Watching a crime movie may seem scary enough on its own, but it's sometimes even more terrifying to realize that said film's events actually happened in real life.
From violent crime to mobsters to white-collar crime and everything in between, Hollywood has taken dozens of true crime cases and turned them into major motion pictures, cashing in on some of the most cold-blooded kills ever committed (see: In Cold Blood).
Keep reading for a few a few the most well-known crime films based on true stories.
Widely considered one of the best crime films ever made, this Martin Scorsese classic details the rise and fall of mobster Henry Hill and his comrades over several decades. While the film leaves out a few moments from Hill's life, multiple plot points — including his hand in the Air France robbery and time in the Witness Protection Program — really happened.prevnext
Charlize Theron played real-life serial killer Aileen Wuornos in this 2003 film, a prostitute who killed a series of clients. She later confessed to avoid having her lover, Tyria Moore (Christina Ricci), be implicated in the crimes. Wuornos was executed in 2002.prevnext
While the identity of the Zodiac Killer has never been discovered, this 2007 film follows the investigation into the serial murders that terrorized the San Francisco Bay Area during the late 1960s and early 1970s.prevnext
Catch Me If You Can
Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Frank Abagnale Jr., a young con artist who spent years posing as a pilot, doctor and lawyer while forging checks the whole way. He was finally captured by an FBI agent, played in the film by Tom Hanks, and served less than five years in prison before beginning work for the government, eventually becoming an adviser to the FBI.prevnext
Starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe, American Gangster takes on the story of Frank Lucas, a gangster who smuggled drugs into the United States on American service planes returning from the Vietnam War. Lucas has denied stashing the drugs inside the caskets of American casualties being shipped home, and he has also denied becoming an informer on drug dealers and cops after he was caught.prevnext
The Wolf of Wall Street
This excessive film details the excessive life of Jordan Belfort, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, and is based on Belfort's memoir of his time as a stockbroker who conned his way to a major windfall before he was eventually charged. Still unclear whether Belfort and his comrades actually swore as much as DiCaprio and company do in the film.prevnext
This David O. Russell ensemble film was inspired by the FBI ABSCAM operation of the late 1970s and early 1980s. The movie follows two con artists who are forced by the FBI into setting up a sting operation to nail corrupt politicians.prevnext
In Cold Blood0comments
Based on Truman Capote's non-fiction novel of the same name, which was based on real-life events, In Cold Blood follows two drifters who attempted to rob a rural home. When the heist went awry, they brutally murdered four members of the Clutter family, going on the lam before they were eventually captured and executed.
Photo Credit: Warner Bros. / Paramount Pictures / Columbia Picturesprev