Is there a better way to celebrate Halloween than turning off the lights, curling up on the couch and watching a scary movie?
From horror classics to recent hits – and a few not-so-scary options – check out these Halloween movies that take place or were filmed in locations throughout the Northeast.
All of the films on this list have an average score above 50%, according to Rotten Tomatoes. The only exception is “The Amityville Horror,” which we just had to include.
Many of the films inspired by Stephen King’s stories take place in the most northern point of the U.S.
When a rabid, killer canine traps a mother and her young son in their car on a hot day, escape seems nearly impossible.
“Pet Sematary” (1989)
After moving, a family learns of an eerie pet cemetery in the woods by their new home and its uncanny ability to bring the dead back to life.
“The Mist” (2007)
When a strange fog rolls over a town following a storm, it unleashes a barrage of deadly creatures, trapping the townspeople in a grocery store.
Here’s one of those times where a remake outperformed the original; the 1990’s “It” was not as well-received by critics or audiences. Both versions take place in the fictional Derry, Maine, and tell the story of kids haunted and hunted by an evil, shapeshifting creature called Pennywise. You may also want to check out the 2019 sequel, “It: Chapter 2.”
Lower New England
From Salem witches to psychics and hauntings, lower New England has helped set the scene for a number of memorable Halloween movies.
“Hocus Pocus” (1993)
Beloved by children and adults, this not-too-scary Halloween flick about three soul-stealing, sister witches has become somewhat of a cult classic. Taking place in Salem, Mass., “Hocus Pocus” is fun, creepy, quotable and takes place on Halloween.
Fun fact: A sequel, “Hocus Pocus 2,” is in the works for 2022.
“The Witch” (2015)
Set in 1630s New England, this film tells the story of a family wrecked by paranoia and the possibility of witchcraft after their youngest – a baby – disappears. The epitome of a slow burn, this film’s eeriness builds all the way to the end.
When a recently deceased couple summons Beetlejuice to help them scare a living family out of their house, they quickly question his dark methods. This creepily quirky movie by Tim Burton is a double-hitter; it took place in Connecticut but was actually filmed in East Corinth, Vt.
“The Dead Zone” (1983)
Director David Cronenberg, the king of the body horror genre, set this horror-thriller about a man with psychic abilities (played by Christopher Walken) in New Hampshire.
“The Conjuring” (2013)
This film, “inspired by true events,” follows a family living in Rhode Island as they are haunted by spirits and must seek the help of paranormal investigators.
“The Witches of Eastwick” (1987)
The lives of three women (played by Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer and Susan Sarandon) are forever changed when a mysterious character (played by Jack Nicholson) rolls into their small New England town.
“The Lighthouse” (2019)
A horror-drama by Robert Eggers (the same director as “The Witch”), “The Lighthouse” stars Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson as two lighthouse keepers fending off insanity. The movie is set on a remote New England island back in the 1890s.
The Garden State is responsible for one of the most iconic Halloween movies.
“Friday the 13th” (1980)
Another slasher, this film — and starting point for the numerous Jason Voorhees sequels and remakes — follows a series of murderers at a campground where a young boy accidentally drowned. This film is set in the fictional Camp Crystal lake in New Jersey, but it was filmed in several locations across the state, including Camp NoBeBoSco in Hardwick, Hope Moravian Cemetery and others.
“The Prowler” (1981)
Fitting under the “slasher film” category of horror, this movie follows a group of college students as a military-clad killer wreaks havoc on their small New Jersey town.
New York has produced the most horror films of all the states on this list, offering a sense of setting to scary movies old and new.
“Ghost Busters” (1984)
Here’s a Halloween movie that will have you laughing, thanks to the comedic talents of Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray and Harold Ramis as their characters try to defend New York from spirits.
“The Amityville Horror” (1979)
Based on real murders, and some supposed supernatural activity, this movie shows a family whose dream house becomes their worst nightmare. While the real Amityville house sits on Ocean Avenue in Long Island, the house filmed for the movie is actually in Toms River, N.J.
“Funny Games” (2008)
What’s interesting about this film is that it’s a frame-by-frame recreation of the 1997 original from Austria. This version was filmed in Brooklyn and Long Island and depicts the story of a family who falls victim to two sadistic men.
This film lives up to its name. It follows a writer who, after discovering films of family murders in his attic, tires to uncover their secret. Some of these darker scenes were filmed in locations on Long Island while the rest was shot in Los Angeles.
