The Big Apple and its five boroughs have played a significant role in a number of horror films over the decades. Some of them have been suspense thrillers, and others absolutely gore-fests. A few horror movies have done a great job in portraying New York City’s most notable locations, while others take place in interior spaces like hotel rooms or apartments.
All of these horror movies set in New York take advantage of the fact that this city is a crowded place full of both residents and tourists, having beautiful locations and buildings.
Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
Jacob’s Ladder, released in 1990, is an American psychological horror film that was made by Carolco Pictures ten years after the story was written by Rubin. The movie is both brilliant and terrifying at the same time. It follows the story of a Vietnam veteran, Jacob, who ends up working as a postal worker in Brooklyn. He experiences frightening hallucinations upon his return to the States that continue to haunt him. As his experience and fragmentary visions worsen, Jacob desperately makes efforts to figure out the truth.
And yes, the movie has some of the terrifying subway scenes of all time!
The Devil’s Advocate (1997)
The Devil’s Advocate, written by Jonathan Lemkin and Tony Gilroy, is an American supernatural horror film that was released back in 1997. The movie stars the action hero Keanu Reeves (Kevin Lomax), Al Pacino (John Milton/Satan), and Charlize (Theron Mary Ann Lomax).
The film portrays Kevin Lomax as an up-and-coming Floridian attorney who is invited to New York City to work for a major law firm. Lomax is the man known for his rather bizarre cases, such as defending a man who was accused of sacrificing animals in voodoo rituals. As his wife, Theron, becomes haunted by frightening visuals, he slowly begins to realize that the owner of the New York law firm he is working for is not what he actually appears to be – he is, in fact, the devil.
Although the film has many locations in New York where it was shot, the best ones include the Central Presbyterian Church at 593 Park Avenue near 64th Street and 180 Maiden Lane.
The Seventh Victim (1943)
This 1943 American horror film noir, written by DeWitt Bodeen and Charles O’Neal and produced by Val Lewton, revolves around the story of a young woman named Mary. Mary sets off for New York City to figure out the reason for her sister, Jacqueline’s, mysterious disappearance. After finding a noose in her empty apartment and discovering that she sold her cosmetics business eight months ago before dying, Mary does an investigation that leads her to a group of devil worshippers in Greenwich Village, New York.
The film had a rare less-than-uplifting ending when all the movies back then in the 40s ended with over-the-top happiness.
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
If you are into horror and psychological thrillers, then you must have watched this flick. The movie chooses a perfect setting in New York City, The Dakota, located at 1 West 72nd Street. It was the best choice for portraying the dark, Victorian-style scary features in the movie. Although the story takes place in Manhattan, it is incredibly applicable to today’s Brooklyn.
The movie is based on a story of a pregnant woman who suspects that Satan wants to take her baby for use in some evil rituals.
The film Joshua, also known as The Devil’s Child, is an American horror and thriller that was released back in 2007. Although the movie didn’t get as much recognition as The Shining or Children of the Corn, it is still downright horrifying. The movie revolves around an affluent young Manhattan family and how they are heartbroken by the increasingly sadistic behavior of their son, Joshua.
So, the next time you are walking through Central Park or The Brooklyn Museum, and a weird little kid is staring at you, remember Joshua, and run from there as fast as you can.
American Psycho (2000)
If you are a die heart fan of psychological thrillers, dark comedy, and horror, you shouldn’t miss watching this masterpiece of a movie, American Psycho, starring Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman. Mary Harron, co-writer and director of the film, made American Psycho based on the infamous Bret Easton Ellis novel that is both scary and hilarious (in a dark way).
The movie makes you wonder what all those Wall Street gentlemen are fantasizing about while sitting in their Palazetti glass-top desks. It shows how a wealthy New York investment banker, Patrick, hides an alternative psychopathic ego from his co-workers as he takes a deep dive into his violent fantasies.
The movie is originally set in Ontario, but portrays New York City and shows some notable locations as well. One of the locations of New York unveils when Patrick leaves his place of work, walking past the statue of George Washington, which is located right in front of Federal Hall, Wall Street at Nassau Street.
So, finally, Staten Island makes an entry in this horror film. The movie focuses on a French Canadian model who lives in Staten Island. The girl takes home a man one night only to find out the next day that her twin sister, Dominique, murdered him. Although her doctor helps cover up the crime scene, their neighbor, who is also a newspaper reporter, saw Dominique murder the man from her apartment, decides to investigate.
The film is definitely made in Hitchcockian style, but it also has a unique vibe of its own.
Fatal Attraction (1987)
This 1987 horror-thriller flick stars Michael Douglas as Dan Gallagher and Glenn Close as Alex Forrest. The film focuses on a married Manhattan lawyer who has a weekend affair with some random woman that later becomes his obsession, and he refuses to allow it to end. Alex’s apartment, in the movie, is located in the heart of the Meatpacking District on 675 Hudson Street. Today, this location is also considered a celebrity hot spot.
Based on Stephen King’s 1999 short story of the same name, this psychological horror film stars John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson. The film follows Mike Enslin (John Cusack) who investigates allegedly haunted houses and rents the titular room 1408 at Dolphin Hotel in New York City that is actually the Roosevelt Hotel at 45 East 45th Street.
Although Mike is skeptical of the paranormal, he is trapped in room number 1408 where he experiences strange events.
Unlike other movies, Cloverfield uses a found footage motif to follow five youngsters who are the residents of New York City. They film their thrilling and horrifying escape, as a massive monster and various other small creatures attack and destroy the city (even the Statue of Liberty) while they are having a farewell party.
Some notable New York City locations shown in the movie are the Brooklyn Bridge, Spring Street, 59th Street, Time Warner Center tower, etc.
If you live in New York and haven’t seen these horror movies that are set in your city, then you should give them a go. These horror flicks will keep you glued on the edge of the seat.