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Are you ready for Halloween? These are 12 real-life horror movie locations that you can visit yourself to get you into the spooky spirit!
Get into the Halloween spirit!
It's October, which means it's finally time to dust off your spooky costumes and crack out your favourite horror movies. But what if you could actually visit the actual set for some of these cult classics? From luxury apartment buildings and hotels to nondescript suburban homes, here are 12 horror movie locations that have more lurking behind their surface than what first meets the eye.
Timberline Lodge, The Shining
Just three years after the release of Stephen King's bestselling novel The Shining, Stanley Kubrick shot and directed its movie adaptation both at Elstree Studios in England and at the Timberline Lodge in Oregon. It was here at the lodge high up in the mountains of Oregon where the majority of the exterior shots for the infamous Outlook Hotel were filmed. Yet if you're wanting to stay in Room 237 then I'm afraid you're out of luck as this room, unfortunately, does not exist. Kubrick was specifically asked not film any scenes in Room 217 - the original room number from the book - because the lodge feared that future guests would be afraid to sleep the night there. An entirely made up room and room number was therefore created for the purpose of filming yet ironically, and perhaps unsurprisingly, it is Room 217 that is now the most requested room in the entire hotel. The Timberline Lodge is also open all 365 days of the year offering great skiing in the surrounding snow capped mountains.
Whether you can visit Timberline Lodge in real-life or not, prepare for Overlook Hotel to come back to your screens anyway (and perhaps haunt your dreams too) as Doctor Sleep - the sequel to The Shining - is set to be released in cinemas this November. Directed by Mike Flanagan, the 2019 sequel painstakingly set out to recreate the first film's iconic set designs from old blueprints and freeze frames.
The Stanley Hotel, The Shining
Although Timberline Lodge was the primary location for the film, the inspiration behind Overlook Hotel in Stephen King's original novel was in fact The Stanley Hotel tucked away in the Rocky Mountains in Estes Park in Colorado. He visited the hotel with his wife sometime in 1974 when the hotel was emptying out after the winter season and found inspiration in its grand facade and foreboding sense of desolation that clung to its walls. Guests ever since have reported strange and spooky happenings in the hotel among which have been moved and unpacked luggage, lights turning on and off by themselves, and sudden drops in temperature. Room 217 from the novel is even said to be haunted by a Mrs. Wilson, the hotel's former head housekeeper. The Colonial Revival-style hotel does tend to lean in heavily into this view the world now has of it as a haunted hotel and offers many paranormal tours year-round for guests to partake in. A hedge maze, like that of the one that exists at Overlook Hotel in the novel and film, was even opened in 2015 on the front driveway to further evoke the hotel's connection to The Shining.
The Gas Station, Texas Chainsaw Massacre
The rather grisly and gory 1974 horror film Texas Chainsaw Massacre, despite being banned in several countries from the get-go, turned over a very decent profit and inspired a whole generation of slasher films. One of its more infamous locations that you can visit today is the gas station in Central Texas where an ill-fated group of friends stopped for gas. Previously abandoned, the success of the horror movie turned this rundown gas station into a horror-themed barbecue restaurant decked out in Texas Chainsaw Massacre decor and memorabilia. Aptly named The Gas Station, horror-movie fans can come and shop till they drop or chow down on one of their signature brisket sandwiches. For even more frights, you can also spend a night or two in one of their rustic cabins at the back of the smokehouse. You know you'll have found the right place when you see the sign proclaiming "We Slaughter Barbecue" hanging outside although hopefully you won't encounter any killer cannibals wearing flesh masks wandering around the joint!
Seneca Creek State Park, The Blair Witch Project
The pioneer of the "found footage" subgenre, much of the 1999 horror film The Blair Witch Project was filmed in Seneca Creek State Park in rural Burkittsville in Maryland. It was here in these woods, known as Black Hills Forest in the film, where three college students attempted to track down the legendary Blair Witch, never to be seen again. The park boasts a staggering 6,300 acres of land stretching alongside 14 miles of Seneca Creek for you to explore and, hopefully, not get lost in! From leisurely walks and more challenging hikes to kayaking and fishing in nearby lakes, the park offers a wide range of activities that the whole family can enjoy. There is even a trail that will lead you to the infamous Coffin Rock from the film. In the film, the filmmakers travelled to this massive rock formation after hearing stories of fur trappers who were supposedly mutilated and killed there.
Palazzo Vecchio, Hannibal
Piazza della Signoria is one of Florence's most iconic landmarks for several reasons: it's home to a copy of Michelangelo's infamous David statue, the Loggia dei Lanzi with its wide arches opening onto the street held aloft by Corinthian-style columns and the beautiful marble and bronze Fountain of Neptune. Yet the most recognisable to Hannibal fans will be the imposing Palazzo Vecchio in its centre that was used as the setting for Inspector Pazzi's murder; tortured and mutilated, Pazzi was pushed off the front facade's balcony. When night falls, the fortress seems to rise menacingly up from the dark piazza, floodlit, its medieval arches and crenellations casting gloomy shadows. Standing in front of it yourself, you'll quickly understand why the palace was chosen as the location for one of the most gruesome murders in the whole film. If you're a horror fan looking for any excuse to book a trip to Italy this autumn, then let this be it! A tour of Florence would take you to the other filming locations dotted around the city.
