13 Creepy College Campuses: Scary Schools in Horror Movies

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The creeper who stares at you from the back of class. The final you forgot was today. Discovering you’re one credit shy of graduation. The walk of shame across the Quad in the stark light of dawn. And most horrifying of all: six figures of student loan debt.

{Insert blood-curdling scream here.}

College. What a nightmare! Hey, who hasn’t endured a dry, dusty prof who does a mean impersonation of The Mummy, lived with a roommate straight out of What We Do in the Shadows, or dated some hot co-ed who turned out to be a predatory alien, like in Species? In so many ways, once we’re out from under the protective care of Mom and Dad, we all spin our own web of horror behind ivy-covered walls.

But if it’s real on-campus horror you seek, Hollywood is happy to oblige. Check out these 13 ghoulish schools, made notorious as settings for some of the most frightening flicks on film. Seriously, if you’re going to subject yourself to a private (or public) hell for four years, it might as well be somewhere guaranteed to deliver the goods. Or is that gore? And for those of us who still jolt awake at night in a cold sweat from twisted dreams of calculus finals long buried, here are the campuses (and the films they graced) guaranteed to give Freddie Krueger a run for his money.

13 Loyola Marymount University

The Roommate (2011)

Los Angeles, California

Hooray for hellish, horrific HOLLYWOOD! In the shadow of those huge nine letters emerges the first of our colleges in the film capital of the USA. Loyola Marymount shares something else with #1 on the list of The Roommate were filmed there as well. Loyola Marymount also highlights one clear fact: Roman Catholic colleges can be scary in the right directorial hands. Perhaps it has something to do with Sister Mary and her knuckle-rapping ruler. A roommate gone bad is a good start for horror on campus, but roomies are not your typical movie monster. Want traditional? How about an old fiend returned from the undead…?

12 University of Toronto

Dracula 2000 (2000)

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

With enough star-power—Gerard Butler, Nathan Fillion, Christopher Plummer, Omar Epps, Jeri Ryan, and Danny Masterson—to crispify a blood-sucker to ash, Dracula 2000 delivers the chills. Not to mention that it’s a northerly shoot, crossing the border to unearth ol’ Nosferatu. University of Toronto offered a cool spot to film. Little-known horror classic Black Christmas also filmed several of its campus scenes at the Canadian school.

11 Union Presbyterian Seminary

Cry_Wolf (2005)

Richmond, Virginia

So what is it with horror and religion? Well, for one thing, horror films are a last bastion for integrating religious belief in an entertainment format. Nothing makes one closer to the Almighty, both figuratively and literally, than facing down death. The Presbyterians get in on the fright flick by offering up one of their seminaries in the historic town of Richmond, Virginia, as a setting for Cry_Wolf. Library and police scenes were filmed on campus. Union Presyterian Seminary tag-teamed on the production location with University of Richmond, whose mascot is the perfectly horrific WebstUR the Spider. Something tells us UPS’s is not the Fighting Elders.

10 Agnes Scott College

Scream 2 (1997)

Decatur, Georgia

Southern gothic and classic horror make a spooky combo. And nothing like a little Spanish moss on the trees and fog for atmosphere. Decatur’s pretty Agnes Scott College east of Atlanta hosts film crews regularly, its picturesque setting gracing Driving Miss Daisy, The Blind Side, Legend, and Fried Green Tomatoes, not to mention a quintessentially collegiate Van Wilder film. But Scream 2 holds the horror crown at the school, so anything school-ish looking in this film is probably Agnes’ old haunt.

9 University of California–Los Angeles

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)

Los Angeles, California

One villain terrified 1980s filmgoers like no other, the infamous child murderer and dream haunter, Freddie Krueger. What better place to study the sadistic sandman who gets inside your mind than in a psychiatric facility. Back to sunny Southern California we go for the shots. Some students at UCLA may object to the insinuation that Royce Hall on campus--which became the film’s Westin Hills Psychiatric Hospital--is a place for headshrinking. But if someone’s gotta do it, Freddie’s the man, and Hollywood’s backyard is the place.

