Travel Top 10s

Real Horror Locations in Fiction

At the end of October, the days grow shorter and Halloween blurs the so-called veil between the living world and the afterlife. It’s a spooky month, so it’s no wonder that many horror films and pieces of literature are released around this time.

Deep down, we want to be frightened. And a select group of thrill seekers become so captivated by horror films and novels that they head out on pilgrimages to some of the most famous settings for these pieces of fightening fiction – just for a chance to be spooked and live to tell the tale. Here are some of our favourites you can visit.

1 Burkittsville, Maryland - Blair Witch Project

In the dense, dark forests near Burkittsville, Maryland, a group of children disappeared in the 40s. Ever since, people have avoided venturing too far into these fabled woods, which are said to be inhabited by evil spirits... that’s according to the producers of the Blair Witch Project anyway. Using the found footage plot device as a way of portraying the horrific events that took place in the forests, the pseudo-documentary propelled the Blair Witch myth into infamy.

2 Eel Marsh House - Woman in Black

This Gothic style novella was hugely popular, and it prompted two film adaptations and one West End theatre adaptation. The 2012 film starring Daniel Radcliffe was filmed in Cotterstock hall, a real 17th century mansion in Northamptonshire based on the fictional Eel Marsh House from the novella. This is where it gets a bit complicated: The land the mansion supposedly inhabits is reachable via the fictional Nine Lives Causeway which is based on a real island called Osea Island, which is about 100 miles away from the actual property. None of it would have been possible without special effects!
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3 The Stanley Hotel, Colorado - The Shining

This hotel is well known for reports of the otherworldly spirits that supposedly roam its corridors. And then there's the fact that the main setting for Stephen King's most famous horror novel, The Shining, was inspired by his stay here in 1974. The hotel has played host to various notable guests since its opening in 1909, and pays homage to Kubrick’s highly-acclaimed film adaptation by screening the film on loop on channel 42.
Image from Robert Kelsey

4 Barrow, Alaska - 30 Days of Night

At the end of November every year, darkness descends upon this polar town in the northern-most section of Alaska, and no, this is no exaggeration. The sun won’t officially rise again for about two months. With this in mind, the popular movie titled 30 Days of Night quite succinctly set the tone for the horrific events that ensued during the film with just its title. Although in reality, the period of darkness can range from 51-67 days rather than 30... maybe "Between 51-67 Days of Night" just didn't have the same ring to it.
Image from Adam Lederer via Flikr

5 Amityville, New York - Amityville Horror

The novel, The Amityville Horror was turned into a horror movie franchise in the 80s. It was based on a series of murders which occurred in Long Island New York and, more specifically, in Amityville. A family moved into the house afterwards, but soon left after experiencing paranormal occurrences there. Before and during filming in the area, the film crew and actors reported experiencing chilling incidents - a dead body washing up on the shore near the house and a general feeling that there was something intangibly sinister at work.
Image from Doug Kerr via Flikr

6 Transylvania - Dracula

Stories of blood-thirsty humans have emerged in literature throughout the ages, but none of them struck a nerve in the human psyche like Bran Stoker's Gothic tale of Count Dracula. Though the exact location that inspired Dracula's Castle is under speculation, Bran Castle in Transylvania is the only castle in Transylvania that fits Stoker's description and, as a result, is extremely popular with fans of the novel.

7 Palazzo Vecchio, Florence - Hannibal

The town hall of Florence served as the location for one of the most iconic murder scenes in recent film history. It's the one where Hannibal asks his victim whether he would prefer "bowels in or bowels out?" before he hangs him from the building in a gory execution. This is just one of the set locations in Florence you can visit, and you can purchase a guide which tells you about the others.

8 Wolfe Creek Crater National Park, Australia - Wolf Creek

Somewhere in the vast outback of Australia lies a crater formed by a meteorite 300,000 years ago. This provided the location for the film based on several murders which actually happened a further 2,000 miles from the park. Despite the distance between it and the actual murder site, its strange appearance and remote location make a visit there an unnerving prospect, especially come nightfall.

9 Izu, Japan - The Ring

Izu is a peninsula located around 60 miles south of Tokyo. In The Ring's climactic scene we see Sadako emerging from the well and eventually from the TV screen - and this was set somewhere within Izu's mountainous landscape. Aside from its eerie connotations, Izu is a popular weekend getaway destination for Tokyo residents given its proximity to the capital, so if you chicken out of looking for the well, you can get involved with some less spooky leisurely activities.

10 The Excelsior Hotel, Newquay - The Witches

Much of the action in The Witches, primarily a novel and subsequently adapted for the big screen, took place in The Excelsior Hotel. The real setting is actually called The Headland Hall Hotel and it's in Newquay. Chilling tales have been reported here of a woman who phases through walls wearing a "long dark coat without arms". These spine tingling accounts were the basis for one of Roald Dahl's most loved fantasy novels.
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