Mapping Hollywood's Most Infamous Horror Houses - Atlas Obscura
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Mapping Hollywood’s Most Infamous Horror Houses

The exterior of the Hollywood Tower Apartments, the inspiration for the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror ride. (Photo: Loren Javier/flickr)

In Hollywood horror, things rarely are what they appear to be. Filmmakers often build their haunted locations in the privacy of studio back lots or remote locations. However, the streets and neighborhoods of Los Angeles have provided a wealth of locations for horror films and TV shows, even inspiring a theme park attraction. These locations range from architectural masterpieces and landmark buildings to single family homes and hotels. But no matter their exteriors, each house shares a unique trait: a film location scout has gazed upon it, and thought: “Something terrible could definitely happen here.”

In honor of Halloween, we’ve mapped six of Hollywood’s finest horror houses, used in sets from Ghostbusters and American Horror Story, to A Nightmare on Elm Street and–of course–Halloween. 

1. The Ennis House

Ennis House from, House on Haunted Hill

Ennis House. (Photo: evdropkick/flickr)

In the 1959 film, House on Haunted Hill, an eccentric millionaire named Frederick Loren (Vincent Price) and his wife plan to host a haunted house party. They rent a haunted mansion on a hill overlooking Los Angeles and offer five invited guests each $10,000 if they can spend an entire night in the house. The attendees are locked into the house at midnight to face a gauntlet of terror, apparitions and murder orchestrated by their maniacal hosts. The Ennis House is an architectural gem in the Los Feliz Hills designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1924.

2. Hollywood Tower Apartments 

Hollywood Tower Apartments inspired Tower of Terror

The Hollywood Tower Apartments. (Photo: Joe Wolf/flickr)

Plans for Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ 1994 park ride, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, go back to the mid-1980s. The design went through much iteration, including a comedy-inspired version featuring Mel Brooks. But the idea of a drop-ride in a decrepit 1930s Hollywood hotel always stuck. Guests on this adventure board the hotel’s rickety elevator and encounter a series of surreal visions and specters as they are repeatedly plunged down the tower. The inspiration for the ride’s “Hollywood Tower Hotel” is the landmark Hollywood Tower Apartments built in the heart of Hollywood in 1929.

3. Wallace Home

Wallace House from, Halloween

The Wallace home from the film Halloween. (Photo: Mark Hayward)

Orange Grove Avenue becomes Haddonfield, Illinois, in John Carpenter’s 1978 horror classic, Halloween. The Halloween plans of two high school friends (Jamie Lee Curtis and Nancy Kyes) are turned upside down when notorious murderer and mental patient, Michael Myers (Tony Moran), escapes to exact his revenge. Annie is babysitting at the Wallace home, which is the starting point of Michael’s murderous rampage that includes multiple throat cuttings and even a strangulation with telephone cord.

4. Nancy Thompson’s Home 

Nancy Thompson's House from, A Nightmare on Elm Street

The Thompson home from A Nightmare on Elm Street. (Photo: Mark Hayward)

Meanwhile in 1984, just a few block away, Wes Craven found his location for A Nightmare on Elm Street. A group of high school friends suddenly find their dreams haunted by a blood-thirsty killer, Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund). Nancy Thompson’s home becomes the center for a gruesome battle for the lives of the young friends who confront Krueger and his razor-sharp claw in their quest to survive.

5. Rosenheim Mansion

Rosenheim Mansion from, American Horror Story: Murder House

Rosenheim Mansion from American Horror Story: Murder House. (Photo: Mark Hayward)

Four miles south of “Elm Street,” the producers of this first season of American Horror Story discovered the Murder House. Vivien and Ben Harmon (Connie Britton and Dylan McDermott) relocate to Los Angeles and buy a large old house with a dark past. As the family settles into their new home they begin to uncover many strange and disturbing features, like a series of bizarre murals and a pair of twin apparitions. The real house is a landmarked historic home known as the Rosenheim Mansion.

6. Millennium Biltmore Hotel

Millennium Biltmore Hotel from, Ghostbusters

The Sedgwick Hotel from Ghostbusters. (Photo: Andy Perkins/flickr)

Ivan Reitman’s 1984 blockbuster, Ghostbusters, is set in Manhattan. But when Venkman (Bill Murray), Ray (Dan Aykroyd) and Egon (Harold Ramis) get their first job as paranormal hunter-gathers, it’s in a banquette room on the 12th floor of the swanky “Sedgwick Hotel.” The hotel manger and patrons listen as the three ghost wranglers hunt a nasty specter with their proton guns and trash the interior of the hotel. The exterior was actually shot at downtown Los Angeles’ historic Millennium Biltmore Hotel

To our knowledge, nothing truly terrible has happened at any of these film horror houses (for that, you’ll have to check out real-life L.A. murder mansions like this one). But whether you’re exploring these locations in person or putting the films on your watch list, they’re sure to raise your hairs and splatter some blood on this spooky season. And remember, nor matter what you do, “Don’t cross the streams.”