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Peter Benchley, who wrote the 1974 novel Jaws, got the idea for a killer shark story after chartering boat rides with a fisherman named Frank “Monster Man” Mundus (who claimed he was the inspiration for the gruff character Captain Quint). The book’s plot was inspired in part by the summer of 1916 when a rogue great white shark (da-dum) lurking in the waters (da-dum da-dum) off the Jersey shore (da-dum da-dum da-dum da-dum) killed five unlucky swimmers. Sink your teeth into these other scary movies that’ll make you afraid to go in the water.
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When a sheriff visited Ed Gein’s Wisconsin farm in 1957, he was expecting to find a robbery suspect. Instead, he stumbled upon a true house of horrors: there was a bowl made from a human skull—and a chair, lampshade, and a suit made out of skin. After Gein was arrested, investigators discovered the remains of 10 women at his farm. He was committed to a mental institution for the rest of his life. In 1959 author Robert Bloch used Gein as the model for Norman Bates in his novel Psycho (including Gein’s unhealthy fascination with his domineering mother), and then Alfred Hitchcock turned it into a movie. Bonus: Gein also inspired Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Buffalo Bill from The Silence of The Lambs, and Bloody Face from the TV show American Horror Story.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
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Writer-director Wes Craven was creeped out by a story in the L.A. Times about three immigrants who died in their sleep. In one case, the man’s family begged him to go to sleep, but he insisted that his nightmares were different from anything he’d ever experienced and was terrified he’d die if he went to sleep. When he finally did fall asleep… he died. Craven also said that villain Freddy Krueger was based on a real-life creep: “The hat was the kind worn by men when I was a kid, and there was one particular man who scared me. He was a drunk that came down the sidewalk and woke me up when I was sleeping. I went to the window to look… He looked right into my eyes. I went back and hid for what I thought was hours. I finally crept back to the window, and he was still there! Then he started walking almost half-backwards so that he could keep looking at me.” Find out the most haunted places in America, according to paranormal experts.