As Halloween approaches, it seems only fitting to expand celebrations from haunted houses and pumpkin patches to real life locations of classic horror films. Although horror movies have been around since film began, many horror films prior to the 1950s were filmed in studios, making their locations impossible to track down and visit.
On the other hand, many classic and cult horror movies are those that sprang from the latter half of the twentieth century, when cinema was progressing and filming outdoors began to be less and less of a hassle. Here are 14 Real Life Locations of Classic Horror Movies.
14 The Fog (1980)
Director John Carpenter (Big Trouble in Little China, The Thing, Halloween) presented audiences with The Fog in 1980. With big names like Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh, Tom Atkins, Adrienne Barbeau, the film is set in the remote and fictitious coastal town of Point Antonio in California.
But The Fog was actually filmed in Point Reyes Station, located in Marin County, CA. as well as parts of Los Angeles, Sierra Madre, and Bodega Bay. The spot to visit? The Point Reyes Lighthouse. The films iconic lighthouse hosts Barbeau’s radio show and is witness to the first ghost sighting. It’s from the lighthouse that audiences also see the fog roll in, carrying with it the horror that consumes the town.
The most memorable scene involving the lighthouse is with Stevie, when the fog has encircled the windows and created an air of claustrophobia. The tension rises as the ghost our sight becomes limited and we develop concern for Stevie’s safety. To experience this fright, just head to northern California along the coast up to Point Reyes.
13 Night of the Living Dead (1968)
George A. Romero’s 1968 Night of the Living Dead was the first in its series and the only one to have been shot in black and white. The film was deemed a cult classic for its ability to create terror with a low budget, not to mention it was the first modern zombie movie to ever emerge. Horror films prior to Night of the Living Dead relied heavily on a science fiction background, or monsters and paranormal activity. It’s low budget, but that adds to the film's terror.
Together, there are six different Dead films and more than likely, audiences have heard of at least one of these zombie films at some point in their lives. So where was this classic filmed? Evans Park, Pennsylvania. If you want to be more specific and visit the beginning of the madness, check out Evans Park Cemetery where we first catch a glimpse of the horror to come.
12 The Ring (2004)
The Ring is the most recent horror film on this list. Released in 2004, directed by Gore Verbinski, and starring Naomi Watts, Rachael Bella, and David Dorfman, The Ring frightened audiences by eliminating the safety of the screen. Outside of watching a silly videotape only to then receive a phone call giving you seven days to live, the moment Samara’s corpse reaches the screen and crawls through the television set is the moment in which audiences experienced total fear.
Filmed around Los Angeles, CA and Boston, MA, the story behind Samara unravels in a small town in the Pacific Northwest. Monroe, Washington, a town known for its state penitentiary, state fair, and is the town many skier and snowboarders have to take to get to the slopes. Remember that white farmhouse with green trim? The one Samara lived in, up in the rafters? You’ll find that same farmhouse along the winding Woods Creek Road.
Unfortunately, because of the popularity of the movie and ease of finding the house, the family has since painted it different colors so as to prevent out-of-towners from entering their property.
11 Chopping Mall (1986)
A film whose taglines include “Where shopping can cost you an arm and a leg,” “Chopping Mall, where they slash their prices and their customers,” and “At Park Plaza Mall the security force isn’t just tight, it’s terrifying.” Directed by Jim Wynorski in 1986, Chopping Mall made filmgoers jump and laugh with its gory take on campy horror B movies.
Teenagers roam the mall after hours and are confronted with a team of security robots that were set up to reduce potential theft and crime at the local mall. Although called Park Plaza Mall for the film, the mall is in fact Beverly Center, located on Beverly Blvd. between 3rd St. and La Cienega Blvd. in Los Angeles, CA. One of the bigger malls in Los Angeles, fans of the film are able to roam traditional stores like Bloomingdales and Macy’s while walking through the set of Chopping Mall. Just be sure not to roam around after hours.
10 The Exorcist (1973)
On 3600 Prospect Street in Georgetown Washington DC. fans of this cult classic will find the MacNeil house, where Reagan threw up all over Father Merrin. The Exorcist has been one of the most influential horror films to greet cinema because of its religious storyline and connection to actual events. Audiences had seen zombie and monster movies, but none have tackled supernatural activity and the possessed the way The Exorcist has.
