Horror flicks have been around since the beginning of the film industry, and every year there are new attempts to push the scary factor up a notch using new computer effects, gruesome gore and intricate plot lines. Though some succeed, most fail to stand up to the classics. Take a look back at these six films and where they were filmed for some inspiration this Halloween weekend.
1. Don’t Look Now:
The psychic thriller featuring Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland takes place in Venice, Italy and many of the scenes were shot on location. The Europa Hotel where characters John Baxter and his wife Laura stay is actually a combination of two real Venetian establishments – the lobby and exteriors were shot at Hotel Gabrielli Sandwirth, east of Piazza San Marco and overlooking the San Marco Canal, while the interior of the hotel was shot at the famous Bauer Hotel. The church Baxter is restoring in the film is actually one of the oldest in Venice, San Nicolo dei Mendicoli.
Other fun facts: In order to secure an R-rating for the film’s American release, 9 frames were cut from the racy love scene between Sutherland and Christie. This was also the first scene the two actors shot together upon meeting for the first time on set.
2. The Shining:
Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of the Stephen King novel gave new meaning to hotel corridors everywhere. The exterior of the movie’s Overlook Hotel was filmed at the Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood, 60 miles east of Portland, Oregon. The interior scenes of the hotel were shot almost entirely at Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire, England, with sets based largely on The Ahwahnee hotel in Yosemite, California. The infamous maze through which the Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) chases his family was built at the old MGM Borehamwood Studios in Hertforshire. The opening scenes driving to the Overlook (which also reappeared at the end of the original release of Blade Runner) were filmed on Going-to-the-Sun Road in Montana’s Glacier National Park.
Other fun facts: The repeating phrase, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” was different for every foreign release of the film. In Italy, Kubrick used the phrase “Il mattino ha l’ oro in bocca” (“He who wakes up early meets a golden day”); in Germany “Was Du heute kannst besorgen, das verschiebe nicht auf Morgen” (“Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today”); in Spain “No por mucho madrugar amanece más temprano” (“Rising early will not make dawn sooner.”); and in France “Un ‘Tiens’ vaut mieux que deux ‘Tu l’auras‘” (“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”).
For kicks, check out this recut preview of the film, proving Peter Gabriel can make any movie seem uplifting.
3. The Birds:
The Alfred Hitchcock classic starring Tippi Hedren was filmed in Northern California in both San Francisco and the Bodega Bay area. Character Melanie Daniela (Hedren) is first seen in Union Square, San Francisco. The bird attacks take place in Bodega Bay, about 50 miles north of San Francisco. The locals seek shelter from bird attacks at the Tides Wharf Restaurant, which in recent years has been renovated beyond recognition from the film. The famous schoolhouse in the movie, which is now a private residence, is actually located a few miles inland in the town of Bodega.
Other fun facts: The Birds has no musical score; sounds created by a Mixtur-Trautonium and the children singing in the school provide the only background. The noise of bird squawking in the movie was partly created by the sound of reel-to-reel tape being run backwards and forwards.
Supposedly, numerous endings were considered for the film, including one in which the Golden Gate Bridge would be completely covered in birds.
4. Friday the 13th:
Giving summer campers nightmares across the U.S., the 1980 classic was filmed in several New England areas. At the beginning of the movie, the character of Annie arrives into town on her way to her summer job at ‘Camp Crystal Lake’. The town in which she arrives was Blairstown, a small township west of Newton, New Jersey. She’s dropped off in front of Hope Moravian Cemetery, about six miles south of Blairstown. The majority of the film takes place at ‘Camp Crystal Lake,’ which was filmed at Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco, an operating Boy Scouts camp, open since 1927. The crew only had to build a bathroom set at the camp, and used the existing campgrounds and buildings for all other sets in the movie.
Other fun facts: Josh was the original name given to the villain until director Victor Miller decided it sounded too nice and changed it to Jason.
Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco is not keen on visits from tourists to check out where the movie was filmed, but the camp allegedly has a wall devoted to Friday the 13th paraphernalia.
The low budget, independent film turned box-office hit was only recently inducted into “classic” status. It was filmed mostly in Seneca Creek State Park in Montgomery County, Maryland. A few scenes were also filmed in the town of Burkittsville. The film’s creepiness was rooted in the improvisation of acting and the amateurish quality of the footage in the dark Maryland woods. Shot with handheld camera, the flick set the stage for more recent horror films, Cloverfield and Paranormal Activity. Shot over the course of only eight days, The Blair Witch Project grossed $240.5 million.
Other fun facts: With a budget of only $22,000, the film made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for Top Budget: Box Office Ratio – $10,931 for every $1 spent.
6. The Exorcist:
Named as “the scariest movie of all time” by several publications, The Exorcist received acclaim and severe criticism alike. The eerie opening scenes of Father Merrin take place in Iraq. The ruins being excavated as well as the town where Father Merrin falls ill are both located in Hatra, about 180 miles northwest of Baghdad and one of Iraq’s few UNESCO World Heritage sites. The MacNeil home interiors were filmed at CECO Studios in Manhattan, while the bedroom scenes were filmed in the basement of a Fordham University building. The exteriors of the home were filmed in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington DC. The stairs down which Father Karras plummets at the conclusion of the film are actually located quite a distance from the house, at the end of M Street in Georgetown. Students allegedly charged people $5 each to watch the stunt filmed from rooftops.
Other fun facts: The role of Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair) was originally considered for Denise Nickerson, best known for her role as Violet in Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. Her parents were allegedly troubled by the material and pulled her out of contention for the part.
The Exoricst has been at the center of several controversies due to its supposed use of “subliminal imagery.” One moviegoer at the original 1974 release sued Warner Brothers after fainting and breaking his jaw on the seat in front of him, claiming the subliminal imagery had caused him to pass out.
Have another classic horror flick to add to the list? Leave us a note in the comments!