"The Strangers" Versus the Keddie Cabin Murders

Horror movies based on real-life events are always the most chilling because they are even more preposterous than a writer's license would dare allow. A horror movie I found to be absolutely chillingly scary was “The Strangers” starring Liv Tyler. It was a brilliant film that depended more on sound and the unknown to scare the crap out of you. This is a very hard film to watch alone and in the dark. It’s definitely one of those “I would do this…” or “I would do that…” kind of films where you look around the surroundings and come up with plausible defenses should it ever happen to you. That’s the point of how they film is so horrifying – it’s humans at their most vulnerable; in a cabin in the middle of nowhere. The tormentors aren’t swift; they’re slow and unpredictable, creepy, and unseen.

I was surprised to find this movie was based on a true story, although I shouldn’t have been surprised. There are mass murderers who simply stalk and kill quick and clean and then there’s the cat-like ones who play with their prey and feed off the terror before they give the final blows; this movie is definitely the latter. 

The concept for the movie “The Strangers” was based on a real life unsolved mystery and the moviemakers took the concept and filled in all the blanks that we’re left with. The real-life story doesn’t involve a couple, but a family.

From Wikipedia, here is the description of this still to this day unsolved murder mystery: In 1981 American quadruple-murder that took place in Keddie, a resort town in Northern California. The victims were Glenna Sharp, known as Sue (age 36), her son John (age 15), and his male friend Dana Wingate (age 17). The final victim, Sue's daughter Tina Sharp (age 12), was missing when the murder was discovered; her remains were found in 1984 in Feather Falls, Butte County. Sue's two youngest sons and their friend were uninjured; found in a room with the door wedged shut by a chair to keep them in. A second daughter, Sheila, had stayed the night with neighbors.

No arrests have been made in connection with the murders. The cabin in which the murders took place was demolished in 2006. The following morning, Glenna's 14-year-old daughter, Sheila, who had spent the night with a friend at a neighboring cabin, found the dead bodies of her mother, brother, and brother's friend lying in the front living room; all had been bound with electrical wire and duct tape, and were beaten and stabbed beyond recognition. Tina Sharp was nowhere to be seen. The savage nature of the crime was undeniable; the walls were covered with knife cuts, and the furniture had been destroyed.

A sheriff patrol commander, Rod DeCrona, who arrived to the scene remarked that "There was blood sprayed absolutely everywhere". Upon examination of the bodies, it was clear that each of the victims had been bludgeoned with a claw hammer and stabbed repeatedly with steak knives. DeCrona also said that one of the knives discovered at the scene had been used so forcefully that the blade had bent entirely in half. The case soon grew cold, and Tina Sharp's bizarre disappearance went unsolved as did the murders.

The town of Keddie began to lose its visitors, and the resort turned into a ghost town. Three years after the crime, in 1984, the dismembered head of Tina Sharp was discovered near Feather Falls, roughly fifty miles downhill from the cabin resort. After this discovery no new information regarding the crime ever surfaced. No arrests have ever been made in regard to the crimes, nor have there been any solid leads as to the motivation of the killer(s). The murders remain unsolved to this day.

A documentary was made based on the murders and you can find out more about the whole crime and the video here. If you’ve seen “The Strangers,” does the movie seem so farfetched from the actual crime or do you think the actual crime was much more dark and tormented?