With Halloween coming up, it’s handy to remember that horror starts at home. Or at least it does in the Mobile area, which has provided locations for a fair number of fright-inducing flicks over the years.
They didn’t all make the blockbuster splash of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” and they weren’t all prestige productions on the order of “The Insider.” But if it’s boogeymen you want, you’ll find them aplenty. As in a graveyard, you just have to a little digging.
Don’t you hate it when you an unpleasant task and then abide it off? In this vaguely “Final Destination”-ish premise written by lead actress Vivian Schilling and filmed by director Michael Rissi, some sort-of-dead teenagers try to avoid being hauled off by the grim reaper. The film went on to be featured in the 10th season of “Mystery Science Theater 3000.”
“Night Trap” aka “Mardi Gras for the Devil” (1993)
With a title like “Mardi Gras for the Devil” you can hardly go wrong. But just so you know, this David A. Prior-directed thriller features Robert Davi as a cop chasing a psycho killer played by Michael Burnside through Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Mobile stands in for New Orleans, as you can see from the not-quite-safe-for-work trailer, which includes glimpses of some familiar downtown buildings. Not scared yet? The same trailer calls it an “erotic suspense thriller.”
“Dead Birds” (2004)
Directed by Alex Turner, this project tells the story of a group of Confederate soldiers “who hole up in an abandoned plantation after robbing a bank and find themselves at the mercy of supernatural forces.” Much of its was filmed at the Oak Grove Plantation in Eight Mile.
“The Final Destination” (2009)
Locations used by director David R. Ellis in the fourth “Final Destination” film included Mobile International Speedway, scene of racing footage that was key to the movie’s premise.
“The Night Shift” (2011)
This low-budget production from Mobile-based Fighting Owl Films, directed by Thomas Smith, features Khristian Fulmer as the undead caretaker of a graveyard whose inhabitants tend to be a little restless. “Some heroes are born, others are made,” reads the tagline. “This one’s embalmed.”
Oak Grove Plantation in Eight Mile figures in this Terron R. Parsons production featuring Mobile native Richard Tyson among its leads. A college student returns home for Halloween, only to have an escaped killer take over the “Haunted Hayride” attraction put on by his family. Parsons returned with 2015′s “Hayride 2,” shot in Fairhope.
Featuring arguably the creepiest trailer of any film on this list, “Oculus” was filmed in Fairhope by director and co-writer Mike Flanagan. It pits a pair of siblings played by Karen Gillan and Brenton Thwaites against an evil mirror that distorts reality in murderous ways. (Streaming on Hulu)
“Before I Wake” (2016)
The cast of this Mike Flanagan project, originally called “Somnia,” includes Kate Bosworth and Thomas Jane as foster parents of a child whose dreams come to life as he sleeps. But only from his nightmares. (Streaming on Netflix)
Filmed in Fairhope by director Mike Flanagan, this suspenseful film features co-writer Kate Siegel as a deaf and mute woman terrorized in her isolated home by a masked stalker.
“Gerald’s Game” (2017)
In one of Stephen King’s weirder tales, a husband has a heart attack at a particularly inopportune moment, leaving his wife at risk of dying handcuffed to a bed. With D. Scott Lumpkin as executive producer and Mike Flanagan as director, it was filmed in Mobile and Point Clear. Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood star. (Streaming on Netflix)
“Get Out” (2017)
Director Jordan Peele took the world by surprise with this story about a young African-American man visiting his white girlfriend’s parents. What starts with racial unease returns into something much more than skin-deep.
“Demon Squad” (2019)
The Fighting Owl Films gang returned with this 2019 release starring Khristian Fulmer as private investigator Nick Moon in a mashup of supernatural and noir detective tale. The film got a big boost in 2022, when it was featured in “Mystery Science Theater 3000.”
More from Mobile-based Fighting Owl Films. In this tale from writer-director Thomas Smith and co-writer Erin Lilley, cheerleader Molly and her dela best friend Noah must escape a local urban legend, a stalker-killer known as The Hangman.
More Horror in Alabama: The genre’s roots in the state run deep