Movies Based On True Stories: My Thoughts

I've never really thought much of the claim some movies make about being based on true events. Like the case of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, this is usually just a bunch of bullshit to sell tickets. I mean, even though TTCM is a great movie, it's still a lie, plain and simple. Well, actually, to be fair, it's more a fictional tale based (very) loosely on the serial killer Ed Gein.

Other examples would be movies like The Amityville Horror or The Haunting in Connecticut which are two films associated with exposed frauds, Ed and Lorraine Warren.

I suppose the real question related here is why do people do things like this? Is it that hard to simply market your movie based on its own merit? Would The Conjuring have been as good a movie if they'd not consulted Lorraine Warren? Would people have cared less? I guess there's no real telling, but it's still a worthy question, no?

The late Mitch Hedberg once made the joke--
"I like when they say a movie is inspired by a true story, because that's weird; it means the movie is not a true story, it was just inspired by a true story. Like, 'Hey Mitch, did you hear the story about that lady who drove her children into the river and they all drowned?' 'Yes I did, and it inspired me to write a movie about a gorilla!'"
This is typically what comes to mind when I hear about a film that is described as being "based on a true story". As far as I'm concerned, the truth has been bent so far out of shape, the original story usually tends to have absolutely nothing to do with the movie.

Movies like The Exorcist and The Exorcism of Emily Rose are the types of movies one could only claim as "true" through exercising something called "confirmation bias". It's a question of how much you believe in the supernatural to begin with and how far you are willing to go to accept a supernatural claim, no matter how ridiculous or far-fetched.

Being one who takes great pleasure in majorly fictional horror genre, I find I normally get the most enjoyment from films based on reality when they are directly about serial killers and the like. I find myself feeling a bit more connected to the film when I know the amount of truth to it hasn't been stretched like Gumby on the rack.

I'm sure we all can appreciate a little artistic license every now and again, but it'd be nice if good ol' Hollywood could sometimes dial it back a little, ya know? What are your thoughts on these kinds of movies?

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