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An Azure Halloween
The design lover's guide to the spooky season.
The Architecture of Horror, Part 1
The Architecture of Horror, Part 2
13 Spooky Designs for Halloween Lovers
10 Modernist Houses in Scary Movies
10 Towers in Scary Movies
An Azure Halloween
An Azure Halloween

1 The Old Mansion on a Hill
The original setting for onscreen chills, the spooky house dates all the way back to 1913’s comedic short The Haunted House. But the genre really found its footing the following year with Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ghost Breaker – considered by many to be the first true “haunted house” movie. Since then, scores of films have recreated eerie mansions: The Haunting and The Innocents in the 1960s, Rocky Horror (above, top image) and The Legend of Hell House in the 70s, Clue (top of page) and The Changeling in the 80s, and The Addams Family and Edward Scissorhands in the 90s are just a few of the best known.

But the roots of the “Old Mansion on the Hill” are far older even than film. Gothic novels such as The Castle of Ostranto (1764), Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) and even Frankenstein (1818) tell tales of sprawling, decrepit estates where intrigue lurks around every corner. Here lies the archetype’s appeal: being both old and large, these mansions hide many secrets, and secrets are ideal fodder for Gothic horror. Crimson Peak (above, lower image), now in theatres, is no exception: although the house was created on a sound stage in Toronto, the Allerdale Hall set convincingly recreates the atmosphere of an ancient manse dripping with centuries of dread. Its wood-paneled walls, salon-style portrait galleries and ostentatiously Baroque ornamentation makes it seem like a relic of a bygone era, even by turn-of-the-century standards (and that’s not to mention to obligatory turrets).


2 The Modernist House
Clinical, rational, emotionless: these are some of the characteristics evoked by minimalist modern architecture. They’re also the characteristics of our favourite psychopathic villains. No wonder, then, that so many cold-blooded killers set up shop in spotless, futuristic bungalows. The breathtaking setting of Ex Machina – a 2015 update of the tale of Bluebeard – is actually the Hotel Juvet, a gem of kaleidoscopic glass and blackened timber that seems to merge into the rock around it, with seven rooms facing unspoiled Norwegian wilderness. Ex Machina’s tech billionaire antagonist is just one example of the modernism-loving deceiver, but there are many others – in fact, here are another 10 modernist houses in scary movies.


3 The Getaway
Sometimes, tales of dread are a study in contrasts. Imagine the perfect idyll: a country home, a lake house, a bungalow in a bucolic meadow. At first, everything seems perfect – just thinking about these beautiful settings creates a sense of calm. So it’s all the more terrifying when that peace is shattered by malevolent forces like the gleefully sadistic marauders who torment the inhabitants of the quaint Long Island cottages in Michael Haneke’s Funny Games (above, top image). There’s an element of isolation at play as well: surely the strained relationship between the suspicious mother and disturbed twins in Austrian thriller Goodnight Mommy (above, lower image), now in theatres, wouldn’t have grown quite so out of hand under the watchful eyes of neighbours. Although the scenery around the family’s striking contemporary home is beautiful, it’s unsettling to realize that nobody will hear you scream….


4 The Research Station
Danger of a different kind lurks in those places on the very fringes of habitability – the untamed wilds where survival is a daily struggle. What architecture can be cobbled together here is purely functional; riveted steel and exposed pipes are not elegant, because their only job is keeping the elements at bay. But the hostile territories at the ends of the earth are also a frontier of exploration, luring scientists in search of strange discoveries or untapped resources. In John Carpenter’s The Thing (above, top image), such research brings a team to the Antarctic plateau, a windswept, desolate terrain where nothing can survive outside their cluster of hoar-frosted corrugated metal shacks – nothing from earth, at least. And in James Cameron’s The Abyss, a submarine-like experimental drilling platform stationed on the ocean floor is designed to resist the pitch black and crushing pressure 518 metres below the surface, and it succeeds…at first.


