The imagination can come up with some pretty terrifying stories to tell, but scary movies and horror novels get twice as creepy if they are based on real events. It might surprise you just how many popular tales of terror actually happened. Here are 11 more scary stories in pop culture based on true events.
Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel has been noted as a fictional retelling of the life of Vlad The Impaler, also known as Vlad III Dracula. The Transylvania-native is believed to have killed up to 100,000 people during his reign and lived in a grand castle in Romania similar to the one Jonathan Harker visits in the novel’s opening chapters.
American Horror Story: Hotel
Many moments in American Horror Story history draw on real events, from the assassination attempt on Andy Warhol in Season 7 to many historical freak show characters found in Season 4. However, the story that inspired Hotel is probably the creepiest. Based loosely on Chicago serial killer H.H. Holmes, Evan Peters’ character James March also built a hotel with secret rooms and trap doors used for ensnaring and eventually viciously murdering his guests.
— Salem (@SalemWGNA) January 26, 2017
The three season long TV show was loosely inspired by the events of the notorious Salem Witch Trials, in which over 20 people were wrongfully killed due to false accusations of witchcraft. This TV show flips that notion, speculating on what might have happened if some of those historical figures really were witches. Characters such as Tituba, Mary Sibley, Mercy Lewis, John Alden and Cotton Mather are all based on real figures directly involved in the 17th century witch trials.
The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow
Washington Irving’s tale of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman is based more on fact than one might think. It’s believed that Irving’s story was inspired by the death of a Hessian mercenary during the Revolutionary War. The fallen soldier was a horseman who was buried after the Battle of White Plains in an unmarked grave near the town of Sleepy Hollow. To make things even stranger, Irving based the characters Ichabod Crane and Katrina Van Tassel after two acquaintances with those exact names.
One of Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous poems is “Annabel Lee,” the story of two young lovers who were separated by family disapproval and eventually death. There are many theories as to who Poe based Annabel Lee after, but most people assume it was his wife Virginia, who just like in the poem he loved as a child, married and eventually lost to an untimely death.
Believe it or not, just like Dracula, Frankenstein is based on historical figures. Before Mary Shelley wrote her magnum opus, she traveled around Europe where she learned about Germany’s Frankenstein Castle, the birthplace of alchemist Johann Conrad Dippel who is thought to have created an elixir of life as well as experimented on dead bodies during his work. The story is also thought to have been inspired by the works of galvanist Giovanni Aldini, who publicly demonstrated how electricity can flow through the nerves of a dead body in the early 1800s.