With cemetery visits and séances in vogue this weekend, now is the time to search out places with a particularly scary or gruesome past. But oftentimes, it's easier to identify with and get a rise out of the fictional locations found in movies (and drilled into our imaginations). We've plotted some of the more intriguing and singular spaces from cinema across the country, from the Georgetown home featured in the Exorcist to the remote hotel that becomes a character itself in The Shining. While the accompanying stories and map skew towards the west coast, near the studios of Hollywood, one truism seems to cross the country: the suburbs are scary.Read More
Horror movie filming locations: A map of the strange, scary, and cursed
From the Exorcist to The Shining, here's where your faves were filmed
The Shining, Kubrick’s masterpiece depicting the horrors of writer’s block, seems destined to discourage any future guests at whatever hotel gets screen time. Perhaps the filmmaker was being generous by spreading out filming over different venues. The interior was shot, for the most part, at Elstree Studios in England, but based on the Ahwahnee Hotel, of Yosemite Park, California. Despite the Colorado setting depicted in the film, the exterior shots were filmed at the Timberline Lodge in Oregon, a National Historic Landmark near Mount Hood. Built in the late ‘30s, the ski lodge, which boasts a Magic Mile ski lift, was a Depression-era Works Progress Administration project—FDR gave a speech at the opening—that had financial difficulty at the outset owing to government ownership. The hotel has served as the setting for other films as well, including 1952’s Bend in the River, starring James Stewart and Rock Hudson. In 1981, Hudson would return to film World War III. During the shoot, a co-star was nearly decapitated by a helicopter blade and died. No word if Danny Torrance saw that coming.
Known as the Exorcist home, due to its key role in the film and the movie’s promotional campaign, this Georgetown residence was, at the time, the home of Florence Stephenson Mahoney, a health care advocate who routinely hosted Beltway politicians (during one party, JFK sat between former President Truman and poet Robert Frost). The home looks a little different in person than it did in the film; director William Friedkin had the crew build a Mansard-style roof and add an extension to move it closer to the infamous Exorcist steps, which attract scores of camera-happy tourists (a fence now separates the private home from unwanted visitors).
A variety of homes in both Santa Barbara and Hollywood were used to create the sleepy suburban street terrorized by Michael Myers in Halloween, in part a reflection of the film’s tight budget (artificial leaves were reused throughout the springtime shoot). This home, set in the fictional town of Haddonfield, Illinois, is the one where babysitter Jamie Lee Curtis gets chased by Myers, and also made cameos in an episode of Charlie’s Angels as well as Back to School.
The bloodbath depicted in Friday the 13th takes places on the ground of an actual camp, a 300-acre private retreat operated by the Boy Scouts. Over the last few years, the camp, which opened in 1927, has embraced its heritage and on rare occasions opened up for tours based around the film, shot here in 1979. At one point, horror fans could even walk away with a piece of the dock.
The penultimate scene of the improvisational horror movie sensation The Blair Witch Project was filmed at this historic two-story home in Granite, Maryland (most of the rest of the film was shot in Walnut Mountain Park in New York). Like the movie itself, little is known about this creepy structure, allowing film buffs to create their own backstory. In 1999, fans of the film (who occasionally trekked to the home and took home parts of it as souvenirs) successfully raised money to stop Maryland officials from demolishing the 19th century residence. Sadly, the home was destroyed years later to little fanfare (perhaps becoming a legend itself?). Photo via Griggs House Project.
Paranormal Activity House
Filmmaker Oren Peli used his own suburban San Diego home for the setting of his 2007 horror flick, another element of the movie that makes its tale of demonic possession more “universal.” Its reputation, however, hasn’t stopped the tract home from selling. After changing hands earlier this year, it’s currently on the market for $749,000 and was used as a promotional tool for the latest Paramormal Activity sequel, hosting “haunted” open houses.
One of numerous locations used in and around metro Detroit in the movie It Follows, this massive, abandoned automobile plant serves as part of the backdrop that makes the city as much as character as a setting in this unsettling (and some would say unlikely) horror hit. Part of the film’s appeal and power is that instead of using Detroit’s ruins as the focal point of the story, it also strives to make suburban dread tangible and terrifying.
Evil Dead Cabin
The shocking action in Sam Raimi’s 1981 horror film Evil Dead took place in this remote backwoods cabin, which itself boasts quite a long backstory. During the film’s premiere in Detroit, a program was handed out that laid out the history of the building, and how numerous inhabitants had been struck by lightning. The crew didn’t suffer any terrifying incidents during production, though during the grueling 12-week shoot, a raft of minor injuries proved more of a problem that normal because the set was so far from medical facilities. It has since burned down, and only a chimney remains, which has its own Facebook page.
Freeling Family Home
The possessed home in Poltergeist gets less screen time than you may think; the opening shot was filmed in nearby Agoura Hills, and the interior shots were created inside a Hollywood studio, not surprising considering what happens in the film. This mock Tudor was chosen, according to crew, because it fit in well with “Spielbergia,” the producer’s preference for standard suburban backdrops.
Grand Central Cafe
The horrifying home of Leatherface now serves a mean breakfast. The Austin-area home from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a Victorian-style pattern book house that was assembled in the early years of the 20th century, was, fittingly, cut up and moved from the original La Frontera site to Kingsland in 1998, re-assembled to form the Grand Central Café.
Cabrini-Green Housing Projects
One of Chicago's most notorious housing projects served as the setting for the 1992 film Candyman, in which a researcher studying urban legends summons the murderous, hook-handed ghost of a lynched black man by chanting his name in front of a mirror. The film was based on a story written by Clive Barker which was set in English housing estates. Some critics have suggested part of the shock of the film comes from exploiting its setting.