15 L.A.-Set Horror Movies to Watch This HalloweenEXPAND
Universal Pictures

15 L.A.-Set Horror Movies to Watch This Halloween

The horror genre is rife with movies set in small towns, from Gatlin, Nebraska, in Children of the Corn to nowhere Central Texas in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. (The Midwest is particularly popular, perhaps because the region is a prolific producer of psychos; see: Ed Gein, Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy.) Alas, a lot of great horror movies are set right here in the city that produced them. Organized in chronological order, here are 15 L.A. Weekly–approved horror movies set in L.A.

15 L.A.-Set Horror Movies to Watch This HalloweenEXPAND
William Castle Productions

House on Haunted Hill (1959)
Can't have enough Vincent Price on a list like this. Exterior shots for House on Haunted Hill were filmed at the Ennis House in the Los Feliz Hills, so even though it’s not stated explicitly that they’re in L.A., it’s safe to assume that the eccentric millionaire who invited his mysterious guests to a haunted house for the night is an Angeleno. Because, honestly, it really sounds like something we’d do. —April Wolfe

15 L.A.-Set Horror Movies to Watch This HalloweenEXPAND
Warner Bros.

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane (1962)
There is no better black comedy psychological thriller about child stars than What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? If you disagree, you’re an idiot. Joan Crawford and Bette Davis unleash a decade of real-life rivalry on one another and also give a middle finger to every studio that said they couldn’t cast an older woman and still turn a profit — it was a worldwide box-office hit. —April Wolfe

15 L.A.-Set Horror Movies to Watch This HalloweenEXPAND
American International Pictures

Madhouse (1974)
Starring Vincent Price and Peter Cushing, this AIP meta-horror mashup has Price playing a guy who plays a character called Dr. Death in horror films, who may or may not have actually killed someone at his fancy-schmancy Hollywood premiere party, while clips from some of Price’s best roles opposite Boris Karloff and Basil Rathbone pepper the film like a This Is Your Life of horror. —April Wolfe

15 L.A.-Set Horror Movies to Watch This HalloweenEXPAND
Atlantic Releasing Corporation

Night of the Comet (1984)
Anxiety over the Big One has reached a fever pitch this year, and anyone who believes in earthquake weather is surely troubled by the recent Santa Ana winds. For a sense of what our fair city might actually look like in the aftermath of a true disaster, avail yourself of this overlooked genre-bender from the ’80s, about two Valley Girls making their way through the abandoned streets after dust from a comet has turned most of their fellow Angelenos into zombies. —Michael Nordine

15 L.A.-Set Horror Movies to Watch This HalloweenEXPAND
Concorde Pictures

Chopping Mall (1986)
Julie Corman — the other, prolific half of the low-budget Corman duo — took inspiration from the Reagan-era consumerism and tech bumps and set a slasher movie in the Sherman Oaks Galleria, where teens get eviscerated by sentient, homicidal security robots. The film’s also a case in point for why we should never, ever put paint stores in a mall. —April Wolfe

15 L.A.-Set Horror Movies to Watch This Halloween
Shapiro Entertainment

Killer Workout (Aerobicide) (1987)
In the 1980s, L.A. was awash with aerobics studios, from Richard Simmons’ the Anatomy Asylum to the posh Beverly Hills studios emulating Jane Fonda’s workout video, so the venue was ripe for some body horror. This one’s a traditional slasher with a lot of gratuitous boob- and butt-bouncing shots, but I see it as a cultural memory book of fashion and vanity from L.A.’s most glamorously tacky era. —April Wolfe

15 L.A.-Set Horror Movies to Watch This HalloweenEXPAND
Larry Franco Productions

Prince of Darkness (1987)
DTLA is literally the hellmouth in the metaphysical second chapter of John Carpenter’s loose Apocalypse Trilogy, with a professor and his students encountering what appears to be the physical embodiment of Satan himself in the form of a strange green liquid. It's like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, only with less pizza. —Michael Nordine

