Hotels, motels and Holiday Inns, these are all locations that typically should be synonymous with luxury, comfort and untroubled accommodation. But in the spine-chilling realm of horror they are often the setting for some of the most unsettling and terrifying things ever put to celluloid. Murderers, weirdos, sinister bellhops (like the creepy costumed bloody bellhop you can now pick up at Pure Costumes), perverse managers, ghosts and general strange goings-on are the order of the day in most of our specially selected list of horror/thriller hotels and motels here.
It’s one of the most iconic movies of all time and the one that legendary director Alfred Hitchcock is most remembered for. For a film that begins with a seemingly respectable secretary who suddenly turns into an opportunistic criminal which then rather swiftly changes gears and moves into early slasher territory and then climaxes with a twist to end all twists it’s certainly an impressive piece of work. The Bates Motel is the sinister setting for that unforgettable bloody shower scene and it reappeared in 2 sequels, a made-for-TV prequel, a shot-for-shot remake and now a fantastic TV series reimagining.
Back road motels may have a reputation of being a little seedy but here we are again with yet another out of the way motel hiding more than just a few unwashed bed sheets. In Nimród Antal's 2007 horror thriller 'Vacancy' unfortunate married couple Amy and David, played by the delectable Kate Beckinsale and Luke Wilson respectively, happen upon the isolated Pinewood motel when their car breaks down. If the creepy motel manager wasn’t enough indication that things were notably off when the pair discovers a selection of VHS snuff films in their room they were right to be a little concerned. Especially when the films were appear to have been shot in the very room that they’re staying in!
There have been plenty of Stephen King adaptations over the years, some superb and some absolutely dreadful. One of the better happens to be another hotel-based horror which sees actor John Cusack in an almost solo effort playing Mike Enslin, an author who now makes his living discrediting hauntings and other supernatural happenings. Through supposed chance he happens upon New York’s Dolphin hotel and decides to stay in its unusually insidious room 1408 where no less than 56 people have died over the course of the last century. There’s plenty to keep Mike occupied during his stay that slowly escalates into a menagerie of ghostly jumps and shocks for its unexpected guest.
John Cusack pops up again in this 2003 mystery thriller that quite frankly keeps viewers guessing right to the very end. Following a heavy rain storm a group of strangers are thrown together at the site of a motel in Nevada. There’s nothing too unusual about that however when each of them begins to die one by one it quickly becomes a bit of an interesting whodunit. A mystery that is compounded even further by the fact that each body is discovered with or adjacent to a motel room key, each of which appear to be reducing numerically as the body count piles up. An excellent supporting cast also help give credence to this mysterious thriller that is not all it seems.
THE SHINING (1980)
What sort of a list of horror-based hotels would be complete without director Stanley Kubrick’s astonishing piece of cinematic masterpiece ‘The Shining’. This truly terrifying and unsettling horror from the master was based on the novel of the same name penned by horror maestro Stephen King but as much as the movie was an adaptation Kubrick certainly took as much creative licenses as he possibly could to make it his own. Filled with haunting visuals and shocking sequences and a stellar performance from a maniacal Jack Nicholson it has gone down in history as one of the most iconic horror experiences of all time. It serves itself to a multitude of repeat viewings and if you’re interested in delving even further into possible hidden meanings and unwritten motivations behind Kubrick’s project you can always check out documentary filmmaker Rodney Ascher’s ‘Room 237’, which is filled with an abundance of potentially plausible interpretations of the film.
With the latest incarnation of hit series 'American Horror Story' also delving into the realm of horror hotels recently there's certainly a lot to consider when you make your next reservation or stop by for a late check-in. Perhaps you'd be better off dressing up to deter would-be psychotics and supernatural scaremongers with a costume or outfit from PureCostumes.com to help ensure that you look just as crazy to the point that noone will want to mess with you.