The film’s contribution to cinema gained the attention of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The Exorcist was the first ever horror film to be nominated for Best Picture back at the 1973 Oscars as well as nine other nominations ranging from Best Actress to Best Special Effects to Best Screenplay. That night it received Best Screenplay and Best Sound Mixing.
Along with the MacNeil house, be sure to check out Georgetown University to see both the Dahlgren Chapel where the ritual desecration occurred and The Exorcist steps, the staircase that connects Prospect Street and Canal Road.
9 Poltergeist (1982)
The original Poltergeist, directed by Tobe Hopper in 1982, gave pop culture one of its most memorable scares when Carol-Ann searches for something strange underneath her bed, only to sit up and be kidnapped by evil entities who take her to the other side.
Although Steven Spielberg was apart of the filmmaking process with his roles as writer and producer, his commitment to E.T. Extra Terrestrial made him unavailable for the directorial role. Similar to The Exorcist, the film gained so much attention that it was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Editing, and Best Original Score. Rightfully so considering the films realistic imagery of spoons bending, milk glasses breaking, rising corpses, and the murderous tree that almost takes Robbie’s life.
For fans of this supernatural horror film, the Freeling house is easy to find. Located in Southern California’s Simi Valley, California, the house that tried to swallow a family whole for eternity is on 4267 Roxbury Street. Simi Valley is just north of Los Angeles and west of Thousand Oaks.
8 Night of the Creeps (1986)
This standard horror B movie developed a cult following after its release in 1986. The film stars Jason Lively as Chris, popularized by his role as Rusty in European Vacation, released only one-year prior. Lively’s orange locks shine in Fred Dekker’s film about a slug dropped down to earth in a canister by a couple of aliens that ends up jumping into peoples’ mouths and zombifying them. Unfortunately for students at Croman University, the slug heads right for them. Although it doesn’t discriminate between animal or human, nerd or jock, one of its frequent pit stops is Cynthia’s sorority house. It’s also the house that Cynthia and Chris take down the infected students who are trying to encircle it, eventually going up in flames and killing the zombies with it.
Lucky for fans of the show, this sorority was not filmed on a studio set, nor were several of the other houses shown in the film. Night of the Creeps, particularly the sorority house that in reality is called the Alpha Delta Pi house, can be spotted on the University of Southern California’s campus in Los Angeles.
7 Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
Based on Jack Finney’s novel, The Body Snatchers, the 1956 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers is one of the more well-known films about American fears of aliens, space, and communism. Directed by Don Siegel and starring Kevin MCarthy and Dana Wynter, Invasion of the Body Snatchers created a possible outcome of alien encounters, and of course the implications of communism in the United States.
Equating the threat of communism to alien invasions, these unknown outsiders could possibly creep into their houses, take over their bodies, turn everyone into host pods, only to then take over one city after another. Their first stop though, that these species target, the town of Santa Mira, is none other than the Southern California town of Sierra Madre. When visiting, fans can walk through the town square that filmed the famous scene of McCarthy and Wynter running from their old friends turned alien hosts.
6 Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
The 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, directed by Philip Kaufman, stars Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Leonard Nimoy, and Jeff Goldblum. Unlike many remakes of classic films that are more dreaded than anticipated, this version has been widely accepted as another great adaptation of Jack Finney’s book. Unfortunately folks didn’t stop here, 1993 gave audiences Abel Ferrara’s Body Snatchers and then another in 2007 with Oliver Hirschbiegel and James McTeigue’s The Invasion.
One of the most iconic and memorable scenes of the 1978 version is when it recognized and connected with the 1956 film. Before the movie really picks up speed with the invasion, when audiences know what’s coming but the characters aren’t quite there yet, Kevin McCarthy makes an appearance. This scene, like the rest of the film, takes place in San Francisco. More specifically, on the corner of Eddy Street & Leavenworth Street. San Francisco, CA. 94109. It’s here that McCarthy runs into the streets, hitting the hoods of cars, picking up where the 1956 film left off, and screams at drivers, “They’re coming!”