15 L.A.-Set Horror Movies to Watch This HalloweenEXPAND
Larry Franco Productions

They Live (1988)
John Carpenter's most overtly political work might seem tame in the midst of this unending election cycle, but his vision of a world ruled by beings even worse than Donald Trump remains as harrowing as it is entertaining. Let's just hope that Rowdy Roddy Piper, wherever he is, is still chewing bubblegum and kicking ass for us little guys. —Michael Nordine

15 L.A.-Set Horror Movies to Watch This HalloweenEXPAND
Universal Pictures

The People Under the Stairs (1991)
An otherwise smart kid nicknamed Fool from a rough part of L.A. is roped into becoming an accomplice in a home invasion/burglary at a creepy old funeral home (actually the Thomas W. Phillips Residence at 2215 S. Harvard Blvd. in Adams-Normandie). A bad idea no matter how you slice it, but especially bad when the residents are a pair of incestuous homicidal maniacs and at least a dozen of their adopted sons who couldn't manage to behave. —Gwynedd Stuart

15 L.A.-Set Horror Movies to Watch This HalloweenEXPAND
New Line Cinema

Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994)
Definitely the most high-concept of the Nightmare on Elm Street films, this umpteenth sequel features immortal murdered child killer Freddy Krueger terrorizing Heather Langenkamp, the actress who played Nancy in the franchise. Miko Hughes — who also played Gage in Pet Sematary — gives a particularly inspired performance as Heather's son Dylan, and Craven and Freddy portrayer Robert Englund make cameos. This ’90s sleepover staple is totally worth revisiting. —Gwynedd Stuart

15 L.A.-Set Horror Movies to Watch This HalloweenEXPAND
40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks/Savoy Pictures

Tales From the Hood (1995)
This horror anthology — set in a funeral home in South-Central — is campy as fuck, but also rife with political commentary that's (sadly) still relevant today. In the first vignette, a young black cop bears witness to the brutal murder of a black politician and political activist speaking up against police corruption (they prove his case by shooting up his corpse with heroin). In the most fun — and chilling — segment, a hoodoo priestess’ slave dolls emerge from a painting to wreak havoc on a racist Southern senator (not so subtly named Duke). Remember the Lil’ Penny Hardaway doll? Picture dozens of them in period garb and angry. —Gwynedd Stuart

15 L.A.-Set Horror Movies to Watch This HalloweenEXPAND
2 Loop Films

May (2002)
May’s just a lonely vet assistant in Studio City, who wants to make a new friend out of the body parts of Jeremy Sisto and Anna Faris. God, the world is so cruel to May! But after watching this film, you may think differently about romantic picnics in Elysian Park. —April Wolfe

15 L.A.-Set Horror Movies to Watch This HalloweenEXPAND
Studio Canal

Inland Empire (2006)
David Lynch's sprawling dreamscape might not fit the traditional definition of horror, but this three-hour descent into the mind of a woman in trouble is as tense and unsettling as any movie this side of Pulse. Misleading title notwithstanding, it's also very much an L.A. experience: Inland Empire's bizarre, drawn-out climax finds Laura Dern being subjected to Sunset Boulevard in all its nighttime surreality. Still, the real horror of it all may lie in the fact that, a decade later, Lynch still has no plans to make another movie. —Michael Nordine

15 L.A.-Set Horror Movies to Watch This HalloweenEXPAND
Lionsgate

The Eye (2008)
A U.S. remake of the Hong Kong hit of the same name (translated), The Eye stars Jessica Alba as a blind violinist who gets a cornea transplant, only to start seeing ghosts and visions everywhere. What really makes the L.A. location of this film sing is that traffic jams play a significant role in the climax, and what could be more L.A. than that? —April Wolfe

15 L.A.-Set Horror Movies to Watch This HalloweenEXPAND
Universal Pictures

Drag Me to Hell (2009)
Sam Raimi’s lovingly campy gypsy-curse morality horror is a classic tale that actually borrows from some old L.A. noir stories. The film tracks all over Los Angeles, from the doomed protagonist’s home in Echo Park to the veteran medium healer in what’s actually a Mount Saint Mary’s College faculty building, as well as good old Union Station. —April Wolfe

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