The Map That Proves That Terror Can Happen Anywhere (At Least in the Movies)
From Antartica to Romania, here’s a map of where more than 200 of the most iconic horror films took place
- Interactive by Esri, Text by Natasha Geiling
With Halloween right around the corner, there’s no better time explore all things spooky—and thanks to the horror film, you can travel to the creepy ends of the earth without leaving your home, thanks to the team at Esri. As IMDB’s list of the top-rated horror films shows, terror can strike anywhere: from the ocean to rural Rhode Island.
The oldest film on the list, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920), takes place in London, turning turn-of-the-century streets into a haven for the murderous Mr. Hyde. Without fancy effects (or even sound), actor John Barrymore had to convey the transformation from the clean-cut Dr. Jekyll to the manic Mr. Hyde using only facial contortions. While most of the lists’ pre-1960s horror movies take place in the relatively familiar areas of America and Europe, there is one famous exception: the 1954 classic Godzilla, which features a massive lizard destroying Tokyo.
Moving into the 1960s, the list begins to enjoy a wider geographic distribution, as well as more varied plot inspiration. It was during this time that horror classics like Rosemary’s Baby (1968), Psycho (1960) and Night of the Living Dead (1968) entered the horror film canon, creating a map of American horror that spans from New York to California.
Not all of the films on the list, however, stick to dry ground: in 1975, Jaws took terror to the water with its shark killer. Seven years later, in 1982, The Thing becomes the first horror film on the list to take place in Antarctica, at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. For films in the 1990s, only 6 of the top 200 were set on the historically spooky continent of Europe. Africa got its first nod on the list, with The Ghost and the Darkness (1996) set in Tsavo, Kenya.
As the list moves into the 21st century, horror returns to Europe, with the black-comedy La Comunidad taking place in Spain in 2000. Top-rated comedy and horror mash-ups don’t end with La Comunidad, as films like Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Zombieland (2009) put a darkly comedic twist on the traditional zombie genre. The most recent film to make the list, The Conjuring (2013), brings horror back home, taking place in a haunted house in rural Rhode Island.