11 Scary Slasher Movie Towns and Their Real-Life Inspirations

Rule Number One: Make up a small town and give it a pedestrian name.

Rule Number Two: Make it look like any other Everytown.

Rule Number Three: Find where real killers had their reigns of terror.

And that's it, folks: how to make the perfect slasher flick town. While there are obvious exceptions—"I Know What You Did Last Summer" was filmed and set in Southport, North Carolina—many slasher movies tend to follow the same formula. 

In celebration of the return of "Scream," here are some of the scariest fictional towns to ever grace the screen. 

Ambrose, Louisiana

Parts of Asmara, Eritrea, inspiration for 'House of Wax' 2005's Ambrose, still show architectural influences from its time under Italian rule (Photo below via Clay Gilliland)

Classic serial killer movies enjoyed a revival in the Aughts, "House of Wax" being one of those. While the original film was set in New York City, the Paris Hilton vehicle is set in Ambrose, a community said to be north of Baton Rouge. However, the set was modeled after a faraway town, in Africa no less: Asmara, Eritrea.

Shadyside, Ohio

Decatur, Georgia was a filming location for Netflix's 'Fear Street' trilogy

The newest part of this list really exists IRL but not in the way Netflix's "Fear Street" movies let on. The accursed town is not based on the existing Ohio city. It rather represents any "one street that's cursed" in a "very normal, suburban town." R.L. Stine, author of the "Fear Street" books on which the Netflix trilogy is based, of course, was famously born and raised in Ohio.

Santa Mira, California

Loleta, Humboldt County, California (above via NoeHill) and the fictional Sta. Mira, California below

Which Santa Mira? The one in "E.T."? "Sharknado"? For the purposes of this post, we're going to refer to that Santa Mira in "Halloween III: Season of the Witch." The writers of the movie were inspired by the "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," which had a town of the same. The "Halloween" version of Santa Mira was filmed in California, particularly the seaside locale of Loleta.

Valentine Bluffs, Nova Scotia

Sydney Mines (above via Magicpiano) is both the filming location and inspiration for 1981's 'My Bloody Valentine' 

In reality, the town at the center of cult classic slasher movie "My Bloody Valentine" is a mining hub: Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia. There's no wondering who's making a killing in this Canadian town. 

Fairvale, California

The fictional Bates Motel near Fairvale, California

Ask most slasher movie directors, and they would probably prostrate themselves at the mere mention of "Psycho." The Alfred Hitchcock film is the prototypical slasher movie, and its influence can still be seen on movies and TV shows today. Bates Motel, the setting for some of the most iconic scenes in the movie and the Robert Bloch book it was based on, is said to be outside the Californian city of Fairvale, which does not exist in real life. (There is, however, a Mount Hitchcock in California.)


Real-life murders in Westmount, Quebec (above via Grant Hollingworth) inspired the groundbreaking 1974 movie 'Black Christmas' (below)

"Black Christmas" is credited as one of, if not the, first slasher movies as they are known today. The Olivia Hussey starrer ticks all the boxes of one, from young female victims to, of course, a small, quiet, fictional town. In this case, it's the made-up suburbia of Bedford. This movie having been shot in Toronto, the town is understood to be Canadian. In fact, the story lifts from a grisly series of real-world murders in Westmount, Montreal.

Newt, Texas

Leatherface lives here: the scary "Texas Chain Saw Massacre" family house as it was shot in Round Rock's Quick Hill (above via Visit Austin) and after its move to Kingsland (below via Billy Hathorn)

Although barely heard at the beginning of 1974's "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre," the name of the fictional town in the equally fictional Muerto County is enough to send chills up horror fans' spines. It's no secret that the movie takes inspiration from real-life serial killer Ed Gein, who menaced the town of Plainfield, Wisconsin. However, the movie was shot near Austin, Texas (in places such as Bastrop and Leander, to be exact) and used actors from the city's eponymous university.

Springwood, Ohio

You probably know this town better by the neighborhood where the Thompson family live: "Nightmare on Elm Street." The fictitious 1428 Elm Street is said to be in Ohio, according to the sequel "Freddy's Dead" and the televised horror anthology "Freddy's Nightmares." Is there a real Springwood County in Ohio though? Nein, but director Wes Craven was inspired to do the movie based on a spate of deaths among Laotian refugees in the late 1970s. The Asian Death Syndrome, as this phenomenon came to be called, happened mysteriously everywhere from Illinois to Minnesota.

Crystal Lake, New Jersey

Sand Pond, Camp NoBeBoSco, also known as Camp Crystal Lake. Photo above via Chris Tengi

The Garden State might be the avowed filming location for the "Friday the 13th" movies—Camp Crystal Lake is actually Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco in Hardwick while other scenes took place in Blairstown—Jason Voorhees would most likely be in spirit miles away at Lake Bodom in Finland, where three teenagers perished in a brutal way in 1960.

Woodsboro, California

Gainesville, above via reedberkowitz, was the haunt of real-life killer Daniel Rolling, who inspired the fictional events of Woodsboro below (saw the Wes Craven Easter egg?)

Hello, Sidneys. What's your favorite scary town? The lazy answer would be Santa Rosa, California where the legendary 1996 movie was shot but it should be Gainesville, Florida. It's where the infamous Gainesville Ripper, Daniel Harold Rolling, made his killing spree, inspiring "Scream" scribe Kevin Williamson to create Ghostface. For the slasher film series' sixth outing, however, new final girl Melissa Barrera is off to the Big Apple. 

Haddonfield, Illinois

Jamie Lee Curtis, above, walking the fictional streets of Haddonfield, Illinois on 1978's 'Halloween' and cinematographer Debra Hill's childhood town of Haddonfield, South Jersey, below via Doug Kerr

"Halloween" mainstreamed slasher films and put the Illinois town of Haddonfield on the map although it's all in John Carpenter's mind. The director, who filmed the movie in South Pasadena, California, said that Haddonfield was Shaped after his childhood town of Bowling Green in Kentucky. Michael Myers’ haunting ground is also partly inspired by a real Haddonfield in New Jersey where movie producer and Carpenter's co-writer Debra Hill grew up.


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