5 The High-Rise
We’ve talked about the horrors of urban densification before, in a list of 10 towers in scary movies that tap into our fears of urban living, from social issues including crime and poverty to existential ones like corporate imperialism and the struggle to find an identity in an alienating sea of faces. But the high-rise can also serve as a microcosm for society, making it an ideal setting for biting commentary. Ben Wheatley’s High-Rise, set for a 2016 release, adapts J. G. Ballard’s eponymous novel – a dystopian thriller set in a modern luxury condo tower. The residence (actually an art deco-infused set built in Bangor, Northern Ireland) offers every amenity imaginable, but tensions mount when things start to break down. Soon friction between the tenants – quite literally stratified into upper, middle and lower classes – escalates into full-blown warfare.

Click here for Part 2!

1 The Suburbs
With their sprawling homes and water-intensive lawns, the suburbs are certainly an urbanist’s nightmare. In film and television, they also form the backdrop to more visceral threats; and their pleasant-sounding names – like Haddonfield in Halloween (pictured above, first), the Cuesta Verda subdivision in Poltergeist, and Rosewood in television’s Pretty Little Liars – belie their seething underbellies. In the critically acclaimed 2014 film The Babadook, a mother and son in Australia find their suburban life disrupted when they unwittingly let in a boogeyman from a (superbly illustrated) pop-up book. The eerie narrative slowly invades the house, with its blue-washed tones and forbidden basement, and shows the dark side of fairytale endings.


2 The Hotel
The ultimate hotel-horror story, The Shining is cloaked in its own mythology; and the truly obsessed – like those depicted in the documentary Room 237 – are still peeling away its layers of symbolism. Though it ditches The Overlook to check in to the much more luxurious Cortez in Los Angeles, Hotel – the latest in the American Horror Story anthologymakes several nods to Stanley Kubrick’s classic. There’s hexagonal carpeting as far as the eye can see, creepy kids espied at the end of long hallways and buckets of bloody action taking place in the bedroom suites.

The theme plays up the danger of being in a strange room, in a strange building and in a strange city (the series starts with two ill-fated Swedish tourists). And in keeping with showrunner Ryan Murphy’s impeccable eye (he even name drops Arts & Crafts architect Julia Morgan), every scene in the opulent, jewel-toned Art Deco torture chamber is a visual feast. It certainly works for Lady Gaga, who stalks around in designer gowns, pointing out Arik Levy sculptures in the penthouse when she’s not slinking her way through Chris Burden’s light installation at LACMA like she’s starring in her own music video.


3 The Cabin in the Woods
Cut off from the city – and cell tower service – a cabin in the woods, if you’ve got one, offers the ultimate, roughing-it-in-nature, Thoreau experience (though it’s now understood that even Thoreau stayed within walking distance of society). But when you discover a derelict cottage in the middle of nowhere, it’s usually the lair of some wacko, real (like the Unabomber) or imagined (see: lots of horror movies). The secluded shack is such a reliable silver-screen chill-giver that it’s gone full-meta. If AHS: Hotel is tongue-in-cheek television gore, The Cabin in the Woods is a horror comedy in the mould of Scream – made for everyone who grew up watching the Wes Craven classics. Not only does the film riff on its titular trope, it also upends a whole series of other typical horror narratives – all in the service of something much more frightening. Other terrifying examples of cabin horror include The Strangers (inspired by the Manson murders) and the found-footage thriller Creep. You’ll never look at wood panelling the same way again.


4 Outer Space
In space, no one can hear you scream. That’s because a spaceship is a metal cocoon, impenetrable to all except extra-terrestrial baddies. In Alien, the utter sense of loneliness and isolation is heightened by the set design care of Ron Cobb, who realized Ridley Scott’s vision for Nostromo as a cross between a tramp steamer and a cathedral. The interior looks like a well-worn ship – a hunk of dated equipment, outfitted with all manner of signs alluding to its functionalism – as a contrast to the techno-organic marvel that is HG Giger’s futuristic monster. Another film that treats the spaceship as a living, breathing universe – and a vindictively sentient one at that – is Event Horizon (pictured above, first). Both of these films owe much, again, to Kubrick and his 2001: A Space Odyssey.


