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Leaves crunching beneath your feet, the cool October breeze grazing your face, and carved pumpkins found on every porch are sure signs that the spooky season has arrived. Why wait for someone to give you a good scare when you can watch a horror movie filmed in California?
Thanks to California's numerous haunted hotels and ghostly grounds, the list of scary movies filmed here is quite extensive. So, don your spooky Halloween costumes, make popcorn, and cuddle up next to your S.O.—it's time to add these horror films to your must-watch list on All Hallows' Eve.
Michael Myers is the infamous star of the Halloween film series. The first movie of the famous franchise was released in 1978, depicting Myers’ first murder, which he commits as a child. He is later admitted to a psych ward, where he spends 15 years of his life before escaping on Halloween night. The horror film is set in the Midwest, but the actual shooting took place in northeast Los Angeles. The home where Laurie Strode, the main protagonist, lived is now an attraction beckoning to all horror-movie lovers—visit this film location if you dare.
Based on the book by Stephen King, the “King of Horror,” Carrie is a horror movie set in Los Angeles. The thriller follows the story of a high-school girl with a “gift”—a gift that will later terrify everyone around her to death. In the 1976 movie, a group of high-school kids pulls a prank on Carrie by dumping a bucket of pig blood all over her, leading to her uncontrollable rage. This dreadful yet iconic scene actually took place at Farmer John in Vernon, California.
The 2002 horror film Cabin Fever tells the story of a group of friends who rent a cabin in the woods; however, before they can relax, an unsuspecting disease spreads through the group. The lead character discovers the source of the disease: a hermit found in a Los Angeles cave. The Bronson Caves, located in Griffith Park, have been featured in many TV shows and movies, so they're among the most well-known Southern California film locations.
The horror flick that triggered one too many nightmares in the 1980s and then again in 2010, A Nightmare On Elm Street is one of the best California-filmed Halloween movies to watch on Netflix. The eerie film follows several teens as they are stalked by a burnt serial killer in their dreams. The kids’ homes were actually located by the Sunset Strip, so once you’re done watching the movie, head over to Nancy Thompson’s house on Genesee Avenue and feel terrified to your very core.
Written by Steven Spielberg, this supernatural horror film's plot preys on the fear of the unknown. Poltergeist, one of the top Halloween movies to watch, instills pure horror in anyone watching. The flick follows the daily events in a home that's been invaded by several demonic spirits. The property used to film this movie is found just a few miles north of Los Angeles, in Simi Valley. Pay a visit to the once “haunted” Freeling House; it still stands high, mighty, and eerie in the same location, awaiting your visit.
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The dystopian horror film The Purge legalizes all crime and atrocities during an annual holiday lasting 12 hours—one minute your neighbor can be your friend, and the next he may be trying to rob, murder, or rape you. This 2013 film showcases the violence and horrific capabilities of humanity when given an opportunity to fully unleash without worrying about the restraints of society and its correlative consequences. The entirety of the film was shot in Los Angeles, and if you're into L.A.'s spooky and haunted places, The Purge should definitely be on your list of movies to watch around Halloween.
An Alfred Hitchcock classic, Psycho is often referred to as the film that revolutionized the horror-movie genre. A true psycho, Norman Bates and his “mother” (so we thought) operate the Bates Motel, which is located near their house. The creepy motel depicted in the movie is now part of Universal Studios Hollywood. Visit the house and motel where Psycho was filmed for the ultimate photo sesh—just do it for the 'Gram, we promise it's worth it.
Stand By Me is another Stephen King special. Derived from his book The Body, the film follows a group of boys on the hunt to find the body of a missing child in the woods. This movie is filled with thrills; viewers can never forget the suspenseful scene of the boys crossing the bridge and then finding a train barreling down the tracks behind them. Much to everyone’s surprise, this infamous bridge is located in Burney, so you may want to add the Northern California film location to your to-do list.
The original Maniac was released in 1980. In 2012, a remake was released, adding more gore and suspense to this already-terrifying film. The plot trails a serial killer’s steps as he attacks young women. The twist in this movie is that the audience never really sees the killer—the film is shot from his perspective. One of the frightening scenes shows the killer chasing a dancer through an empty train station; this was actually filmed at Pershing Square, a stop along the Los Angeles Metro Rail.
Panicked parents of a sick child rush their child to a beautiful mansion for help in the 2009 horror film Drag Me to Hell. Much to their dismay, their child is actually cursed, causing a series of unexpected, thrilling events to unfold. The house that caused all this commotion is the Doheny Mansion, also known as the Greystone Mansion; this castle is a popular filming location in Los Angeles. Visitors can partake in tours of the house to experience the horror up-close.
World-renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Ennis House in Los Angeles, which is now used as a film location for movies and TV shows, including the 1959 thriller House On Haunted Hill. In this flick, eccentric millionaire Frederick Loren invites a group of strangers to stay in an abandoned mansion for the night. The twist is: whoever makes it until dawn wins $10,000. The Ennis House is open to the public 12 days a year; for a tour dedicated to all things terror, book through the Los Angeles Conservancy.
For further spooks and kooks, visit the most haunted places in California and the state's creepiest ghost towns, making sure to listen to these binge-worthy California podcasts on the way there.
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