7 Bay Area Horror Movies For Your Halloween Viewing Pleasure

Save ArticleSave Article

Failed to save article

Please try again

A man wearing a Mackintosh coat, points straight ahead, mouth agape, eyes wide in a horrific expression.
Donald Sutherland living the opposite of his best life in 1978's 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers.'

If your idea of a perfect Halloween is turning off all the lights, tucking yourself under a blanket, and snuggling up next to a bag of fun-size candy for a horror movie marathon, you're not alone. It's a strategy that effectively removes the pressure of coming up with a costume idea and picking a party to attend. But it does present one pretty major quandary: what the hell to watch?

To aid you in this decision, we've come up with a list of classic horror movies—all filmed in the Bay Area, all available to stream or rent, and all liable to make your Halloween better.

Cujo (1983)

An entire generation of '80s kids is still walking around with a lifelong phobia of St. Bernards because of the sheer terror wrought by Cujo. It's a simple but disarmingly realistic concept: a large dog gets rabies from a bat bite and descends into madness, ambushing humans as he goes. One mother and son get caught in his proverbial crosshairs, trapped in their broken-down car with no escape.

Filmed in locations around the North Bay (Petaluma, Santa Rosa, Glenn Ellen and Mendocino), the movie was given a different (less bleak) ending than Stephen King's original text. Despite this—and the fact that in some "attack" scenes the dog is transparently trying to cuddle screaming actors—Cujo remains one of the better Stephen King movie adaptations. Dee Wallace's performance will stay with you long after the credits roll.


'Cujo' is streaming now on Tubi.

It Came From Beneath the Sea (1955)

If you've ever wanted to see a giant radioactive octopus throwing its tentacles around downtown San Francisco, this is the film for you. Having had its habitat in the Philippines destroyed by thermonuclear tests, and after authorities repeatedly attempt to electrocute it, the poor, unfeasibly massive octopus arrives in the city and promptly goes berserk. It wrecks buildings! It squishes men! It squeezes the Ferry Building's clock tower to death! It even wraps itself around the Golden Gate Bridge like it wants to make babies with it. Yes, it's completely preposterous, but if you can't watch a giant furious octopus suction-cupping bystanders to death on Halloween, when can you?

'It Came From Beneath the Sea' is available to rent on YouTube or Amazon Prime.

Burnt Offerings (1976)

In its earliest stages, it's tempting to view Burnt Offerings as just another bog-standard haunted house movie. Don't be fooled. By the time the story has spiraled to its (absolutely bananas) climax, you'll realize the filmmakers have lulled you into a false sense of security on purpose, only to pull the antique rug out from under you.

Filmed in Oakland's Dunsmuir House (a location with a tragic real-life history), the home here—like the one in Netflix's Haunting of Hill House—has a character and motivation all of its own. All of which is compounded by some spectacular over-acting by Oliver Reed, Karen Black and Bette Davis. The moral of the story? Don't take on a summer rental if it comes with an old lady in the attic that you're obliged to feed.

'Burnt Offerings' is available to rent through Amazon Prime.

Phantasm (1979)

Reanimated corpses. Hell portals. Severed fingers that turn into insects. Flying silver spheres with spikes. Horny teens getting stabbed in cemeteries. Evil minions that may or may not have been inspired by Star Wars Jawas. Absolutely nothing about Phantasm makes any sense at all. (At all!) But if you want to see Dunsmuir House again, while also feeling like you've taken strong hallucinogens, this is a good one to watch back-to-back with Burnt Offerings.

'Phantasm' is streaming now on Peacock, Pluto TV and Tubi.

The Birds (1963)

Let's be real. If seagulls and their tiny evil faces decided tomorrow that humans needed to be eradicated, they could probably pull it off. Throw every other bird on Earth into the mix and, as one Bodega Bay bystander states at the start of this Alfred Hitchcock classic, "Why, if that happened, we wouldn't have a chance." (It's worth also keeping in mind that The Birds was inspired by a real-life event in which a Northern California town was attacked en masse by seabirds, in 1961.)

Witnessing San Francisco's Melanie Daniels (charmingly played by Tippi Hedren) slowly devolve from a self-assured, independent practical joker to a traumatized shell is genuinely perturbing here. And not a little harrowing now that we know about Hitchcock's appalling treatment of Hedren in real life. But the lure of The Birds remains (Bodega Bay continues to be a hotspot for Hitchcock tourists), as does the lore. Unsubstantiated rumors persist that the Bay Area's crow population increased enormously after Hitchcock released the birds into the wild at the end of filming. Just pray they don't turn on us one day...

'The Birds' is streaming now on Showtime.

The Fog (1980)

The Fog is the kind of unintentionally hilarious horror movie that is best watched in groups, with some sort of drinking game fashioned after it. Drink every time someone says "Mrs Kobritz"! Drink every time a dead body lands on Jamie Lee Curtis! Drink every time some idiot doesn't notice there's a rotting, hook-handed pirate ghost directly next to them? Primarily filmed in Point Reyes (with some Bodega Bay and L.A. thrown in), The Fog is a movie that came really close to making some salient points about the sins of our forefathers, only to sacrifice it all for plumes of dry ice and a hearty amount of face-stabbing.

'The Fog' is streaming now on Tubi.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Did the disturbing 1956 classic need a more high-tech do-over? Not really. But boy oh boy, did it get a good one. The casting for the 1978 remake was damn near perfect (hello, young Jeff Goldblum!), and paranoia and panic is so thoroughly seeped into every scene, you can't help but feel completely immersed in the characters' nightmare, as one-by-one they're replaced with alien replicas.

Invasion is also that rare San Francisco movie that includes Things That Locals Like, including Sutro Tower, Bimbo's, the Broadway tunnel, and even (gasp!) the Tenderloin. Plus! It contains the Donald Sutherland scene—you already know the one—that launched a thousand gifs. A true horror classic and a scary little love letter to San Francisco.

'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' is streaming now on YouTube. (The 1956 original is also free on Pluto TV, should you fancy a double feature.)


Happy Halloween, horror fans!