Updated: Jul 22
Boo! Happy Spooky Season from Atlanta Film and TV!
To some, October may mean Halloween, carving jack-o’-lanterns, and munching through an entire bag of fun-sized Snickers. For others, it may just be a time of wearing cozy hoodies and watching the leaves change color. But there’s one thing all film fans can agree on—it is a time to turn off the lights and muster the courage to watch some horror movies. There’s a time and place for everything, and although most of the time no one likes to be scared, October (or as I like to call it, Spooktober) is one time of the year when frights are fun!
Most of my friends know that I’m a huge horror hound. My bookshelf is brimming with Stephen King paperbacks, from Carrie all the way to The Outsider. Throw Psycho or Friday the 13th on the TV and I’ll be one happy camper. What I love most about the horror genre is its versatility—it’s a favorite of low-budget filmmakers because you can do a lot with a little. Hence, why we see a lot of indie horror. It also allows plenty of room for creativity (see, A Nightmare on Elm Street). I’m always excited to see what new and imaginative ways directors like Mike Flanagan and Jordan Peele will dream up to scare us next. There’s an art to scaring people, and it’s one that I can appreciate.
But I’ll be the first to admit, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Which is why instead of simply rattling off a list gushing about my favorite horror movies, I’ll be recommending five Georgia films to help you get in the spooky spirit. Did you know that Georgia has a long history with horror, dating back almost 50 years? Or that a horror movie was responsible for kickstarting the film industry we enjoy today? Grab a flashlight, hide under the covers, and settle in for 5 Georgia Horror Films to watch this spooky season!
This is where it all began. While you could argue it’s more of a thriller, Deliverance (dir. John Boorman) is what you might consider ‘backwoods horror’ as certain scenes in this film certainly qualify as horrific. (The words ‘Squeal like a pig’ come to mind.) Deliverance tells the story of a group of friends who embark on a weekend of whitewater rafting, only for their trip to go horribly wrong. Set and filmed in the North Georgia wilderness along the Chattooga River, this film placed Georgia on the map as a popular production destination and ignited the film boom that would continue for years to come. In fact, after the success of this film, then-governor Jimmy Carter established a state film commission to encourage Georgia productions. The rest, of course, is history!
Fear Fact: The bluegrass composition from the famous ‘Dueling Banjos’ scene was both the subject of a plagiarism lawsuit and the winner of a country music Grammy in 1974.
2. Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
One of my favorite horror guilty pleasures is the Friday the 13th franchise, the series about a hockey mask-wearing maniac who terrorizes the counselors of Camp Crystal Lake. For the sixth installment in the franchise, Jason Lives (dir. Tom McLoughlin), Camp Crystal Lake came to own backyard, as this film was shot largely in Covington, Georgia—including a cemetery, a police department, and Camp Daniel Morgan, which stood in for the movie’s fictional camp. By its sixth entry, the Friday franchise had long moved past taking itself seriously (in this one Jason returns as a zombie!) and though it’s preposterous, it’s a favorite among fans and I’ve got to admit it’s a load of cheesy fun. If you just remember it was the height of the 80s and this film is a product of its time, you’ll be sure to enjoy it!
Fear Fact: This is the only Friday the 13th film to feature children staying at the camp! Where were the kids in all the other movies? Who knows!
3. Scream 2 (1997)
In the mid-90s, Wes Craven revolutionized the horror genre with his satirical slasher, Scream (1996). It was fresh, it was witty, it was self-aware, and it poked fun at the cliches and tropes of the genre while still delivering solid scares. The following year, lighting struck twice with Scream 2, in which Craven took his meta-commentary to the next level, deconstructing the stereotypes of horror sequels. Filmed at Decatur’s Agnes Scott College, which stands in for the fictional Windsor College, Scream 2 continues the story of survivor Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), who must use her horror knowledge to outwit a new killer who has taken up the mantle of ‘Ghostface.’ With a college campus setting that lends itself perfectly to a whodunit-style mystery, Scream 2 is a rare sequel that lives up to the original.
Fear Fact: To prevent plot leaks that spoiled the killer’s identity, several different endings were written and actors were not given the script pages that revealed the killer until the day of filming!
4. Hell Fest (2018)
So I’ll be the first to admit—this film was not great. Why am I recommending you a movie that isn’t good? Well, because it’s still a cool little Georgia film, especially for fans of Atlanta’s haunted attraction, Netherworld. Hell Fest (dir. Gregory Plotkin) is a modern slasher about a group of teens who fall victim to a mysterious killer who stalks them through a haunted house theme park. If that sounds familiar, it’s probably because it’s been done a hundred times. But what’s neat about this film is that the production reused sets, props, and costumes from Netherworld to create their horror theme park. As someone who’s been to Netherworld, it was fun to pick out the various animatronic creatures (hey look, it’s the giant rock monster!) that fans of Netherworld would recognize.
Fear Fact: I just worked on a short film with an actor who appeared in this movie! Yeah… there aren’t a whole lot of other fun facts I have to offer about this one.
5. Scream: Resurrection (2019)
Okay, so this one is kind of cheating. It’s not a movie, but I couldn’t leave VH1’s Scream television series off of this list because not only was it filmed in Atlanta, but the story takes place here. The show’s third season follows Atlanta high schooler Deion Elliott (RJ Cyler) as he and his friends are picked off one at a time by (yet another!) mysterious Ghostface killer. With an African-American protagonist and largely POC cast including Keke Palmer, rapper Tyga, and Mary J. Blige, Scream’s third season is in a unique position to offer a dose of social commentary and a perspective historically lacking from horror. Plus, if you live in Atlanta, get ready to see a ton of recognizable locations including Midtown, Georgia Tech, and more. It’s streaming on Netflix right now, so check it out!
Fear Fact: Horror legend Tony Todd cameos as a character called the ‘Hookman,’ a nod to his iconic role of the Candyman, for which he also sported a fashionable hook hand!
What are some of your favorite spooky movies, Georgia or otherwise? Let us know below in the comments!