Screenshot courtesy Charlie Comparetto | Ghost in the Graveyard
All the locally shot, locally set, and otherwise Westchester County-adjacent horror flicks you should binge watch before Halloween.
With all the Freddies and Jasons and Hocus Pocuses hitting airwaves this time of year, horror hounds are in high “spirits.” We consider ourselves something of local experts, however, so not just any gorefest will satisfy our cinematic palates.
Here are the locally set, shot, and otherwise full-on Westchester horror films you should be watching this Halloween season.
Buckout Road (2017)
We’ve been fans of Matthew Currie Holmes’ witchy urban legend-fueled supernatural horror since before it was even released. Based around local tales of the eponymous White Plains laneway (which may or may not involve albino cannibals), the film features the indefatigable Danny Glover and is available to stream online.
Dark Water (2005)
This Jennifer Connelly-led supernatural horror follows a divorcée mother and her young daughter, plagued by a vengeful spirit. Though ostensibly taking place in NYC, parts of the film were in fact shot in Pocantico Hills. Watch it online.
The Forgotten (2004)
Julianne Moore stars in this psychological horror/thriller about a woman who wakes up one morning to find that her son, Sam, who died in a plane crash more than a year previous, has apparently never existed. Without spoiling things, the final act takes place at Westchester County Airport, so definitely keep an eye out. Watch it here.
Ghost in the Graveyard (2019)
Somers resident Charlie Comparetto’s horror film based on the eponymous children’s game will have plenty of familiar sights for eagle-eyed viewers, including Katonah, Ossining, Somers, Tarrytown, and Yorktown. Stream it online.
Hide and Seek (2005)
Robert De Niro and Dakota Fanning star in this horror thriller alongside Elizabeth Shue, in which a widower moves with his daughter “upstate” — groan — after his wife’s apparent suicide. In this case, the truest horror is calling the filming location of Ossining “upstate.” Stream it online.
I Am Legend (2007)
Taking one of the greatest horror short stories of all time by Richard Matheson and ruining it with terrible CG “vampires” places this Will Smith vehicle firmly in the modern B-movie camp, although the alternate ending hews much closer to the book and feels significantly more satisfying. While ostensibly taking place in New York City, much of the action was actually shot at the Yonkers Stage production facilities. Watch it online, but we don’t recommend paying for it.
Sleepy Hollow (1999)
I mean, Tim Burton directing young-ish Jonny Depp, post-Addams Family Christina Ricci, and a bizarre cameo appearance by Christopher Walken in a gothic reimagining of Washington Irving’s classic tale? I shouldn’t have to sell you on this. Watch it online, but Netflix is probably the easiest option. Ironically, for a film taking place almost entirely in Westchester, only a few insert shots of corn fields were filmed in Westchester, and those at a temporary sound stage in Yonkers.
The Stepford Wives (2004)
Stradling the line between body horror and sci-fi black comedy, the remake of the 1975 classic adds an all-star cast including Nicole Kidman, Matthew Broderick, Bette Midler, another appearance by Christopher Walken, Faith Hill, and Glen Close. Various scenes in the nightmarishly idealistic town were shot at the Estherwood Mansion in Dobbs Ferry, as well as parts of Valhalla and Yonkers. Watch online.
Wikipedia says it better than we could ever hope to: “The film primarily takes place aboard a luxury yacht owned by a criminal multimillionaire and bound for the Cayman Islands, whose passengers and crew are terrorized by a mutant cat.” Scenes were filmed in Port Chester, Harrison, Westchester County Jail, at Manhattanville College, and at the Larchmont Yacht Club. Watch it for free on Tubi and elsewhere.
War of the Worlds (2005)
Scenes in the Steven Spielberg/Tom Cruise update on H.G. Wells’ classic sci-fi film isn’t technically horror but it does have killer aliens so we’ll count it. It also isn’t technically that good, but if you really wanted to watch Tom chew the scenery at a local park, you’re going to have to pay to watch it.
World War Z (2013)
The scariest thing about Marc Forster’s Brad Pitt-led globe-spanning zombie flick is just how terrible it is considering how good the original Max Brooks epistolary novel is. If you want to watch it, we’re not going to stop you from making poor decisions, but the far superior option is to read the book, in which the U.S. Army’s first major battle against the undead is The Battle of Yonkers.” It … didn’t go well for us, as you might expect.
X-Men (Any of them, frankly)
This one’s sort of a stretch, since the best we can really do is that several Westchester locations were recreated at sound stages in Toronto. Still, the X-Mansion itself — e.g. “Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters” — is canonically located at 1407 Graymalkin Lane, Salem Center in Northern Westchester, which in the real world is about two miles from the Hammond Museum & Japanese Stroll Garden.
With the Disney/Fox buyout, the property is kind of all over the place, but good recommendations from the property would be Logan, Deadpool, or maybe the 2000 franchise kickoff. New Mutants was the last FOX-era X-film to come out — and is decidedly horror-themed — but it’s also just horrible. Honestly, pick something that isn’t X-Men Origins: Wolverine and your friends will thank you.