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The Real Buildings Behind Iconic Horror Movies That You Can Visit This Halloween Season

This time of year, you don’t have to be a die-hard fan of horror movies to admit that there’s just something in the crisp air screaming for a cozy night in and a marathon of the best horror classics. ’Tis the season to get spooky, and there’s no better way to do so than by surrounding yourself with the likes of Michael, Jason or Freddy. And why not, the houses they tend to raid with such killer enthusiasm.

There are few movie genres in which the houses play a bigger role than in horror. In fact, in some cases – like The Haunting of Hill House, the building itself is considered to be one of the main characters, while, in many others, the house is but a quiet witness to the horrors that take place between its walls. And, often, the home tends to absorb the evil vibes, only to perpetuate them to the next generation of owners.

From haunted houses to exorcisms and home invasions, these buildings have served as inspiration for some of the most famous horror movies in cinematic history. The best part is that they’re not just a studio prop, but rather actual pins on the map with real history between sturdy walls – and that means that, yes, most of them can be visited this Halloween season… if you’re feeling brave.


The Amityville Horror – Amityville, NY

Perhaps one of the most well-known haunted houses in recent history, the seemingly harmless Dutch Colonial building in Amityville, NY, was the site of real-life horrors, including several murders committed on account of a possessed owner. Although the hit movie was filmed in a different residence in New Jersey that was made to look like the real house, the iconic windows were heavily incorporated into the movie’s promotional strategy. However, the original site of the murders that went on to inspire the Jay Anson book in 1977 – as well as the Hollywood adaptation just two years later – is still standing to this day, renovated and waiting for new owners. The house had allegedly been on the market for $850,000, although its violent history makes it a tough sell even among horror aficionados. Can you blame them?


The Exorcist – Washington D.C.

When you say “horror cult classic”, many people immediately think of The Exorcist, based on William Peter Blatty’s equally terrifying novel. The movie took inspiration from real events that happened in 1949 in St. Louis, MO, and was met with quite a lot of controversy at the time of its release, including people getting sick. Supposedly, the movie had such a strong effect on viewers that many of them fainted or fell physically ill upon seeing it in theaters – which turned out to be a great marketing strategy for a horror movie. There’s no denying that The Exorcist took the possession sub-genre to a new level. Without spoiling the ending (although, if you weren’t traumatized by the movie during childhood, what were you even doing?), we have to mention the famous steps. The real house in “The Exorcist,” as well as the steps adjacent to it, constitute a highly popular tourist attraction in Washington, D.C. and the steps were even declared an official D.C. Tourist Site Landmark.


The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – Kingsland, TX


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Nothing says “cozy night in” like a family of demented cannibals. If you’re planning to watch or rewatch The Texas Chainsaw Massacre this Halloween season, you might already know that good ol’ Leatherface was actually inspired by one of the most gruesome killers in history: Ed Gein. Gein’s original house of horrors in Wisconsin was burned down by his neighbors after news of his “particular” taste in terms of interior design came to light. But, the house and gas station from the original 1974 movie are still standing: The Sawyer family farmhouse can be found in Kingsland, Texas, where it now serves as Grand Central Cafe, with plain, non-human parts on the menu. Plus, just 40 minutes away, the gas station where the protagonists stopped along their journey – now named (can you guess it?) “The Gas Station” – sells movie memorabilia.


The Shining – Estes Park, CO


Leave it to Stephen King to turn something as mundane as a pair of twins in a hotel hallway into the thing of nightmares. Ever since The Shining – and more recently, “Doctor Sleep – hit the shelves and then the big screens, many of us have been left with an irrational fear of long hallways and family vacations in remote places. And, while we are talking about a pretty sizeable hotel in this case and not a house, the Overlook is loosely based on the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado: King wrote the majority of the book there and took inspiration from the look and feel of the hotel. The hotel is still active to this day, most recently (and appropriately) opening its doors for the University of Colorado’s horror writing program.


A Nightmare on Elm Street – Los Angeles, CA

There’s no other horror movie villain that can haunt our dreams quite like Freddy. Krueger made his debut on the big screens in 1984 and went on to inspire an entire franchise, joining Michael Myers and Jason Vorhees on the slasher icons podium. The house where he originally tormented his own final girl, Nancy, is located in Los Angeles – and it still looks very much the same as it did in the movie, at least on the outside. After being renovated 2007, the house was sold in 2013 for more than $2 million, according to the Los Angeles Times. We can only hope that the new residents have sweet, Freddy-free dreams in their iconic home.


If these houses of horrors are a bit out of your way but you still want to get in that eerie Halloween spirit, make sure to check out these Spooktastic Halloween Facts!

Laura Pop-Badiu
Laura Pop-Badiu
Laura Pop-Badiu is a creative writer at CoworkingCafe, with a marketing background in reputation management and hospitality, as well as the real estate segment. Having graduated with a degree in Journalism, Laura has a genuine passion for the written word and is an avid reader of horror, thriller and literary fiction. She enjoys researching and writing about lifestyle trends and the real estate market and her work has been featured in major publications like Forbes, CBS News, GlobeSt, Bisnow, The Sun, Multifamily Executive, RisMedia and Yahoo! Finance. You can connect with Laura via email.

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