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Behind the Horror: True Stories that Inspired Horror Movies

Most of us enjoy the thrill and shock of a horror flick. The blend of suspense, gore and often the supernatural combine to provide unforgettable entertainment. The horror genre has been around virtually from the time cinema began and has spawned more than a few classics.

This fascinating book, Behind the Horror: True Stories that Inspired Horror Movies by Dr Lee Miller, chronicles the origins of some of the most famous horror films of all time. It covers a range of gory movies like Silence of the Lambs and the Hitchcock classic Psycho to supernatural thrillers such as A Nightmare on Elm Street to more natural horrors such as the movie Jaws.

Behind the Horror: True Stories that Inspired Horror Movies by Dr Lee Miller. Penguin Random House, 2020

We learn the original inspiration – whether a gruesome true crime or natural disaster or tales of the paranormal – that led to the production of these unusually themed movies.

For example, the movie Jaws was based on a series of shark attacks on the US east coast in the early 20th century. Still more interesting are the cases of true crime, some which still remain unsolved that inspired certain slasher movies. Most people would be unaware that the film Psycho had some basis in fact. Another later Hitchcock move Frenzy had a number of serial killer cases as its genesis. Surprisingly, quite a few of the ‘slasher’ films have a basis in true crime cases. Even a couple of infamous Australian cases are included.

However, it is a little disappointing when it examines films of a supernatural origin. In one instance it details the supposed happenings behind a notorious haunting only to reveal at the end of the chapter that none of it was corroborated by other sources. Generally, there is very little ‘proof’ beyond supposition and coincidence. This will disappoint those who hold with paranormal events but does not detract from the overall research and its presentation.

This book is a thoroughly researched and well illustrated study of a popular screen genre. It is informative about an entertaining, if at times, disturbing, topic.

Recommended for movie buffs, true crime fans and those with an interest in the paranormal.