Find Nearby Locations Seen in Spooky Movies and Series
Seattle and the Pacific Northwest are part of cinema history. And while movie fans may remember the light romantic comedies of the 1990s like Tom Hanks’ Sleepless in Seattle or 10 Things I Hate About You, the region’s grey skies, stormy seacoast and foreboding woods make a natural setting for the horror genre. Celebrate this Halloween by visiting a location of a horror movie or watching one or more at home.
Fittingly, our journey into Pacific Northwest horror cinema begins with the unlucky No. 13. We have picked 13 movies and series that are worth watching around Halloween and were made in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. So, fill up your popcorn bowl and bring a blanket to pull over your eyes. Some of these movies are truly scary.
The Ring — the nearly $250 million grossing film about a cursed VHS tape that kills its viewers a week after watching it — may be the most popular scary movie filmed in Washington. Largely shot on Fidalgo and Whidbey islands, the 2002 movie was praised by critics for its moody atmosphere. Scenes were shot at Deception Pass Bridge, the Port Townsend ferry terminal and Camp Firwood near Lake Whatcom, among other eerie spots in the Puget Sound. Head to any of those locales on a rainy, dark day and you’ll immediately understand why they were picked.
The Hand that Rocks the Cradle
Released in 1992, The Hand that Rocks the Cradle is a psychological thriller starring Rebecca De Mornay and Annabella Sciorra about loss, revenge and murder, in which a vengeful nanny terrorizes a couple in their home. Many scenes were shot in private homes in Seattle and Tacoma.
Starring Mark Wahlberg and Reese Witherspoon, Fear is definitely worth watching. That’s not just because it’s well-acted (Wahlberg was nominated for “best villain” at the 1997 MTV Movie Awards), but because it was partly filmed in locations on Mercer Island and in Seattle. Head to Duwamish Head on Harbor Avenue Southwest in Seattle to find one of the film’s most memorable settings.
Starring George C. Scott of Patton and Dr. Strangelove fame, The Changeling is a movie director Martin Scorsese included in his top 11 scariest horror films of all time. A music professor relocates to a vacant mansion in Seattle and discovers a ghostly presence in the attic. Lake Washington, Boeing Field and the University of Washington are all used as locations in the 1980 film, but the 1901-built English Tudor-style Stimson-Green Mansion at 1204 Minor Ave. in Seattle is the scene stealer.
Directed by Halloween and Escape from New York filmmaker John Carpenter, The Ward has a simple plot that is perfect for Halloween. An institutionalized woman becomes terrorized by a ghost. The 2010 film’s scary scenes were filmed in Medical Lake, Washington at Eastern State Hospital, as well as around Spokane and at Eastern Washington University.
A remake of the chilling Dutch original The Vanishing is yet another movie shot in the Seattle area. Featuring Jeff Bridges, Kiefer Sutherland and Sandra Bullock, a man searches for answers when his girlfriend vanishes without a trace at a gas station. Film locations for this 1993 flick include the Mountainside Shell station in North Bend, miscellaneous locations around Mount St. Helens, as well as the Seattle Yacht Club, Pioneer Square Station and Snoqualmie Falls.
Based on a H.P. Lovecraft book, Cthulhu tells the tale of a Seattle professor stumbling into dangerous and apocalyptic events on the Oregon coast. While much of the 2007 movie was filmed in Astoria and Florence, Oregon, some scenes were shot in Seattle, Maple Valley, Longview, Issaquah and Des Moines. This low-budget film is just creepy enough to make it entertaining.
While Frasier is probably the most popular TV show ever set in Washington state, the cult classic Twin Peaks has to be No. 2. The movie, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me was filmed in the same locations right in Seattle’s backyard. Snohomish High School and Bellevue’s Highland Middle School were featured in the 1992 movie, as was Twede’s Cafe in North Bend and The Roadhouse Restaurant & Inn in Fall City.
Most of Steven King’s 2002 mini-series Rose Red was filmed around Seattle. The Space Needle, University of Washington, Magnuson Park and a handful of other locations were used, but the most recognizable location is found in Lakewood. At 8601 North Thorne Lane Southwest, you’ll find Lakewood’s Thornewood Castle off Interstate 5. One glance and you’ll see why it was used in the series.
The Deliberate Stranger
With scenes shot around Seattle, the two-part mini-series The Deliberate Stranger starring Mark Harmon follows the actions of one of Seattle’s most-infamous residents, serial killer Ted Bundy. Based on the book by the late Seattle Times reporter Richard W. Larsen, the 1986 film presents a chilling portrait of a sociopath who stalked the area in the early and mid-1970s.
Filmed around the Salish Sea, Practical Magic stars Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman as witch sisters. The movie is much more lighthearted than spooky, but still works for those seeking out something to watch during Halloween. Most of the 1998 film was shot at Whidbey Island and the San Juan Islands. Numerous spots in the community of Coupeville were also featured. Grab a bite at Toby’s Tavern in Coupeville, which appears as “The Catch and Fry” in the movie.
Although more of an action/adventure movie than horror film, Dante’s Peak is eerie enough to qualify for Halloween fare. The 1997 film was primarily filmed in Wallace, Idaho, but it also features shots of Mount St. Helens and Baker Hot Springs in the Mount Baker National Forest.
Before she was known for her comedy antics in the 2000 horror genre spoof Scary Movie, Washington’s own Anna Faris played a small part in Lovers Lane. Filmed in Issaquah, Fall City and Seattle, this slasher flick is the typical teen horror movie. The Adventure Bowling Center in Snoqualmie and Issaquah’s Triple XXX Rootbeer Drive-In were featured.
–Written by Douglas Scott, last updated in October 2022.
–Top photo is of The Ring’s Whidbey Island ferry. Photo by Getty Images