There are few things scarier than looking for a place to live in the city, which seems to explain the thematic importance of real estate to so many New York-based horror films. Whether it's satanists skulking around The Dakota or a virologist living on Washington Square Park in a post-apocalyptic world, New York apartments and homesand the invasion of these spaces by the otherworldlytend to figure prominently in Hollywood's version of creepy. With that in mind, we're listing some of the weirdest, most iconic apartments to have been featured in movies set in New York that are perfect to watch on Halloween. Not all of these are strictly horror films, with thriller, fantasy, and adventure bleeding through the porous boundaries of genre. They range in quality from "genuine classic" to "utter crap," but all of them are worth watching in their own ways, if only to see how New York finds its way onto the silver screen.
↑ First up is kind of a no-brainer. With its dramatic features and dark, Victorian style, The Dakota at 1 West 72nd Street is almost tailor-made for horror cinema, making it an ideal setting for Roman Polanski's 1968 masterpiece Rosemary's Baby. The story of a couple (Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes) who move into the Upper West Side landmark and are befriended by their eccentric neighbors (who also happen to be satanists), the film is a master class in psychological horror.
↑ Moving just a few blocks downtown, we find ourselves at another iconic location in the form of 55 Central Park West. This gorgeous, art deco building is best known for its starring role in Ghostbusters (1984), as Spook Central and as the home of Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver). Designed by architect/occultist Ivo Shandor (via Tobin's Spirit Guide), the building is a portal into the realm of Sumerian entity Gozer the Gozerian, whom the Ghostbusters fight on the building's roof. Also, Dana is possessed by Zuul, who takes it upon itself to gut-renovate the apartment (pictured above).
↑ Up next is yet another Upper West Side apartment, this time belonging to American Psycho's Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale). This gory 2000 satire is based on Bret Easton Ellis' novel of the same name and tells the story of a yuppie serial killer in 1980s New York. Bateman lives in the fictional American Gardens Building at 55 West 81st Street, where his apartment decor is a hilarious imitation of 80s vacuity. It's here that he brings his victims, waxing rhapsodically on the merits of Phil Collins and Huey Lewis & the News, before attacking them with power tools.
↑ Dark Water (2005) is not an amazing movie, but it bears mentioning due to its somewhat unusual setting. The film begins with Dahlia (Jennifer Connelly) and her daughter moving into an apartment complex at 540 Main Street on Roosevelt Island, only to find that their building has a ghost problem and a nightmarishly incompetent super (Pete Postlethwaite). In the end, the scariest thing about this movie is the inevitable bill from the flood damage, but props for Roosevelt Island!
↑ Street Trash is a 1987 horror-comedy b-movie classic, complete with low-production values, amateur acting, absurd gore, gratuitous nudity, and a nonsensical script. The plot is so wonderfully stupid: basically, a group of homeless New Yorkers drink cheap wine that has "gone bad," causing them to melt and explode in increasingly outlandish ways. It was filmed almost entirely in north Brooklyn, with one of the key locations being a wrecking yard in the industrial section of East Williamsburg at 1256 Grand Street. There, two homeless brothers squat in a cozy-looking shack made out of tires and an abandoned car.
↑ Back in Manhattan, we come to the underrated 2007 film 1408. Based on a short story by Stephen King, John Cusack plays a writer and skeptic who spends a night in a room at the Dolphin Hotel, which may or may not be haunted (spoiler: it is). Although the Dolphin is fictional, exteriors are clearly taken from the Roosevelt Hotel at 45 East 45th Street. It also features tiny Samuel L. Jackson in the minibar.
↑ In Fatal Attraction (1987), deranged editor Alex Forrest (Glenn Close) lives in a nice little apartment at 675 Hudson Street. After married lawyer Dan Callagher (Michael Douglas) tries to end an affair with her, Alex goes off the deep-end, culminating in a memorable scene involving an adorable rabbit and a pot of boiling water. This apartment is also noteworthy for its location in the Meatpacking District, revealing the striking changes the neighborhood has undergone in the last twenty years.
↑ Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977) is a spectacular failure and rightly called one of the worst movies ever made. A few years after the initial possession by the demon Pazuzu, teenaged Regan (Linda Blair) finds herself living in New York for some reason, in the penthouse apartment of 666 Fifth Avenue (get it?!). The whole thing is a crime against film, but it does feature one of many unintentionally hilarious scenes, in which Regan sleepwalks out to edge of the roof and almost throws herself off.
↑ Vampire's Kiss (1989) has Nic Cage throwing everything he has into the role of a mentally ill executive who thinks he's transforming into a vampire. It's a brilliant dark comedy, made even better by Cage's performance, which is one of his most delightfully insane. He also lives in a gorgeous Gramercy brownstone at 110 East 17th Street that's apparently infested with bats and evil seductresses.
↑ Over in Soho, we find the enormous loft featured in the 1990 supernatural romance Ghost, the story of the titular spectre Sam (Patric Swayze) attempting to save his (non-ghost) lover Molly (Demi Moore) with the help of brassy Whoopi Goldberg. The loft is located at 102 Prince Street, a residential building that is clearly proud of its association with Ghost. It's probably best remembered as the place where The Righteous Brothers melted hearts across America.
↑ In Wolfen (1981), smarter-than-average wolves (not, mind you, werewolves) terrorize the city. It's no masterpiece, but its New York-based production and on-location shooting means it's a fascinating look back at the city in the "bad old days." Indeed, a linchpin sequence of the film takes place in the Morrisania section of the South Bronx, on infamous Charlotte Street. In the scene, a homeless man sifts through the rubble of a burned-out church at approximately 580 East 172nd Street (now a block of suburban-style homes), when he's attacked by one of the wolves.
↑ Finally, we turn our attention to I Am Legend (2007). Despite a promising setup, this is a pretty lousy movie, with Will Smith playing a world-famous virologist fighting a horde of vampires in a post-apocalyptic world. But the one good thing about a New York bereft of humanity? Will Smith gets his pick of dream houses, like some sort of Hunt for the pandemic-stricken wasteland. He settles on a stunning, fortified brick townhouse at 11 Washington Square Park North.
What did we miss? Let us know in the comments!
[Special thanks to IMDB and On the Set of New York]
· Here Now, Counting Down the 13 Best Houses in Horror Films [Curbed National]
· The Ultimate Ghostbusters Map Guide to New York City [Curbed]