Truth is often stranger than fiction. Some of the most scary and intense films come from real life. From infamous cold cases like the Black Dahlia and the Zodiac killer to notorious serial killers and cold cases -- these movies are ripped from the headlines and inspired by true crimes.
It was a classic Hollywood tale from the start. A beautiful young woman named Elizabeth Short moves to Los Angeles to pursue her dreams. But the raven-haired beauty's life ended in tragedy. In 1947, Short was murdered in Los Angeles. Her naked body was found in two pieces on a vacant lot. Severely-mutilated, her face had been slashed into a Glasgow smile. Short was nicknamed the "Black Dahlia" and has fascinated the public imagination. Her unsolved murder was the inspiration for the 2006 film, "The Black Dahlia," starring Josh Hartnett, Scarlett Johannson and Hilary Swank.
A serial killer who taunted police for years with cryptic notes and symbols. The Zodiac Killer is believed to have murdered at least 5 and as many as 37 people in northern California in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He received the name from mysterious crytograms he sent to the San Francisco Chronicle. In 2004, the case was officially closed after authorities ran out of leads. Three years later, a film starring Mark Ruffalo, Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jr. was released about how the cold case tormented an amateur sleuth.
This 2008 film about a couple being terrorized at their isolated vacation home by three masked psychopaths was inspired by break-ins at the childhood neighborhood of director Bryan Bertino. Bertino also seems to have taken inspiration from two other infamous cases: the Manson Family murders, in which Sharon Tate and four others were killed by Charles Manson's cult members, as well as the Keddie cabin murders, in which an entire family was mysteriously killed in the woods.
You don't often hear about female serial killers. The story of Aileen Wuornos, a Daytona Beach prostitute who became a serial killer, was cemented with the 2003 film "Monster." Wuornos is believed to have killed at least six men and she was ultimately executed. Charlize Theron, starring as Wuornos, won an Oscar and Golden Globe for her gripping portrayal.
The Silence of the Lambs
1991's "The Silence of the Lambs" follows the relationship between a manipulative, incarcerated killer and a naive F.B.I. agent. The plot revolves around finding a serial killer named Buffalo Bill, inspired by real-life killer and grave robber Ed Gein. Gein was convicted of killing two women in 1957. His crimes included exhuming corpses from local graveyards and making trophies from their bones and skin. His heinous acts also inspired Norman Bates in "Psycho" and Leatherface in "Texas Chainsaw Massacre."
[Photo: Rogue Pictures, Pexels, IMDB]