8 Scariest Movies Set in the Bay Area
Halloween is around the corner, and if you’re planning on staying home to hand out candy to neighbors, why not make a frightful movie night out of it? While channels like AMC, FX, ABC Family and MTV will be airing marathons of horror classics—there’s nothing scarier than watching a horror flick set in your neck of the woods, and the Bay Area has hosted some of the best. For this reason, we’ve compiled this list of eight horror films set in the San Francisco Bay Area to keep you up all night this Hallow’s Eve.
Scream is equal parts slasher film and comedy, playing on the genre’s clichés while high school students in fictional Woodsboro, California are picked off one-by-one by the mysterious serial killer, Ghostface. Partially based on the true story of the Gainesville murders, this movie is sure to make you… scream. Scream was filmed on location across the Northern Bay Area, specifically in Sonoma, Santa Rosa, Healdsburg, Glen Ellen and Tomales Bay. The Scream trilogy is available for streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Scream is also available to rent on iTunes and Apple TV for $3.99 (HD).
The Lost Boys
The Lost Boys is another horror-comedy film worth watching this Halloween. Following two brothers from Arizona who move to the fictional Northern California town of Santa Carla (filmed in Santa Cruz and the Santa Cruz mountains), and battle a gang of young vampires. The Lost Boys is available to rent on iTunes and Apple TV for $3.99 (HD).
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
Philip Kaufman’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a horror classic with an incredible cast, including Donald Sutherland, Kevin McCarthy and Veronica Cartwright. In this film, humans in San Francisco are replaced in their sleep by nearly identical “pod people” who are completely devoid of human emotions. Invasion of the Body Snatchers is available for streaming on Xfinity Streampix, and is available to rent on Amazon Prime Video, iTunes and Apple TV for $3.99 (HD).
Ranked as one of the 100 best films of all-time by Entertainment Weekly, this classic Hitchcock film is less scary and more, well, Hitchcockian. San Francisco detective John “Scottie” Ferguson is hired by his friend to follow his suicidal wife Madeleine, who is possessed by the spirit of her great-grandmother, an 18th century Mexican aristocrat buried at Mission Dolores. Scottie’s forced to retire from his post after his fear of heights causes the death of Madeleine and his colleague. Months later, he meets Judy Barton, Madeleine’s doppelgänger who becomes the focus of Scottie’s twisted obsession. Vertigo is available to rent on iTunes and Apple TV for $3.99 (HD).
The Fog (1980)
The Fog stars scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis and her mother Janet Leigh in a film sure to spook residents living in the Bay Area’s thick fog belt. Filmed on location in Bodega Bay and at Point Reyes Lighthouse, this film focuses on the vengeful crew of the Elizabeth Dane, a clipper ship which was deliberately sunk and plundered 100 years earlier, who terrorize the fictional town of Antonio Bay when the fog rolls in. The Fog is available to rent on iTunes and Apple TV for $2.99. The 2005 remake of The Fog (which is basically the same, but Antonio Bay is set in Oregon), starring Tom Welling and Selma Blair is available to stream on Netflix.
While the 2007 film Zodiac belongs in the mystery/thriller genre, the story itself is truly haunting. Based on the manhunt for the Zodiac killer, who killed between 7 and 37 victims in and around the San Francisco Bay Area during the 1960s and ‘70s. The film, directed by David Fincher (The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Steve Jobs) follows the true story of Robert Graysmith, a cartoonist for the San Francisco Chronicle who attempts to crack the Zodiac’s code in a series of cryptic letters sent to the San Francisco Chronicle between 1969 and 1978. Graysmith becomes obsessed with the case, and things get pretty creepy. Zodiac is available to rent on iTunes and Apple TV for $2.99.
Another Hitchcock classic, The Birds focuses on a three-day event of sudden and unexplained attacks by a mass violent birds in Bodega Bay soon after Melanie Daniels arrives from San Francisco. Swarms of birds—ranging from seagulls to crows—attack, maim and kill the people and children of the small coastal town. While the effects look silly by today’s standards, this classic film horrified audiences everywhere when it was originally released in 1963, and it’s easy to see why. (In between laughs, of course.) Michael Bay (Transformers, Armageddon) is supposedly working on a remake, which will surely trigger a new wave of ornithophobia with modern audiences. The Birds is available to rent on iTunes and Apple TV for $2.99.
Interview with the Vampire
Based on San Francisco’s very own (and favorite; move over, Stephenie Meyers) vampire writer Anne Rice’s 1976 novel, Interview with the Vampire features a star-studded cast. The film chronicles the life of Lestat de Lioncourt (Brad Pitt) from the time he turns Louis de Pointe du Lac (Brad Pitt) into a vampire in 1791 up until their reunion in 1988, through an interview with San Francisco reporter Daniel Molloy (Christian Slater). Interview with the Vampire is available to rent on iTunes and Apple TV for $2.99.