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Movies That Were Based Off Real Events

Movies That Were Based Off Real Events

Sometimes real-life situations make for some of the best movies. There are many biopic films out there but what about the movies that are based on real events that are not so obvious? Here are a few movies that you might not have known were based on true stories.

1. Psycho

Psycho is one of the best and influential horror movies ever made. It helped jump-start the slasher genre that took off during the late 70s and early 80s. What many people don’t know about Psycho is it is based on a real person.

The main character and plot of Psycho are heavily influenced by an American serial killer named Ed Gein from the 1950s. Gein was very close to his mother and after she died, he became completely deranged. He refused to believe she died and kept the body in her bedroom for months after her death. He would also steal from graves to make demented trinkets such as lamps, masks, and baskets from dead bodies (I know it’s gross, just bear with me). To top it all off, he also killed at least 2 women in his small rural town of Plainfield, Wisconsin. He was eventually caught and found guilty of his crimes but was labeled clinically insane.


Psycho’s main antagonist, Norman Bates, was a dimmed down version of Ed Gein. He was a maniac who killed women and kept his mother in his bedroom after she passed away. He seemed like a regular country boy who wouldn’t harm a fly. Deep down though, he was much more sinister. Many popular horror movies are based on Ed Gein. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Silence of the Lambs are probably the biggest movies based on Gein’s actions.

2. Catch Me If You Can

This fun crime drama was one of the biggest movies of the year when it was released in 2002. It was directed by Stephen Spielberg and was nominated for 2 Oscars as well. Most people think this movie is just a good fictional drama but that is not the case. The movie is actually a biography of one of the best conmen/forger in recent history.


Catch Me if You Can follows the life of a young conman named Frank Abagnale Jr. He fakes his way through life while stealing millions of dollars during the 1960s and 70s. He pretends to be everything from an airline pilot to a lawyer. The FBI figures out his schemes and puts an agent named Carl Hanratty on the case to find him. Hanratty tries to capture Abagnale but is always one step behind him.

The plot of Catch Me if You Can is actually the true story of the life of Frank Abagnale Jr. Everything in the movie is based on real events, even the part when Abagnale poses as an airline pilot. The characters in the film use the real names of the actual people the film is based off except for Carl Hanratty. Carl Hanratty is based on the real FBI agent Joseph Shea who actually tracked Frank Abagnale. Catch Me if You Can is a great movie and even better once you realize most of the movie is factually true.


3. The Hills Have Eyes

The Hills Have is another classic horror movie that was influenced by real events. This 1977 movie was directed by the legendary filmmaker director West Craven, who is best known for his Nightmare on Elm Street series. There was also a remake of the film that came out in 2006. The Hills Have Eyes is about a family of cannibals that would stalk and kill travelers who would pass by their land in the deserts of southern California. What is interesting is this actually happened way back in 16th century Scotland.

The film is based on Alexander “Sawney” Bean and his family. Supposedly Bean’s family would kill travelers who wandered around a cave that they lived in. They did this in order to steal their money and feed his family. Eventually, Bean’s actions attracted more crazy people who joined him in his terrifying antics. These people were known as the Sawney clan. They continued their reign of terror for many years until the king of Scotland raided their cave and killed all the members of the clan.

All of the evil mutants in The Hills Have Eyes are based on members of the Sawney clan. In the movie, these mutants try to kill a family after they take a wrong turn that leads to the mutants dwelling just like the Sawney clan. It is almost a more up to date version of the old Sawney Bean tale. Of course, everything in the film (and probably most of the Sawney Bean legend) is exaggerated for entertainment purposes, but it is still very close to the old Scottish folk tale of Bean’s family/clan.

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4. Cool Runnings

If you grew up in the early 1990s there is a good chance you saw the Disney classic Cool Runnings. The movie is about a group of Jamaican track stars who become bobsledders during the 1988 Olympics. This sounds like a far-fetched story since there is no snow or ice in Jamaica, but it is actually a true story.


During the 1980s, 2 businessmen from the United States came up with the idea of a Jamaican bobsled team after watching a pushcart derby. They went to the Jamaican Olympic association who got together a group of men to start the bobsled team. The team had never even seen a bobsled until less than a year before they competed in the Olympics. The Jamaican bobsledders did very well for a team that has never competed in the event before. They did not medal that year but their story has become iconic even to this day.

Cool Runnings was not very accurate compared to the real story. Disney changed many things in order to have a more dramatic effect for the audience. For example, in the movie, the bobsled team is made up of Jamaican track stars who did not make the cut for the summer Olympics. This could not be farther from the truth. The real Jamaican bobsled team was a group of military men the government put together. There are many other small things the movie exaggerated but this was one of the biggest things they changed. If you go back and watch Cool Runnings after knowing it’s based on a true story, it is even more inspirational.


There are hundreds of movies that are based on real events. These are just a few films that you might have not known were inspired by true stories. Feel free to tell us some of your favorites in the comments below.

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