1. Jaws (Martha’s Vineyard, MA)
Though set on the fictitious “Amity Island”, Steven Spielberg’s 1975 Jaws was filmed around Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. Many of the iconic beach scenes were shot at Sylvia State Beach. Spielberg loved the Vineyard vibe so much that he even cast locals not only as extras but as two of Sheriff Brody’s sons. Tourism reportedly tripled after the film came out. I grew up just three hours away from where this was filmed. The movie had such an effect on my older brother, who was about 10 when this came out, that he refused to go swimming at our local beach (Crane Beach) that summer, fearing a Great White would attack him.
3. Dawn of the Dead (Monroeville, Pennsylvania)
George Romero was so influenced and inspired by this small mall in Monroeville, PA that he chose it as the setting for his epic 1978 zombie survival flick, Dawn of the Dead, a brilliant satire on consumer culture. Shooting took place between 10PM and 6AM when the mall was closed.
4. The Exorcist (Washington, D.C.)
The exterior for William Friedkin’s 1973 masterpiece on demonic possession was shot here in Georgetown. You may recognize the house above from the film’s poster. Crazy stuff happened on set, including mysterious fires, which led to a visit from an actual priest who blessed the set.
5. Friday the 13th (Blairstown, New Jersey)
Friday The 13th is an oft-misunderstood movie, frequently categorized as a slasher, but in reality it’s nothing more than a revenge thriller and morality tale, chronicling the intense relationship between a boy and his mother (and a lot of slut-shaming). Not really, it’s a slasher, through and through. Although this camp was used as the setting for a pretty gory horror film, it’s actually a real camp that happens to be one of Northern New Jersey’s most popular camps, Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco.
6. Poltergeist (Simi Valley, California)
A good job, wife, kids, and a house in the Valley…isn’t that the American Dream? Well, let’s hope your home isn’t built on an ancient Indian Burial Ground. Though, maybe that’s what the yuppies were into back in 1982 when Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist was released. Hooper, you may recall, is of Texas Chainsaw Massacre fame. Anyhow, Poltergeist, albeit a phenomenal horror film, is not without its share of real-life paranormal activity. For one, actress Dominique Dunn, who played the oldest daughter in the movie, was murdered by her ex-boyfriend the year the film was released. Heather O’Rourke who played “Carol Anne” (i.e. the poor little girl who gets abducted by restless spirits), died in 1988 of a freak illness. On a lighter note, the family who lived in the house during filming over 2 decades ago still reside in the iconic horror home.
7. Rosemary’s Baby (New York, New York)
This historic New York city building is where Rosemary Woodhouse gets down and dirty with the dark lord Satan himself. I gotta say if I was Lucifer’s real estate agent, I’d expect a huge bonus check for finding this Gothic gem, it comes complete with gargoyle statues and has an overall ominous air about it. Adding to its creepy thrall, this is also where John Lennon lived and was shot to death.
8. The Shining (Estes Park, Colorado)
Although Stephen King had been inspired by Colorado’s Stanley Hotel (above) for his epic horror opus, The Shining, it was the Timberline Lodge (below) that Kubrick chose for exterior shots in his 1980 classic. King ended up using The Stanley for his 1998 Shining miniseries disaster. Rumor has it, at the Stanley Kubrick’s Shining plays in all rooms on a loop on channel 42.
10. The Amityville Horror (Amityville, New York)
Lastly, to round out our iconic horror movie filming locations, we have the actual house from The Amityville Horror. This horror classic was based on a real-life horrific episode in which a man murdered his whole family then killed himself. About a year after the murders, the Lutz family moved in and experienced paranormal phenomena for about a month until they moved out of the home.