8 Université Concordia

Scanners (1981)

Montréal, Quebec, Canada

Back over the border, this time to the French side. The Jesuits and the YMCA found concord in merging college programs in Quebec’s capital city, birthing Université Concordia. What the two groups managed to bring together then got blown to bits a mere seven years later, namely heads, in the notorious Scanners, which, in its day, garnered an X rating in some countries for gore. And no, An Inconvenient Truth was NOT filmed there too. Check the lecture hall scene for the university’s showing.

7 Harvard Medical School

Altered States (1980)

Boston, Massachusetts

If notorious director Ken Russell makes a scary feature about a doctor who takes mind-altering trips across the universe, meets a seven-eyed, seven-horned savior, and winds up tripping out his own DNA, he goes big or goes home. And big is Harvard Medical School, film location for some of the wild experiment scenes in Altered States. One Ivy not enough? What the Hades! Toss in another for over-the-top goodness: Columbia University appears in some scenes too.

6 Carnegie Mellon University

Creepshow (1982)

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Because we vow never to let him write again, we let the author say his piece about this little list’s origin in meeting scream queen Adrienne Barbeau, the horrifying Hal Holbrook, and King of the Zombies, director George Romero, on the set of Creepshow while it was filming at Carnegie Mellon University’s Margaret Morrison Carnegie Hall in 1981. Pittsburgh-native Romero, a CMU alumnus, laughed in the face of "you can’t go home again" and filmed "The Crate" portion of the anthology in the old hall.

5 University of Detroit Mercy

It Follows (2014)

Detroit, Michigan

Ah, another Jesuit-founded college, University of Detroit Mercy, with help from the Sisters of Mercy, and host to another scary movie. Remember all those warnings about chastity you got from the nuns? It Follows ratchets up that scolding into a full-blown nightmare. Now you have It, and to whom are you going to give It next? No antibiotic is going to cure this social disease. Catch the shots from UDM’s McNichols campus, and see why this schocker earned its eerie acclaim.

4 British Columbia Institute of Technology

The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

Richmond, British Columbia, Canada

So, you say that Hollywood has run out of fresh ideas. Guess you haven’t seen The Cabin in the Woods. Written by Joss Whedon of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, and The Avengers fame, this fright fest delivers more than some cheap jump scares, delving into the mystery of why horror movies exist at all. A rollercoaster film that starts out Friday the 13th, passes through Westworld, and ends with…well, that would be giving it away wouldn’t it? The British Columbia Institute of Technology Aerospace campus main building serves as the film’s Sacrifice Facility, which is all you need to know.

3 University of Washington

The Changeling (1980)

Seattle, Washington

Red Square isn’t just in Moscow. University of Washington has its own, also known less interestingly as Central Plaza, shown in the haunting The Changeling. In fact, you can check out the square live from its own cambot. Want to play Spot the Future Celebrity? Look for Twin Peaks and Desperate Housewives star and ’82 alumnus Kyle MacLachlan walking up stairs in one of the campus scenes. Supposedly, some of the additional classroom scenes in the film were shot at Dracula 2000 central, the previously mentioned University of Toronto.

2 Georgetown University

The Exorcist (1973)

Washington, D.C.

Almost as iconic as Mike Oldfield’s soundtrack, "Tubular Bells," Georgetown University’s Healy Hall appeared in several scenes in The Exorcist. The church that tastes hell? Dahlgren Chapel on campus. The Roman Catholic university also inspired writer Peter Blatty, Georgetown Class of 1950, to pen the award-winning novel and movie. Known as one of the most terrifying films to haunt the silver screen, it has returned. Catch the update for the small screen in the current critically acclaimed TV series.

1 University of Southern California

The Ring (2002)

Los Angeles, California

Nothing makes for chilling convenience like a film school on campus and Hollywood next door. For sheer breadth and depth of horror flicks filmed on campus, USC runs away with the title of creepiest campus, as these notable films have all been shot there: Prince of Darkness, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, Species, Deadly Friend, Night of the Creeps, The Roommate (see above), and the IMDB ratings winner for this list, Young Frankenstein, 8.1. Whether you’re yucking it up with Victor Frankenstein and pals during the lecture scenes in that film, or losing your cool during the library scenes filmed at USC for The Ring, if you want creepy campuses, no college shows up more often in modern horror than USC.

If you attended a college that hosted a film crew shooting horror, leave a comment below and dish the details. More creepy campuses than these exist. We want to hear about ’em!

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