By Mathew Parry, Locations Consultant – Creative BC
Right in time for Halloween, we explored some of the schlocky and scary movies and television shows filmed in B.C. from the spooky town of Greendale in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina to the cult base of The Wicker Man (2005). Grab the candy corn, we’ve got some frightening gems ahead!
BCIT’s Aerospace Campus – Photo Credit: Tony Zhou (Vimeo)
- The Cabin in the Woods (2012) – This thought-provoking, thrillingly-meta and innovative horror flick showcases some of BC’s best natural assets. Woods and forests obviously get a look in as the title would suggest, and who could also forget the lake scene with teenage Thor: “Don’t kill the gorgeous man! We’re endangered!” But also keep an eye out for the high-tech interiors of BCIT’s Aerospace Campus, which were used as the control centre for the underground laboratory that is manipulating the doomed students.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Netflix
- The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005) – All the best horror films start with “Based on a True Story” and this one even goes so far as to use that very line on its poster. Luckily for us though, those actual sad events happened in Leiblfing, Bavaria, and not on the UBC campus where several scenes were shot – the Buchanan Tower, and HR MacMillan and Douglas Kenny Buildings all feature.
Photo Credit: Youtube
- The Fog (2005) – This update of the 1980s John Carpenter classic was poorly received by audiences, despite the abundance of adorable BC locations. Atmosphere abounds though, as is only appropriate in a film with this title, and Tofino, Cowichan Bay and Fort Langley all benefit from swathes of dry ice to hide the horrors in the fog.
Photo Credit: Friday The 13th Clips
- Friday 13th: Part VIII – Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) – Nah, he doesn’t take Manhattan. He takes the SkyTrain! Various establishing shots would lead you to believe you’re in New York, but no – you’re mostly in Vancouver. Look out especially for the Granville Skytrain station, if you’re getting withdrawal symptoms whilst it’s closed for escalator replacement.
Photo Credit: Movieclips-Youtube
- Lake Placid (1999) – Not all Halloween monsters have to be supernatural. Why not have a 30ft animatronic crocodile on your lawn with Betty White as a helpful ally!? Or you could just take a paddle across the tranquil waters of Shawnigan Lake, Buntzen Lake or Hayward Lake – a combination of which stood in for the fictional Black Lake of Maine.
Photo Credit: CraveTV
- It (1990) – And let’s stay in Maine for the next on our list. So much attention for the more recent iterations of It, but there’s a lot of love out there for Tim Curry’s Pennywise as seen in this mini-series. Burnaby, New Westminster and Vancouver all feature strongly, with appearances from Stanley Park, New West’s Paramount Theatre and the Burnaby Village Museum. Keep passing those storm drains, everyone, but keep an eye out for a documentary about the making of this original It, out in 2020.
Photo Credit: moviemaps.org
- Underworld: Evolution (2006) & Underworld: Awakening (2012) – Vampires are a pretty essential component of Halloween nowadays, but we don’t typically associate them with SFU… Or do we? So much of Underworld: Awakening was shot at the institution’s Burnaby Mountain campus with the Convocation Mall, WAC Bennett Library and Transportation Centre all featuring. The franchise’s earlier installment, Underworld: Evolution also found a home in the Lower Mainland.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Netflix
- The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2019 – present) – With Sabrina’s own home surrounded by forests, there’s no shortage of weird woods for the production to decamp to in the PNW. But the series has also used its fair share of non-natural locations too, including the Paramount Theatre in New Westminster and the Vogue in Downtown Vancouver, which featured in the show’s opening episode. Meanwhile the program’s “Cerberus Books” is in Cloverdale, and the role of Sabrina’s Baxter High School is played by Lord Strathcona Elementary School in East Van.
Photo Credit: SPN UK
- Supernatural (2005 – present) – Currently filming their 15th and final season which premiered on 10 October, it’s hard to walk around the Lower Mainland without tripping over somewhere or other that the Winchester brothers have visited. With its great variety of looks and feels, one of their most consistently used spots is UBC. They can also be regularly found in Langley and Fort Langley. This region is going to get a whole lot more haunted once the boys leave town! They will be missed.
Photo Credit: Thriller Movie Trailers
- The Wicker Man (2006) – Horror of a different kind here. Sadly, not the classic, Christopher Lee version from 1973, but instead a box office bomb which swaps the Scottish Highlands and Islands for Washington State. Only it’s not Washington State, it’s BC. Both Saturna and Bowen Islands feature, as does Merrit (in the Thompson-Nicola) and, yet again, Langley. One critic described watching this horror as an “excruciating experience”, so view at your own peril. Don’t have nightmares!