With Halloween upon us, our attention turns to all things creepy — and classic horror films saturate the TV airwaves. Some of the most memorable horror movies were filmed not on soundstages, but in real places. Don Sumner, creator of best-horror-movies.com, shares his list of favorite locales with Tim Smight for USA TODAY.
Union Cemetery Burkittsville, Md.
This graveyard in Burkittsville, about 40 miles west of Baltimore, is where the student filmmakers of 1999's The Blair Witch Project began their creepy documentary about the legendary Blair witch. "The story, of course, is completely fabricated," Sumner says. "But the town and the cemetery really exist. If you pay a visit, you might also consider a side trip to Seneca Creek State Park — the 'Black Hills' where the students became lost and terror-stricken."
The Michael Myers HouseSouth Pasadena, Calif.
In the 1978 horror movie classic Halloween, which starred Jamie Lee Curtis in her first film role, psychotic killer Michael Myers returns to his childhood home to wreak havoc on Halloween night. "The abode of Michael's childhood and later shenanigans is a real South Pasadena house, located at 1000 Mission St.," Sumner says. "The house now serves as a chiropractor's office, but it retains the unmistakable aura of the infamous Myers house."
Monroeville MallMonroeville, Pa.
About 10 miles east of Pittsburgh, the Monroeville Mall served as the principal location for 1978's Dawn of the Dead, written and directed by zombie-meister George A. Romero. "This film — a sequel to Romero's cult classic, Night of the Living Dead— is a continuation of the plight of humanity after an abrupt transformation of the dead into walking flesh-eaters," Sumner says. "In the movie, survivors barricade themselves in the shopping mall and fight for their lives." 412-243-8511; monroevillemall.com
The Exorcist StairsWashington, D.C.
"The Exorcist is considered by some to be the scariest and most disturbing horror film of all time," Sumner says. Much of this 1973 movie was shot in the D.C. neighborhood of Georgetown, including two grisly death scenes that take place on a set of sinister-looking stairs. "In reality, these 75 steps, located on the corner of Prospect Street and 36th Street NW, are often used by health enthusiasts seeking an aerobic workout."
Point Reyes LighthouseInverness, Calif.
The Fog, starring Adrienne Barbeau, is an eerie tale of mass haunting and revenge in a Northern California fishing town called Antonio Bay. "Much of the action in this 1980 John Carpenter-directed film takes place at an isolated lighthouse, where Barbeau broadcasts an all-night radio program," Sumner says. "Antonio Bay is actually Inverness, and the lighthouse is the historic Point Reyes Lighthouse, built in 1870." ptreyeslight.com/lthouse.html
Santa Cruz Beach BoardwalkSanta Cruz, Calif.
In the 1987 horror film The Lost Boys, a band of hooligan vampires (led by Kiefer Sutherland) roams the night looking for victims at a California beach-side amusement park. "That amusement park exists and is still open for business in Santa Cruz," Sumner says. "To this day, the park is almost exactly as depicted in the film." Presumably, sans vampires. 831-423-5590; beachboardwalk.com
Timberline LodgeMount Hood, Ore.
In the 1980 film The Shining, based on Stephen King's novel and directed by Stanley Kubrick, writer Jack Torrance (played by Jack Nicholson) takes a winter job as caretaker of a Colorado mountain lodge called the Overlook Hotel. "The isolation, along with ghostly apparitions, drives Jack insane, and he goes homicidal on his poor unsuspecting family," Sumner says. "The haunted Overlook is actually Timberline Lodge, located on the south side of Mount Hood, about 60 miles east of Portland." 800-547-1406; timberlinelodge.com
The DakotaNew York City
In the 1968 film Rosemary's Baby, Mia Farrow moves with her new husband into an upscale New York apartment building called The Bramford, where she soon becomes the target of a demonic conspiracy. "The Bramford is actually The Dakota, located on the northwest corner of 72nd Street and Central Park West," Sumner says. Built in the early 1880s, the ornate Dakota has housed a roster of famous residents, including Andrew Carnegie, Judy Garland, Lauren Bacall and Leonard Bernstein. "The building has a history of rumored hauntings and bad luck," Sumner says. Ex-Beatle and Dakota resident John Lennon was shot and killed outside his apartment there in December 1980.
Junction House RestaurantKingsland, Texas
"In Tobe Hooper's 1974 horror classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a group of teenagers driving through an isolated part of Texas is terrorized by the infamous Leatherface and his clan," Sumner says. "The house that served as the demented family's home still stands." Today it's the Junction House restaurant, at 1010 King St. in Kingsland, about 35 miles northwest of Austin. 325-388-3800; junction-house.com
Tom's MarketVivian, La.
"The 2007 monster flick The Mist is based on a Stephen King short story in which the inhabitants of a small town hide from a creature-infested mist inside a grocery store," Sumner says. "That grocery store is actually Tom's Market, located at 212 N. Pine St. in the town of Vivian, about 20 miles north of Shreveport."