10 scary movie locations to visit across Canada
Take your Halloween movie marathon to the next level with a creepy road trip
In the midst of a global pandemic, you might be asking yourself: "Do I really need to be any more terrified?" Well, it is almost Halloween, so the answer is a resounding yes! Abject terror and the twilight of October go hand in hand. Jump scares are basically as important as candy at this time of year. With this in mind, we set out to find some of the creepiest places across Canada — creepy enough to serve as locations for horror flicks.
From cult classics and film-festival favourites to cheesy, under-the-radar must-sees, notable remakes and even a soon-to-be-released blockbuster, these films contain chilling scenes shot everywhere from Cape Breton Island to Victoria.
Check out the list, take in the flick — we've highlighted some of the most haunting scenes (spoiler alert!) — then compare these nightmarish stills to where they were filmed. Do it in person if you dare, too. We have you covered for what to do nearby to take the edge off after.
My Bloody Valentine (1981)
An '80s slasher classic described as "a movie made by the mentally warped for the mentally warped" by the Edmonton Journal's John Dodd, My Bloody Valentine revolves around Valentine's Day celebrations interrupted by a gas mask–adorned, pickaxe-wielding serial killer.
The real-life scene of the crime: Sydney Mines, a small community on Nova Scotia's Cape Breton Island, serves as Valentine Bluffs, the setting for this iconic horror flick. Unfortunately, Princess Colliery (an inactive coal mine that was transformed into the movie's Hanniger Mine), where a lot of the film's most bloodcurdling action goes down, no longer exists. However, stroll down Main Street and you'll see a slew of shoot locations, like the intersection at Clyde Avenue, where a banner to advertise the fateful Valentine's Day festivities was hung.
Where to take the edge off: The Cabot Trail gets zero screen time in My Bloody Valentine, but it's an approximately 30-minute drive from Sydney Mines. This scenic road is especially impressive during the fall when Cape Breton's seaside cliffs come alive with fall colours.
Blood Quantum (2019)
This ultra-gory Canadian zombie movie, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and went on to win big at the Canadian Screen Awards, centres around an uprising of the undead on a Mi'kmaq reserve.
In one scene, a horde of reanimated corpses lurches directly into the jaws of a combine harvester while attempting to cross a bridge that separates Hollarbaster, the a town infested with zombified inhabitants after an outbreak, from the Red Crow reserve, where the Indigenous population is immune to the disease.
The real-life scene of the crime: Blood Quantum was filmed in both Quebec and New Brunswick, but some of the most gruesome scenes — think chainsaws through skulls and flying excrement (in addition to the aforementioned zombie-threshing moment) — take place on the J.C. Van Horne Bridge, which connects Pointe-à-la-Croix, Que., to Campbellton, N.B.
Where to take the edge off: Head to Sugarloaf Provincial Park in the village of Atholville, just outside Campbellton, for a restorative (and rigorous) one-kilometre hike, complete with views from the peak of Sugarloaf Mountain.
The Thing (1982)
In this acclaimed John Carpenter classic starring Kurt Russell, a research team stationed at an Antarctic outpost is plagued by a parasitic alien that takes on the appearance of its victims. One of the film's most poignant — and scarring — scenes occurs when Copper, the camp doctor, attempts to revive geologist Vance Norris after an apparent heart attack. Mid-defibrillation, the paddles slide into Norris's body cavity, which transforms into a gaping maw with razor-sharp teeth that bites Copper's arms off. It gets worse from there as Norris's head detaches from his body, sprouts spider legs and scuttles away.
The real-life scene of the crime: The Thing was filmed in a range of locations including sites in Alaska and northern British Columbia. Many scenes featuring Outpost #31, where the characters are stationed, were shot north of Stewart, B.C., near the Salmon Glacier.
Where to take the edge off: If you're going to make the trip to the Outpost #31 area, take some time to explore the Salmon Glacier. The fifth largest glacier in Canada, its Summit Viewpoint provides a beautiful view.
Pet Sematary (2019)
In this remake of Stephen King's 1989 nightmare-inducer, a family moves from Boston to a village in rural Maine and stumbles upon a nearby pet cemetery. They quickly discover that anything interred in the burial ground beyond the pet graveyard is reincarnated — with murderous tendencies.
Desperate father Louis Creed exhumes the body of his recently deceased daughter and buries her in the "spoiled ground" beyond his house. The creepy revived corpse steals a scalpel and things go downhill quickly.
The real-life scene of the crime: Picturesque Hudson, Que., stands in for a fictionalized Ludlow, Me., during much of the filming (though a real town of Ludlow, in Maine, exists). Head to St. James Church at 642 rue Main in Hudson to see the graveyard where Ellie Creed's body was buried and subsequently dug up. Almost right across the street, at 647 rue Main, you'll also spot the house used as Rachel's childhood home — the scene of many bone-chilling flashbacks.
Where to take the edge off: Head to Jack Layton Park in the centre of town and take a leisurely stroll along the Ottawa River to walk off the creepy feels.
