Monthly Archives: January 2018
If you’ve been following me on any social media or have read some of my work, you know I have a thing for all things abandoned. On a recent Dark Discussions episode, we reviewed the 2001 film Session 9—it has some small issues, for sure, but you can’t beat the atmosphere; it was shot in the real former Danvers State Hospital in Massachusetts, which today is home to luxury apartments (yes, really).
I decided it might be fun to pull together a list of my favorite movies that are set in abandoned locations. I didn’t include films that have one or two stunning scenes in such places—believe it or not, the animated love fest Happy Feet would rank high on that list, with its most disturbing scene playing out in an abandoned Antarctic whaling station—only films that are almost entirely set in them.
Please note: The only thing these films have been judged on is the quality of the abandoned setting. Check out your favorite review venue if you want more detail on the film’s other aspects before watching.
Session 9 (2001)
An asbestos cleaning crew takes on a big contract at a crumbling, abandoned asylum, not realizing that they’re going to get a lot more than they bargained for when they find cassettes of a patient’s hypnotherapy sessions. Many people consider this one of the most terrifying movies of all time, but I maintain it’s because of the claustrophobic setting. Shot at Danvers State Hospital in Massachusetts (before it was gutted and became Bradlee Danvers Luxury Apartments—check it out here), this is a fine example of how setting is sometimes the biggest player in what makes a movie scary. Watch Session 9
Ghost Ship (2002)
A salvage crew thinks they’ve hit the jackpot when they find a passenger liner that went missing forty years ago—one that had long been rumored to harbor massive treasure. But it also harbors something else: ghosts for sure, but I’m thinking more along the lines of splendid furnishings corroded by four decades worth of exposure to the salt air. For most of us, this is as close as we’ll ever get to exploring a derelict liner. The set is so ably rendered it’s easy to envision the grandeur that must’ve been. Watch Ghost Ship
A filmmaker and his crew go to an abandoned hotel twenty years after Read the rest of this entry
The Last Words of the Mynah Bird, Gina Ochsner
This tale of a quarrelsome couple who secures a mynah bird in the hopes it will save their marriage opens up in the same fashion as Poe’s “The Black Cat”—giving what might have been a typical first-person story opening an irresistible mystique. At times, this fun little read is comically shocking, but its commentary on the ups and downs of communication, the impact of our language on one another and the nature of love leaves a serious impression. It can be found in her collection People I Wanted to Be here: http://a.co/06f5j8C
I’ve always loved seeing “then and nows,” especially when it involves a location such as a no-longer operating amusement park, hotel, or town. In the spirit of all things abandoned, here’s a then-and-now short that Adam the Woo (a popular urban explorer I follow) did on the filming locations for John Carpenter’s Halloween, which includes scenes from the film for comparison.
If you like all things abandoned, you might want to pick up either the upcoming Ink Stains Volume 7: Decay, or my novel Bad Apple.