The following article is from the new book Uncle John’s Uncanny Bathroom Reader.
Looking for a theme for your next road trip? How about “Places Where My Favorite Horror Films Were Shot”? If that appeals to you, here are a few scary spots you’ll want to add to your agenda.
SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991)
Creepy Place: The house where serial killer “Buffalo Bill” (Ted Levine) lived, where he kept kidnapped women in a pit in the basement, and where he is eventually confronted by FBI trainee Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster)
Real-Life Location: 8 Circle Street, Perryopolis, Pennsylvania (a suburb of Pittsburgh)
Story: In the movie, the house is located in the fictional town of Belvedere, Ohio, but most of the film was actually shot near Pittsburgh. This house was one of several picked by movie location scouts in 1989, two years before the film came out. “They were looking for a home in which you entered the front door and had a straight line through,” owner Barbara Lloyd told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “They wanted it to look like a spider web, with Buffalo Bill drawing Jodie Foster into the foyer, into the kitchen, then into the basement.” The home got the approval of director Jonathan Demme, and a film crew showed up to film inside the home for three days in early 1990.
(Image source: Realtor.com)
Extra: The home made the news in 2015, when the Lloyds put it up for sale. The Lloyds told reporters that the home has a full basement…but no creepy pit. (That part of the movie was filmed in a studio.)
THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999)
(Image credit: NOAA Photo Library)
Creepy Place: The woods where the young filmmakers disappear
Real-Life Location: Seneca Creek State Park, Maryland
Story: The Blair Witch Project was a low-budget independent horror film that shocked the entertainment industry when it earned $248 million worldwide, making it one the highest-grossing independent films in history. In the movie, three film students at a Maryland college go to the “Black Hills Forest,” near the town of Burkittsville, Maryland, to make a documentary about the “Blair Witch,” a ghost that purportedly haunts the woods. They disappear and are never seen again—but the footage they took in the woods is found a year later. The town of Burkittsville actually does exist, but most of the filming took place in nearby Seneca Creek State Park. (Why there? Because it was about five minutes away from the home of one of the filmmakers, Eduardo Sanchez.) You can visit the park…and you can even spend the night there camping. (Don’t forget to take a video camera!)
Extra: The ramshackle house where the film’s climactic final scene was filmed—a 200-year-old historic and abandoned home known as the Griggs House—was located in nearby Patapsco Valley State Park. After the film’s success, fans started showing up to see it…and to take pieces of it home as souvenirs. The house was demolished a few years later.
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968)
(Image credit: Willjay)
Creepy Place: The cemetery in the film’s opening scene…and the site of the movie’s first zombie attacks
Real-Life Location: Evans City Cemetery, Evans City, Pennsylvania
Story: Director George Romero’s horror classic opens with a young couple visiting the grave of their father in a rural Pennsylvania cemetery. Then—ZOMBIES! Well, actually just one: a zombie attacks the couple, and bashes the man’s head on a gravestone, killing him, while the woman watches in horror, clinging to another gravestone, engraved with the inscription “Nicholas Kramer (1842–1917).” The cemetery, the gravestone, and the small chapel seen in the film are all still there today. (Romero, who was filming without permission, chose the cemetery because of its remote location—he didn’t want shooting to be interrupted by locals or police. Also, it was convenient: Romero lived in Pittsburgh, less than 30 miles away.)
Extra: Fans have been going to the cemetery for decades to re-create the scene—complete with the Nicholas Kramer gravestone. (If you’re a fan of bad reenactments, check out some of them on YouTube.)
Creepy Place: The house where the first murder takes place
Real-Life Location: 1000 Mission Street, South Pasadena, California
Story: It’s the house in the film’s opening scene, when six-year-old Michael Myers (Will Sandin) stabs his big sister to death. In the movie, the house is in the fictional town of Haddonfield, Illinois (named for Haddonfield, New Jersey—hometown of the film’s producer, Debra Hill), but in real life it was an abandoned house located on Meridian Avenue in South Pasadena. (The director, John Carpenter, lived in Hollywood, so the location was chosen out of convenience.) You can see the house today, but, as you may notice, it’s not at the same address: years after the film was made, the house was moved around the corner, and is now on Mission Street. What’s the famous horror house today? A chiropractor’s office.
Extra: A number of other sites featured in the film can still be seen in South Pasadena today, including the hardware store from which Myers stole a knife and his now-famous Halloween mask. (It’s no longer a hardware store, though—today it’s an Indian restaurant.)
THE EXORCIST (1973)
Creepy Place: The “Exorcist Stairs”
Real-Life Location: Prospect Street NW, at the corner of 36th Street NW, Georgetown, Washington, D.C.
Story: If you know the film, you know the famous scene in which Father Karras (Jason Miller) coaxes the demon out of the possessed Regan (Linda Blair), and allows it to possess him. Then, just as the demon is about to make him attack Regan, Karras throws himself out of a window. He lands at the top of a long, narrow flight of stone stairs, tumbles down it, and dies. The stairs, which were padded with rubber for the filming, have been known as the “Exorcist Stairs” ever since, and it’s still a regular stop for Washington, D.C., tourists. (Legend has it that during the filming of the stuntman falling down the steps, some students at nearby Georgetown University charged their friends money to watch from the school’s roof.)
MORE SCARY SPOTS
Dawn of the Dead (1978). Most of the second film in George Romero’s classic zombie series takes place in the Monroeville Mall in Monroeville, Pennsylvania. (Filming took place after stores were closed, every night from 11:00 p.m. until 7:00 a.m., over a period of three months.)
Friday the 13th (1980). Another gore-fest, this one was shot mostly at Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco, a Boy Scout camp in Hardwick Township, New Jersey. (Several other locations seen in the film can be seen in nearby Blairstown, New Jersey.)
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). The address in the film: 1428 Elm Street, Springwood, Ohio. In real life: 1428 North Genesee Avenue, Los Angeles. Across the street, at 1419 North Genesee, is where Johnny Depp’s character lived. (Nightmare was Depp’s first movie role.)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974). The big farmhouse where the killer, Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen), lived was built in 1900 near Round Rock, Texas. In 1998, the house was dismantled, moved, and rebuilt more than 60 miles away, in the town of Kingsland, Texas, where it is now the Grand Central Cafe restaurant. (If you go, make sure to try a “Leatherface Lemonade”—lemonade and Jack Daniels. Reviews say they’re “killer good.”)
The article above is reprinted with permission from Uncle John's newest volume, Uncle John’s Uncanny Bathroom Reader. The 29th volume of the series is chock-full of fascinating stories, facts, and lists, and comes in both the Kindle version and paperback.
Since 1988, the Bathroom Reader Institute had published a series of popular books containing irresistible bits of trivia and obscure yet fascinating facts. If you like Neatorama, you'll love the Bathroom Reader Institute's books - go ahead and check 'em out!