A friend recently commented to me that she doesn’t mind horror movies as long as they’re based on monsters that doesn’t really exist. In other words, she can sleep at night knowing that the Boogyman isn’t going to magically jump out of her closet, but movies based on real killers scare her. Little does she know that some of the most famous “fake” monsters are based on real-life creatures. Here are the top ten horror movie characters that you could actually meet in real life:
In The Descent, spelunking women come across their worst nightmare – cave creatures called “crawlers.” The theory is that these creatures were cavemen who never left the cave, so they evolved into a vicious, animalistic, terrifying human species perfect for living in the dark. But do crawlers really exist? Well, maybe. This is #10 on the list because there’s no proof that some kind of human subspecies is out there, but the fact of the matter is that it is a very real possibility. Caves are some of the least-explored parts of the world, and every year, scientists are finding new species that have evolved to live in the dark, and they have common ancestors with species found of the surface. So, it is certainly possible that there are larger, human-like creatures living somewhere underground. Even if there aren’t, some of the scariest scenes in The Descent don’t involve the crawlers at all, but rather the fact that the women are trapped…and that is very real. Thousands of people have died while spelunking, so be careful if you’re going to explore underground.
9. Gustave, the Killer Croc
If you read my article about real-life movies earlier this year, than you know that Gustave, the man-eating crocodile from Primeval, is real. He lives in the Ruzizi River of Burundi and it is said that he’s killed over 300 people in the past 65 years. Huge crocs are actually found in other parts of the world, but at 20 feet long he’s the largest Nile crocodile known to exist, and one of the few that routinely attacks humans. The shark from Jaws also existed, though was considerably smaller than the giant great white featured in the movie.
In the movies, werewolves are shape-shifting creatures who can’t control their urges to kill when the moon is full. Real-life “werewolves” do exist, but they are much different. They aren’t evil shape-shifters, but rather real-life people suffering from extreme cases of hypertrichosis, which causes the body to grow excess amounts of hair everywhere. Check out this article about ABC to read more about this medical condition and the very non-scary people who are affected by it. This is one horror movie monster that is actually pretty cool in the real world!
7. Dinosaurs in the Modern World
Most people won’t dispute that dinosaurs really did exist…but could they exist once again as we see in Jurassic Park? Some scientists say yes. Now, the actual process in the movie isn’t going to work. While it is possible extract DNA from insects that were caught in amber, there’s no way to cleanly extract that DNA, figure out what it is, and develop an animal from it. What scientists are researching, though, is how to clone animals that have recently become extinct. So far, the process isn’t perfect, but they are getting closer to figuring out how to make use of DNA samples. So, the T-rex might not be around yet…but it is a very real possibility for the future. What is real, however, are some of the creatures that survived where the dinosaurs didn’t. For example, horseshoe crabs have been around for 445 million years.
While Edward may be pure fiction, to the sorrow of thousands of pre-teen girls everywhere, real-life vampires have been known to exist. Well, maybe they aren’t immortal beings who can turn into bats, but their are cases of people killing others to drink their blood. The most famous fictional vampire, Count Dracula, was based off of Vlad the Impaler, who was actually probably not a blood-drinker at all, but did like to torture and kill his victims in horrible ways. Cases of killers who have murdered for blood, though, include Daniel and Manuela Ruda, Peter Kurten, and Richard Chase.
5. Dr. Hannibal Lecter
While Dr. Lecter himself is a fiction character, cannibals really do exist. The movie is based on a book, and the author once told a librarian that the character’s inspiration was William Coyne, a local man suspected of serial killing and cannibalism. Up until the mid-1900s, there was also a society in West Africa known as The Leopard Society, which promoted cannibalism, and in one of the most well-known cases, Germany Armin Meiwes posted on the Internet in 2000 for a male who would be willing to be consumed (Bernd Jürgen Brandes answered the ad and was, in fact, eaten by Meiwes). Other killers who have been suspected of or convicted of cannibalism in recent years include Jeffrey Dahmer, Dorangel Cargas, and Ozgur Dengiz.
Before you write-off the undead, flesh-eating creatures of 28 Days Later and Zombieland, take a moment to read 5 Scientific Reasons a Zombie Apocalype Could Actually Happen at Cracked. Rage viruses, chips to control the dead, and brain parasites are very real things, people.
3. Artificial Intelligence
Worried that machines really will turn against humans someday, like in I, Robot or The Matrix? Maybe you should be. The funding going into AI research is astounding, and while they can’t replicate a soul with emotions yet, it is really only a matter of time, at least, if you ask most experts. What machines can do already is borderline scary. In 2000, MIT’s Cynthia Breazeal created a robot that could express human facial emotions…and that was ten years ago. More recently, robots have been developed to teach classes, understand advanced social skills, and more.
2. The Kracken
Most famous for its appearance in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, the Kracken has roots in a real-life creature found deep in the ocean – the giant squaid. These creatures have been proven to grow at least 50 feet long, but much larger specimens could be out there. They’ve extremely intelligent, and their long tentacles are lined with hooks, leading to a mouth filled with razor-sharp teeth. If that’s not enough to spook you, I don’t know what is! Don’t worry too much, though – giant squids are only found way out at sea. You aren’t going to get attacked by one when the next time you’re at the beach.
1. Norman Bates
The serial killer from Psycho is based off the real-life Ed Gein, a criminally insane man who killed at least two people and robbed graves to fill his house with prizes like skulls, organs, and bones. He apparently was quite the interior decorator, using human skin to make chair seats, skulls to make bowls and bed post toppers, and lips to make draw string pulls for his blinds. You can sleep easy with this one, though – Gein died in the mid-80s from a heart attack. For the record, though, Gein was also the inspiration for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Deranged. He really was one terrifying dude.