This week I watched The Strangers and its surprisingly worthwhile sequel The Strangers: Prey at Night. The series is about a group of masked killers terrorizing families in their homes. Both films go out of their way to flash disclaimers that they were BASED ON ACTUAL EVENTS. So what grisly real-life home invasion served as the basis for all this carnage?
One time someone knocked on the writer's door and ran away.
With that in mind, let's dig up the surprising actual events that inspired some of the most beloved movies of all time.
STAR WARS is a galaxy-and-eon-spanning saga with eleven films and countless spinoffs in animation, television, video games, comics, and novels. It has tons of goofy aliens and lovable droids, memorable planets and distinctive spaceships. Star Wars touches on themes of family, good and evil, love, and (of course) war.
The Actual Event It Was Based On: A young George Lucas looked up at the night sky with a telescope and said, "Wowzers!"
CHILDREN OF MEN is the most relevant film of our time. Civilization crumbling in slow motion. Frazzled individuals going through the motions of life as usual in spite of all the warning signs. Institutions, driven by greed and stupidity and self-obsession, failing to act or doing the exact opposite of what needs to be done. Moments of hope in the chaos, their lasting impact unknown.
The Actual Event It Was Based On: Alfonso Cuaron saw a poster for that movie where Arnold Schwarzenegger has a baby and Danny DeVito delivers the baby.
JURASSIC PARK is the epitome of movie magic. Dinosaurs are brought to life with practical effects and clever implementation of early CGI. You get all the glossy excitement of visiting a theme park, the thrill of peeking behind the curtain to see how it all works, and the stomach drop that happens when it all goes wrong. This movie is packed with dinosaurs, big characters, and bigger ideas.
The Actual Event It Was Based On: Steven Spielberg stumbled and yelped in surprise at the sight of a small lizard on top of a fence.
THE MATRIX explores what happens when you discover the world around you is a computer simulation. Philosophy. Kung fu fights. Belly button insects. Lobby shootouts with exploding stone pillars. Learning how to fly a helicopter. Landline phones. Dodging bullets in slow motion. Getting so dang mad in a subway station that you make the world ripple. Albino highway chase twins. Monica Bellucci in a plastic dress. Meeting God in a security monitor room. Rage Against The Machine. Choosing virtual steak over actual hardship.
The Actual Event It Was Based On: A mid-game crash to desktop while the Wachowskis were playing The Sims.
PUNISHER: WAR ZONE is the greatest comic book movie ever made, with the possible exception of Dredd. Frank Castle is a hyperviolent vigilante with a lot of guns, even more frowns, and a big old skull spray painted on his body armor. Haunted by the murders of his wife and children, The Punisher wages a literal war on crime. He punches a hole in a dude's head. He shoots a parkour man mid-flip with a rocket launcher and the parkour man explodes. He shoots up a mobster dinner table, but only after standing on said table and creating some intense mood lighting with a red flare. I don't even know what the heck Dominic West is up to in this movie, but I remember there's something nasty to do with broken glass.
The Actual Event It Was Based On: Director Lexi Alexander saw a neighbor scold someone for not picking up their dog's poop.
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