6 Real Stories More Terrifying Than Any Horror Movie

History books are stuffed with the stories of who stabbed whom, what town was burnt to the ground, and which kings married their cousines. So can you imagine, which of the details of these stories savants chose to omit. Or we’d better ourselves tell you about them in this article. Proceeding with our educational quest, we will tell you about the things that your teachers have chosen to hold back from you, we will reveal some scary and out-of-the-way facts about the most famous historic events.

real stories terrifying any horror movie

1. The man who tried to save Lincoln had the same destiny as Delbert Grady. You have probably already seen this picture, but could you name all the people in it? There’s obviously John Wilkes Booth on the right, then there’re Abraham Lincoln and his spouse Mary T. However, if only you’re not keen on history, you may not have recognized Major Henry Rathbone and his fiancée Clara Harris who was the daughter of the notable U.S. Senator. Rathbone is more famous for his attempt to stop Booth than for the dark Kubrick style murder story that happened to him some years later.

terrifying stories

Major was seriously injured during the assassination, and though he physically survived the attack, his mind wasn’t able to get over the tragedy. Officer blamed himself for not thwarting the murder. Two years later he married Clara, but family life just made his mental state worse. At last his mentality deteriorated so much that on December, 23, 1883 he decided to paint the walls of his house by the blood of his family members. Working as the U.S. Consul at the Province of Hanover, Rathbone attempted to kill his three children. When his spouse tried to stop him, he fatally shot and stabbed her, and then attempted a suicide. The police found him covered with blood and completely insane. According to the popular, but unverified version, he claimed that some people were hiding under the paintings in his house. Rathbone spent the rest of his life in an insane asylum, where he was complaining of strong headaches caused by gas from the machines hidden in the walls. He died in 1911 and became the last victim of Lincoln’s assassination, almost 50 years after the tragedy.

real stories

2. Syphilitic “zombies” on the streets of Renaissance Italy. Thinking of Renaissance, the most imagine buckram Italians dressed in aristocratic clothes and admiring the works of da Vinci, Michelangelo etc..
The things people don’t imagine are these:

real stories

Yes, Renaissance Florence could be a perfect place for different arts (and parkour, according to Assassin`s Creed II), however, at the same time Italians happened to experience their own, if one may put it that way, “zombie apocalypse” occurred during the first syphilis outbreak in 1494. Yes, before the appearance of antibiotics this venereal disease was not a “disgraceful secret” but a disease that literally ate a person (in those days it was called by a supposed national origin - “German”, “French” and so on). According to one description, “skin was crawling on a face, and death came in several months” because of the disease. And if to be more exact, the outbreak caused “complete destruction of lips, nose and other body parts including genitals”. Because of the outbreak the victims of “Gallic disease”, walking down the streets without their “hands, feet, eyes and noses”, were an everyday occurrence. So, if Renaissance fairs, taking place in Europe and America nowadays, were truthful, the half of the participants would look like walkers from The Walking Dead. But, no matter how every the thought of living in a deteriorating body is, immediate horror is hiding in the phrase “in several months”. In other words, diseased somehow managed to live in such a state for months, suffering from hellish pain, until their flash “was eaten, sometimes straight to the bones”. All in all, during the short time in the epoch of the great artists of Renaissance, there were often burghers (not to mention the whole French army) with their faces rotting and exposed to their skulls in the streets, who were promenading around until falling down dead. Why wasn’t it in Assassin’s Creed II?

3. Heads literally burst during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Italian Mount Vesuvius is notorious for its strongest eruption due to which Roman city of Pompeii (and all its erotic sculptures, because the city was the sexual capital of the Empire) left buried in ashes for the next 1500 years. But the thing you didn’t probably know is that the gods were really kind to Pompeii in comparison to the horror that befell small Roman town of Herculaneum that situated closer to Vesuvius, when it started spluttering magma.

magma - 6 real stories more terrifying than any horror movie

Things occurred to Pompeii may be compared to a classic disaster film - enormous clouds of smoke, people running in panic, ashes and, probably, a secondary storyline about Tara Reid reuniting with her ex-husband. While Herculaneum, on the other hand, got a real supernatural horror movie plot, because this small town incurred the influence of “overheated pyroclastic fumes, stones, mud and gas”.
We’re serious. Human skull is full of different liquids, and if to heat it too fast, the effect will be the same as with a hamster in a microwave oven. And, actually, exactly the same happened in Herculaneum, when all the inhabitants of the town got into the cloud of gas which temperature was close to 500°C. Less than in 0,2 sec. “people’s skin vaporized, brains popped and skulls burst”. Without any bullets or buckshot. Themselves. From within. Let’s hope that the same fate will not befall the inhabitants of Naples, who relentlessly go on living on the same place where Herculaneum was once situated and where Vesuvius is patiently waiting for a chance to give them all a good thrashing.

