I have nerd love for horror movies and I’m stupidly stoked for the Evil dead remake. A horror movie fan is more passionate than any other kind of movie fan and I’ll tell you why – we wallow in disappointment. No other film genre so routinely suffers from disappointing films as horror. Sci fi comes close but there’s a lot of quality sci fi out there. Look at the legacy of Star Trek and Star Wars. Horror doesn’t have anything that powerful. So when a good horror movie comes a long we have to be happy because lord knows we sat through 100 terrible ones.
Part of making a good horror movie is choosing a good location. Setting is 50% of decent horror these days, you need to be smart. And with that in mind, in the interest of helping future filmmakers, here’s the best places to set your horror movie.
There’s nothing more awesome than an insane asylum when it comes to being awful. Not a psychiatric hospital, but an honest to goodness insane asylum. Preferably abandoned in a way that defies logic. You know the type, no one has been there in years but all the stuff is still in the building because why should medical equipment and medical records ever be transported to a new facility? Screw that. Just leave all that stuff to scare the new guys.
You could argue an abandoned anything makes for good horror but this is not true. Abandoned houses, for instance, are terrible locations. Yes, 1000 movies have been based around haunted old houses, but that’s the point. Haunted houses are played out. Very few movies take place in nut houses and those that do have really only played to the same kind of creepy atmosphere each time. Why not shake it up?
Imagine what kind of crazy, literally crazy, stuff must have gone on in old school mental hospitals? Dudes in straight jackets pooping on walls, people masturbating into their apple sauce, mad cackling at rats, it had to have been a scene. Use that in your horror movie. Don’t give us one malevolent ghost or, worse yet, just one crazy person, make use of the whole menu a nuthouse has to offer; namely a buttload of madmen and shifty doctors.
Similar to a nuthouse but not quite, you have to like a hospital because it’s terrifying even outside of horror movies. Have you been to a hospital? Bunch of sick assholes everywhere. Blech. In a horror movie you just need to give it poor lighting and focus on the morgue, someone or something doing bad things to patients that can’t fight back and bam, you got a creepy ass stew going on.
Any trip through a surgical ward should terrify the pants off of a normal person; bone saws and syringes and devices meant to suck pus out of your body cavities; it’s just a bunch of weird shit. Plus people die in the hospital all the time. You go there specifically to die sometimes. It’s ridiculous. Death and sickness and awful. Plus hot nurses and hot nurses really belong in any movie.
Shacks are the shit when it comes to horror, look at what’s happened in a shack – the majority of the Friday the 13th franchise was in shacks. You can call them cabins but that’s douchey. If you’ve ever been in a decent cabin you know those aren’t cabins. Evil Dead had a shack and that cabin from Cabin the Woods was pretty much a shack, too. Good shit happens in shacks.
The appeal of a horror movie shack is the fact it represents safety in the way your house is safe, but at the same time it’s an illusion because obviously a shack is in the middle of nowhere and it’s probably made out of driftwood and farts so it’s not holding up to the power of zombies or psychos. It’s pretend safety, it’s the blanket you had as a baby that can be taken away from you at any moment and leave you blubbering and, in this case, being eaten by zombies.
Small Town America
Small town America is an extension of the shack in a horror movie. If you’re in a dangerous situation you’re desperate to find help, civilization, there’s safety in numbers and all that crap. But if the whole town is evil well then you’re super screwed in any number of ways. A terrifying situation becomes way more terrifying if everyone’s in on it. It’s like thinking there’s only Khloe Kardashian out there and you run away from her to try to find help in putting her down and you end up confronted by Kim and Kourtney and Kyle and Korbin and Kookaburra and the dozens of others that live on Kardashia. That would scare the shit out of you. Sidenote – wouldn’t it be awesome if you didn’t know about the Kardashians?
Anyway, an evil town is pretty intense because it opens the door for an hilarious scene with a psychotic old lady or like evil children or whatever. Variety is the spice of life you know.
Have you seen the movie End of the Line? It’s ridiculous. How about Midnight Meat Train? Creep? The subway is an awful place and we all know it. Look at it in the real world, it’s already pretty much as close as you’ll get to a horror movie, so it’s a fine place to set murder and mayhem. Plus if you’re not down for the subway there’s underground bunkers and research labs, caves and various other dark holes where 101 movies have been set already because every horrible thing becomes about twice as horrible when you can’t see the sun and yo can’t get away. It’s all claustrophobic and creeptastic and you know that place stinks. Stink is never used to its full advantage in movies but on a subconscious level we all know confined places stink. No one wants to be eaten by a cannibal in Stinksville.