5 The Flat
Apartment living lends itself to horror. Besides the sometimes dystopian nature of residential towers, the discrete units within induce claustrophobia, and the proximity to so many others inspires voyeurism. The latter is flawlessly encapsulated in Rear Window, shot on a Paramount Studio soundstage built to look like Manhattan and directed by Alfred Hitchcock, whose North by Northwest features one of our favourite modernist houses in scary movies. From his flat, the injured photojournalist L.B. Jefferies (played by James Stewart) and his high-society girlfriend Lisa Carol Fremont (played by Grace Kelly) have a view into the apartments across the courtyard, and to what looks like the aftermath of a violent crime playing out before their eyes.

But the ultimate provocateur in this genre is Roman Polanski, whose trilogy of apartment movies – The Tenant, Rosemary’s Baby and Repulsion – captures how the spaces we live in slowly become embedded with our fears, anxieties and memories. In Repulsion, the walls literally, and figuratively, maul Catherine Deneuve; by the final credits every room in the white-washed London flat she shares with her sister, from the kitchen with its busted shelves and rotting meat to the living room with its bloodied sofa, is a diorama of horror.

1 Pussy Cats table lamps by Studio Job
A black cat is bad luck. But two black cats…with glowing eyes…locked in a death match? That’s downright terrifying! Belgium’s Studio Job produced the cast-bronze Pussy Cats collection for London’s Carpenters Workshop Gallery in 2014, with five pieces inspired by the studio’s own resident felines, Paula and Jambe Blanche.


2 The Animal chair collection by Máximo Riera
When Spanish artist Máximo Riera launched this collection of animal-inspired chairs in 2011, he began with the Octopus chair seen here. The limited-edition set now includes chairs and sofas inspired by rhinos, elephants, walruses and toads, among others, but this Octopus throne reigns as the eeriest of the bunch – especially when finished with a custom paint job for added realism.


3 Transitional Object (PsychoBarn) by Cornelia Parker
Mounting an installation on the rooftop of the Metropolitain Museum of Art – which boasts a prime view overlooking Central Park – is an annual tradition, but this year’s edition takes on a particularly spooky design. Conceived by sculptor Cornelia Parker, PsychoBarn – whose run ends on Hallowe’en – transplants a scaled-down version of the Bates mansion from Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller Psycho, juxtaposing its ramshackle mansard roofline against the shimmering skyline of 21st-century Manhattan.


4 33 Step chair by Zhipeng Tan
When it debuted during Milan Design Week earlier this year, Zhipeng Tan’s skeleton-inspired stool was dubbed “Satan’s chair.” But despite its grisly form, a polished golden finish makes Tan’s 33 Step chair (as it’s officially called, in reference to the number of vertebrae in a human spine) a stunning objet d’art – the perfect addition to any scary modernist house.


5 Ghost collection by Studio Drift
Amsterdam’s Studio Drift is perhaps best known for its kinetic lighting and sculptures, but it’s their Ghost collection that won a spot on our list of spooky designs. Each piece in the 2008 collection – which includes armchairs, an arm-free chair and a stool – has a rigid, blocky form in solid acrylic. But in the right light, a wispy, smoke-like pattern of sub-surface texture emerges like a phantasmagoric presence.


6 Apex Predator shoes by Fantich & Young
The Apex Predator collection of tooth-soled footwear from British fine art duo Fantich & Young now includes patent-leather pumps, gold-toothed Oxfords, and even Adidas shell-toe sneakers. But it was these bright red Mary Janes – which suggest a gruesome combination of innocence and voracity – that caught the world’s attention following their release in 2014.


