Fictionalized versions of real-life crime stories often exaggerate or stylize true stories for the sake of drama, but sometimes, the true facts of a case get so distorted by moviemakers that it becomes difficult to tell truth from fiction.
We're here to sort out some of the biggest things the movies got wrong about very real crimes.
1. Ed Gein never used a chainsaw.
The iconic horror film "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" purports to be a depiction of real-life events, but the story of the movie greatly embellishes the actual crimes of serial killer Ed Gein.
While it is true Gein cannibalized his victims and preserved their body parts as keepsakes, pretty much everything else in the film is totally made up: even the eponymous detail of the chainsaw.
2. Zodiac's infamous phone call went much differently in real life.
In Fincher's "Zodiac" film, a person who claims to be the mysterious serial killer calls into "The Jim Dunbar Show." It's later determined that the call came from a mental patient who had nothing to do with the murders in question.
In real life, here's what the call sounded like:
According to Uproxx, in reality a man called into the show 12 times claiming to be the killer, but he never got through. He later called police saying that he was Zodiac and told them he'd call at a certain time, leading to the setup of a sting.
Advertisers for the "Zodiac" film seized on the moment to make it seem like the actual killer was calling in, adding screams into the commercials to sensationalize the scene.
3. Most of the facts of Oliver Stone's "JFK" are entirely wrong.
According to Screenrant, "JFK" is based on a debunked conspiracy that heavily implies that Lyndon B. Johnson, Kennedy’s successor in the White House, was a driving force behind the infamous assassination.
The film was based heavily on the 1962 spoof "The Case of Jim Garrison," which was proven false in 1972.
4. The FBI Agent depicted in "Catch Me If You Can" isn't a real person.
Based on the life of real-life swindler Frank Abagnale, "Catch Me If You Can" depicted the chase between the conman and FBI agent Carl Hanratty, played by Tom Hanks.
Abagnale remained at large for years while being chased by police, but in actuality, Carl Hanratty isn't a real person. According to History Vs Hollywood, Hanks' character is a composite of a handful of agents, including FBI Agent Joseph Shea.
[Photo: Focus Features]