American Psycho (2000)
Homicidal narcissist Patrick Bateman splits his time between games of one-upmanship on Wall Street and murderous rampages in this violent dark comedy starring Christian Bale. If that sounds comparatively mild with its lack of aliens or zombies, consider that shortly after killing a sex worker with a flying chainsaw and attempting to feed a cat to an ATM, Bateman murders an elderly woman before getting into a shoot out with the police — impressive even for an overachieving psychopath.
The real-life scene of the crime: American Psycho was shot in both New York City, where the story takes place, and Toronto. Bateman is driven into a murderous rage at the Omni King Edward Hotel's Consort Bar (over a business card, of course) and his would-be-victim narrowly escapes alive.
Where to take the edge off: Mellow out after following in the footsteps of a serial killer with afternoon tea, served each Saturday and Sunday, at the Omni King Edward.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021)
Not in the mood for a bloodbath? Supernatural comedy more your speed? Mark your calendar for mid-November when the latest instalment in the Ghostbusters franchise is set to be released. Ghostbusters: Afterlife begins as a broke single mom and her two kids arrive in a small town, moving into an inherited "creepy old farmhouse." Paranormal pandemonium ensues, and the family begins to uncover their link to the original Ghostbusters.
The real-life scene of the crime: Ghostbusters: Afterlife was filmed all over Alberta from Calgary to Drumheller. Visit Fort Macleod to experience Summerville and look for the Empress Theatre at 235 24 St., which is famously zapped in the movie's trailer.
Where to take the edge off: Pay a visit to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, a UNESCO World Heritage Site just west of Fort Macleod, for a history lesson with a side of stunning views. You'll learn about the heritage of the Plains people and experience one of most well-preserved buffalo jumps in North America.
Cult of Chucky (2017)
Of the seven main-series films in the Child's Play franchise, Cult of Chucky is a fan favourite. Perhaps it's because the movie offers the most Chuck for your buck, as the murderous doll multiplies before going on a killing spree inside a psychiatric hospital.
The real-life scene of the crime: While much of Cult of Chucky's goriest scenes were shot on Winnipeg sets, the city's Millennium Centre does make a cameo as a creepy psychiatric hospital about 10 minutes into the film. Fun fact: Both Cult and 2013's Curse of Chucky were filmed in the Peg.
Where to take the edge off: Hit Nonsuch Brewing Co., just a 10-minute walk from Millennium Centre, and enjoy a pint and a charcuterie board while discussing who would make a better drinking buddy: buzz-cut Chucky or buried-alive Chucky.
There's nothing like a sewer-dwelling, yellow-eyed clown to scare your pants off. A fresh take on Stephen King's novel and the subsequent 1990 miniseries, which inspired a generation of coulrophobia, 2017's It is the first of a two-part saga that follows a group of kids hunted by Pennywise, a murderous circus performer who feeds on fear.
Before the opening credits have even finished rolling, we're confronted with what is probably the most terrifying moment in the movie: when little Georgie meets Pennywise, who is peeking out of a storm drain. The little boy's arm is chomped off and... it doesn't end well for Georgie.
The real-life scene of the crime: When your friends ask you what you're doing this weekend, tell them you're off to check out the remains of a gutter, because: Halloween. The storm drain was custom-made in Toronto just for filming. It's no longer there — but the hole it left behind still sits ominously near Springmount Avenue and William Street in North York.
Where to take the edge off: Revive yourself with stellar coffee and baked treats at the North York location of Black Cat Espresso Bar, which is right around the corner from Pennywise's subterranean hiding place.
Red Rover (2003)
A haunted mansion on a deserted island, a family curse and witches that command self-harm — Red Rover has all the trappings of a Halloween classic. After the death of his father, Will Logan (played by William Baldwin) springs his sister, Kylie, from a psychiatric hospital and the pair head out to explore an ancestral estate that was left to them in their father's will.
The real-life scene of the crime: Covenhoven, a 50-room mansion on the Van Horne estate on New Brunswick's Ministers Island, played the role of the decaying ancestral home in this film. Ministers Island is Canada's largest tidal island, and the only way to get there is to walk or drive one kilometre across the ocean floor at low tide. The road is covered by more than four metres of water at high tide.
Where to take the edge off: There's plenty to explore on Ministers Island in addition to Covenhoven. After touring the sprawling mansion, get some fresh air by exploring the island's impressive hiking and cycling trails.
The Changeling (1980)
After the tragic death of his wife and daughter, composer John Russell moves from New York City to Seattle where he attempts to settle into a historic home — only to be haunted by a deceased child with a disturbing message to convey. It's tough to pinpoint what's creeper: the seance that exposes the child who has been trying to communicate to Russell from beyond the grave or the subsequent revelation of his cause of death.
The real-life scene of the crime: The film's final heart attack-inducing haunting was filmed in Victoria's Hatley Castle, a palatial Edwardian estate that serves as the home of the film's Senator Carmichael.
Where to take the edge off: About a 10-minute drive from Hatley Castle, award-winning House of Boateng Café is a great place to grab a happy-hour bite.