Plots Among the Plots: Horror Movie Graveyards I Have Known

October 12, 2015 — Like people, graveyards become a lot cooler when they get cast in a movie. Especially a horror movie. And there are few things more right than a horror movie scene set in a graveyard. I mean, you can legitimately hate both horror movies and graveyards and you’d still have to admit that the pairing is…just…perfect. And while I don’t need much of a reason to visit a cemetery (mostly I go to practice my afterlife), I will plan entire vacations around the opportunity to check a horror movie graveyard out.

So I shuffled around in the OTIS archives to see what horror movie graveyards I’ve visited and found some great ones, most of which are worth visiting without their horror movie connections. But here’s ten. I encourage you to go through the links and read the full posts on these graveyard movie stars.

Blair Witch Cemetery
(Cemetery Drive, Burkittsville, Maryland)

Before Heather, Joshua, and Michael took off into the anonymous-looking Maryland forest that is actually Seneca Creek State Park and Patapsco Valley State Park, they filmed a bit in Union Cemetery in the real-life town of Burkittsville. It’s pretty much the only place in Burkittsville itself that they filmed in and, honestly, kind of the only place in town, anyway.

My Cemetery Memory: It was one of the places I took my now-wife during our first Autumn together.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre Cemetery
(N. Bagdad Road, Leander, Texas)

The graveyard in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre set the tone that the entire movie would follow. In real life, it’s called Bagdad Cemetery, and it was named after the town before that town was renamed Leander, Texas. The graveyard itself remains virtually unchanged from what was captured on Tobe Hooper’s gritty film stock, although the entire area around it has gone commercial.

My Cemetery Memory: It’s probably the only time in my life that I wanted it to be miserable, grimy, and heat-rashy so that I could feel like I was in the movie. Of course, on our visit it was pleasantly overcast and drizzling. Also, watching the opening scene on a phone in the middle of where it was filmed was pretty groovy.

Night of the Living Dead Cemetery
(Franklin Road, Evans City, Pennsylvania)

As you can tell by the past three movies, many horror movies open in graveyards. It’s traditional. I mean, they’re horror movies, so most of the characters you’re being introduced to are destined for burial within the amount of time it takes to get to the bottom of your popcorn bowl. Same happened here in Evans City Cemetery in Pennsylvania, where the first two people you meet split the deal, one dying immediately and the other dying later. But I’ll shut up as that scene and this cemetery need no commentary from the likes of me.

My Cemetery Memory: I remember being slightly disappointed by how plain the cemetery was, other than the crumbling chapel which has since been renovated thanks to dedicated NOTL fans. But then we turned our photos black and white, and all was right in the world.

Session 9 Cemetery 
(Kirkbride Drive, Danvers, Massachusetts)

Of all the cemeteries on this list, this one has changed the most, despite being one of the more recent movies of the lot. In the story, the real-life cemetery for the real-life Danvers Insane Asylum had a minor role as a place for the asbestos removal crew to sit on fallen trees and enjoy some fresh, carcinogen-free air. Today, the shaft-shaped stones have all been replaced by plaques and the entire geography of the area has been altered to accommodate the condos that the asylum has become.

My Cemetery Memory: My favorite visit to this cemetery was at midnight in a downpour after watching Session 9 inside the nearby condos with an extremely gracious OTIS reader and her daughter.

The Last House on the Left Cemetery
(Wilton Road, Westport, Connecticut)

Poplar Plains Cemetery is a classic New England graveyard in a lot of ways: small, old, valiantly standing its ground against the civilization that has surrounded it. It also happens to be part of a classic horror movie that I’m only comfortable watching by myself so as not to share the shame. And that’s what makes it brilliant.

My Cemetery Memory: I just remember this as part of an awesome day of searching out Connecticut sites for The New England Grimpendium.

Hocus Pocus/The Good Son Cemetery
(Orne Street, Marblehead, Massachusetts)

That’s right. This amazing Old Burial Hill Cemetery in Marblehead has an actual film resume. Hocus Pocus had a lot of graveyard scenes, but the best ones were filmed in a studio. However, at least the bullying scene were Max has his high tops stolen by Jay and Ernie, I mean Ice, was filmed here. For The Good Son, the old well in the cemetery (left side of the above photo) was used for the scene where Macaulay Culkin and Elijah Wood smoke cigarettes and talk about death.

My Cemetery Memory: The harbor view was fantastic, as is the unique hilly, rocky geometry of the graveyard. Also finding the headstone of Susanna Jayne with its bats and skeleton and snake.

Lords of Salem Cemetery 
(Orne Street, Salem, MA)

It’s not downtown, but Greenlawn Cemetery is still a Salem Cemetery, so the dead there get to at least boast about that. It can also boast about having a small, very strange role in Rob Zombie’s very strange story.

My Cemetery Memory: Watching Lords of Salem later that night in Salem while drinking cider mixed with vanilla vodka at a friend’s house.

House of Dark Shadows Cemetery
(N. Broadway, Sleepy Hollow, New York)

This might be the only time I’ve called this place Dark Shadows Cemetery. And that’s because it’s Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, New York, home of the Headless Horseman and the final resting place of his creator, Washington Irving. It just also happens to be the site of Barnabas's crypt in House of Dark Shadows.

My Cemetery Memory: I have way, way too many of this place. I love Sleepy Hollow and I love Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. How about this one where I gave a talk in the cemetery chapel—which had stained glass windows depicted Washington Irving—and then was given a private tour of the inside of some of its mausoleums.

Pet Sematary Cemetery
(State Street, Bangor, Maine)

It’s not the cemetery of the movie’s title, but Mount Hope Cemetery is still pretty important in the movie, it being the place where Gage was buried and then, you know, bodysnatched by his father. It’s also the place where Stephen King cameo’d as a minister overseeing a funeral. It was an easy commute for him.

My Cemetery Memory: I visited this cemetery on the way home from a weekend camping trip in the wilds of the state. It was a very Maine weekend for me.

I Sell the Dead Cemetery
(Highland Avenue, Staten Island, New York)

It’s a fun, little movie about grave robbers, so you gotta have graves. And when the movie makers weren’t faking it, they used Woodland Cemetery, which completely lives up to its name by being overgrown to the point of wilderness.

My Cemetery Memory: At one point, the path I was driving dead-ended in a wood and I had a sweaty few minutes of wondering if the 80-point turn I was attempting was just digging me deeper into the forest floor.

One Dark Night Cemetery
(Hollywood, California)

What? You don’t know about the 1982 movie One Dark Night? Well, neither did I. I just discovered it for this post. I merely assumed that the famous Hollywood Forever Cemetery in California must’ve had a horror movie filmed within its plots, and in searching around, it was surprisingly only this movie. But it stars Meg Tilly and Adam West, and involves some girls having to stay the night inside its mausoleum. It’s on my list now.

My Cemetery Memory: Fighting off a group of territorial geese to snag a photo of Virginia Rappe’s grave. And then feeling kind of icky about that.