Many works of horror include fictional locations that have become iconic. Some are used over and over again, whether it be in a franchise like Halloween or in many different works, as has been done frequently by authors such as Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft.
Location is incredibly important in horror. It can provide the appropriate atmosphere and establish the feeling that this could happen anywhere. I admit a more personal interest, especially when it comes to the works of Stephen King. Growing up in Maine, the places that King used to terrify the whole world were places I was absolutely familiar with. Every fictional place draws a real-life inspiration, whether that place is widely known or not. Here are some that stand out the most.
Haddonfield, Illinois (Haddonflield, New Jersey)
There wasn’t a lot of creativity that went into the naming of the characters in Halloween, so it should be no surprise that Haddonfield was simply a name borrowed from somewhere else. Michael Myers was named after the man who financed Assault on Precinct 13, Laurie was named after an old girlfriend of Carpenter’s and Sam Loomis was named after the boyfriend in Psycho. Haddonfield, Illinois was named after and somewhat based on Haddonfield, New Jersey, the hometown of co-screenwriter and producer Debra Hill.
This one gets us into gray territory, because this was simply the movie’s filming location. The location of the camp has always remained ambiguous, but there has been some care taken by some of the sequels to try and maintain a New Jersey setting. As time has gone on, the notion that the Friday the 13th series takes place in Jersey has become more widely accepted. While sequels have been filmed everywhere from Georgia to Texas, it is the original camp in the original feature that provides the perfect isolated atmosphere.
The first (and not the last) Stephen King location on this list, Little Tall Island has been the setting for Storm of the Century and Dolores Claiborne and has been mentioned in many other works. I’ll always be partial to it, because while I enjoy all the Maine locations from King’s work, Mount Desert Island was my actual home and served as the basis for the town in these stories. My favorite of King’s works to use the location, though, was the short story “Home Delivery” which centered on how things were being handled in Maine during the events of George Romero’s zombie uprising.
The scariest of all of King’s fictional towns—even in recent works, it’s referred to as a cursed place where people simply don’t go—‘Salem’s Lot was based on the author’s own home town of Durham. The town borders the Portland area as well as Lewiston/Auburn which, trust me, is as terrifying a place as anything the book has cooked up. In addition to the vampire masterpiece ‘Salem’s Lot, the town has also been the setting for the short stories “One for the Road” and “Jerusalem’s Lot.” It is frequently mentioned by other stories and characters from the Lot have gone on to appear in King’s magnum opus, The Dark Tower.
The setting of H.P. Lovecraft’s famous novella, The Shadow over Innsmouth, the town is an isolated seaside community known for its strange citizens, who have what people call “the Innsmouth look.” This was a town that made a deal with a fish god in order to sustain its only source of income, but it came with a price. The townspeople slowly began to mutate into sea creatures, some strange hybrid of human and fish. The place is a cornerstone of Lovecraft’s deeply interconnected work and remains the most famous of the townships he created.
Derry is King’s biggest town, second only to Castle Rock. The town was a partial setting for the recent bestseller 11/22/63 and was the main setting for Insomnia, Bag of Bones, Dreamcatcher, the novella Fair Extension and is most widely known as the setting for It. Introducing the iconic villain of Pennywise the Dancing Clown, It is one of the most frightening tomes Stephen King ever wrote. It was even scarier to read the book and be able to match specific, actual locations with the places in which the children in the book were killed and where the clown appeared to the main characters to taunt and torment them. Bangor was also a primary filming location for Creepshow 2.