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A photo collage of houses from the list with a blinking Bates Motel sign and a large knife.
(Los Angeles Times illustration; photos by Adam Tschorn / Los Angeles Times; Getty Images)

How to get scary-close to 12 iconic L.A. film and TV horror homes

One of the things that makes the approaching spooky season so special in Southern California (besides the fact that you can celebrate Halloween without the fear of frostbite) is that so many of the set pieces that haunt our collective imagination — on screens big and small — are close at (severed) hand.

So if you’re looking for a novel way to get in the Halloween mood, kick the candy and costumes to the curb. Buckle up and treat yourself to a driving tour of some of the Southland’s spookiest film and TV houses (and one terrifying hedge).

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Two things to remember before embarking on a driving tour of the damned: First, with very few exceptions, the places below are on private property. Therefore, be respectful and don’t trespass. Snap your selfies from the public right of way — or you’ll make yourself someone else’s nightmare.

Second, while scariness is, to a certain extent, subjective (the movie “Poltergeist,” algebra and pimento loaf frighten me, for example), I’ve tried to give each place I visited an in-the-flesh spookiness factor; a barometer of how just frightening (or not) these scary places seem offscreen. Whether or not you ultimately agree, consider yourself forewarned.


We’ve traveled around Los Angeles to find the scariest places to visit when you’re high, whether for Halloween or a day of exploring the city.

Oct. 14, 2022

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A brick mansion with stained glass windows and turret-like feature
(Adam Tschorn / Los Angeles Times)

"American Horror Story"

Arlington Heights Private Residence
Built by St. Louis architect Alfred F. Rosenheim in 1908, this Tudor-style estate has appeared on TV screens in both horror (“Dexter,” “ Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) and non-horror (“Miami Vice,” “The X-Files”) contexts over the years. What really put the three-story, six-bedroom, 7,588-square-foot mansion on the must-visit map of creepiness, though, was the inaugural season of the FX series “American Horror Story,” in which it served as the setting (and major plot point) for all kinds of seriously spooky stuff.

That first season later came to be known as “Murder House” and its namesake would live on in the Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk horror universe, including Season 8 of AHS (“Apocalypse”) and several episodes of the spinoff series “American Horror Stories.” (Fun — non-spooky — fact: In 1999, the Rosenheim Mansion was added to L.A.’s list of Historical-Cultural Monuments.)

Spookiness factor: There’s something about the heavy red brickwork, the Tiffany stained-glass windows and the fact that it served as a convent for Catholic nuns for half a century that makes this one of the spookiest places on the list. (And the less thought about what transpired in the basement — onscreen or off — the better.)
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An exterior view looking upward at Frank Lloyd Wright's Ennis House
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

"Buffy the Vampire Slayer"

Los Feliz Private Residence
To fans of L.A. architecture, this historic hilltop home, known as the Ennis House, is far more famous than any of the myriad TV shows and movies it has appeared in over the years, thanks to its Mayan Revival style, its concrete textile block construction and its famed architect (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, it was built by his son Lloyd Wright), all of which helped earn it a place on the National Register of Historic Places. But it does have a pretty extensive — and occasionally spooky — onscreen résumé as well.

Fans of the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” TV series will recognize its distinctive exterior as Angel’s abandoned Crawford Street mansion for starters, and movie buffs might find the facade familiar from “The House on Haunted Hill” (1959) or “Predator 2” (1990). The Ennis House also has had cameos in a slew of non-scary movies, including “Rush Hour,” “Blade Runner” and Karate Kid Part III.”

Spookiness factor: Imposing, sure, but hardly spooky — unless you’re footing the bills for upkeep and repairs.
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A Victorian-style house with detailed molding and lace curtains
(Adam Tschorn / Los Angeles Times)


Echo Park Private Residence
In the original WB series “Charmed” (the one that ran from 1998 to 2006, not the 2018 reboot), Halliwell Manor — the Victorian-style home of sister witches Phoebe, Prue and Piper — is located in San Francisco. In reality, the house used for establishing shots in the series can be found on an L.A. street known for its high concentration of the distinctive architectural style. (It’s also just two houses away from a Victorian that gets some screen time in Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video.)

And despite the last original episode airing almost three decades ago, the home of the fictional Halliwell siblings remains a serious draw for fans of the (oc)cult favorite. On the late-summer day I visited, there were a dozen tourists — 10 from Italy and a couple from France — posted up out front snapping photos.

Spookiness factor: Nonexistent — unless you’re skittish around Victorian architecture.
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A blue, two-story house with a brick walkway in front of it.
(Adam Tschorn / Los Angeles Times)

"Halloween" (Michael Myers' boyhood home)

South Pasadena Historical Landmark
Since the filming of the 1978 multiple-sequel-spawning horror classic “Halloween,” the boyhood home of serial killer Michael Myers has been relocated from its original South Pasadena location (709 Meridian Ave.) a block and a half away to the intersection of Meridian Avenue and Mission Street (and barely a rubber mask’s toss away from the Foothill Gold Line’s Mission Station).

