We have all experienced those feelings we get when we sit down to watch a horror movie. We feel that little adrenaline rush when we see a character in a movie trying to escape a knife-wielding-psycho that is endlessly chasing them and we feel that jump out of your skin feeling when the evil guy suddenly pops into the scene from out of nowhere. Then the movie ends, you sigh a breath of relief that it’s over and there is nothing to be scared of. But did you know that there are a few movies out there that were based on real life events?
The 1988 popular and cult classic movie Child’s Play is about a single mother that gives her son a beloved doll for his birthday. They later find out that the doll is possessed with the soul of Charles Lee Ray, a serial killer, who takes his soul and buries it into the seemingly good guy doll Chucky. Charles Lee Ray then tries to put his soul into the boy’s body in order to become human again. The writer for Child’s Play, Don Mancini, was inspired by the story of Robert the Doll.
Robert the doll is a toy once owned by a Key West painter and author Robert Eugene Otto. The doll was given to Robert in 1904 by a Jamaican nurse who was skilled in black magic and voodoo. She was said to have been displeased with her role in the Otto family so she placed a curse on the doll. The family reported that Robert would have conversations with Eugene when he was a child and would often scream for help while he slept, his parents would enter his room and find furniture knocked over and Robert the Doll sitting close by.
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Neighbors also claimed to see the doll moving from window to window when the family was out. When Eugene died in 1974, the doll was left in the attic of his sold house until a 10 year old girl found the doll. It wasn’t long until she started talking with Robert and experienced attacks in the middle of the night too. Today, the doll can be found in the Fort East Martello Museum in Key West. Robert the Doll is featured in many ghost tours. He is seen here in an early 20th century white officer sailor suit clutching a stuffed lion.
Legend says that if you want to take a picture with Robert you must ask the doll politely, if he doesn’t agree he will tip his head to one side and you must forget it and pass by, if you take the picture anyways he will curse your family. Another cult classic horror movie that is loosely inspired by true events is A Nightmare on Elm Street. The movie is about a spectral child murderer, Freddy Krueger, who stalks the children of the members of the lynch mob that killed him and, one by one, kills his victims in their dreams.
In the Philippines they call the sudden death of a person while sleeping, bangungot, or nightmare. In other areas of the world it has been labeled as sudden unexpected nocturnal death syndrome or SUNDS. The Filipinos believe that ingesting high levels of carbohydrates before sleeping due to eating rice cakes causes SUNDS. Victims of SUNDS have been found to have no organic heart diseases or structural heart problems, however, cardiac activity during SUNDS indicates irregular heart rhythms and ventricular fibrillation.
When reports surfaced in the United States that perfectly healthy young Asian Men were complaining of horrific nightmares and refusing to sleep for days on end, it caught the attention of a young Wes Craven who later incorporated the theme of Freddy Krueger entering his victim’s dreams and killing them into his 1984 film, A Nightmare on Elm Street. The Shining, is about a family that heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where an evil spiritual presence causes the father, Jack Torrance, to slowly slip into madness, while his psychic son, Danny, sees disturbing visions from the past and of the future.
Stanley Kubrick created this 1980 movie based on Stephen King’s 1977 bestseller book. The movie is based on the strange unexplained activity that happens in The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado which is located next to the Rocky Mountain National Park. The hotel was built by Freelan O. Stanley of Stanley Steamer and opened on July 4, 1909. Since its opening the hotel has accommodated a collection of rich and famous people, including Titanic survivor Margaret Brown, Theodore Roosevelt, and the Emperor of Japan. Over the years, many people have reported ghostly phenomena in the hotel, the majority of which happen in the large ballroom.
The kitchen workers at the hotel have reported loud music, dancing, and conversation in the ballroom, only to search the area and find nothing. Visitors have heard the hotel’s piano playing at odd hours and have seen a number of apparitions. Stephen King was inspired to write The Shining when around Halloween in 1974 he and his wife Tabitha decided to take a mini-vacation to the Stanley Hotel. On October 30, 1974 the couple checked into room 217, which was said to be haunted. King said that night he dreamed of his 3 year old son running through the corridors, looking back over his shoulder, eyes wide, and screaming.
He was being chased by a fire hose. Nowadays, many movies claim to have been inspired by real life. Did they really happen? Or is Hollywood just slapping that phony “true story” label on their movies in hopes of filling theater seats and winning box office gold? This is just a short list of movies that directors took inspiration from strange events, tragic tales, and dark memories to show us, the audience, that truth can be more terrifying than fiction. And whether you actually care if it’s based on true events or not, it’s sure to have piqued your interests. Gloria Isabel Rivas Speech 1315 Wed. 02/27/13 5:30-6:50 p. m.
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