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The Shocking Truth (TV-14)

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During the summer of 1916, the resort beaches of the Jersey Shore ran red with blood. For 12 days the Jersey man-eater terrorized the Eastern Seaboard. Five people were attacked and only one survived, leaving the public and scientists wondering just what was in the water… and when it would strike again? These real life shark attacks inspired Peter Benchley’s best-selling book in 1974 and Steven Spielberg’s 1975 hit thriller “Jaws”. Featuring archival interviews from Steven Spielberg, and the film’s stars Roy Scheider and Richard Dreyfus.



When Aileen Wuornos shot and killed six men in 1989, the story gained national attention and Wuornos became a death row celebrity. In 2003, Charlize Theron “got ugly” and earned an Oscar by gaining 30 pounds to play Wuornos in Monster. Featuring archival interviews with star Charlize Theron, writer/director Patty Jenkins, and musician Steve Perry.


Natural Born Killers

In 1956, 18-year-old Charles Starkweather met 13-year-old Caril Ann Fugate. The pair became inseparable and went on to execute one of the most chilling and bizarre crime sprees in America, that ended with a 2 month murder spree and 11 people dead, including Caril’s own family. Starkweather died in the electric chair at age 20 and their story went on to inspire the 1994 thriller Natural Born Killers. Featuring interviews from the film’s director Oliver Stone and stars Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, and Robert Downey Jr.


Night of the Living Dead

The cult classic feeds off the Haitian belief in zombies could be based on the (admittedly rare) cases where a person was poisoned by tetrodotoxin and later revived inside the coffin and taken from the grave. Furthermore, he added, there was much more to the zombie phenomenon than simply the powder; it was only one part of a deep-rooted sociocultural belief in the power of witchcraft. In Haitian culture, voodoo priests do much more than create zombies; they are said to bring both blessings and curses through magic.



Everybody remembers Norman Bates, the deranged cross-dressing killer from Psycho, but few know the story of the real life killer that inspired the character. Ed Gein was a Wisconsin farm hand who robbed graves and fashioned costumes from the dead bodies of women before turning to murdering his own victims. Gein inspired Robert Bloch’s 1959 suspense thriller Psycho, which was turned into a film classic by “The Master of Suspense” Alfred Hitchcock a year later. Featuring archival material from Alfred Hitchcock and an original interview with one of the few people still alive that grew up with Ed Gein.



This famous franchise featuring the vengeful Jigsaw Killer and his elaborate death traps have grossed nearly a billion dollars worldwide. But the Shocking Truth is that this gruesome and bloody franchise is inspired by a century-plus old case. In the late 1800’s, H.H. Holmes began his criminal career by stealing cadavers in medical school. He would mutilate them and then make fraudulent insurance claims on them. In 1886, he moved to Chicago, building a giant hotel to cash in on the Chicago World Fair - but this was no ordinary hotel. The building was designed like a labyrinth, with no windows on the top two floors, staircases leading to nowhere and soundproofed rooms. His victims were often homeless men, who had no idea of the hellacious torture they were about to endure. Director Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio will also revisit this macabre story in their upcoming film “The Devil in the White City.”



The “Scream” movies featuring the iconic Ghostface killer are one of the most popular horror franchises of all time. The four films have grossed more than $330 million dollar in North America alone. It also spawned a successful TV series in 2015. But the roots of the story go back to a horrifying murder in Florida in the early 1990’s. Screenwriter Kevin Williamson was inspired to draft an 18-page script treatment about a young woman, alone in a house, who is taunted over the phone and then attacked by a masked killer. He borrowed elements from the real story of serial killer Danny Harold Rolling, a.k.a “The Gainesville Ripper” who murdered four female college students in Florida in 1990. Williamson changed the location from a college to a high school for the original film. The opening scene of the first “Scream” movie featured the gruesome murder of a young woman played by Drew Barrymore. Her grisly murder closely resembles the first brutal slaying committed by Rolling.


Silence Of The Lambs

Ed Gein and Ted Bundy were already two of the most notorious serial killers in history when author Thomas Harris used them as inspiration for the murderous Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs. With stars Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins on board, the film became a grisly box office hit and surprise Oscar winner for best picture, best director, best actor and best actress. Featuring archival interviews with stars Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins.


The Amityville Horror

The Amityville Horror is an iconic film about a haunted house that spawned a major film franchise. But behind the Hollywood thriller is the shocking true story of a mass murder. Six members of the DeFeo family were brutally murdered in their beds in the middle of the night. The killer claims the house is haunted and an evil presence made him do it. A year later another family moves in and the hauntings continue, inspiring a best-selling book and a hit movie. Featuring archival interviews with Ryan Reynolds and Margo Kidder, and an original interview with the real-life resident of the haunted Amityville house; Daniel Lutz.


The Conjuring

In 1970 The Perron Family move into their dream home in Harrisville, Rhode Island only to discover that they are not alone. The children report seeing and feeling the presence of spirits and their mother experiences nightly visits from gatherings of ghosts. The peril intensifies when renowned paranormal experts, Ed and Lorraine Warren, arrive on the scene to try and rid the family of the evil presence they feel inhabits the house. Their story inspires the 2013 hit movie “The Conjuring”. Featuring archival interviews from the films stars Patrick Wilson, Lilli Taylor and Ron Livingston and a never seen before interview with one of the Perron children who lived in the house.


