Spooky Architecture

Via Paramount Pictures

Via Paramount Pictures

When black cats prowl and pumpkins gleam may luck be yours on halloween.


I'm getting into the Halloween spirit! I felt compelled, like much of the world, to embrace the spooky, creepy, and terrifying. This partially has to do with the fact that my firm has a spooktacular Halloween party scheduled for today. I'm curious to see what everyone dresses up as since we've all been encouraged to wear a costume to work! What tricks and treats await the office.....muahahahaha!

Okay, enough of that, time to get serious. In honor of Halloween, I've come up with a list of fantastic films you should absolutely check out if you have any interest in at least one of the following:

  • Halloween
  • Architecture
  • Scary Movies
  • Having Fun

Let's take a look at some of the spooky architecture you can find just by visiting your local video store....oh, yeah....right. RIP Blockbuster.


Psycho // 1960
Via Paramount Pictures


Aside from being a classic film on countless "Top of" lists, Psycho benefits from an absolutely iconic production design. The Bates Motel and House are the primary settings of the film and act as perfectly creepy backdrops to Norman Bates' murderous tendencies. Hitchcock, a master filmmaker, once said 'There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.' In Psycho, the house upon the hill stands as one of the testaments to building anticipation through design.

28 Days Later // 2002 Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox

28 Days Later // 2002
Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox


In some instances, the absence of activity can lead to ominous and frightening situations. The protagonist of 28 Days Later finds himself alone after waking from a coma in the streets of London, UK. While he eventually uncovers the unsettling realization that the world has gone to hell due to an uncontrollable outbreak, Jim must first face the possibility that he may be the only survivor of unimaginable circumstances - alone.

Alien // 1979
Via Twentieth Century Fox


Fun times in space! Well, okay, maybe not fun, but...interesting? Alien is the classic, sci-fi masterpiece by Ridley Scott. The crew of a deep space vessel, the USCSS Nostromo, investigate a distress call and wind up bringing aboard a killer, alien life form that systematically begins to wipe them all out one by one. The ship itself sets the stage for eerie mayhem to ensue. Although we can assume that this story takes place far into the future, the majority of the ship itself is very industrial, dark, and raw. Alien is primarily terrifying because although the Nostromo is an expansive ship with hundreds of corridors and spaces, the crew is trapped within the confines of its walls - just trying to avoid the alien that plagues the voyage. Alien's tagline sums up this pleasant thought nicely - 'In space, no one can hear you scream.'

As Above, So Below // 2014 Via Universal Pictures

As Above, So Below // 2014
Via Universal Pictures


Now, I've been very fortunate enough to have seen Paris with my own eyes. That said, especially after seeing this film, you couldn't pay me to set foot into the underground catacombs beneath its streets. As Above, So Below takes the audience on a claustrophia-enducing trek into just those very tunnels. Let me tell you, it's freaking scary! While the reality, shaky-cam trope isn't the newest horror film technique, it does feel perfect for the tight setting. Each new tunnel that the group explores, looking for treasure, provides a unique experience for the viewer to uncover with them. It probably doesn't help though that once they find what they're looking for, a whole mess of ghosts begin to terrorize, harm, and kill them as they try desperately to reach the surface once more. Again, I'd pass on that experience in real life, thank you very much.

Edward Scissorhands // 1990
Via Production Company


So not every film on this list is exactly what I'd consider a 'horror' film, but then again, for Edward Scissorhands I'll make an exception because it's environments are too good to pass up. Edward is the sweet, caring boy next store who just happens to have unknown sets of internal organs and a wide variety of sharp objects for fingers. He was created by the Inventor (Vincent Price) in a strange, gothic home upon the hillside of an equally odd, juxtaposed suburban neighborhood. The house he lives in is dark and full of fanciful sculptures that inspire Edward to 'garden.' What's so fascinating to me about his house is that by the end of the film (NO, I won't spoil this - although to be fair, you've had 25 years), the terrifying house that everyone avoids, in many ways becomes more inviting than the cookie-cutter jungle that surrounds it. Edward's abilities are misunderstood, he himself is feared, but his creativity and passion are fostered to grow and flourish within the confines of his own fortress of solitude.

Pan's Labyrinth // 2006
Via Warner Bros.


Another possibly unusual, but welcome addition to this list is Pan's Labyrinth. Pan's Labyrinth has often been described as a 'fairy tale for adults' and I tend to agree with this sentiment. The look of the film is rustic, but fantastical in moments of heightened imagination. As Ofelia progresses through her many trials, the spaces around her become more dangerous and distressing. One of the true highlights of the film takes place in an underground lair where a pale figure sits at the end of a long table, filled to the brim with sweets and delicacies. Don't be fooled though, the inviting setting is used as a trick to lull Ofelia into peril - like a trap door spider waiting patiently to jump at its prey from behind the veil.

Saw // 2004
Via Lionsgate

THE CELL // SAW (2004)

Now who can forget Saw? This film takes place primarily in not only one location, but really a single room for the majority of its running time. Two men awake to find themselves as prisoners within the confines of dreary and disgusting cell - a dead man sprawled out between them, missing half of his head. The premise of the movie is simple - what would you do to stay alive? Although the original film spawned several(although often less impressive) sequels, the ability of the first to tell a compelling horror story from a single location is engaging and fresh. The room itself becomes another character and in many ways, the killer.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street // 2007
Via Warner Bros.


Tim Burton and Johnny Depp have made a lot of movies together, but none quite like Sweeney Todd. If I were to say to you that there exists a film that combines a classic broadway musical, Victorian London, a sinister barber out for revenge and buckets of blood, I don't think you'd even believe me - but it's true! Benjamin Barker (Depp) schemes in the attic flat above a meat pie shop, slowly preparing to exact his vengeance upon the enemy that ruined his life. There are songs and dance (well, not so much dance, but you get the idea) - playfully composed within the dirty underbelly of a London nightmare.

Film Name // 2014
Via IFC Films


I don't know about you, but I like my bedtime stories to stay in their books (where they belong!) and not try to make me go slowly insane. The Babadook is a storybook character that comes alive and lurks in the shadows of a mother and son's home. While I chose to avoid showing the actual Babadook in the image above, please believe me when I say that he is one creepy Mo' Fo' that would probably give you nightmares if you simply glanced at his face (you're welcome for saving you from this discomfort). He uses the darkness in nooks and crannies to hide, only to slowly reveal himself with the creepiest smile ever depicted in film. The house he took, for no one can hide from the Babadook... dook... dook.

The Evil Dead // 1981
Via New Line Cinema


In the horror film genre, there are few settings more recognizable to the true fans than the 'cabin in the woods' from The Evil Dead. What can be scarier than an old cabin, secluded from every living soul for miles? The answer is pretty much nowhere. The cabin provides the setting for some of the best moments horror films can offer. It's almost as though the cabin is alive. Granted, the characters could have avoided all of the terrifying spooks and ghouls if they hadn't read from 'The Book of the Dead,' but ya know - it wouldn't really be a horror movie if it was completely practical.


At the end of another October, partake in the festivities, embrace the frightening spectacles, and scare yourself senseless with one of the films above. But beware and look around every--Boo!

Haha, gotcha.

Happy Halloween!

MLaValley _ Blog Signature.jpg


What movies scare you? Are there any movie settings in particular that give you the creeps? I'd love to know your thoughts in the comments below.

Michael LaValley

Buffalo, NY