Thanks to the perfect storm of factors—lots of iconic landmarks to mess up, plethora of old buildings, creepy network of underground tunnels—New York City has always been a go-to for filmmakers looking to scare the bejesus out of the general public. Plenty of terrifying movies have taken place in the five boroughs, from creepy psychological thrillers to straight-up disgusting gore fests and everything in between—and many of those actually filmed here, too. Here, take a tour through some of the locations of great scary flicks that were filmed in NYC, and be prepared to be scared—and possibly fill up your Netflix (or Amazon or whathaveyou) queue this weekend.Read More
New York City’s best scary movie filming locations
Take a spooktacular walking tour through NYC
Rosemary's Baby (1968)
This classic film for fans of the occult was written and directed by Roman Polanski, based on the book by Ira Levin. Rosemary (Mia Farrow) and her husband (John Cassavetes) move into the Bramford, a fancy apartment building along Central Park, which is played by the rather famous Dakota. After possibly being raped in her sleep by her husband (this falsehood is actually less horrifying than the truth), Rosemary finds herself pregnant, and realizes they her neighbors have eyes on the child, who they believe is the spawn of Satan. Unsurprisingly, there is no happy ending here.
The Sentinel (1977)
Despite a rather impressive cast (including several Academy Award winners and a dubbed Jeff Goldblum), this movie isn't exactly good, but it is creepy. Christina Raines’s character is to be hitched to Chris Sarandon, but still keeps her own apartment in Brooklyn Heights—in 10 Montague Terrace, to be exact—complete with a creepy figure in the window of the top unit. That figure is the “sentinel” to the actual Hell, and her excommunicated priest neighbors want her to become the next one. She is unable to escape this fate, and though the building is torn down (in the film; it's still there IRL), she still occupies the top floor window in the new structure.
Basket Case (1982)
This ‘80s cult classic is about a dude named Duane and his formerly conjoined twin Belial, whom Duane carts around in, you guessed it, a basket. Belial is little more than a torso, two arms, and a head, and he and Duane are mad they were separated at birth without their consent. They hit the Big Apple with revenge on their minds, but sibling rivalry wins out in the end. One of the more memorable locations in the movie is the infamous Hellfire Club, a BDSM club in the pre-Sex and the City Meatpacking District. There’s also a ton of old Times Square as well. The brothers hole up at the fictional and super sleazy Hotel Broslin; the film’s climax takes place on a building exterior located at 2 Hubert Street.
The Hunger (1983)
One of the sexiest vampire movies ever was mostly filmed in London, but a few of the shots will look very familiar to New Yorkers, including ones that take place in Bethesda Terrace in Central Park (pictured) and Sutton Place. However, one of the most quintessentially NYC scenes won’t register at all, mostly because the action was behind the scenes. Susan Sarandon told Vulture, “[W]e were doing some additional close-ups on the floor of a gas garage in Brooklyn, and in true New York fashion, Catherine [Deneuve] and I are on the floor kissing when the guy decided he wanted more money for the space, so he interrupted our shoot—with a gun.”
In this comedy classic, paranormal activity disrupts New York City and the titular quartet—Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, and Ernie Hudson (with a lot of help around the office from Annie Potts)—have to save it. The movie was shot in many places, including Hook & Ladder Company 8 in Tribeca (famously used as the Ghosbusters' HQ), Columbus Circle, Columbia University, and the New York Public Library. However, the climax of the movie takes place at Sigourney Weaver’s apartment in a cinematically-enlarged 55 Central Park West, dubbed the Shandor. There, Weaver and Rick Moranis are possessed by Zuul (the “Gatekeeper”) and Vinz Clortho (the “Keymaster”), both servants of Gozer the Gozerian. In the end, the Ghosbusters cross their proton streams and dispatch the demons.
This cheesy classic, whose title stands for Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller plays upon the fears that plague every New Yorker about what lurks in the tunnels just beneath our feet. It’s filmed all over (and under) NYC—including, according to Gothamist, a recently rediscovered bomb shelter near the Brooklyn Bridge—and the climax takes place at what used to be known as the Cleveland Diner, at 114 Kenmare. Ah, if only the hipsters who frequented La Esquina knew what else used to be served there…
Ghostbusters II (1989)
Though the original ends with the Ghostbusters all but being handed the keys to the city, the sequel opens with them having been sued for the damage from the first film, and forced out of business. And when a massive power outage lands them in court, their ghosts are released; Weaver somehow ends up at the center of the mess in this film, as a demon inside a painting tries to steal her baby. All of this comes to a head at the at the fictional Manhattan Museum of Art, which is really the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House. In the end, the Ghostbusters on the inside (and Moranis on the outside) save the day—and they actually do get the keys to the city.
The 1990 weepie starring Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore isn't exactly scary, per se, but it's certainly paranormal—and the Soho loft at 102 Prince Street that stood in for the couple's home was on the market last year for the somewhat frightening price of $9.5 million. The pad found a buyer, who will get three bedrooms, an open kitchen, oversized windows, exposed brick walls, and the knowledge that they live where Swayze and Moore once made beautiful pottery together.
The Devil's Advocate (1997)
This movie, which stars Keanu Reeves as a lawyer named Kevin Lomax who literally makes a deal with the devil, was filmed in many storied NYC spots, such as Central Presbyterian Church and the dizzying rooftop of the Continental Tower. The most damning (heh) is the penthouse at 725 Fifth Avenue, which stands in for the home of a famous billionaire accused of murder. As it turns out, it’s the cozy little abode of Donald Trump himself.
American Psycho (2000)
This very bloody classic helped elevate the career of Christian Bale, who plays Patrick Bateman, exemplifying everything about a banker in 1987, from the suits to the cassette tape Walkman. He loves a quality business card. He also really loves killing.The movie references the hell out of the New York City of the period, namechecking restaurants like Indochine, which is still on Lafayette Street, and Espace, which is no longer on East 16th Street. But sadly, it was filmed almost entirely in Toronto (which often stands in for New York).
Filmmakers Barbara Brancaccio and Joshua Zeman set out to investigate Staten Island’s very own boogeyman, a menacing figure named Cropsey who was rumored to have escaped from Willowbrook State School. (The institution’s abuse of patients was revealed by Geraldo Rivera in the horrifying 1972 documentary, Willowbrook: The Last Great Disgrace) The urban legend became a little too real when children began disappearing from the suburban neighborhood. When the filmmakers returned as adults to investigate Cropsey and the ruins of Willowbrook, they found a true crime story that was even more scarier than they’d imagined.