4. Animal holocaust in Britain during World War II. There’re so many scary war stories in the world, that some of them just get lost in the heap of the others. And it’s sad, because, discussing the whole situation - bombings, invasions and the complete destruction of cities - it’s possible to lose sight of the private and more horrible tragedies that happened every day. For example, in 1939, during the last months before the start of World War II, the British Government formed the Animal Committee as a part of Air Raid Precautions, in order to decide what to do with animals when the war starts. The high-priority task of the committee was the solution to the problem of dearth that could occur because people would start sharing food with their pets. Consequently, in order to prevent the potential problem, the pamphlet called “Air Raid Precautions for Animals” was published with the advertisement of a special kind of pistol.

holocaust - 6 real stories more terrifying than any horror movie

There was written in the pamphlet for instance, that in case people don’t have a possibility to send their pets to the country, “their extermination would be the best solution” (the word choice makes us suppose this document to be written by an early prototype of a Dalek). And how did the British population react? “By the revolts all over the country”, you’ll say - and will be wrong. In reality 750 thousands of pets had been “exterminated” just for the first week. We herewith stress, that this action took place in the summer of 1939, in other words before the German invasion of Poland, when the British Government could cripple Nazi Germany much more if Britain would have hit the enemy instead of animal mass murder.

real life stories

5. The first documented serial killer was living like a fighting cock in the epoch of the Pax Romana. The Pax Romana, or Pax Augusta, is one of the most peaceful historical periods. The Romans decided that their Empire is already big, forgot of bloodshed for some time and focused on more useful things, for example, on law regulation. How did Rome managed to live for such a long time without everyday garbage collection and the laws that were created especially in order to keep different serial killers farther from the streets and law-abiding people? Nevertheless, we can strike out the last point. The first documented serial killer actually lived regally in the epoch of Pax Romana. Her name was Locusta, and her story begins in the middle of the 1st century AD, when the woman was arrested for a poisoning. However, fortune smiled on Locusta, when Agrippina asked for her help in poisoning Сlaudius the Emperor. Later the criminal was pardoned for her help.

emperor - 6 real stories more terrifying than any horror movie

And what did she do after it? One year later, in 55th year AD, Locusta was arrested for a poisoning again. Luckily for her, Nero the Emperor needed her help. He asked her to brew a deadly cocktail for his 13-year old stepbrother Britannicus. Locusta was pardoned for her service and got a cute villa with the pupils whom she could teach her craft. Anyway, Locusta’s luck finished, when Nero killed himself and left her just a couple of allies and the reputation of a witch. In 69th year AD she was arrested and put to death immediately by the order of Galba the Emperor. How did she die? By an “ironic” death after trying her own potion, you’ll say - and will be wrong. She was publicly raped till death by a “wild animal trained especially for this kind of punishment” (some sources claim it to be a giraffe). These Roman laws...

emperor1 - 6 real stories more terrifying than any horror movie

6. Joan of Arc was fighting shoulder to shoulder with one of the most terrible killers of children. We will not lie. We adore Joan. She was real. She was a hero. And she didn’t let anyone maltreat her. However, although the biggest part of glory for helping France in the war against England in XV century belongs to Joan, she would have never been able to do what she did without the help of such people like Gilles de Rais who was her “impassioned companion” and one of the bravest knights of the French Army. He was even shown in an expensive movie with Milla Jovovich, in which his role was played by Vincent Cassel.

real life stories

So why people don’t call the churches in his honor, you’ll ask. Probably because at night he was playing the role of a terrible killer haunting children from the age of 6 and 18. Don’t forget that now we’re talking about one of the few people in the French Army who helped Joan of Arc build her career and eventually provided her a place among the saints… and however, no matter how unbelievably it sounds, he was also a bloodcurdling sadist. The record of his trial and his own confession send cold shivers down and make a soul freeze in horror. Besides murders and physical tortures, de Rais liked to crucify his victims psychologically, convincing them that all the things happening to them is just a game and making something more terrifying after that. This guy would be immediately expelled from Arkham asylum for frightening Joker. Depending on a source, the amount of his victims varies from 80 to 800 children, that makes him one of the most “fruitful” serial killers ever. De Rais was burnt as well as his friend, but he really deserved it.

vincent - 6 real stories more terrifying than any horror movie


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  • Beast
  • January 20, 2014, 6:40 pm
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    The story of Locusta being executed by giraffe boner is apocryphal. It appeared in the first edition of the Encyclopedia of Serial Killers by Michael Newton, and was corrected by the second edition. Newton cited an ancient Roman author, Apuleius. But Apuleius doesn't mention Lacusta at all. The confusion is that he wrote an (explicitly fictional) parable in which a female poisoner is raped to death by a donkey.

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