7 Jolly Roger chair by Fabio Novembre for Gufram
Italian designer Fabio Novembre’s skull-shaped Jolly Roger chair was launched in 2012, in traditional white and morbid black. The response was so strong that a year later, they followed up with new editions in fluorescent orange, blue, green and red. Novembre says the skull represents “life the rock-n-roll way,” but it makes frightfully good Hallowe’en decor, too.


8 Haute couture by Iris van Herpen, Anouk Wipprecht and Lauren Bowker
This trio is leading the wave of designers applying cutting-edge technology to fashion, often turning to macabre forms to express their ideas. At left, the so-called “snake dress” by Dutch couturier Iris van Herpen, whose sculptural frocks take cues from bones, wooden cathedrals, crystals, even water and smoke, and have appeared on such stars as Björk and Lady Gaga. At centre, the 3-D printed Spider dress, by Anouk Wipprecht of the Netherlands, is ringed by sensors that activate motorized proboscises, which can strike out at anyone who gets too close. And at right, the raven-inspired Blackfeather dress by Paris-based Lauren Bowker, whose garments frequently explore textiles and other materials that change based on environmental conditions or even digital input.


9 Smoke collection by Maarten Baas for Moooi
To finish the wingbacks, armchairs, dining chairs and chandeliers of Moooi’s Smoke collection, Dutch designer Maarten Baas starts with a wooden frame, torches it from top to bottom, then coats the charred surface in a thick coat of transparent epoxy before upholstering. Since its 2002 beginnings, Baas has expanded the concept to include such classic pieces as Gerrit Reitveld’s Zig Zag chair, the Campanas’ Favela chair, and even a piano. Perfect for cozying up to the fireplace in your haunted mansion on a hill.


10 Real Scary by Sid Lee
While werewolves and vampires are spooky-fun, Sid Lee Collective is helping to draw attention to some legitimately terrifying issues with Real Scary, a collection of masks that illustrate real-world problems like factory farming, pesticide abuse and over-fishing. Last week in Toronto, the masks were displayed for one night only, before being auctioned off to benefit World Wildlife Fund Canada.


11 Memento Mori chandelier by Maxim Velčovský for Lasvit
Traditionally, a memento mori is a small object or insignia that serves to remind the bearer that death awaits us all, and our actions should be guided by thoughts of the next life, rather than this one. In April of this year, Prague designer Maxim Velčovský, working with the Czech glass experts at Lasvit, launched the concept into a full-scale chandelier of pressed and sculpted glass, with skull-and-bone pieces carefully assembled by hand.


12 Love Me Tender chair by Didier Faustino for Super-ette
With its brushed steel legs that taper to fang-like points, Didier Faustino’s limited-edition Love Me Tender chair conjures up a visceral sense of menace; as manufacturer Super-ette described it upon its launch in 2012, the chair “looks so dangerous that it requires tenderness and gentleness to be handled.” The result is truly scary – but especially for homeowners with hardwood floors.


13 All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins by Yayoi Kusama
Yayoi Kusama has been making pumpkins large and small for decades – from the polished silver gourd recently installed outside Philip Johnson’s Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut, to a perforated pumpkin pop-up pavilion for Louis Vuitton, erected in 2012 in London’s Selfridges department store. Seen here is “All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins,” which was installed at Victoria Miro gallery in London this past summer, and speaks to a boundless affection for pumpkins that traces back to Kusama’s childhood.

Maybe it has something to do with Modernism’s bad rep – the unfriendly, antiseptic vibe that the style just can’t shake – that whenever you see a glass and steel house in a movie you can be sure that there’s something blood-curdling going on inside.

If most people are subconsciously drawn to curves, then much of modernist architecture turns its cold, angular shoulder on us, and offers no cozy, fuzzy respite, with its concrete finishes and colour-starved minimal decor. And while the works of John Lautner and Skylab Architecture might make design-lovers swoon, in film the archetype of the ultra-modern house gives the crumbling manor on the hill a run for its money as a symbol of antisocial psychosis. We still love these 10 bold abodes – some real, some invented – even if, in the right moonlight, they scare the bejesus out of us.