It’s still worth seeking out, though, first because this home turned office building (a historical landmark that may be the oldest wood-frame building in South Pasadena) is where Meyers’ four-decade, 11-movie (we’re not going to count the totally-Meyers-free “Halloween III: Season of the Witch”) murder spree got underway.

The second reason is the building directly behind that building at 810 Meridian Ave. That’s where you’ll find SugarMynt Gallery (slogan: “Where every day is Halloween”), an art gallery that’s made a literal cottage industry out of Haddonfield’s best-known bad guy. It features props, photo ops and purchasable “Halloween”-themed art. The gallery, which costs $20 to enter, also stages an annual fall art exhibition called “Welcome to Haddonfield” (the current one opened Sept. 2 and runs through ... Halloween).

Spookiness factor: Myers’ home is about as scary as the financial services business it currently houses — unless you count the Meyers mannequin watching you from the foliage between that house and SugarMynt next door.
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The view of a green two-story home with two garage doors flanked by trees
(Adam Tschorn / Los Angeles Times)

"Halloween" (Laurie Strode's house)

Private Residence
The address of the house where Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) lived in “Halloween” is sometimes given as 1103 Fairview Ave. because it occupies a corner lot. But if you make the trek to pay homage to the second-generation scream queen (you know Curtis’ mother played Marion Crane in “Psycho,” right?), it’s the side facing the South Pasadena Public Library that will look familiar (though the siding color has since been changed from white to green).

Although most of the mayhem in “Halloween” takes place at other locations, it’s included here because, on a recent drive-by, I noticed a for-sale sign in the front yard. According to the official listing at Exp Realty (which, as of this writing, lists a sale as pending), the home has been in the same family since the 1930s, which makes this the first time in generations the home (actually three homes — it’s described as a a three-unit property) has been on the market.

Here’s hoping the new owners carry on the Halloween tradition of the previous ones, who were known to stock the porch with prop pumpkins and a nice note each season, encouraging visitors to reenact the scene where Laurie Strode sat atop a concrete pillar clutching her bags and a pumpkin at the corner of Fairview Avenue and Oxley Street waiting for Annie to pick her up for an ill-fated babysitting gig.

Spookiness factor: Near non-existent — unless you’re afraid of lurking libraries.
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A tall green hedge next to a sidewalk
(Adam Tschorn / Los Angeles Times)

"Halloween" (hedge)

South Pasadena Point of Interest
Not a house technically but a towering, hearty stretch of greenery between two homes in a quiet South Pasadena neighborhood, you’d likely pass right by the “Halloween” hedge without a second thought without the proper context. But for me, it’s the site of the single scariest scene in the entire franchise. That’s because it takes place in broad daylight while Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Annie Brackett (Nancy Loomis) are walking home from school, and Laurie looks up and sees Michael Meyers (Nick Castle), clad in his coveralls and mask, standing next to a hedge almost defiantly and most definitely stalkery. He’s only on screen briefly before he steps calmly back behind the hedge.

Spookiness factor: Off the charts. When I drove over to see this fearsome fauna for myself, I found myself weak in the knees as I walked toward it. If someone had stepped out from behind it — mask or no mask — I probably would have soiled myself on the spot.
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A green-shingled Dutch Colonial house behind a white gate
(Adam Tschorn / Los Angeles Times)

"A Nightmare on Elm Street"

Hollywood Private Residence
In “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” Nancy Thompson, the teen hunted and haunted in her sleep by knife-fingered Freddy Krueger, lives in a Dutch Colonial with a green-shingled roof on Elm Street in the fictional burg of Springwood, Ohio.

The actual house façade that appears onscreen (and shares the same street number — 1428) will still be recognizable to fans of the film — right down to the green shingles — who will find it just five fingers, er, houses south of Sunset Boulevard. The house made headlines in 2021 when it went on the market (bids were due on Halloween) and again early the next year when it sold for just shy of $3 million. (If you’re in the neighborhood, why not head just north of Sunset and do a drive-by of 1537 and 1530 N. Orange Grove Ave. — where Annie Brackett (Nancy Loomis) and Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), respectively, were babysitting when things got super stabby in the first “Halloween” flick.)

Spookiness factor: Spooky? In your dreams, maybe.
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The garage and driveway of a suburban home.
(Adam Tschorn / Los Angeles Times)


Simi Valley Private Residence
One of the scarier things about the 1982 movie “Poltergeist,” and the reason it frightens the stuffing out of me with every viewing to this day, is that so much of the scary stuff — the inexplicably stacked-up kitchen chairs, for example — happens in the middle of the day in an unremarkable-looking suburban home suffused with SoCal sunlight.

