Top 10 Horrific Movie Parks!

Well friends, after 14 long years, the gates of JURASSIC WORLD are finally opening for visitors today. You pumped or what? Truth be told, the movie has been generating a rather unanimous "meh" response, with most critics (our E.Walk included) agreeing that the FX are pretty eye-popping while the characters are sort of flat cardboard cutouts. Still, when a park full of prehistoric monsters run afoul, especially on this scale, it's a monumental event. And that got us to scrambling the old noggin. It seems that parks in general - be they a local municipality, a national monument, amusement park, theme park, a sanctioned hunting ground, whatever - have always been ferociously fecund movie settings for absolutely horrible things to occur. Think about it. Places of natural beauty, serenity and peaceful respite often become subverted in favor of abject terror. Don't believe us? Well then, proceed with caution when you enter our Top 10 Horrific Movie Parks above!

#1. THE FUNHOUSE (1981)

Tobe Hooper's atmospheric, neon-drenched horror opus THE FUNHOUSE is not only one of his most underrated flicks, it also happens to feature one of the filthiest, grimiest, most off-putting and bizarre theme parks ever captured on celluloid. And we LOVE IT! In addition to the maddening mystery of who is actually slaughtering people at the ill-fated amusement park, it's all about the unforgettable ambiance - the nightmarish curios and freakish sideshow attractions, the vibrant Italian-horror style coloring, the dense dry-ice wafting about, the luring flashbulbs, the massive old tents and sinister carnival rides...all of it.

#2. JURASSIC PARK (1993)

We know you saw this one coming, but the technological import of JURASSIC PARK shall not be understated. What Spielberg and company did in 1993 was nothing short of game-changing! The two subsequent entries? Not so much. But sill, the whole idea of turning Michael Crichton's bestselling novel into a movie - about fossilized dinosaur DNA being extracted from a mosquito and re-cultivated for tourism purposes - is such a rife topic to explore on the big-screen. The ethics and moral quandaries raised over DNA cloning and the financial gain of something so dangerous plays a backseat to an FX-driven thrill-ride, but the themes are weighty and worth discussion.


Take your pick. Either Michael Crichton's daringly original WESTWORLD, which he wrote and directed, or the slightly less effective but still solid sequel FUTUREWORLD, which Crichton had little to do with. Putting aside our personal excitement for HBO's upcoming adaptation, I've always preferred how badass the Gunslinger from WESTWORLD is, and how genuinely petrifying his robotically relentless hunt becomes by the end of the flick. Dude's the 1973 Terminator! More than that though, it's the fully realized theme parks in both flicks, so immersive and lifelike that the artifice is hard to recognize at times. All the more unnerving.

#4. THE LOST BOYS (1987)

Take it from me, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is a real place. I know because I grew up there. Hell, my ex-step-brother's dad actually scouted the location for THE LOST BOYS back in 1987, which, in the movie, is referred to as Santa Carla. And not that you need me to tell you how frightening the place is - we all remember the oily, muscled-up, Seagal pony-tailed bo-hunk of a saxophone player - dude's mortifying! But just underneath the hustle and bustle of the beachfront amusement park lies something far more sinister: a dark and dreary vampiric lair that houses our pals David, Star, Marco and the rest of the gang.


Okay, so this is a park of a total different stripe. A national park. In specific, the Devils Tower National Monument, located in Wyoming. The massive monolithic rock structure that has served as Native American refuge for centuries also works as a vital plot point in Spielberg's 1977 alien-invasion flick. The giant precipice is no doubt mystical and fraught with folklore on its own, so when so dramatically encroached upon and dwarfed in scale by the alien mothership during the films key scene, the monument tends to take on a whole new meaning.

#6. ZOMBIELAND (2009)

You know, we tend to abhor senseless remakes and cash-grab sequels around here, but damn if we don't need more ZOMBIELAND in our lives. Too bad a continuation with the OG cast couldn't mobilize. Oh well. Fact remains, one of the more fun-filled horror finales to come about in sometime happens to go down in the confines of a nocturnal zombie-ridden amusement park. Always a good time. But that roller-coaster-zombie-buster with good ol' Woody blazing the sawed-off? Come on, that sequence is one for the books. Or what about that clown-zombie scene with awkward-ass Eisenberg? Too damn good!

#7.PIRANHA 3DD (2012)

Oh dear, PIRANHA 3DD! As bountiful in boobies as it is bereft of brains. But so what. Setting your horror flick inside a water-slide theme park is f*cking genius! Too bad, or good if you're 14 years old, director John Gulager was more interested in reveling in sleazy perversity than crafting a tried and true horror classic, but then again, when your film title lampoons technology in honor of a woman's bust-size, what do you really expect? Not that we're grousing. Hell, this flick featured more cups of D than a goddamn dairy farm! Bring on part 3 already!


I suppose we can throw some love at Tod Browning's FREAKS, or even the 4th season of American Horror Story: Freak Show for starting and continuing the trend of bizarre carnie curios. But in the end, if you want the definitively spooky park-place setting of one such flick, look no further than Herk Harvery's CARNIVAL OF SOULS. The infamous Saltair Pavillion, in specific, plays home to strange brew of eccentric weirdos who perform for the masses on the regular. They do so at an equally odd, massive indoor/outdoor performing area that, since abandoned, has an air of decrepitude about it that adds to the creepiness.

#9. CHILD'S PLAY 3 (1991)

Not sure about you, but I've always loved the ending of CHILD'S PLAY 3, where Andy and his military pals end up in a foggily ambient amusement park in the middle of nowhere. Of course, they try to elude Chucky's sharp blade, but it isn't long before little Tyler finds himself in the inescapable clutch of those plastic baby hands. Tough draw. As for the park itself, its patterned after some sort of hellish underworld with lava, smoke and brimstone and a serpentine roller-coaster coiling throughout. Then, if that isn't enough, Chucky's anthropomorphic face gets sliced off, with human flesh and plastic wires jutting out. Trippy shit!


Yup. I bet when you braved this here gauntlet, you didn't think you'd be seeing PREDATORS in the horrific parks run down. Ah, but let's not forget the true nature of the alien jungle the film takes place in. Adrien Brody's character proclaims somewhere in the middle of the film that, yes, these unrelated but equally lowlife criminals have been dropped, literally, in the middle of an inter-species hunting ground. A gaming park...and they're the game! Cool idea with some gnarly set-pieces that seem both from the past and into the future at once, even if there's no way in hell any sequel could match Dutch and the original.
Tags: Hollywood

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