It’s scary movie season! In the days running up to Halloween, you may be inclined to re-watch some of your favorite horror flicks. As temperatures get colder it may feel very cozy to snuggle up with some cocoa, a blanket and some family members to enjoy a few jump scares.
Of course, fall is also a great time to be out and about, soaking in the pleasures of the season. And if you’re particularly brave, you may be tempted to visit the sites where those frightening films were made. If so, here are details about five locations where your scary movie nightmares originated!
“Poltergeist”: 4267 Roxbury Street in Simi Valley, California
In the 1982 horror film “Poltergeist,” the house itself — which was built on top of a graveyard — figures prominently in the story. “The house looks just like the one next to it, and the one next to that, and the one next to that,” says the voiceover in the movie’s trailer. “A young couple live in it with their three children … and something more.”
The actual house where the movie was filmed was not built on a graveyard. But some have speculated that those associated with the film were cursed. A number of cast members passed away in the years following the filming, including Heather O’Rourke, the angelic blond child actress who played the young daughter at the center of the action. In February 1988, she died at age 12 of septic shock after getting the flu.
As you can see in the YouTube video below from travel vlogger Daze with Jordan the Lion, anyone can walk by the private residence where “Poltergeist” was filmed. It’s located in Forest Hills, an estate in Simi Valley north of Los Angeles, California.
“The Watcher”: 657 Boulevard in Westfield, New Jersey
In 2022, Netflix released a fictionalized TV show from the creators of “American Horror Story” called “The Watcher,” which was based on the eerie, true-life events circa 2014 at a house in a tony neighborhood in Westfield, New Jersey, as documented in an article from The Cut.
The parents of three children who bought the home (played by Bobby Cannavale and Naomi Watts) received a string of anonymous, threatening letters that were so disturbing they eventually sold the home at a $400,000 loss. In the show, their names were changed, and the filming took place in a different house in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
But the actual house has new owners who’ve apparently had no problems with a creepy watcher. They do, however, have to deal with tourists who come by to check out the property.
“The Amityville Horror”: 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, New York
The terrifying truth about 1979’s “The Amityville Horror” was that it was based on a true story. The Dutch Colonial house pictured below was the scene of a horrific mass murder in 1974, during which a 23-year-old man named Ronald DeFeo Jr. killed six family members, including his parents.
When a new family moved in a year later, they claimed to experience evil, paranormal activity in a palpable way. When they asked a priest to bless the house, he felt a slap and began bleeding from the hands. The husband claimed he saw his wife levitate and woke up mysteriously every night at the same time the family had been murdered. The family experienced other frightening supernatural phenomena until they fled the house 28 days after moving in, as they told ABC.
Numerous books and movies have been set here, making it famous enough to have drawn scores of people to the site. Various people have owned the house since, and it remains a private residence today. While the address is 112 Ocean Avenue, it’s been changed to 108 Ocean Avenue to throw off tourists. The house used in the movie, however, is on 18 Brooks Road in Toms River, New Jersey.
“Scream”: Spring Hill Estate, 3871 Tomales Petaluma Road in Tomales, California
In 1996, much of the action in “Scream” took place at fictional 261 Turner Lane, which was shown in the trailer for the film. Fortunately, no real-life murders took place at the actual home, which is the site of the Spring Hill Estate, a beautiful home built in 1991 that is now a wedding and event venue with its own dairy cows. It’s owned by agriculturist Larry Peter, and has actually been featured in a number of other movies and commercials.
Since the release of the “Scream” reboot in 2022, the house has become an even more popular tourist destination. For $200, you can take a 75-minute tour of the entire mansion. Peter offered the house on Airbnb in 2021 and also throws Halloween parties at the mansion. If you’re in Northern California on Oct. 13 (yes, it’s a Friday), a ticket will cost you $325.
“The Exorcist”: 3600 Prospect Street NW in Washington D.C.
The hit 1973 horror movie “The Exorcist” was based somewhat on a true story from 1949, though the possessed child was actually a teen boy in Cottage City, Maryland, and the real-life exorcism happened in St. Louis, which is where the original “Exorcist” house is considered to be (the address is 9435 Roanoke Drive).
In the movie, Linda Blair plays the main character, a demon-plagued little girl. But if you are a fan of the original movie (which is not to be confused with last summer’s reboot), you can visit the house on Prospect Street in Georgetown where it was filmed. And even more thrillingly, you can climb the old 75-step staircase next to it. That’s where the priest met his death after being launched from a window in the climactic scene.
The home is a private residence, though you can visit the steps and pose on them like the rest of the fans!
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