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Top 5 Spooky Movies Set in California

Top 5 Spooky Movies Set in California

Explore these 5 spine-tingling movies set in iconic California locales from sunny Los Angeles to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Team


2 min read

October 02, 2023

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California, with its diverse landscapes, historical landmarks, and expansive coastline, has been a prime location for numerous film productions. But when the sun sets on the Golden State, tales of the supernatural and eerie take center stage. If you're a fan of horror and all things spooky, you'll be thrilled to discover some spine-tingling films set in California. Let's dive into the top 5 spooky movies set in this state, where the line between Hollywood fantasy and bone-chilling reality often blurs.

"Vertigo" (1958) – Alfred Hitchcock

San Francisco's iconic landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge and Mission San Juan Bautista set the stage for this psychological thriller. Directed by the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, "Vertigo" follows former police detective John "Scottie" Ferguson as he delves deep into a web of obsession, deceit, and phobia. The chilling atmosphere is intensified by the panoramic views of California's coastline and cityscapes. It's a haunting tale that makes you question reality and will have you watching your step on those San Francisco hills.\

One of the many beautiful California missions is a featured location in Vertigo.

"Poltergeist" (1982) – Tobe Hooper & Steven Spielberg

Set in a Californian suburban paradise, "Poltergeist" gives us an idyllic family home turned into a nightmarish haunted house. The Freeling family's life is upturned when supernatural forces begin to terrorize them, with their young daughter, Carol Anne, communicating with spirits through the TV set. With iconic lines like "They're here," this film not only changed how we viewed television static but also redefined haunting tales in suburban settings.

The iconic Poltergeist set the tone of horror movies for decades after its release.

"The Birds" (1963) – Alfred Hitchcock

The quiet coastal town of Bodega Bay in Northern California becomes a horrifying battleground in Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds." What starts as a series of bizarre bird attacks escalates into a full-blown avian assault on the town's residents, with no explanation or escape. Hitchcock's decision to forgo any musical score amplifies the eerie ambiance, with only the sounds of the birds serving as a chilling backdrop. The realistic setting of Bodega Bay, coupled with the inexplicable nature of the attacks, solidifies "The Birds" as a terrifying exploration of nature's unpredictability in a familiar Californian locale.

When not being a part of horror master Hitchcock's film, Bodega Bay is a great weekend destination.

"Mulholland Drive" (2001) – David Lynch

Taking a more surreal approach, "Mulholland Drive" is less of a conventional horror movie and more of a psychological nightmare. Set against the backdrop of Los Angeles, the narrative follows Betty, an aspiring actress, and Rita, an amnesiac, as they try to decipher a series of bizarre events. Director David Lynch masterfully crafts a haunting atmosphere with the winding roads of Mulholland Drive and the underbelly of Hollywood dreams. It's a trip down a rabbit hole where reality and fantasy intertwine, leading to unsettling discoveries.

David Lynch is a masterful director that presented his strange brand of filmmaking with a Los Angeles background.

"Us" (2019) – Jordan Peele

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk becomes the epicenter of terror in Jordan Peele's "Us." The Wilson family's relaxing vacation takes a dark turn when their doppelgängers emerge from the shadows to confront them. The film's eerie rendition of "I Got 5 On It" and the haunting visuals of countless tethered individuals standing hand in hand across the Californian landscape will stay with you long after the credits roll.

Jordan Peele is an amazing director that featured Santa Cruz as the setting for his hit film Us.

From the bustling streets of San Francisco to the dreamy realms of Los Angeles and the picturesque boardwalks of Santa Cruz, California sets a unique stage for spooky tales. Each of these films not only offers spine-tingling scares but also provides a different perspective on the Golden State, proving that sometimes, the most beautiful places hide the darkest secrets. So, the next time you plan a movie night, consider one of these Californian horror tales and prepare for an unforgettable cinematic journey.

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