As the spookiest holiday of the year draws near, enjoy a photo tour of real-life sites that were famously featured in classic horror stories, folklore and film. Some look surprisingly sweet, some flaunt their history, and some will chill your bones.
Photo Credit: Flickr to uncertainty and beyond
By Lena Katz
Dracula | Carpathian Mountains, Romania
The world's very first vampire crush and Romania's most enduring celebrity, Dracula has a tremendous amount of charisma for someone who never technically existed. People travel from all over the world to go on vampire-inspired tours of the Carpathian mountains, Romanian villages and Bran Castle (pictured) one alleged haunt of Vlad the Impaler, the real-life inspiration for Dracula.
Photo Credit: Romania Tourism
Legend of Sleepy Hollow | Sleepy Hollow, New York
Some places try to distance themselves from past history involving a psycho-killer with supernatural tendencies. Not so with Sleepy Hollow. The biggest attraction in this historic New England town is its spooky, Gothic 400-year-old cemetery. Gnarled trees, ancient stone busts and crumbling gravestones show you just what inspired Washington Irving - and his grave is there too, for visitors who want to personally say "Thanks for all the scary Headless Horseman dreams." Lantern tours are offered regularly throughout the year, and every night the last week of October.
Photo Credit: Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
Jack the Ripper | Whitechapel, London
And speaking of psycho-killers...who could forget London's most famous slasher? Though certain details of his nefarious killing career have been more-or-less confirmed, he was never caught - thus allowing for reality to mix with urban legend and artistic license. As the decades transform Jack into a demon, the Whitechapel neighborhood he once hunted is transforming a different way - becoming hip and colorful, with open-air markets, live rock venues and a subway stop where no one's afraid to linger after dark.
Photo Credit: Flickr olivern5
The Birds | Bodega Bay, California
Alfred Hitchcock's classic horror film was the stuff to inspire a lifetime phobia of winged things. Unprovoked and unexplained, hordes of gulls, ravens and other not-normally-birds-of-prey viciously attack hapless humans in the remote Northern California town of Bodega Bay. These days, sleepy Bodega still harbors quite a population of seabirds. But no fear; they're not aggressive at all (...or ARE they?).
Photo Credit: Flickr Will Wilson
Dawn of the Dead | Monroeville, Pennsylvania
Props to the producers of "Dawn of the Dead" for shooting their seminal zombie apocalypse film in Pennsylvania - where the story was actually set - instead of some generic town just outside Hollywood. Without armies of shambling undead, the suburban town of Monroeville is as unthreatening and middle-American as can be, with quiet streets and fields in every direction.
Photo Credit: Flickr jmd41280
Salem Witch Trials | Salem, Massachusetts
Salem, on the other hand, can look pretty grim from some angles. It preserves its real-life legacy through historic tours (such as the Witch Trial Trail) and numerous visitor attractions such as the Salem Witch Museum. The original Salem witch-hunters would be appalled to know how enthusiastically their once-Puritan town has embraced its witchy tendencies: Halloween must-sees include 13 Ghosts of Salem 3D Haunted House, the Salem Witch Walk (hosted by authentic modern Wiccans) and the Witch Dungeon Museum, which hosts "Raise the Devil" shows all day April through November and some evenings in October.
Photo Credit: Flickr dougtone
The Necromancer | The Black Forest, Germany
The Black Forest's bleak winter snows, densely wooded areas, and medieval ruins inspired all sorts of superstitions and night-time fears in centuries past. Many of them come together in the Necromancer, a German gothic novel featuring ghosts, peasant-killing noblemen, and a sorcerer returned from the dead. Thankfully, from the looks of things, German engineering, and modern architecture have cleaned up the Forest quite a bit.
Photo Credit: GNTO & BSB
Pit and the Pendulum | Toledo, Spain
This classic Edgar Allen Poe chiller is set in a dark and nightmarish dungeon in Toledo, Spain, center of the Spanish Inquisition. Today, the dark patches of Toledo's history are remembered alongside other, more enlightened times when it was a cultural melting pot. Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site decades ago, it's as much historic preservation site as city, with protection placed over its cathedrals, palaces, and yes, even its collections of sharp steel blades.
Photo Credit: Tourist Office of Spain
Interview with a Vampire | Garden District, New Orleans
Long before "Twilight" inspired widespread YouTube hysterics, adult fantasists were losing themselves in the bloody, seductive, amoral but artistic world of the Vampire Chronicles. New Orleans was immortal rockstar Vampire Lestat's home. In reality, it's a city that accepts eccentricity, artistry and debauchery - supernatural or otherwise. Cemetery walks, voodoo tours, vampire bars and haunted mausoleums are just a few of its creepy attractions.
Photo Credit: Donn Young
The Shining | Timberline Lodge, Mt. Hood, Oregon
Ever wondered who could possibly stay in the uber-creepy "REDRUM" hotel? The answer is: lots and lots of West Coast snowboarders and skiers. Though Steven King's classic chiller was supposedly inspired by the Stanley Hotel in Colorado, exteriors for the film were shot at the Timberline. But at this Oregon ski resort, it's rare to see an eerie abandoned scene like the one pictured. Usually, it's filled with couples on getaway, foodies arrived for a wine dinner, or snowboarders so young they only know "The Shining" as some movie that their parents like (Which may be the scariest thing of all).
Photo Credit: Timberline Lodge