Halloween has become a big phenomenon in the UK, gone are the days of makeshift costumes made from your mum’s black bin liners and tin foil. The costumes and parties get more extravagant every year, and as for the displays. This morning I think saw a 6ft spider in my neighbour’s front garden!
We have embraced this American pastime, but if you’ve experienced Halloween in the States, you know we are merely skimming the surface. The terrifying tales of creepy theatres, lunatic asylums, horrifying hotels, unidentified flying objects, and haunted plantations will have you running for the hills…or running to check them out! In fact, these locations have inspired some of the best horror movies – The Shining, and The Exorcist to name a few.
1. The inspiration for The Shining – Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado
Located about five miles from the Rocky Mountain National Park entrance – Stanley Hotel is a magnificent Edwardian hotel and estate. The author Stephen King stayed at the hotel, inspiring him to change the location for his best-selling novel and its 1980 film adaptation.
2. The Amityville Horror House, Amityville
Five people were murdered at the Long Island residence in 1974 and frightening tales about the home continue to spook. Just over a year later, the Lutz family purchased the estate for a steal but lasted only 29 days before leaving. Well-known as one of the most haunted houses in America (if not the world), their stories are now shared in books, TV series, and documentaries.
3. Myrtles Plantation, St. Francisville, Louisiana.
Built-in 1796, Myrtles Plantation is pure antebellum splendour. Located in St. Francisville, Louisiana this National Historic Register plantation home is renowned for its mystery, history, and intrigue. Handprints on the mirrors, footsteps on the stairs, mysterious smells, vanishing objects, death by poison, hangings, murder, and gunfire – the Myrtles Plantation holds the rather dubious record of hosting more ghostly phenomena than just about any other house in America.
There have been many reports of children seen playing on the wide veranda of the house, in the hallways, and in the rooms. A young girl, with long curly hair wearing an ankle-length dress, has been seen floating outside the windows trying to peer inside the glass.
New Orleans considered one of the USA’s most haunted cities offers these spooky highlights –
4. Napoleon House, Restaurant
According to the Historic New Orleans Collection, the house was once a Civil War hospital, and as night approaches, a soldier in grey can be seen on the balcony.
5. The Provincial, New Orleans
This hotel was also a Civil War hospital. Confederate soldiers and doctors have been seen wandering the corridors and reaching out to guests for help. Moans, groans, and voices are heard throughout the complex of buildings. And ghostly figures of men and women have been seen roaming the hotel.
6. Omni Royal Orleans, New Orleans
This hotel houses many antique artifacts and it’s said that the spirits of their previous owners watch over them here and are said to play pranks on unsuspecting guests. An 18th-century maid still haunts the hotel and sometimes tucks guests into bed.
7. The Exorcist, Washington, D.C.
The film is listed as one of the best horror films of all time and, was filmed in Georgetown, Washington, D.C., and New York City. The privately-owned house still stands today, and who could forget how Father Miller was launched from Regan’s window onto the stairs below. Fans of the movie can visit the plaque at 3600 Prospect St NW, Georgetown.
8. Interview with the Vampire – Oak Alley Plantation Vacherie, Louisiana
One of our favourite Antebellum Plantations is based in Louisiana with its signature canopy of oak trees, it’s one of the most photographed of all the plantations. It’s no wonder it inspired Hollywood’s elite to film the iconic Interview with the vampire. Today, the sugar cane plantation-turned-National Historic Landmark is open to the public for tours and special events.
9. The Bell Witch – The true story that inspired the making of the Blair Witch Project.
The Blair Witch Project is fictional but like all great horrors, there’s always the folklore behind the story. In the small town of Adams, Tennessee, a poltergeist known locally as “Kate” terrorised the Bell family from 1817 to 1820. The history of the Bell Witch is still celebrated today with the Bell Fall festival and shows. Located in the original setting where the hauntings took place, professional actors from as far as Nashville come to play the parts. I for one would love to see this…
Are you scared yet? I love this time of year in the States, with pumpkins on every doorstep, and beautiful autumnal national parks, coupled with quirky and exciting folklore that Americans do so well.