Överby, by John Robert Nilsson (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, 2011)

Director David Fincher’s cinematic version of Stieg Larsson’s hit suspense novel stayed true to the source and shot principally in Sweden. For the home of Martin Vanger (Stellan Skarsgård), the team chose Nilsson’s Överby summer home, a getaway in Värmdö, one of the many islands outlying Stockholm. To contrast with the rustic setting, the house is formed from a small palette of refined materials: plaster, steel, white ash wood, limestone from nearby Gotland and, of course, floor-to-ceiling glass, which suggests that the residents have nothing to hide.  jrn.se

The Chemosphere, by John Lautner (Body Double, 1984)

Throughout his career, architect John Lautner blew apart the four-walls paradigm to create unique and unconventional houses, so it’s no surprise that his idiosyncratic style frequently pops up on film. The Chemosphere, which Brian De Palma cast in the erotic thriller Body Double as the home of Jake Scully’s all-too-friendly neighbour, functions as a panopticon that offers views of far more than just the Valley. The home inspired similar structures appearing in Grand Theft Auto and The Jetsons, and even Troy McClure’s home on The Simpsonsjohnlautner.org

Mataja Residence by Belzberg Architects (The Glass House, 2001)

When orphaned teens Ruby and Rhett are sent to live with their former neighbour (Stellan Skarsgård again!) in his sprawling Malibu home, things quickly go downhill, so to speak. The glass and steel house was designed by Belzberg Architects, the firm behind the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, and cantilevers over a remote stretch of Mulholland Canyon. To achieve a solid foundation on the rocky outcroppings, each boulder was individually surveyed, and these determined the foundational points for the house’s floor plan, allowing the house to settle into the existing landscape and hide from view.  belzbergarchitects.com

Hoke Residence by Skylab Architecture (Twilight, 2008)

There’s a running joke about vampire flicks constantly changing the vampire rules, and in the case of Twilight, it turns out that the blood-sucking undead prefer viewfinder-like homes with well-appointed architectural details. Situated in Portland, the Hoke house is named after owner John Hoke, director of footwear design at Nike; it was originally designed on spec, but it established Skylab, which just finished the W Hotel in Seattle, as one of the West Coast’s most inventive firms. Not that Bella would know.  skylabarchitecture.com

Vandamm House (North by Northwest, 1959)

Hitchcock can squeeze a lot of drama out of a one-room set. But his most titillating films zoom out of the claustrophobic room, and onto the winding hills of Vertigo’s San Francisco, say, or the apartment buildings of Rear Window, erected on a Paramount Studio soundstage and made to resemble New York. That film’s verisimilitude should be a clue for anyone who’s tried to look up the house that Cary Grant scales in search of Eva Marie Saint in North by Northwest, its jutting volumes rivalling those of its rugged site. The cliff-hanging exterior (actually a matte painting) was modelled on Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, and the interior set was built from scratch by MGM set designers.

Lang House (The Ghost Writer, 2010)

Roman Polanski has also done some custom-design work. In fact, for the home central to the plot of The Ghost Writer, the bunkerlike facade and the Walter Knoll-furnished interior were built on two separate locations in Germany. The set’s sophisticated architecture includes expanses of glazing, through which Ewan McGregor’s titular biographer can stare at the vast landscape (the island of Sylt posing as Martha’s Vineyard) while attempting to unravel what caused his predecessor, a writer penning an authorized biography of the former British prime minister, played by Pierce Brosnan, to mysteriously drop dead.

