Though you might not think of it as a horror hot spot, Atlanta’s booming film industry has welcomed many great genre productions.
Horror movies have been a staple of the film industry for decades, providing audiences with thrills, scares, and spine-chilling entertainment. From classic monster movies to modern slasher flicks, horror has something for everyone. In recent years, Atlanta has become a popular filming location for horror films, thanks to its diverse range of locations and talented film crews.
Whether you’re a die-hard horror fan or just looking for a good scare, the top horror films shot in Atlanta are sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.
1. Scream 2 (1997)
The 1996 film Scream by horror icon Wes Craven and written by Kevin Williamson revived the horror genre in the ’90s, improved the teen slasher formula, and heralded a new subgenre of self-aware horror films with a post-modern twist. The 1997 sequel, released just a year after, further satirized franchise follow-ups. Throughout six films, the franchise is widely considered one of the best, most innovative, and most influential of all time. And it shows no signs of slowing down in either popularity or creativity.
In fact, the most recent entry in the franchise, Scream VI, opened with a franchise-best weekend box office take of $44.5 million in domestic ticket sales, easily surpassing the previous series high of $32 million that Scream 2 garnered in 1997 during its wildly successful opening weekend.
Scream 2, however, remains one of the franchise’s biggest financial windfalls when you look at the worldwide box office, coming in almost neck and neck with the first film. Scream 2 is also the best of the franchise films, according to its Rotten Tomatoes score. Regardless of whether you agree with that ranking, it’s hard to deny that it’s one of the best horror sequels of all time and does an incredible job effectively maintaining the cleverness of its predecessor.
While much of Scream 2’s filming did take place in California, most of the outdoor scenes were filmed at Agnes Scott College, a women’s college in Atlanta, Georgia. Agnes Scott College and the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta were both used to portray the fictional “Windsor College” written to be in the state of Ohio, where Sidney and her friends attend school. The easily recognizable front gazebo where Sidney and Dewy have their first conversation in the film is located at Agnes Scott College.
2. Halloween 2 (Rob Zombie, 2009)
Another far more controversial horror sequel was also filmed in various Georgia towns, including Atlanta, as well as Covington, Madison, and Newborn.
In 2007, Rob Zombie shocked and, in some cases, seriously rattled horror fans when he took on the daunting task of remaking the undeniable horror classic from John Carpenter — and one of the most beloved horror films of all time — 1978’s Halloween. Considered the ninth installment in the iconic franchise, Zombie’s film starred Tyler Mane as the adult Michael Myers, Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange) as Dr. Sam Loomis, Scout Taylor-Compton as Laurie Strode, and Daeg Faerch as the young Michael Myers.
Rob Zombie’s “reimagining” follows the premise of the original, with Michael Myers stalking Laurie Strode and her friends on Halloween night. However, working from advice from Carpenter to “make the film his own,” Zombie chose to develop the film as both an origin story and a remake, allowing for more original content than simply re-filming the same scenes.
The film received mixed reviews but made a significant profit at the box office, causing the studio to push for a sequel. While Zombie was initially reluctant to revisit Haddonfield, he eventually gave in to the demand — becoming the only director at the time to help two consecutive installments of the franchise (before David Gordon Green’s 2018 Halloween and its sequels). For the 2009 sequel, which is considerably more polarizing than the already divisive 2007 original, Zombie leaned hard into the aspects of trauma, exploring the psychological impact surviving this kind of horror would have on its characters.
It was filmed in Atlanta because the area still had just enough snow falling to achieve the gritty aesthetic Zombie wanted. Landmarks like “Kuter’s Cage” barber shop and “Myer’s House” seen in the film can still be visited now. Dr. Samuel Loomis’ hotel scenes were shot at the Intercontinental Buckhead in Atlanta.
3. Zombieland (2009) and Zombieland: Double Tap (2019)
Zombieland is a well-received 2009 American post-apocalyptic zombie comedy film directed by Ruben Fleischer (in his theatrical debut). It stars Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, and Bill Murray. In the film, Tallahassee (Harrelson), Columbus (Eisenberg), Wichita (Stone), and Little Rock (Breslin) make their way on an extended cross-country road trip to find a sanctuary free from zombies. Upon release, it grossed $102 million worldwide, becoming the then-highest-grossing zombie film in the U.S. (until the release of World War Z in 2013).
Though the film has the group traversing a large territory across the country, most of the production actually took place in Atlanta and surrounding areas.
One of the highlights for Georgia natives was recognizing the iconic Wild Adventures theme park in Valdosta, Georgia, being used for significant movie plot points. The theme park also houses a zoo and water park. Scenes, including the main character fighting for his life against the undead, took place in downtown Atlanta. Meanwhile, Bill Murray’s fictional home (located in Beverly Hills in the movie) was actually shot in Buckhead, while “Blaine’s Grocery” was shot in a vacant building 20 miles from Atlanta.
For years, fans of the film clamored for a sequel, which was promised but never delivered on — until an entire decade later when we finally got the long-awaited follow-up in the form of Zombieland: Double Tap. Just like the first film, the sequel was shot throughout Georgia, including Atlanta, Jackson, Newnan, and Macon. Newnan’s downtown area and courthouse were featured in both films and the popular zombie series The Walking Dead.
