Los Angeles—the land of make believe where even the palm trees are transplants—thrives on an escapist-aspirational energy generated by the Hollywood dream factory. While the birthplace of cinema often plays somewhere else—Haddonfield, Illinois in the case of John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978), for example—the buildings and houses that feature in our favorite horror movies are often located here in Los Angeles.
Laurie Strode is stalked through the Doyle’s house on North Orange Grove in West Hollywood, which is actually across the street from the Wallace’s house, where her friend Annie was babysitting (until her murder). The Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) house is a block away on North Genesee Ave, also in West Hollywood. Silverlake’s Canfield-Moreno Estate played the Stab 3 movie producer’s house in Scream 3 and Hillcrest Academy High School in Halloween H20: 20 Years Later. The Victorian used for exteriors in the John Landis-directed music video for Michael Jackson's Thriller is located in the historic Angelino Heights neighborhood near Echo Park. You’ll find the Charmed house on the same street (Carroll Ave).
But in the Upside Down world of LA, where fantasy and reality often become blurred, things are seldom as they seem. Underneath that relentlessly blue Californian sky lurks a haunting history of horror far worse than fiction. 1969 is widely considered to mark the end of innocence for Los Angeles's bucolic canyons, Topanga, Laurel, Benedict and Coldwater, when beauty turned to brutality with The Manson Family Murders. These mini Edens have a particularly macabre underbelly having served as the location for two other gruesome events including the 1981 John Holmes Wonderland Murders and the 2000 Benedict Canyon execution-style shooting by New York real estate scion Robert A. Durst, as seen on HBO’s The Jinx. Within these mist-filled canyons, it is surprisingly easy to forget that one is still within the confines of the city of Los Angeles: beautiful, serene, pastoral, but out of bounds and lawless. Like somehow the rules don't apply? The ghosts of the past are very much alive in a town that wants more than anything to forget. Lock your doors, bolt your windows, turn off the lights. And grab the popcorn.