Vacancy, Identity, and The Devil’s Rejects all have one thing in common: they all take place in some of the scariest hotels.
Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel, the Netflix docuseries, has been a huge hit with horror movie fans, so it’s only natural that people are thinking about the scariest hotels and motels from movies. Seeing Elisa Lam’s story is a reminder that terrible things may happen when you’re away from home and in a foreign area that’s been plagued by its own shady history and filled by even stranger people.
For decades, horror movie villains have used hotels to prey on innocent strangers who put their guard down for a tranquil night of sleep.
1. Kingston Hotel – Private Parts (1972)
The Kingston Hotel in Private Parts is the closest film location to The Cecil Hotel. Filmed in the real-life King Edward Hotel in downtown L.A., Paul Bartel’s feature debut The Kingston depicts a run-down Skid Row neighborhood.
It is at Martha’s hotel, run by her eccentric aunt, Cheryl (Ayn Ruyman), that Cheryl takes refuge after fleeing her Ohio home. There, a troubled man named George (John Ventantonio) gets obsessed with her and begins spying on her nonstop.
2. Motel Hello – Motel Hell (1980)
Kevin Connor’s satirical horror-comedy Motel Hell is based on the true story of Karl Denke, a German cannibal who was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Vincent (Rory Calhoun) is a psychotic farmer who kidnaps unsuspecting motorists and eats their corpses, and the film follows him as he does so.
Vincent, along with his psychotic sister Ida (Nancy Parsons), eats the flesh of the hostages he buryes in his garden and sells at Motel Hello.
3. Pinewood Motel – Vacancy (2007)
Antal’sVacancy takes the creepy-voyeuristic surveillance concept to the next level, paying tribute to the Klaus Kinski hotel horror films Crawlspace and Slaughter Hotel.
After becoming stranded at the remote Pinewood Motel with their married pair, Amy (Kate Beckinsale) and David (Luke Wilson), they learn that the area is filled with hidden security cameras. Amy and Davis find that if they don’t get out in time, they’ll be the next to star in a gruesome snuff video.
4. Khaki Palms Motel – The Devil’s Rejects (2005)
Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects had to be trimmed from the MPAA to escape an NC-17 classification because of the sheer ugliness in the Khaki Palms Motel.
Zombies: House of 1000 Corpses Part II follows the macabre adventures of Captain Spaulding, Otis, and Firefly, as they evade authorities on a murderous rampage throughout the southwest.
5. Desert Valley Motel – Identity (2003)
James Mangold’s terrifying Identity, loosely inspired on Agatha Christie’s landmark whodunit Ten Little Indians, takes place in the deserted Desert Valley Motel in rural Nevada during a torrential downpour. It is here that ten strangers, all of whom share the same birthday, are brutally murdered.
Due to catastrophic rain, the tedious mystery concludes with an unexpected twist as the motel guests try to figure out how they are related.
6. Slovakian Hostel – Hostel (2005)
Get a nasty Slovakian hotel in Eli Roth’s 2005 horror outing by omitting the “S” from Hostel. American tourists who follow bad advise wind themselves in a place where sadistic rich men indulge their most violent desires, as the story of the film follows.
A gore-sodden medieval torture chamber is what Josh (Derek Richardson), Paxton (Ay Hernandez), and Oli (Eythor Gudjonsson) initially believe they’ve entered.
7. The Dolphin Hotel – 1408 (2007)
Based on Stephen King’s novella, 1408 stars John Cusack as novelist Mike Enslin who is invited to examine mysterious activity taking place at the Dolphin Hotel in New York City, which is famed for its unexplainable phenomena.
He sets out to disprove the infamously haunted hotel for his new book with a jaded attitude and quickly finds himself devastated by his own psychological troubles that materialize in the hotel room.
8. Starlight Motel – Eaten Alive (1977)
One of the most heinous and depraved horror movie motels is shown in Eaten Alive by Tobe Hooper. Judd, a scythe-wielding madman, runs the Starlight Motel, a decaying backwoods dump that doubles as a brothel (Neville Brand).
He slaughters his visitors with the scythe when things get out of hand on his property and then feeds the bodies to a gigantic pet crocodile he keeps in an unsanitary swamp below the porch.”
9. Bates Motel – Psycho (1960)
“Psycho,” Alfred Hitchcock’s best-known film, was the first slasher film to be set in the infamous Bates Motel. In spite of the motel’s appearance, the gruesome facts that lurk within its walls are the most distressing of all.
Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) arrives at the Bates Motel in the middle of the night, when she is murdered by a butcher knife in the shower. Innocent Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) pretends to be innocent until he is revealed to be a serial killer who often disguises himself as his deceased mother in order to carry out his crimes.
10. The Overlook – The Shining (1980)
Stanley Kubrick’s The Overlook in The Shining is the scariest hotel in horror film history. Not only do bad things happen, but the hotel itself encourages guests to engage in acts of violence and cruelty.
Overlook (Jack Nicholson) caretaker-in-chief Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) takes advantage of the winter months to work on his new manuscript. The fascinating and terrifying history of the hotel progressively drives Jack to deadly madness as he travels with his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and son Danny (Danny Lloyd).