The Utah Film Commission’s Guide to Halloween
Written By Debra Vago
To celebrate October 31st, the Utah Film Commission has recommended some unique ways to spend Halloween: perfect for all the movie lovers. If you’ve carved one too many pumpkins and are hoping for something different to do this year, the Utah Film Commission may have just what you’re looking for.
Utah is certainly no stranger to the horror genre, and if you are planning to watch a scary movie this Halloween, why not make it a Utah-made one? IMDb lists 151 horror-genre productions filmed right under our noses, here in Utah. The Film Commission has hand-picked a few favorites, so grab the popcorn and see if you can spot any familiar scenes.
And with all of this content captured here in Utah, the Film Commission has shared some of the state’s ‘spookiest’ locations, which continue to be popular amongst filmmakers. “We continue to be an attractive destination for horror genre films. We have all the resources: the locations, the crew and the talent to appeal to these productions”, said Utah Film Commission production manager, Derek Mellus. “The state is home to many haunted houses and spook alleys; we really have a fascination with being frightened here in Utah.”
MADE-IN-UTAH HORROR PICKS:
Carnival of Souls (1962)
Filmed in Salt Lake City, the film has been contemporarily noted by critics and film scholars for its cinematography and foreboding atmosphere. The film has a large cult following and is occasionally screened at both film and Halloween festivals, and has been cited as a wide-ranging influence on numerous filmmakers.
Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977)
The sequel to William Friedkin’s 1973 film, The Exorcist, stars Richard Burton and Linda Blair. The film unfortunately had a disappointing reception in comparison to the original, but is still worth a watch, particularly if you are planning a movie-marathon.
The American cult supernatural horror film was produced and directed by Steve Miner and stars Richard E. Grant. Utah’s iconic Salt Flats appear in the feature. Following its release, the film was compared to The Terminator.
Troll 2 (1990)
Although produced under the name Goblins, the film’s distributors renamed the feature Troll 2, in an attempt to market it as a sequel to the 1986 film Troll. The two films, however, have no connection. While the resulting production has been recognized as one of the worst films ever made, Troll 2 did garner a large fan base and a cult following, which (we think) makes it worth a watch.
The Stand (1994)
The made-in-Utah American TV miniseries is based on the acclaimed novel of the same name by Stephen King and originally aired on ABC in May 1994. The adaptation was filmed everywhere from Pleasant Grove to Ogden. The series won two Emmy awards, as well as garnering a number of nominations for Emmys and Screen Actors Guild Awards.
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
The American slasher film stars Paul Rudd and Donald Pleasence. It is the sixth installment in the Halloween film series, three of which were filmed in Utah. The feature shot in various Utah locations, including Salt Lake, Midvale, Ogden, during the winter of 1994-95. The crew was hit by an unexpected early winter snowstorm which complicated production and, as a result, several scenes which were due to take place outdoors were quickly moved to indoor locations.
The American science fiction horror film includes an all-star cast of Ben Kingsley, Michael Madsen, Forest Whitaker, Marg Helgenberger and Natasha Henstridge. Several scenes were filmed in Utah, including the opening scenes, which were captured at the Tooele Army Depot, and a Victorian-era train station in Brigham City. The feature turned out to be a box office success. A theatrical sequel, Species II, was later produced, followed by a book adaptation and two comic book series.
The recent horror-comedy web series previewed at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Filmed in Utah, the series has been likened, genre-wise, to movies such as Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland. The series is now available to watch on Verizon’s streaming service, go90.
SPOOKY UTAH FILM LOCATIONS:
Tooele County Old Hospital was originally built in 1873 as a home for Samuel F. Lee and his family. In 1913, the county turned the structure into a home for the elderly. Today, half of the building serves the same purpose and the other half has been transformed into haunted house themed attraction, ‘Asylum 49’. Made-in-Utah productions, The Stand and The World’s Fastest Indian (2005), both used the hospital as a filming location. The building has also been used for the filming of Ghost Hunters and many other paranormal activity productions.
Saltair was originally completed in 1893 as a picturesque family spot, overlooking Utah’s breathtaking Great Salt Lake. The iconic structure has since been rebuilt, following three devastating fires, and has been used as a backdrop for movies, including key scenes of the 1962 horror cult film Carnival of Souls.
Olmsted Station Powerhouse, located at the base of Provo Canyon, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1904, the power station still provides Provo with power today. The building was used as a filming location for Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989), as well as BYUtv’s Granite Flats, Saints and Soldiers (2003) and War Pigs (2015).
Cottonwood Paper Mill is rumored to be one of the most haunted buildings in Utah. Construction began on the mill in 1881 and was completed by 1883. The Paper Mill was in operation for about 10 years and it is currently an abandoned stone structure at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon. It was used as a haunted house around Halloween throughout the 1970s and has since been used as a filming location for Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers and March of Dimes.
Central Valley Water Reclamation Facility in South Salt Lake City sits on 168 acres of land. The water treatment facility itself is 85 acres, surrounded by the Central Valley Golf Course. The building has been used as a filming location for Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers and Ice Spiders (2007).
Fear Factory has been listed in the “top 20 scariest haunted houses in the world” by BuzzFeed, as well as the “10 best Halloween attractions of 2015” by Travel Channel. Featured on Travel Channel’s hit show, Ghost Adventures, the building is located in the heart of Salt Lake’s industrial district and originally operated as a cement factory in the 1800s.
Debra Vago is a publicist, writer and film enthusiast. She resides in Salt Lake City, having relocated from London, England.
Contact Debra for any Utah Film Commission press and media inquires at firstname.lastname@example.org.