There is definitely no shortage of true crime films, and they are usually either created in a very respectable way, or they completely slaughter and sully their inspirations. A good true crime movie always shows respect to the tragic story that inspired it. The bad true crime movies are almost always disrespectful and use the tragedy to their advantage.
Nevertheless, a good true crime film can be a fun and immersive time investment. The trend of using real-life crime cases for inspiration is more popular than you might have realized, though. Many movies are based on real-life crimes but aren't actually marketed as being "crime" movies.
Let's take a look at some great films that you might not have known were inspired by true crime cases.
10 GONE GIRL (2014)
Gillian Flynn's extremely successful novel, Gone Girl, was published in 2012. In 2014, it would see its big-screen debut and was met with a positive critical reception. Gone Girl remains an iconic story to this day and a memorable addition to the drama/thriller genre.
What some fans might not realize, is the original book was based on the true story of Laci Peterson. There have been several documentaries and films inspired by this bizarre, tragic case - including Netflix's docuseries, The Staircase - but Gone Girl isn't as blatant about it. The true-crime story did inspire Gillian Flynn, though. And the author even wrote the screenplay for Gone Girl, which ensured that the film stayed true to the books.
9 DONNIE BRASCO (1997)
Donnie Brasco is certainly a classic in the crime/drama genre and a very memorable film. Starring Johnny Depp and Al Pacino in the lead roles, Donnie Brasco saw significant success. The film hit theatres in 1997 but is yet to be forgotten.
Donnie Brasco was inspired by the life of Joseph D. Pistone, a real FBI agent who infiltrated a Mafia crime family in the 1970s. To achieve this, Pistone used the alias "Donnie Brasco".
8 CATCH ME IF YOU CAN (2002)
Hitting theatres in 2002, Catch Me If You Can is a crime/drama film that starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks. The film was very successful in both the box office and critical reception. Today, Catch Me If You Can holds an almost perfect score of 95% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Catch Me If You Can was inspired by the life of Frank Abagnale, a very successful con-artist. Abagnale performed cons by posing as a pilot and earned millions.
7 PSYCHO (1960)
Psycho is a piece of history. It served as a milestone in the horror genre and was one of Alfred Hitchcock's biggest masterpieces. Since it hit theatres in 1960, Psycho has been subjected to many remakes, reboots, sequels, and even a TV show based on the story.
The character of Norman Bates is one of the most famous in the world of horror. Given that, it's important to note that Alfred Hitchcock noted two criminals as inspiration for this character. One was the infamous serial killer, Ed Gein, and the other is said to be Robert Bloch, the author of the book that originally inspired Hitchcock.
6 MONSTER (2003)
Monster is another classic in the crime/drama genre. The 2003 film starred Charlize Theron and Christina Ricci as its leads. Monster has an impressive rating of 4/4 on Roger Ebert and a score of 81% on Rotten Tomatoes. Monster is about a real-life criminal who was executed in 2002 for killing six men. The murders occurred in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The serial killer was named Aileen Wuornos and was the inspiration for Charlize Theron's character in the film.
5 HALLOWEEN (1978)
What some horror fans might not know is the fact that fictional serial killer alumni, Michael Myers, was actually inspired by a real serial killer. When director John Carpenter visited a mental institution while he was in the process of creating Halloween, he met a child who he described as having the most "ominous" look in his eyes. That look would later inspire Carpenter to create the character of Michael Myers, and his famous ominous, blank stare.
4 WOLF CREEK (2005)
Wolf Creek is one of those movies that never really received decent critical reception but is considered to be a campy, fun slasher by fans of the genre. Wolf Creek is an Australian film, directed by Greg McLean and starring relatively unknown actors as its cast.
Wolf Creek is certainly a bloody thrill ride, but what some fans may not be aware of, is that the campy little horror movie was based on fact. The film alluded to this in a kind of cryptic manner, but it was inspired by the murderers Ivan Milat and Bradley Murdoch.
3 THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991)
Hannibal Lecter is one of the most famous fictional serial killers ever, but what some might not know is that the story in which Hannibal exists is not entirely fictional. Hannibal Lector was not based on a real person, but another iconic character from the movie - that of Buffalo Bill, a fellow convict - was indeed based on a real story.
Buffalo Bill was inspired by several well-known serial killers, such as Ted Bundy, Ed Gein, Edmund Kemper, and several more.
2 THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974)
Quite a few horror movies used infamous murderer Ed Gein as their inspiration, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was no exception. This well-known slasher film was another example of indie success, much like John Carpenter's Halloween. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre holds its place today as one of the most famous horror films in the genre.
Leatherface was the most well-known murderer who appeared in the film (and all of its succeeding sequels and remakes), and Ed Gein was one of the main real-life inspirations for this disturbing fictional killer.
1 SNOWTOWN (2011)
Snowtown was a thrilling drama film that is regarded today as a disturbing and rather unappreciated masterpiece. The movie didn't quite hold up in the box office, but it is critically acclaimed.
The infamous Snowtown murders served as inspiration for this unsettling film. This case is also called the "Bodies in the barrels" murders. The crimes were committed by John Bunting, Robert Wagner, and James Vlassakis around 1992/1999.