My favorite holiday of the year is this Saturday so I thought it would be an opportune time to visit a few of my favorite horror movies. According to the box office, most filmgoers would list Halloween (1-5), Hostel (1-2) or perhaps Saw (1-6) for sheer terror, blood and gore. For iconic moments in style (and something you don't equate with horror movies), these films would get my vote:
The Shining (1980): The highly stylized sets for the Overlook Hotel were the largest built in England. Director Stanley Kubrick and production designer Roy Walker modeled the men's room after one in the Biltmore in Phoenix and the Colorado lounge identical to the Ahwanee in Yosemite Valley. The magnificent hedge maze in the final scene was actually branches woven on chicken wire stuck in plywood boxes.
Rosemary's Baby (1968): I attended a party at the Dakota some twenty years after the filming and still could not shake the ghosts of the film even though the exterior of the building was only used. Known as the Bramford in the film, the building is as eerie as the story itself.
John Cassavettes, Mia Farrow and Ruth Gordon
The Dakota on West 72nd Street
The film was also noteworthy in creating Mia Farrow's iconic pixie haircut, a classic coif of the sixties designed by Vidal Sassoon.
Sassoon and Farrow on set
Dracula (1931): Accept no imitiations (and many have tried), the original Dracula is the best. From the grainy crackling film, the atmospheric fog and Lugosi's hypnotic stare, this is true horror. And from the spider web filled castle of Transylvania to a London apartment (why do these women always leave the window open?), the sets are wonderful. Even Lugosi looks dapper in his cape -- and rumored to have been buried in it.
Transylvania set on the Universal lot
The Exorcist (973): If you have ever visited Georgetown and seen the famous steps on M Street, it's hard to shake the image from the film. The "McNeil" townhouse on 3600 Prospect Street where little Regan created havoc and stained the carpet with pea green soup is seen below.The interiors were actually shot in a studio and the bedroom scenes filmed in the basement of Fordham University.
Exterior for the McNeil House
The Birds (1963): Tippi Hedren never looked better despite the physical and mental wear and tear. (Hitchcock used actual seagulls trained to attack the actress, making the terror all the more real). Special effects and animated birds mixed with live ones were used against a backdrop of Albert Whitlock's (no relation!) matte paintings for many scenes and the technical feats were the real stars of the film.
Tippi Hedren and friend
Hitch on Set
Header photo is Elsa Manchester in The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
Photo Credits: Universal Pictures, Warner Brothers and Paramount.