The first film in the “Panic” franchise was released in 1996 and became an instant hit, inspiring dozens of thriller and horror productions over the years.
But did you know the film was inspired by gruesome Florida murder cases?
According to Screen Geek, screenwriter Kevin Williamson decided to pitch the idea to director Wes Craven after watching the “Turning Point” documentary series.
Williamson was fascinated by an episode focused on Daniel Harold Rolling, a paraphilic killer who became known as Gainesville Ripper.
On August 24, 1990, Rolling broke into the apartment of 17-year-old students Sonja Larson and Christina Powell and tormented them before killing them.
Finding Christina asleep on the couch, the killer searched the property and found Sonja in the second floor room. Before stabbing her to death, Rolling strangled her, tied her hands, and severely beat her.
Returning to Christina, he also suffocated her and tied her hands behind her back, raping her before repeatedly stabbing her.
The next night, he broke into the apartment of 18-year-old Christa Hoyt, torturing her in the same way as Christina and Sonja. However, he still beheaded her and left her head on a shelf in the room.
Two days later, he broke into Tracy Paules and Manny Taboada’s apartment. Taboada fought the maniac, but ended up being easily killed.
While Taboada defended herself, Paules tried to barricade her room by barricading herself, but became another victim.
The crimes shocked residents of Gainesville, and Rolling was not charged until he was caught robbing a store, just over a week after Paules and Taboada died.
Police investigated him and discovered that the tools used in the theft were the same ones used to break into the girls’ apartments. Later, diaries and tapes were discovered, in which the killer celebrated his success in each of the murders.
The material was hidden in a makeshift camp in a thicket near the University of Florida housing complex.
Rolling was formally charged in 1991 and pleaded guilty in 1994, confessing to eight murders. Due to the different versions reported, his trial lasted for years and he was sentenced to death in 2006.
It was the strange case that led Williamson to write 18 pages of a draft, which would later become one of the most famous teen horror franchises.
For those unfamiliar with it, the plot follows a masked serial killer known as the Ghostface, who uses slogans and spooky knowledge of horror productions to pursue his victims.
Together, the four films grossed more than $ 608 million at the global box office.
The fifth film in the franchise opens in January 2022.
The “Panic” message was based on a true HORRIPILING story; Get to know him! first appeared on CinePOP.