The house, it turns out, is a very big part of the problem — and as such feels like a character of its own. The tree outside the window is capable of devouring a child, the closets are danger zones and even the TV static is menacing. Standing in for part of the fictional planned-community-built-on-a-cemetery called Cuesta Verde is a quiet neighborhood in Simi Valley, and unlike the house in the film, the one used in exterior shots still stands.

Spookiness factor: Even in broad daylight, this idyllic-looking suburban home is likely to give fans of the film seriously sinister vibes — no creepy clown dolls or evil trees required.
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A sign that reads Bates Motel in the foreground, with a house on the hill in the background.
(Adam Tschorn / Los Angeles Times)


Universal City Theme Park
Visiting the house Norman Bates shared with his mother in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 horror-movie classic “Psycho” will take a little bit of time and effort — and a fair amount of money. That’s because the iconic set piece is located on the Universal Studios backlot and can only be seen if you’ve paid for admission to the theme park (one-day tickets start at $109), waited in line (for about 20 minutes in the middle of a weekday) and boarded a tram for an approximately hourlong studio tour.

If you do all that, though, about 38 minutes in, you’ll roll by the weathered, vaguely Victorian-style manse. (Pro tip: For the least obstructed view, snag a seat on the left-most side of any given row on the tram.)

Spookiness factor: If you’ve seen the movie, expect to feel a serious sense of foreboding as the tram turns onto Janet Leigh Drive, lumbers past the Bates Motel (where Leigh’s character checked in and never checked out) and gives you your first glimpse of the house on the hill in the distance. If you’ve somehow not managed to see the movie, expect to be bewildered — and hopefully a little afraid — at what greets you on the front porch as you roll past.
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A Victorina-style home with a collapsing porch overhang
(Adam Tschorn / Los Angeles Times)


Echo Park Private Residence
Sure, Michael Jackson’s nearly 14-minute-long, John Landis-directed “Thriller” video is more campy than scary, but watching it has become a near-necessary Halloween tradition around the globe in the decades since its 1983 release thanks to its special effects, its choreographed dancing zombies and its many references to horror-movie tropes.

One of those tropes — about the bad things that can happen when one flees into an abandoned house — brings Jackson’s movie date (and eventually zombified Jackson and a horde of zombies) to a run-down Victorian manse. On-screen, it can be found at about the 10:34 mark. Off-screen, it can be found in the same stretch of Echo Park as — and just two doors down from — the original “Charmed” house.

Spookiness factor: The scariest thing about this house is the part of the porch roof hanging precariously over the front steps appearing ready to fall in a strong breeze.
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A wood-shingled mansion with many windows
(Adam Tschorn / Los Angeles Times)

“What We Do in the Shadows”

South Pasadena Private Residence
In the hilarious vampires-living-in-broad-moonlight mockumentary-style FX series “What We Do in the Shadows,” a quartet of the undead and their familiar share a rambling old Staten Island mansion, and most of the interior action over the show’s five-season (and counting) run takes place on a Toronto, Ontario, sound stage.

Even so, there’s a very tangible — and visible — connection to Southern California. That’s because the exterior establishing shots of the vampire manse that appear in nearly every episode are of the historic Childs-Torrance House, a three-story Tudor Revival home in the Buena Vista Historic District of South Pasadena. I could prattle on about the extensive history of the home, but that’s stepping into energy-vampire territory.

Spookiness factor: About as scary as the show itself, which is to say not at all.
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Porte cochere at Greystone Mansion.
(Iris Schneider / Los Angeles Times)

"The Witches of Eastwick"

Beverly Hills Historical Landmark
Also known as the Doheny Mansion, Greystone Mansion and Gardens, which is owned by the city of Beverly Hills (and operated by its Parks and Recreation Department) has notched some serious screen time in the horror genre. Cher, Susan Sarandon and Michelle Pfeiffer stirred up trouble in its kitchen in “The Witches of Eastwick,” for starters, and it has appeared in “Ghostbusters,” “Ghostbusters II,” “Flowers in the Attic,” “The Puppet Masters” and the 1963 horror thriller “House of the Damned.” (A full list of films — horror and otherwise — featuring the building or grounds — can be found at the Friends of Greystone website.)

The 55-room estate also has some offscreen horror in its history, specifically the 1929 deaths of oil heir and homeowner Ned Doheny and his secretary, Hugh Plunkett. (The official story is Plunkett shot his boss and then turned the gun on himself, although 94 years later there’s still some mystery swirling about.) The grounds are open to the public daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tickets are $8 for residents of Beverly Hills ($10 for nonresidents) for self-guided tours of the first floor and theater (offered on the first weekend of each month) and must be purchased in advance.

Spookiness factor: For the horror-themed movies filmed there, no spookiness at all. But when it comes to IRL municipal park murder scenes, this place is probably as creepy as you’ll find.
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