New series Castle Rock starts tonight (July 25) on Hulu, taking us to the fictional Maine town that’s home to some of Stephen King‘s most memorable stories, from The Dead Zone and Cujo right up to Doctor Sleep and Revival.
Horror veterans André Holland, Bill Skarsgård and Sissy Spacek star as residents who experience the town’s supernatural activity, so what better time to revisit the terrifying fictional towns we’ve encountered on TV and at the movies?
10. Eerie, Indiana
Long before Hawkins, IN became synonymous with the supernatural thanks to Stranger Things, another show spotlighted a town in rural Indiana for its spooky goings-on. Described as “Twin Peaks for kids,” Eerie, Indiana (1991) may have been aimed at younger viewers, but it was no less unsettling and full of absurdist suburban dread.
9. 1891 London
Okay, so London most certainly did exist in 1891, but not in the way imagined by Skyfall and The Aviator writer John Logan for Penny Dreadful. His version of Victorian London is a “demi-monde” poised between the supernatural and real worlds, where monsters from stories such as Frankenstein and Dracula live alongside human characters.
8. Ravenswood, Pennsylvania
Whereas Rosewood is all affluent homes and manicured lawns, nearby town Ravenswood is spooky and mysterious thanks to a dangerous curse that has plagued its citizens for generations. They’re both fictional locations in Pretty Liars, with the latter getting its own spin-off series in 2013.
7. Amityville, New York
This Long Island village is the setting of Jay Anson‘s book The Amityville Horror, which was then adapted into a famous 1979 movie by Stuart Rosenberg, not to mention numerous sequels and reboots. The violence of the story traces back to real-life murderer Ronald DeFeo, Jr., who killed his six family members at 112 Ocean Avenue. Then, in 1975, the Lutz family moved into the same house — and quickly escaped — after allegedly being plagued by paranormal activity.
6. Silent Hill, West Virginia
Director Christophe Gans changed the setting when he adapted the hugely successful series of video games Silent Hill into a 2006 horror flick of the same name: instead of a populous, apparently peaceful rural town in Maine, Silent Hill moved states to become a cursed ghost town, which had been abandoned after a fire started in the underlying coal mines 30 years earlier. Eek.
5. Sunnydale, California
Welcome to Sunnydale, where the vampires have a taste for blood and a hellmouth is ready to swallow you alive. The fictional California town in Joss Whedon‘s Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a gateway between this world and the next, which is why demons and other supernatural beings can’t seem to stay away.
4. Vermilion Parish, Louisiana
Part of the reason the first season of True Detective enraptured audiences so much was its setting: the deep, swampy, Southern Gothic state of Louisiana. It was from this real-life town homicide detectives Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson) supposedly set out to pursue a serial killer over a 17-year period.
3. Twin Peaks, Washington
The fictional town of Twin Peaks was so enchantingly strange it was almost its own character in this legendary series by David Lynch and Mark Frost. Described by Sheriff Truman (Michael Ontkean) as a “long way from the world,” the small logging town is supposedly five miles south as Canada, and 12 from the state line with Idaho. Sure enough, in time-honored spooky town tradition, it’s not long before time seems to stop, and visiting FBI agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) looks like he’ll never leave.
2. Woodsboro, California
This small town is gripped by fear as a local slasher stalks its streets in Wes Craven‘s 1996 horror classic Scream. In doing this, it takes its cue from Springwood, OH in Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) or Haddonfield, IL in Halloween (1978), with one crucial difference: its residents’ knowledge of scary movies.
1. Airstrip One, Oceania
This dystopian nightmare place is in fact the U.K. in 1984, though writer George Orwell could not have envisaged a country ruled by Margaret Thatcher and Duran Duran. Instead, he imagined a totalitarian superstate in a constant state of war, where “Big Brother” monitors its inhabitants’ every move. Unlikely hero Winston Smith lives in Victory Mansions in a city in Airstrip One, which reads (and looks, in the 1984 film version starring John Hurt) remarkably like London.
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