The Exorcist

In 1949 a Catholic priest is called in to perform an Exorcism on a young boy in St. Louis. It takes months to successfully exorcise the demons that both the Church and the boy’s family believe he is possessed by, and a priest writes a diary detailing the excruciating process. The diary inspires a book written William Peter Blatty in 1971, followed by the release of a movie in 1973. The controversial film is blasted by critics, but is one of the highest grossing films of all time. Featuring archival interviews from the films star Linda Blair and screenwriter William Peter Blatty.


The Fugitive

“The Fugitive” was the third highest grossing film of 1993 and was nominated for seven Oscars, including Best Picture. Tommy Lee Jones won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for playing a relentless U.S. Marshal who pursues the wrongfully convicted inmate Dr. Richard Kimble. But the Shocking Truth is that both the movie and TV series are based on a real crime. In 1954, Dr. Sam Sheppard, his wife Marilyn and their young son Sam were living in a two-story house in a Cleveland suburb. On July 4th, Marilyn Sheppard was beaten to death in her bedroom while her husband slept downstairs on the couch. Dr. Sheppard was woken up by the cries of his wife. He immediately ran upstairs to their bedroom. As he entered the bedroom, he saw what he described as a "form" in the room. This “form” later morphed into the infamous “one-armed man” character in both the series and the film.


The Godfather

The Best Picture winner for 1972 has several underworld inspirations. Don Vito A. Corleone is based on real mob boss Frank Costello. Don Corleone was born in the same year as Costello, and like Costello earned vast illegal incomes from gambling and bootlegging, and enjoyed unrivalled political clout through friends in the power. Carlo Gambino’s life also inspired Don Corleone’s character. Both were low-key gangsters, and quite different from their contemporaries. Gambino was careful enough never to be imprisoned, and died in his own home. Like Gambino, Don Corleone had three sons and a daughter. Also like Don Corleone, Gambino’s activities came under heavy FBI scrutiny with wiretaps, bugs and lip-readers being employed to gather evidence, but Gambino knew how to conduct his business “in silence” and escaped without any jail time.



In the late ’60s, the Zodiac killer terrorized the San Francisco Bay Area with a string of horrific unsolved murders. Visionary director David Fincher turned author Robert Graysmith’s non- fiction account of the crimes into Zodiac, which became the gold standard for fact-based serial killing thrillers. Featuring archival interviews with stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Chloe Sevigny, director David Fincher, screenwriter James Vanderbilt, author Robert Graysmith and producer Arnold Messer.



Helle Crafts went missing from her home in Newtown, Connecticut and was never seen again. The court ruled that her husband killed her and disposed of her body using a wood chipper. The Coen Brothers heard that twisted story and used the “Wood Chipper Murder” as inspiration for their 1996 Oscar wining lm Fargo. Featuring archival interviews with stars Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare and directors Joel & Ethan Coen.



As the heir to a billion dollar fortune, John E. du Pont, could buy whatever or whoever he wanted. When the avid wrestling fan persuaded two gold-medal winning brothers to join his team, they thought they were getting the chance of a lifetime. What they got was a deadly shock. In director Bennett Miller’s Oscar- nominated film, Steve Carell undergoes a stunning transformation to play du Pont. This chilling story of delusion, paranoia and obsession won international acclaim, taking home top honors at the 2014 Cannes film festival. Featuring archival interviews with stars Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, Vanessa Redgrave and director Bennett Miller.


Friday the 13th

The story of a hockey-mask wearing serial killer stalking his victims at a summer camp has inspired numerous sequels and reboots since its debut in 1980. But the Shocking Truth is that this horrifying story has its roots in the Nordic region of Europe. On Sunday, June 5th of 1960, four young teenagers were camping out on Finland’s Lake Bodom, a picturesque locale that bears a striking resemblance to the faux Crystal Lake. Between 4am and 6am, an unknown maniac wielding a knife brutally murdered three of the youngsters. The fourth victim managed to escape with a fractured jaw and a concussion. A handful of suspects were questioned by police, including a maintenance man, a vagrant and even a KGB spy, the latter of whom showed up at a local hospital the day after the murders, covered in red stains. Despite the fact that one of the suspects confessed to the murders, sufficient evidence was never found to convict him of the crime, and to this day the bizarre case remains unsolved



Henry Hill knew he wanted to be a gangster by the time he was 13 years old. But after 20 years of gambling, arson and drug dealing he had to go into witness protection to avoid getting whacked. Nicholas Pileggi wrote the book on Hill and it caught the eye of director Martin Scorsese. In 1990, Scorsese turned Hill’s so-crazy-it-must-be-true story into the Oscar nominated GoodFellas. Featuring archival interviews with stars Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Robert DeNiro, Lorraine Bracco, Paul Sorvino, and director Martin Scorsese.