Updated: Oct 29, 2020
It’s finally Halloween in Oregon and with the day falling on a weekend for once, it can be tempting to go out and party in the cold of night. But with a pandemic still in full force and chilly temperatures prevailing, there's never been a better year to stay indoors, grab a family size bag of candy (or four), and binge our favorite Halloween movies.
But you may not be aware just how many Halloween standards and generally spooky flicks were made right here in the best state in the union, so we sought out to make a definitive list of movies filmed right in our back yard.
2016 (A24 Films)
Green Room, directed by Jeremy Saulnier, was filmed in Oregon in 2014. Its primary locations were in Portland, Astoria, and in Mount Hood National Forest.
Less of a horror film and more of a crime thriller, this movie nonetheless has the fingerprints of gonzo slasher films all over it. It’s brutal, violent and stressful to get through. It follows the woes of a traveling punk band that takes a gig at a club owned by skinheads. Things only go further south from there. . .
The movie won several awards and was nominated for over a dozen more. It has a star-studded cast that includes Anton Yelchin (Star Trek), Imogen Poots (I Kill Giants), and superstar Sir Patrick Stewart.
The film grossed around $3 million, which is a bit of a hit as the movie took $5 million to make, but it was well received and has a rating of 90% on Rotten Tomatoes. It has also received a 7/10 on IMDB.
"Green Room is a brilliantly crafted and wickedly fun horror-thriller starring Patrick Stewart as a diabolical club owner who squares off against an unsuspecting but resilient young punk band. Down on their luck punk rockers The Ain't Rights are finishing up a long and unsuccessful tour, and are about to call it quits when they get an unexpected booking at an isolated, run-down club deep in the backwoods of Oregon. What seems merely to be a third-rate gig escalates into something much more sinister when they witness an act of violence backstage that they weren't meant to see." -Rotten Tomatoes
2012 (Laika Entertainment)
First some background. Laika Entertainment, the creators of brilliant stop-motion movies such as ParaNorman (2012), Coraline (2009), and Boxtrolls (2014), is located in Hillsboro (Oregon’s fifth-largest city), just outside of Portland.
The studio is owned by Nike CEO Phil Knight and run by his son Travis Knight. Laika, and the artists who work there, got started by collaborating on blockbuster films like Corpse Bride (2005) and The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), and the studio has racked up several impressive awards such as the Annie Award for Best Character Design for both Coraline and ParaNorman.
ParaNorman came out in 2012, three years after Laika’s first major feature film (the next film on this list). It grossed over $107 Million worldwide and was very positively received, with a 7/10 on IMDB and an 88% on Rotten Tomatoes.
The cast is just as impressive as the sets, with stars such as Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect), John Goodman (The Big Lebowski), and Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road).
The movie is a great blend of creepy and fun, perfect for a Halloween movie binge.
"Norman Babcock (Kodi Smit-McPhee) never asked to see the ghosts of dead people in his daily life, but his strange inherited talent is now the only thing standing between the cursed town of Blithe Hollow and an all-out zombie apocalypse." -Laika Entertainment
2009 (Laika Entertainment)
Coraline was the first full length feature film out of Laika Entertainment and is based on a 2002 book written by New York Times best-selling author Neil Gaiman. It was directed by master director Henry Selick, one of the minds behind The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) and James and the Giant Peach (1996).
Coraline has some notable actors in it, including Dakota Fanning (War of the Worlds) and Keith David (Platoon, Armageddon, also one of the best voice actors for video games). The movie grossed over $192 million worldwide and has been well rated by critics, getting a 7.7/10 on IMDB and 91% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Coraline is dark. Set in Ashland, the heroine is transported through a door that takes her to the “Other World” where she is greeted by a place that presents itself as a better version of our world. Warning: The Others and their lifeless button-eyes will stick with you for awhile.
"Wandering her rambling old house in her boring new town, Coraline (Dakota Fanning) discovers a hidden door to a fantasy version of her life. In order to stay in the fantasy, she must make a frighteningly real sacrifice." -Laika Entertainment
2005 (Tim Burton Productions/Laika Entertainment)
Though only partially filmed at Laika Studios, it still feels worthy of mentioning on this list. Corpse Bride is another brilliant musical created by Tim Burton.
Based on a 19th-century Russian folktale, it has everything you would expect from a Burton film: creepy characters, gripping romantic expression, and the dark vibe that we have grown to love about his films. Of course, the main actors are Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter -- is it even a Burton movie if they aren’t in it?
The movie was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature but ended up losing to Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005), which also starred Helena Bonham Carter.
Corpse Bride grossed over $119 million dollars globally, and was quite well received, with critics rating it 7/10 on IMDB and 84% on Rotten Tomatoes.
If you have never seen the movie and you like Tim Burton films, this is a must-see, especially around Halloween.
“Tim Burton returns to the dark but fanciful animated style of The Nightmare Before Christmas with this stop-motion black comedy. Victor (Johnny Depp) lives in a small European village in the 19th century, where he is pledged to marry Victoria (Emily Watson), a partnership arranged by their parents… While he is walking through the woods and hopelessly practicing his vows, he puts Victoria's wedding band on what looks like a branch. Victor quickly discovers this was a big mistake; as it happens, he has put the ring on the skeletal finger of the enchanted Corpse Bride (voice of Helena Bonham Carter), who then whisks him off to a dark and mysterious netherworld where they are now married.” -Rotten Tomatoes
2002 (DreamWorks Pictures)
The Ring is a remake of one of the scariest Japanese horror films (Ringu) that I had ever seen. Much of The Ring was filmed in the Pacific Northwest and parts were captured right here in Oregon, at the Yaquina Head lighthouse in Newport and along the Northern Oregon Coast.
The wet, rocky beach plays well to the creepy vibes the movie tries to achieve, which the director, Gore Verbinski, described in a BBC interview saying, “We focused on creating this dark, somber mood, a kind of coldness.”
The premise of the film is undeniably scary: Someone watches an old VHS tape, gets a call on the phone saying they’re “going to die in seven days” and, sure enough, this prediction comes true.
Living up to a cult classic is never easy, which is why the film received mixed reviews from critics. Verbinski is quoted by the BBC saying, “I just tried to keep what's great in the original movie and improve it where I could.”
The Ring, according to IMDB, grossed almost $250 million dollars worldwide, and has been rated at 7/10 on IMDB and 71% on Rotten Tomatoes.