Houses of Horror: Scariest Movie Sets
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Haunted House1 of 14
By Amy Elisa Keith
If you’re leery of venturing out this Friday the 13th, then tuck in with a few friends for a scary movie screening. Sure, the villains can be terrifying, but it’s the nail-biting backdrop—like the Bates Motel, pictured here—that establish the spooky tone. Here are our picks for the creepiest movie sets of all time.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)2 of 14
The quaint houses dotting the tree-lined streets of Springwood, Ohio, reminded viewers of their own homes, which made the possibility of a deranged serial killer menacing the neighborhood all the more scary.
The Shining (1980)3 of 14
The isolated hotel of the Jack Nicholson thriller was the perfect venue for his descent into madness. And when the blood rushes through the elevators to overtake the lobby… priceless.
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)4 of 14
When Rosemary, played by Mia Farrow, gets pregnant, she becomes convinced that a demon spirit in her apartment building has cursed her unborn child. (Fun fact: The actual building is New York’s The Dakota, where John Lennon lived.)
Salem’s Lot (1979)5 of 14
This television min-series sent chills up many a spine as the Marsten House became ground zero for a vampire invasion. One of the most memorable (and gruesome) scenes begins with a floating vampire child scratching at the second story window, and it only gets worse from there.
Saw (2004)6 of 14
The torture chamber of serial killer Jigsaw takes haunted house to whole other level. Going beyond creaky floors and trap doors, the movie’s setting is an industrial bathroom with two men trapped inside for a deadly psychological game.
Event Horizon (1997)7 of 14
The seemingly endless corridors onboard the Event Horizon spaceship are scary enough. Add to that the mysterious suicide of its crew and a trip through a black hole, and you’ve got one chilling sci-fi flick.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)8 of 14
"Clarice, Clarice." Even though Hannibal Lecter was the one confined to a dark, dank cell, it was Clarice Starling who was held captive. The damp stone walls sealed off by bulletproof glass and that one rickety steel drawer were made even more eerie by the dark shadows Lecter hid behind.
Hellraiser (1987)9 of 14
"In this house, the unseen is uncovered, the unknown is unbound and the unholy is unleashed," the trailer to this sadomasochistic thriller teases. With clanging ceiling chains and shattered stained glass, this home is transformed into hell on Earth.
The Changeling (1980)10 of 14
This '80s favorite sticks to tradition, featuring an old-fashioned haunted house, possessed by a poltergeist. The ghost abruptly opens and shuts doors, appears during a séance and is the power behind the famous burning staircase. More frightening is that the story is based on real events.
The Exorcist (1973)11 of 14
When a teenager is possessed by an evil spirit, two priests are called in to perform a series of exorcisms. This holy horror is centered around the child’s soft and sweet bedroom, which then becomes breeding ground for the sinister demons who have overtaken her.
Amityville Horror (1979)12 of 14
"For God’s sake, get out!" is the cautionary tagline for this blood-and-guts thriller. When a young couple moves into a house haunted by the murdered former owners, they’re driven out by swarms of flies and thick black goo oozing from the toilets. (Somebody call the plumber.)
Beetle Juice (1988)13 of 14
Ghosts Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin find themselves stuck with the houseguest from hell after hiring “bio-exorcist” Beetle Juice to help them haunt their own home. Their goal? To get rid of the new owners, who have transformed their country abode into a gaudy modern showplace.
Jane Eyre (2011)14 of 14
The story was re-adapted this year, but the original gothic novel's Thornfield house remains haunted by odd happenings, such as a mysterious fire and a strange woman who rips Jane’s wedding veil in two. But the elegant, antique decor was, um, to die for.