Stairs from The Exorcist
The stairs that feature at the climax of the 1973 horror classic The Exorcist connects M Street with Prospect Street in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C near to the university's campus, attracting both horror fans and fitness buffs who wish to take on the challenge of climbing up all 75 of the steep steps. They make their iconic appearance in the film at the pivotal moment when Father Karras decides he must sacrifice himself in order to save the little girl named Regan who has been possessed by a demon. By dramatically flinging himself out of the window and down the myriad of steps, he successful kills himself and the demon, cementing at the same time this staircase as one of the most recognisable cinematic landmarks in movie history. Although they do look fairly nondescript in real-life, wedged between a ivy-covered stone wall and a brick warehouse, a plaque now resides at the bottom of the stairs explaining their significance so that they are easy to spot for everyone to come and visit.
Michael Myers' house from Halloween
Follow the signs for South Pasadena and you'll eventually reach Micheal Myers' iconic childhood home from the popular Halloween movie franchise. Situated in one of the California town's unassuming suburbs, it is here where the made-up Illinoisan town of Haddonfield was based and where Micheal, with his infamous expressionless white mask and knife, terrorised residents for four decades. At the time of filming in 1974, the house was abandoned and made for the perfect location for the soon-to-be cult classic. The Halloween house has since been renovated and moved to sit near the railroad tracks but the signature shade of baby blue paint on the exterior wooden slats remains. The house is now private property, home to a chiropractic clinic, so it's impossible to set foot inside unless you're waiting to be seen by one of the clinic's doctors. Yet it has been reported that the owners will leave out fake plastic pumpkins on the porch outside so that dedicated fans can still snap a quick spooky photo with the facade of the property.
The Dakota Building, Rosemary's Baby
The Dakota is a stunning highrise, located at 72nd Street and Central Park West, that attracts all of New York's most rich and famous. But this Renaissance style apartment block is also one of the most iconic horror movie locations in the whole of the Big Apple. The facade of the building served as the exterior for the fictional The Bramford (named after Dracula's Bram Stoker) in the 1968 psychological thriller Rosemary's Baby where Rosemary Woodhouse gave birth to the son of Satan himself. Yet after the director called it a wrap, several people involved in the production company on the film began to have some very unusual and unexplainable experiences. Composer Krzysztof Komeda fell into a coma mirroring events from the film and producer William Castle was incapacitated with a severe case of kidney stones and began to suffer hallucinations centred around the movie. Director Roman Polanski's wife, Sharon Tate, also developed an interest in the occult after watching the film and was later killed by members of the Manson family, a cult active in the 1960s. This apartment is also infamous for another unsettling event, as the building was the former home of Yoko Ono and John Lennon, who was fatally shot and murdered standing outside its doors in 1980. The horrific events that have happened at the Dakota over the years have led many to believe that this large and regal building is now cursed
Bodega Bay, The Birds
The sleepy town of Bodega Bay in California served as the backdrop for Alfred Hitcock's 1963 film The Birds. After filming Shadow of A Doubt in Santa Rosa in 1948, Hitchcock decided to return to Sonoma County in 1961 to find the perfect remote coastal location for his next project. For him, Bodega Bay fitted the bill. In the film, the heroine Melanie Daniels is terrorized by a massive flock of aggressive birds that descend on the seaside town, undoubtedly striking the fear of birds (or ornithophobia) into the hearts of all that watched it. Visitors to the town can visit all the local haunts that made an appearance in the horror film, among which are the town's marina, the Potter School, St. Theresa's Church, and the Bodega Highway. The Tides Wharf restaurant a few steps from the sea even sells cheesy Hawaiian shirts patterned with birds and vintage Alfred Hitchock posters for you to remember your stay by. You may see a seagull or two flapping around while you're visiting but they'll probably only be after your sandwiches and crisps, and not anything more sinister!
Bates Motel, Psycho
Although horror lovers can't actually check themselves into the real Bates Motel for a night or two, you can still visit the set where Norman and his mother lived at one of America's most beloved theme parks. Standing in Universal Studios Hollywood's backlot since filming of Psycho began in 1959, the facade of the infamous Bates Motel has since been expanded and relocated several times (originally the set only consisted of the left wall and the front of the house to save money!). Yet the attraction remains a must-see for everyone visiting the park. You can normally snap a photo standing in front of the unmistakably creepy looking house during Halloween celebrations at the park but during the rest of the year, you can catch a glimpse of its dilapidated front on the backlot studio tram tour which takes park guests around several other famous television and working film sets.
Millennium Biltmore Hotel, Ghostbusters
After opening in the roaring 1920s, the Millennium Biltmore Hotel has since made many appearances in Hollywood films and eight Academy Awards ceremonies have been hosted on the premises. Even Disney's iconic Tower of Terror ride modelled its exaggerated arches and vaulted ceiling off of the interior of this opulent downtown Los Angeles hotel, the man himself having stayed in one of its many lavish suites. Although the majority of the film was filmed on the streets of New York, fans may recognise the interior of the Millennium Biltmore Hotel to also be the same as the fictional Sedgewick Hotel from the film Ghostbusters. It is here in the Sedgewick hotel's ballroom where the team snagged their first ghost, the green Slimer, and destroyed the ornate room in the process. The extravagant marble columns, chandeliers, and Italian frescoed ceilings all appear the same today in the real hotel as they did in the 1984 film although relatively more intact! The chamber today also acts as the hotel's lobby, welcoming royal and famous guests alike into its walls.