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.
“A disturbing videotape appears to hold the power of life and death over those who view it in this offbeat thriller. A strange videotape begins making the rounds in a town in the Pacific Northwest; it is full of bizarre and haunting images, and after watching it, many viewers receive a telephone call in which they are warned they will die in seven days. A handful of teenagers watched the tape, but as predicted, they all die suddenly on the same night. Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts), the aunt of one of the ill-fated teens, is a journalist who has decided to investigate the matter.” -Rotten Tomatoes
1998 (Singer-White productions)
Halloweentown is a movie that was filmed almost entirely in Oregon, in St. Helens and Scappoose.
The film has become a classic, and one that has been played on the Disney Channel around Halloween for many years. It was loved by audiences enough to have several sequels and it is easy to see why.
Marnie Piper, played by Kimberly Brown (Rose Red), learns that she is a witch and seeks an education about her magical abilities from her grandma Agatha, played by Debbie Reynolds. Yeah, that Debbie Reynolds.
Before her grandma can teach Marnie her witchy ways, they must stop an evil force from taking over Halloweentown, and possibly the mortal world. Halloweentown is filled with fun and excitement that will surely bring joy to the whole family.
The movie was well received and has been placed on Complex Magazine’s list of “The 25 Best Disney Channel Original Movies” coming in at number nine. It has been given a 6.8/10 on IMDB and 80% on Rotten Tomatoes.
“On her 13th birthday, Marnie learns she's a witch, discovers a secret portal, and is transported to Halloweentown -- a magical place where ghosts and ghouls, witches and werewolves live apart from the human world. But she soon finds herself battling wicked warlocks, evil curses, and endless surprises.” -Disney
1980 (The Producer Circle Company)
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” - Jack Torrance
The Shining is a classic which stands as a testament to the powerhouse that was Stanley Kubrick. The film is based on a 1977 novel by Stephen King of the same name.
Though set in Colorado, the hotel used as the exterior setting is Oregon’s very own Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood. The location was involved in another interesting bit of trivia about the production, too. When Kubrick was asked in an interview by French film critic Michel Ciment, “Why did the room number switch from 217 in the novel to 237 in the film?” he explained:
“The exterior of the hotel was filmed at the Timberline Lodge, near Mount Hood in Oregon. It had a room 217 but no room 237, so the hotel management asked me to change the room number because they were afraid their guests might not want to stay in room 217 after seeing the film.
He continued by saying how the Oregon location worked really well for the look and feel of the movie: "There is, however, a genuinely frightening thing about this hotel which nestles high up on the slopes of Mount Hood. Mount Hood, as it happens, is a dormant volcano, but it has quite recently experienced pre-eruption seismic rumbles similar to the ones that a few months earlier preceded the gigantic eruption of Mount St. Helens, less than sixty miles away.
"If Mount Hood should ever erupt like Mount St. Helens, then the Timberline Hotel may indeed share the fiery fate of the novel's Overlook Hotel.“
The Shining is riddled with iconic quotes such as, “Here’s Johnny!”, which Jack Torrance
(played by Jack Nicholson) screams through a broken door he is trying to smash down
with a fireman’s ax.
Nicholson actually ad libbed the phrase, playing on the intro of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
Though it is iconic now, the moment almost didn’t make it into the
This scene has been used in countless memes and helped seal the scene, and film, as one of the scariest in movie history.
Another quote that has regularly permeated the ziegtgeist is, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” which Shelley Duvall’s character Wendy Torrance finds, to her horror, written on page after page in a stack next to Jack Torrance’s typewriter (though the phrase can be found as far back as 1659 in James Howell’s Paroimiographia).
Besides being filled to the brim with excellent acting, the film is regularly hailed as a cinematographic masterpiece. It took many years to obtain its renowned status, however.
An article from a November 1980 issue of the British Film Institute’s Monthly Film Bulletin says: “The film itself is the blankness this time. It is its own haunted house – a rambling, rather hollow-sounding edifice in which the real spooks are not the special-effects creatures (which failed to live up to their US publicity as the scariest things ever seen) but some primal Kubrickian conceits.”
Regardless of it falling short of initial expectations, it has bloomed into a genre-building centerpiece that many directors have since used as inspiration. The Shining grossed over $44 million dollars worldwide, and has been rated an 8.4/10 on IMDB and 85% on Rotten Tomatoes (with an audience rating of 93%).
“The central character in The Shining is Jack Torrance (Nicholson), an aspiring writer and recovering alcoholic, who accepts a position as the off-season caretaker of the isolated historic Overlook Hotel in the Colorado Rockies. Wintering over with Jack are his wife Wendy Torrance (Duvall) and young son Danny Torrance (Lloyd). Danny possesses "the shining", psychic abilities that enable him to see into the hotel's horrific past. The hotel's cook, Dick Hallorann (Crothers), also has this and is able to telepathically communicate with Danny. The hotel had a previous winter caretaker who went insane and killed his family and himself. After a winter storm leaves the Torrances snowbound, Jack's sanity deteriorates due to the influence of the supernatural forces that inhabit the hotel, placing his wife and son in danger.” -Wikipedia
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