediately called 911 and police arrested Heidnik at a gas station, where he was still waiting for Adams to return, making Adams the single greatest sweet talker in all of human existence.
"She'll be back."
He claimed at his trial that the women were there when he moved into the house, which is probably the weirdest defense in the history of defenses. His lawyer also claimed, as part of his insanity defense, that he ground up parts of Lindsay's body, mixed it with dog food, and fed it to the other women. The prosecution, however, proved this to be untrue by testing his Cuisinart and finding no traces of anything human. He was found guilty and executed in 1999.
Annie Wilkes in Misery Is Basically Genene Jones
In addition to that whole "kidnapping her favorite author and mutilating him" thing, you may recall that Annie Wilkes from Stephen King's Misery is also a nurse. She has that scrapbook full of newspaper stories about herself saving babies' lives and, later, about her being accused of poisoning them.
"It was worth it just to get the nickname 'Dragon Lady.'"
Turns out, according to adaptation director Rob Reiner, that may have been based on a real woman named Genene Jones. Jones was a nurse who accidentally-on-purpose killed as many as 46 kids after intentionally poisoning them. Her idea was that after the children became sick, Jones, the hero nurse, would swoop in and save them. Unfortunately, it didn't work. It didn't work a whole lot.
This is known as Munchausen by Proxy -- making someone else sick or making up an illness for them to gain sympathy, trust, or praise. It's become one of Hollywood's favorite disorders and has been featured on pretty much every crime show in the last 20 years at least once. Because Hollywood is totally not out of original ideas.
"How about 'misunderstood but lovably grumpy supergenius'? Probably no one's thought of that before."
After the first hospital Jones worked for noticed a whole lot of kids in her care dying, they declined to investigate for fear of being sued. Instead, they fired all the nurses and burned her records, because that is the world we live in. She moved on to another hospital and started doing it again, and there a doctor noticed puncture marks in a bottle of succinylcholine that only he and Jones had access to.
Jones claimed that she was poisoning the children to make it seem like there were enough sick kids to justify the hospital building a children's ICU. They did not buy that, and she super went to jail. Originally, she was sentenced to 99 years, but she's up for release in 2017 due to new laws in Texas to prevent prison overcrowding. Have fun with that thought as you try to sleep tonight.
No one tell Stephen King.
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