If you're in Los Angeles and you find yourself at any of these 10 locations, be prepared to star in a horror movie at a moment's notice.
Los Angeles is famous for a few things–expensive brunch, deep-V shirts, people screaming on street corners, and polarizing burger establishments. But one of the most popular activities in Los Angeles is, classically, murder. Although Los Angeles is actually pretty safe, especially in recent years, the whole place is rife with particularly gruesome-looking locales in which–hypothetically–ax-murder might occur at the drop of a hat. Here are 10 of the most likely impromptu horror movie locales waiting to happen.
Bob Baker Marionette Theater
For God’s sake, it’s called the Bob Baker Marionette Theater. If you had asked me to come up with the most ghoulish Scooby Doo location for wacky cartoon murder, I would’ve suggested this immediately after Dr. Killian von Clawgrope’s Glue Factory and Farmer Bloodmoon’s Meat Packing Plant and Cutlery Hutch. The location, which has stood since 1963, was confirmed as a historical monument in 2009. An LA Times article described the scene thus: “A parade of puppets strung along Los Angeles City Council members today long enough to persuade them to designate a West 1st Street marionette theater a historic cultural landmark. The puppets danced and pranced around the City Council’s ornate horseshoe-shaped desk in the City Hall chambers before officials voted 14-0 to place the Bob Baker Marionette Theater on the city’s landmark list.” Welcome to hell.
Hollywood Wax Museum
If you’ve seen one creepy wax museum, you’ve pretty much seen them all, but the Hollywood Wax Museum doubles as a location that pops up with relative frequency on the list of haunted Los Angeles locations. According to Tej Sundher, general manager of the Hollywood Wax Museum, “We had a gentleman from National Enquirer lock himself up in the museum overnight to try to prove whether it’s haunted or not,” Sundher said. “By the time we opened up the next morning, he was waiting by the door and completely pale. National Enquirer said they never heard from him again.” Of course, “Locking yourself in the Hollywood Wax Museum overnight” is the correct answer to the Jeopardy question, “How do I get immediately and horrifyingly made into a meat smoothie by vengeful wax ghosts?”
Devil's Gate Dam
I’m a sucker for any location with “devil” in the title – it’s astounding that I’m still alive after the number of locations I’ve visited entirely because it sounded vaguely satanic at the time. Devil’s Gate Dam, which I’m furious is not called Damnation Dam, was a favorite hangout of occultists Jack Parsons and L. Ron Hubbard back when they were spooky running buddies, and several Very Online People have theorized that a number of children have gone missing in and around the dam due to Parson and Hubbard opening a portal to hell within the spooky rocks. You go to a place called Devil’s Gate Dam specifically to get eaten alive by very dramatic demons.
The L.A. County Poor Farm
Ohhh, boy, so then there’s Rancho Los Amigos, which was nicknamed “The Poor Farm” by, presumably, an old-timey robber baron who trafficked in cigarette holders fashioned from baby bones. From the late 19th century to the late 1950s, Rancho Los Amigos was a self-sustaining farm that was home to many people who were otherwise unable to support themselves, but after the facility closed down, it got pretty creepy. The unclaimed bodies of people who died on the farm were definitely buried somewhere nearby, and huge floods in 1914 were nature’s way of saying, “Oh, just put those bodies anywhere.” And soldiers running drills on the site of the former Poor Farm found a sack of severed body parts in a freezer, including 10 legs and some brains, although it was revealed that the spare body parts were probably leftovers from amputations and not some serial killer’s grisly Sack O’ Trophies. Which I’m sure is a huge comfort when you’ve just opened a bag full of frozen body parts.
The Houdini Mansion
Despite being neither a mansion nor having ever been owned by Harry Houdini, the Houdini Mansion reportedly belonged to a guy that Harry Houdini might have been friends with maybe, and the whole place burned down during a fire in Laurel Canyon in the 1950s, but they’ve since renovated Not Harry Houdini’s Non-Mansion and made it available to people for parties and movie sets and also getting supermurdered in Laurel Canyon by ghosts, probably. There are rumors about secret passageways and ghosts and séances, all of which is almost certainly total garbage drummed up to sell reservations, but you’re relatively likely to be horror-movie-murdered as part of an effort to maintain the Houdini Mansion’s spooky mystique.
Griffith Park Zoo
The Griffith Park Zoo was left totally abandoned in 1965, and the whole place has the bizarre, desolate beauty of…well, an abandoned zoo. It’s a relatively popular site for picnics and hikes, and they’ve even put in a bunch of picnic tables so that people can stare at the haunting grandeur of empty lion cages while eating pizza bagels. I once took my pit bull Tinkerbell for a walk through Griffith Park, and she looked like she was being quietly pursued by invisible hyenas the whole time. She couldn’t wait to get back in the car. In fairness, she’s terrified of everything, but she stood in front of an empty cage for a solid minute, whining like the cage was going to eat her. I cannot stress enough that this is a creepy abandoned zoo.
The Circus of Books
Circus of Books is deeply and abidingly cursed. When you walk into Circus of Books, you get an immediate unholy feeling, like you don’t belong there, and actually, nobody does. The front of the store is old magazines and an assortment of randomly selected books with prices clearly devised by somebody who has no idea what books are supposed to cost. VHS tapes are mixed in with Blu-Rays and bizarre sex toys and ancient porno magazines. What’s in the backroom? Why are the employees all staring at you? Is the whole thing a front for terrible body horror experiments? I’m just asking questions, which might not be a smart idea at Circus of Books. If nobody has ever gone missing here, I’ll eat my hat, which this place probably also sells, and the hat was taken from the body of an old man who died while inspecting a glass pipe shaped like his worst fears.
Museum of Illusions
This place should be hosted by a sinister curator played by David Warner. The Museum of Illusions is filled with murals and paintings that play with perspective, disorienting the viewer and making them doubt the boundaries of where everything in their world begins and ends. The whole place promises visitors fun selfie opportunities, but how can anybody look at a giant room full of bizarre perspective-bending paintings and props and not see a potential murder tableau? You want your body to be ghoulishly posed to make it look like you’re being consumed by an octopus in a takeout box? I acknowledge that I might be overly paranoid, but I see the face of veteran character actor David Warner everywhere, and that’s why I’ve stayed alive for so long.
The Bermuda Triangle of Beverly Hills
Since Beverly Hills itself is already basically a real-life version of the underwater city from Bioshock, it makes sense that a portion of the place would be a literal vortex of death. The area immediately surrounding this nondescript-looking triangle of land (even though it’s more of a Bermuda Trapezoid, but that doesn’t have the same ring to it) is said to be under the influence of some bizarre, bougie curse that appears to claim the lives of the rich and famous who have the misfortune of not only being in Beverly Hills, but this specifically unlucky part of it. If you have a net worth higher than six figures or you wear sweaters tied around your neck like a villain from an ’80s teen movie, avoid the Bermuda Triangle of Beverly Hills.
Linda Vista Hospital
Built in 1937 and officially closed down in 1991 due to the surrounding area becoming impoverished, Linda Vista Hospital has been an enormously popular filming location for horror movie productions and music videos for bands that really hate their dads. It looks haunted as hell because apparently it is haunted as hell, and there have been numerous sightings of patients and personnel wandering the halls. However, it’s been renovated into an apartment complex for seniors, which is just…guys, I don’t even believe in ghosts, except for when I do, and you’re playing with fire here. Is it also built on an unmarked burial site? Please make safer choices.