Sherman Residence by Peter Tolkin Architecture (Fracture, 2007)

Peter Tolkin’s rustic-chic Encino house plays the scene of the crime in this twisty Anthony Hopkins / Ryan Gosling thriller. Home to Hopkins’ urbane murder suspect, the residence occupies a large plot of former agricultural land above the San Fernando Valley. The site’s lush and diverse horticultural heritage informed Tolkin’s designs: copious full-height windows and an extensive courtyard overlooking the wooded lot bring views of the surrounding foliage into every room. A humble palette of exposed timber and concrete reflects the area’s rural atmosphere.  petertolkin.com

Ennis House by Frank Lloyd Wright (House on Haunted Hill, 1959)

The titular house of this horror classic provides the film’s sole location, where calculating millionaire Frederick Loren (Vincent Price) summons five people to the party that disguises his homicidal scheme. Completed in 1924, Ennis House is considered one of Wright’s masterpieces, but structural problems have plagued the house from the beginning. In 2007, a restoration with a $6.4 million pricetag was completed, to little avail; the house was sold in 2011 for less than a third of the asking price.

Bonus: Among many other roles, Ennis House also provided the exterior of the mansion occupied by evil vampires Spike, Drusilla and Angelus in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series, and the interior of Deckard’s apartment in Blade Runnerfranklloydwright.org

Ravine House by Drew Mandel Architects (Chloe, 2009)

Besides giving Toronto – a city used to playing other cities – its shot at the spotlight, in the eerie Chloe Atom Egoyan also showcases one of its most impeccable residences, the Ravine House. The structure appears from its facade as a collection of framed boxes propped high, yet its ground floor steps down to nestle into its ravine topography. The movie is a meditation on marriage, infidelity and revenge, and its family in a glass house are about to be rocked by a crazy-eyed Amanda Seyfried.  drewmandelarchitects.com

Mandrakis Residence (When A Stranger Calls, 2006)

Many a gen-Xer will recall the original When A Stranger Calls, but unlike the urban house of that 1979 spine-tingler, the remake is set in a modernist mansion on a bucolic hill. As teenage babysitter Jill Johnson starts to receive spooky calls from a stranger – “Have you checked on the children?” – she runs up floating wood stairs, takes shelter in a central greenhouse and is terrorized by the intruder’s silhouette against all those translucent surfaces. The real horror: this awesome house is just a set, and doesn’t actually exist.

For more architecture on film, check out 10 Towers in Scary Movies.

This treat was compiled by David Dick-Agnew and Elizabeth Pagliacolo.

When we listed 10 Modernist Houses in Scary Movies, featuring a selection of beautiful homes from around the world, a pattern emerged: each of these houses was located in a natural setting, remote from civilization, and often cantilevered over a steep hill. This geographical detachment often figures into the story, and the homes are cast with an unfriendly sterility that can add to a chilling, agoraphobic atmosphere.

Skyscrapers, on the other hand, occupy only the densest urban zones. Rather than antisocial and aloof individuals, they often house the headquarters of the “Evil Corporation.” Or, in films where the subtext explores social issues surrounding urban development, towers are the site and symbol of existential threats from poverty and crime to the loss of identity.

Whatever they bring to the screen, these towers always cast a striking profile.

1 Space Needle, by John Graham and Company (Chronicle, 2012)
Perhaps the makers of Chronicle put Seattle’s Space Needle in a starring role because they prized the moody, overcast skies of the Emerald City – or perhaps it was the last remaining architectural icon to have escaped the honour of being destroyed on-screen. But after a trio of super-powered teens are unleashed on the city, John Graham’s futuristic masterpiece, completed in 1962 for the World’s Fair, is never quite the same. Not since King Kong has a tower received this kind of cinematic attention.

2 Toronto-Dominion Centre, by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (American Psycho, 2000)
Patrick Bateman – investment banker by day, serial killer by night – is a threat to the American people in more ways than one. Astute viewers will recognize Bateman’s office building not from New York but from Toronto; it’s Mies van der Rohe’s TD Centre, whose steel and glass pavilion is considered among the finest examples of the International Style.

