From The Conjuring‘s setting of Rhode Island, to Stephen King’s numerous stories set in Maine, New England seems to be perpetually haunted by fictional villains and monsters. Perhaps it’s because of the deep-rooted history here in the North, such as the Salem witch trials, or the numerous real-life haunted accounts, but whatever the reason, Massachusetts is uniquely suited for spooky ambiance right now. Read on to learn about 8 movies set in Massachusetts that are perfect to watch for as we approach Halloween—and take place in areas that look uncannily familiar…
1. Jaws (1975)
Jaws is considered to be the first summer blockbuster film, but it’s just as scary to watch in the fall! While the film technically takes place in the fictional town of Amity Hill in New York, it was actually filmed on Martha’s Vineyard. Many of the buildings featured in the movie, like the Amity Police Department and The Amity Gazette, are still standing in the town. Just keep your eyes peeled for killer sharks in the water!
2. The Haunting (1963)
This 60s horror classic tells the tale of the haunted Hill House, located just miles outside of Boston. But if you thought that the infamous house in the movie appears to be way too old and spooky for typical Massachusetts architecture, you’d be correct—The Haunting was actually filmed at Ettington in Warwickshire, England. However, maybe it’s that clash of Old World versus New World setting that makes Hill House lost in time and perpetually haunted!
3. The Witch (2015)
A recent indie-horror classic, The Witch is rooted in Massachusetts history—in fact, the film’s subtitle reads, “A New England Folktale.” The plot obviously has a connection to the Salem Witch trials but also alludes to the practice of Puritan communities banishing religious dissenters like Anne Hutchinson and Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island. The Witch was filmed in Ontario, but director Robert Eggers actually hired carpenters from Massachusetts to construct the set, giving some authentic New England flair to this haunting tale.
4. Hocus Pocus (1993)
Okay, Hocus Pocus is not exactly a scary movie… but it’s absolutely a Halloween classic! This iconic Disney film takes place in Salem, 300 years after the witch trials, but a group of local kids must stop three ancient witches from wreaking havoc on the town. Like many Hollywood movies, Hocus Pocus wasn’t filmed entirely on location. But many of the most iconic landmarks in the movie are in Salem and Marblehead, like the opening scene at Pioneer Village and the cemetery scene at Old Burial Hill in Marblehead.
5. Slender Man (2018)
Based on the seriously scary video game, the movie adaptation of Slender Man takes place in an unnamed small town in Massachusetts and was filmed right in Boston. The film borrows the spooky visuals of the game and adds in a plot dealing with the occult. A necessary disclaimer: this movie does have an 8% on Rotten Tomatoes, but bad horror movies can still have their charm if you ask us! And considering that Joey King (of Ramona and Beezus and The Kissing Booth fame) stars as the main girl, it may be worth a watch.
5. Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988)
This campy cult classic follows Elvira, the infamous horror hostess, as she inherits a haunted house in Falwell, Massachusetts, and shocks the local residents with her extravagant personality and voluptuous figure. Elvira was filmed on a set in California yet Elvira: Mistress of the Dark is a Massachusetts classic in our hearts for converting a puritanical town into fun and horror-loving people. Not to mention, it’s a lot of fun to watch!
6. ParaNorman (2012)
This recent stop-motion animated film impressed audiences and critics alike with its creepy-yet-heartfelt charm. ParaNorman takes places in the fictional town of Blithe Hollow, Massachusetts, and follows the life of Norman Babcock a kid who just so happens to able able to speak to the dead. If you’re a fan of morbidly endearing stop-motion movies like Coraline and The Nightmare Before Christmas, ParaNorman is definitely worth a watch for the Halloween season.
7. Shutter Island (2010)
Although it’s more of a psychological thriller than a horror flick, Shutter Island is nevertheless sure to send shivers up your spine. It was filmed at Medfield State Hospital in Medfield, MA, just under an hour outside Boston. The hospital itself is over 100 years old and housed mentally ill patients for much of that time. Today, the grounds are actually open to the public to explore, and other movies like The Box and Knives Out were filmed here too. As for Shutter Island, it’s an easy sell for Halloween movie-watching—it’s a Martin Scorsese film, so need we say more?