“Sleepaway Camp” (1983)
Another teen slasher, this movie follows the shy Angela Baker who’s stuck at a summer camp as fellow campers and staff start dropping like flies. It was filmed in several New York locations.
Following a group of New Yorkers, this movie uses “shaky cam” to show first-person recordings of terrifying, alien creatures wreaking havoc and destruction on NYC and its inhabitants.
“Sleepy Hollow” (1999)
Based on Washington Irving’s classic tale, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” this Tim Burton movie is scarier than his previously mentioned “Beetlejuice,” featuring the ghost of a murderous headless horseman as it haunts Sleepy Hollow.
Here’s a work from a director who knows how to do horror and suspense. This film from Brian De Palma is part of the Criterion Collection, a group of films honored for their cultural, visual and thematic importance. “Sisters” follows a journalist who swears she sees her neighbor viciously murder a man.
In this not-so-scary pick, a father buys his son a strange pet called a “mogwai” from a shop in Chinatown. When the rules for taking care of the creature are broken, mayhem befalls the town of Kingston Falls, N.Y.
“The Exorcist” (1973)
This supernatural horror follows a young girl as she’s possessed by a terrible evil. Once considered the scariest movie of all time, this movie was filmed in several locations, one of which was New York’s Goldwater Memorial Hospital on Roosevelt Island in East River, N.Y.
Though it takes place during the summer, this adventure-thriller about a killer great white shark terrified audiences. The film’s fictional setting, Amity Island, is actually Martha’s Vineyard.
“A Quiet Place” (2018)
This mix of horror, sci-fi and thriller tells the story a family forced to live in silence to avoid being hunted by bloodthirsty monsters. It was filmed in locations throughout New York, including a bridge in New Platz.
Fun fact: The film’s sequel, “A Quiet Place Part II” (2020), was also filmed in upstate New York.
“Get Out” (2017)
This horror was filmed in Alabama, but the story takes place in a New York suburb. Following main character Chris as he meets his girlfriend’s parents for the first time, things go from uncomfortable and odd to downright disturbing. This film is a true must-see and won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
“Rosemary’s Baby” (1968)
This film is part of the Criterion Collection and a true horror classic. Shot entirely in NYC, the film follows the pregnant Rosemary as she begins to suspect her unborn child is something evil.
Pennsylvania brings us the oldest film on the list as well as some other classics.
“Night of the Living Dead” (1968)
Arguably the first ever “zombie” movie, George A. Romero wrote and directed this horror classic about seven people trapped in a farmhouse as they fight for their lives against the living dead. It was filmed in Pittsburgh and is part of the Criterion Collection.
“Dawn of the Dead” (1979)
This zombie-packed sequel to the previous entry, “Night of the Living Dead,” was shot in Pittsburgh, including the Monroeville Mall in Monroeville, Pa. Following an outbreak of carnivorous zombies, a television studio staff and SWAT team members all fight to survive.
“The Crazies” (1973)
When a manmade, insanity-causing virus takes over a small Pennsylvania town, the results are gruesome. An interesting note about this film is that its 2010 remake actually scored higher. The remake, however, was filmed in Georgia and Iowa instead of Pennsylvania.
“The Blob” (1958)
The oldest movie on this list, “The Blob” is also part of the Criterion Collection. A horror classic, this film features a gelatinous creature that consumes everything it touches, including people. Shots of the preyed-upon town were filmed in Phoenixville, Pa.
Directed by George A. Romero and written by Stephen King, this movie is an anthology telling five horrifying stories. Filming locations included Pittsburg, Philadelphia and other Pennsylvania spots as well as Ocean County, N.J.
“The Sixth Sense” (1999)
Shot mostly in Philadelphia, this film tells the story of a young boy who can see and talk to the dead. Though its twist ending has been widely known for quite some time, this iconic film is still worth a watch (or re-watch).
“The Silence of the Lambs” (1991)
This Academy Award winner and Criterion film follows the story of a young FBI agent as she interviews the cannibalistic Dr. Hannibal Lecter to gain insight about a new killer on the loose. Some scenes were filmed in Pittsburgh and other Pennsylvania locations, while others where shot in Virginia and the Bahamas.
Whether you prefer classic, recent or not-so-scary Halloween movies, there are plenty of options when it comes to horror movies from the northeast.
What are some of your favorite Halloween movies that take place in the Northeast? Tell us in the comments.
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This article has been edited and expanded to include suggestions from our members.