The spookiest of days is drawing closer. And for Halloween lovers, there’s no better time. Will you be trick or treating? Maybe bobbing for an apple or two? Or are you planning on drawing the curtains, switching off the lights and binging scary movies until the wee hours? Well, now the bravest among you can ramp up the fear factor and visit the horror film locations.
St Michael’s Mount, Dracula (1979)
Stay: YHA Penzance
There are fewer horror characters more notorious and terrifying than Dracula. First introduced in 1897 in Bram Stoker’s Gothic horror novel, Dracula is the father of all vampire fiction. It’s fitting, therefore, that John Badham’s 1979 film uses such an iconic location for Dracula’s fortress. St Michael’s Mount is an isolated, rocky island that’s home to a medieval castle and church, all 500m from the Cornish shore and is a popular horror film location to visit. Like all good evil lairs, the entrance is suitably spooky – the island can only be reached at low tide once the causeway emerges from the waves. And, once the path is claimed by the sea, there’s no way to escape… (unless, of course, you jump on one of the regular ferries back to the mainland.)
Crickadarn, American Werewolf in London (1981)
This cult classic is a favourite among comedy horror fans. Werewolves have stalked fables and ghost stories for centuries, but never quite like John Landis’ 80s take on the supernatural curse. The film followed two American backpackers who encounter a savage beast on an eerily misty night in the Yorkshire moors. The country pub (excellently named ‘The Slaughtered Lamb’) where our protagonists are warned to stick to the road is in reality a quaint cottage in the village of Crickadarn, just north of the Brecon Beacons in South Wales. Welsh road signs were covered by fake trees and the ominous angel of death statue was a prop to add extra heebie jeebies to the creepy atmosphere. The brooding moorland where the unlucky duo were struck down was in actual fact the Black Mountains in the east of the National Park. Not only are the mountains ideal if you’re a Hollywood director looking for the perfect setting for a werewolf attack, they’re crisscrossed by a whole host of excellent walking routes which a quieter than the better-known ranges in the area.
All Saints Church and Bishops Park, The Omen (1976)
Stay: YHA London Earl’s Court
This trendy area of West London has earned its place in the horror hall of fame thanks to Harvey Stephens’ chilling performance as Damien in The Omen. A short walk upriver from the Putney Bridge lies the beautifully tranquil Bishops Park. This leafy Eden witnessed some of Damien’s paranormal deeds and is often filled with fans of the film recreating the most iconic scenes. Around the corner from the park is All Saints Church, an innocent looking building with a sinister role to play on the big screen (if you know, you know).
Matlock, Dead Man’s Shoes (2004)
Stay: YHA Hartington Hall
You wouldn’t have thought that this picturesque town on the edge of the Peak District was home to a wonderfully gory psychological thriller. But that’s not what Shane Meadows thought when he set and filmed Dead Man’s Shoes here back in the early noughties. Paddy Considine plays the slightly unhinged Richard, who prowls the streets of Matlock on a quest for bloody vengeance. Visitors to the town will recognise Cavendish Fields, Hurst Farm Estate and The Loft on Bakewell Road as sites of Richard’s misdeeds. The entire town sits in the shadow Riber Castle, the elegant building atop a steep hill where the film’s chilling final scenes play out.