3 Time Warner Center, by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (Cloverfield, 2008)
It’s no surprise that alien apocalypse flick Cloverfield ultimately depicts the Time Warner Center, located in New York City’s Columbus Circle, like so many other towers on this list: crumbling into a heap of rubble. But SOM’s bookend skyscrapers play a special role here, as the set-piece for one of the most nail-biting alpine rescues in recent history.

4 Comcast Building, by Robert A. M. Stern Architect (Devil, 2010)
There’s no denying that something devilish is at work inside this commercial tower when four strangers are trapped in an elevator with an unseen killer. Maybe it’s the low camera angle that makes Comcast’s Philadelphia HQ look impossibly tall, or maybe it’s the iciness of the mirrored facade, but in the hands of Devil’s cinematographers, there’s something unmistakably sinister about this pristine edifice.

5 Hyatt Regency San Francisco, by John Portman & Associates (The Towering Inferno, 1974)
The Towering Inferno’s titular skyscraper – the granddaddy of all cinematic tower-themed disasters – was assembled from multiple locations, including 555 California Street in San Francisco, which provided the entrance exterior, and a Century City office building in LA, which stood in for the surveillance room. But most striking of all is the building’s tapered lobby, actually John Portman’s famous Hyatt Regency in San Francisco, which had opened the preceding year, and has appeared in several high-profile films since.

6 Heygate Estate, by Tim Tinker (Attack the Block, 2011)
2011’s Attack the Block, the saga of a group of toughs in a south London council estate fighting off an alien invasion, is destined to become a horror classic. But the social issues at the heart of the film – the street crime and poverty endemic to social housing – are no fantasy to the residents of south London’s Heygate Estate. The area was already notorious for muggings in 2011, when demolition of the residences commenced in order to make room for neighbourhood regeneration projects.

7 Gas Company Tower, by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (Speed, 1994)
For those who can remember this 1994 Keanu Reeves vehicle, the name Speed is synonymous with an out-of-control bus. But the film’s action begins with a tense elevator-related emergency, shot in a studio, but using the exterior of SOM’s Gas Company Tower in Los Angeles to establish the location.

8 101 Park Avenue, by Eli Attia Architects (Gremlins 2,1990)
Before it was leveled in 2012’s The Avengers, 101 Park Avenue in Manhattan played the home of Clamp Enterprises in Gremlins 2: The New Batch. The thoroughly automated research centre seen in the film can be entirely quarantined – luckily, as the experiments’ subjects soon get out of hand. Today, Eli Attia’s imposing office tower is home to several notable tenants including Morgan Stanley and Nespresso.

9 Cabrini-Green Housing, by the Chicago Housing Authority (Candyman, 1992)
When Chicago’s Housing Authority initiated the Frances Cabrini row houses and William Green homes beginning in the 1940s, the proposal was based on the urban renewal model en vogue at the time: a dense mix of high-rises and row houses that would integrate people of diverse incomes into an area between two of Chicago’s most affluent districts. Instead, the area swiftly descended into vandalism and decay, with clogged garbage chutes sometimes backing up 15 storeys, attracting rats and roaches. By the 1970s, the project was synonymous with gang-related crime.

Before the last of these structures was demolished in 2011, the neighbourhood provided an authentically dilapidated backdrop for Candyman, a supernatural thriller that uses urban legends as the jumping-off point for a gory and disturbing tale of an angry spirit who terrorizes an entire community.

10 John Hancock Center, by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (Poltergeist III, 1988)
Poltergeist and its first sequel fixated on the anxiety and ennui of life in the suburbs, but the third installment transported beleaguered daughter Carol Ann to her aunt and uncle’s apartment in Chicago. SOM’s John Hancock Center, which provided the apartment’s exterior, was the world’s second-tallest structure upon completion in 1969. While it has never been haunted, to our knowledge, it has seen its share of tragedy: in 2002, wind gusts caused scaffolding to shake free from the building and fall 43 storeys to the street below, crushing several cars and killing three people.