4. The Signal (2007)
A severely underrated horror film, The Signal was written and directed by David Bruckner, Dan Bush, and Jacob Gentry. It is told in three parts, in which all telecommunication and audiovisual devices transmit only a mysterious signal turning people mad and activating murderous behavior in many of those affected.
The film’s three interconnected chapters (“transmissions”) are presented nonlinearly. While the entire film can be viewed as a psychological horror film, its chapters reflect elements of splatter film, dark comedy, and a post-apocalyptic love story.
The Signal was met with a mixed but largely positive critical reception. It was created by four filmmakers who have been collaborating since 1999 in Atlanta, Georgia. Each of the chapters had different directors during the shooting. The film was completed for the 2007 Sundance Film Festival on a budget of only $50,000 and was shot over the course of 13 days.
The home media release includes an audio commentary from the directors, deleted scenes, the making-of featurette, the complete short film The Hap Hapgood Story that was shown on TV in the introduction sequence of The Signal, as well as three short (each around four-minute long) additional “transmissions” featuring entirely different new characters and locations.
In an interview with Cinema Atlanta, Jacob Gentry discussed the Atlanta filmmaking scene and how it influenced the film.
“There is something to say about this project representing the positive nature of Atlanta. I think if you look at The Signal, if it does well and is considered a success, it can be directly attributed to the talent pool in Atlanta.”
He added, “I think that there are a lot of really great things about Atlanta being a communications hub, and those kinds of things that will allow it to have a lot of filmmakers…because they have access to bigger corporations paying their bills and that kind of thing.”
5. One Missed Call (2008)
One Missed Call is a 2008 supernatural horror film directed by Eric Valette and written by Andrew Klavan. It was an international co-production between the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, and Germany and was a remake of the 2003 Japanese film of the same name directed by Takashi Miike.
When Beth Raymond (Shannyn Sossamon) witnesses the deaths of two friends, she knows there is more at work than just a tragic coincidence; days before they die, both victims hear their terrifying final moments on their cell phones.
Despite being a moderate box office success, the film was panned by film critics, with many regarding it as the worst J-horror remake to be released. It became the worst-reviewed film of 2008, receiving a 0% rating approval on Rotten Tomatoes, and winning a Moldy Tomato Award.
Both this film and the original Japanese version were based on a horror book titled Chakushin ari. The Japanese film was released in 2003 and was followed by several sequels and a television series.
Though the original is arguably better and this 2008 remake is definitely not groundbreaking or award-winning, it can be a lot of fun if you don’t take it too seriously or compare it to its predecessor. It’s an especially fun watch for Georgia residents, as the entire film was shot in Atlanta. Recognizable areas include Peachtree Street, St. Charles Deli, Castleberry Hill, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and areas of Midtown.
Though not films, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention two of the most popular and beloved properties shot in Atlanta: Stranger Things and The Walking Dead.
Netflix used locations across the ATL to shoot their iconic Stranger Things series. Filming locations include the now-closed Patrick Henry Adult Education that was used for Hawkins Middle School and Hawkins High School, Gwinnett Place Mall, which played a huge role in the third season of the show, South Bend Pool from season three’s Hawkins Community Pool featuring lifeguard Billy Hargrove, Stone Mountain Cemetery where viewers joined the cast of season one in mourning loss of fan-favorite Barb, Sleepy Hollow Farm where we found Hopper’s Cabin in earlier seasons, the town square in Jackson that often served as Downtown Hawkins, and the Piggly Wiggly in Palmetto where Eleven’s meme-launching Eggo obsession was first revealed.
Atlanta is even home to Stranger Things: The Experience, which throws you headfirst into your favorite show. Join Eleven, Dustin, Mike, Lucas, Max, and Will for a very special episode starring… you! Venture inside Hawkins Lab for an immersive experience featuring a brand-new Stranger Things storyline, then explore an 80s-themed Mix-Tape medley with food & drinks, special merchandise, photo ops, and much more.
Based on the graphic novels of the same name, The Walking Dead is the most-watched television series in basic cable history and has been filmed exclusively in Georgia. It features several iconic Atlanta locations, including the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, which served as the CDC in season one, and the Jackson Street Bridge. The show also single-handedly revived some of the smaller cities in the region, such as Senoia, GA, which has grown faster than 95% of similarly-sized US cities.
On The Walking Dead, the town of Senoai stood in for the fortified city of Woodbury in season 3, as well as the walled-off Alexandria Safe-Zone. Most of the show’s interiors are shot at Raleigh Studios in Senoia, which is unfortunately not open to the public. However, much of the town (especially Main Street) has been utilized for the show.
Rick Grimes’ house is located on the edge of Grant Park in downtown Atlanta, near the zoo. Estimated at $835,000, this 200-square-foot American-style home has three bedrooms and two bathrooms.
Atlanta is a great place to start for aspiring actors looking to break into the horror genre. With its booming film industry and diverse range of locations, there are always opportunities for talented actors to find work. One way to get your foot in the door is to keep an eye out for Atlanta casting calls in 2023, as these can be a great way to land roles in horror movies shot in the city. Many casting calls are open to actors of all levels of experience, so it’s worth checking out even if you’re starting out.
By combining talent, hard work, and persistence, aspiring actors can position themselves for success in the horror genre and beyond. And with so many great horror films shot in Atlanta, there’s no shortage of opportunities to make their mark on the industry.