5 The Birds (1963)
One of the many classic Alfred Hitchcock films, The Birds panicked audiences in 1963 with the idea that the birds flying around may or may not someday turn against us. Unlike his other films though (with the exception of Psycho), The Birds was categorized as a horror and thriller whereas the majority of his films were suspense. The film has suspenseful elements to it, as do many horror movies. Audiences are keenly aware of the danger around the corner that the character inches towards, and a characters soon-to-be ending, therefore suspense is generated as the person inches toward danger. However, The Birds was the only other Hitchcock film in the horror section. Fortunately for fans, the set of the film is still available to visit.
Like many of Hitchcock’s Hollywood releases, the movie was filmed in California. Bodega Bay, located in Northern California about two hours north of San Francisco is home to the set this set. Be careful though, because there are two different areas of Bodega Bay to see: the bay itself and Bodega the town that is about half hour west of the bay. There you’ll find the playground, the Brenner house, the bay where Tippi boated in, and the restaurant.
4 House on Haunted Hill (1959)
Located in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles California is the Ennis House, or the Frederick and Annabelle Loren house from House on Haunted Hill. No not the 1999 William Malone version, but the 1959 version directed by William Castle, which starred Vincent Price as the house owner who invites a handful of guests to his house for his wife’s birthday, giving them $10,000 each and requiring them to stay the entire night.
Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the house was actually built by his son Lloyd Wright. Placed within the same neighborhood as the route to Griffith Park, the Ennis Brown house has also appeared in Blade Runner, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Rush Hour, Mulholland Drive, and Twin Peaks. The Ennis Brown House has been deemed one of the top ten houses in Los Angeles and is an established historic landmark. Although you won’t be able to experience the interior of this house, it’s a definite tourist attraction for moviegoers.
3 The Shining (1980)
60 miles east of Portland, Oregon is the Timberline Lodge, also known as the Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film The Shining. The lodge itself sits on the south side of Mount Hood as part of the Cascade Volcanic Arc and is the largest mountain in Oregon. The lodge was actually built in the 1930s as one of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Workers Progress Administration projects.
Unfortunately, the Overlook Hotel only used the exterior of the Timberline Lodge. On top of that, there is in fact no maze attached. The lodge is surrounded by ski lifts and slopes making flat land an impossibility. However that doesn’t make a visit any less worthwhile, the exterior of the hotel plays a large role, showing off its immensity in comparison to the three newcomers about to take up residency for the long winter. Plus the mountain provides beautiful views of Columbia River and the rest of the Cascade range.
2 Rosemary's Baby (1968)
Another horror adaptation, Rosemary’s Baby, directed by Roman Polanski, is one of the three movies that make up his "apartment trilogy." It’s main attraction, and where the majority of the movie takes place, is The Dakota in New York City, but fans of the movie know it as the Bramford Apartments. Located in Central Park West, Manhattan, moviegoers can find this house, with its deep roofs and terracotta structure, on the northeast corner of 72nd Street. As of 1972, The Dakota has been a part of the National Register of Historic Places as well as a National Historic Landmark as of 1976.
If you feel like traveling to Tiffany & Co. along 5th ave., when you hit the corner of 5th and East 57th Street, you’ll arrive at the infamous crosswalk where Rosemary walks into oncoming traffic. Many fans of the film have heard the story of Polanski telling Farrow to simply walk across the street in order to capture the genuine lurching and honks accompanied by drivers skidding to halts. Polanski reassured Farrow that no person, even in New York, is going to hit a pregnant woman.
1 Friday the 13th (1980)
One of the most enduring Halloween horror movies to come out of the 1980s, its popularity making it an instant cult classic, Friday the 13th's main location, Camp Crystal Lake, is fictional, but the nearby town, Blairstown, New Jersey, is a real place. The Blairstown Diner continues to run and is inviting to fans of the film. Steve visits the diner when, unbeknownst to him, many of his camp counselors are being murdered.
Unlike the diner’s friendliness, the actual Camp NoBeBoSco where filmgoers find out Jason’s death due to sex-crazed teenagers ignoring their duties as camp counselors, is not as open and friendly to tourists, as the camp is still functioning and is in fact a Boy Scouts camp. Many of the structures remain the same as seen in the film, making it that much more fragile and requiring that much more respect from visitors. Tourists are allowed to visit the films main location, however reservations are required and most likely granted during the camps off-season.
Do you know of any other real life movie locations that we should pay find? Let us know in the comments!
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