With American Horror Story: Hotel poised to debut tonight on FX, I thought it best to offer up a traveler's advisory warning of which lurid Hollywood horror lodgings you just might want to drive past when looking for a safe place to rest your head. Screenwriters and directors love the confined location of a creepy hotel or motel to set your heart pounding, and there is no shortage of prime examples of paranormal places of respite.
Some of these proprietors may be slightly insane or simply trying to offer some luxury accommodations to unsuspecting customers, but many feature terrycloth bathrobes, turndown service and mini bottles of shampoo/conditioner to offset all the screaming.
Creature comforts notwithstanding, one night in any of these bloody bed and breakfasts, insane inns or maniacal motels may be your last. Check into this guidebook of ghastly movie hotels to steer clear of in your travels, and tell us if you enjoyed your stay!
THE OVERLOOK HOTEL - THE SHINING 1980
The granddaddy of all haunted hotels, built on an Indian burial ground and unkind to unstable writers working on their next novel. With stunning mountain views and a host of paranormal party guests to mingle with, the Overlook is exactly the kind of tourist trap ghosts love to inhabit. Director Stanley Kubrick used the exteriors of the Timberline Lodge in Mount Hood, Ore., for his possessed palace, further amplifying the architectural anomalies in the labyrinthine movie. Burns to the ground in Stephen King's novel, but frozen to death in the film.
MOTEL HELLO - MOTEL HELL 1980
It takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent's fritters. Whatever you do, don't order the meat pies or jerky at this roadside motel with the missing neon letter. Veteran character actor Rory Calhoun hams it up in this crazy cult horror flick about a pair of cornball innkeepers who trap wayward guests and turn them into tasty meat snacks. Stay out of the garden if you're stuck for a stayover, especially if the sounds of a revving tractor and snapping necks are heard carrying in the chill evening air.
BATES MOTEL - PSYCHO 1960
An oft-forgotten establishment off the main highway, this home to the troubled Bates family has a history of hosting mental illness that obviously doesn't hinder their eagerness to keep clean rooms available. With a strange, taxidermy-loving young man named Norman managing it, the Bates Motel is best avoided at all costs, especially if you're feeling grimy and need a quick shower. The hotel is favored by vagabonds on the cheap and embezzelers on the lam, but choose a quiet night in the back seat of your station wagon rather than indulging in Norman's unsettling hospitality ... or his cellar-dwelling mom.
THE DOLPHIN - 1408 2008
It's really not fair to brand an entire five-star hotel as demonic just because of one particularly evil room, but I wouldn't get anywhere near this deluxe napping den. The general manager will warn you in no uncertain terms as to the nature of the notorious Room 1408, so don't insist on special treatment. The actual historic Roosevelt Hotel in New York City was used for the filmed exteriors, but the Dolphin's reputation as a pleasant destination has suffered in years after a series of unexplained deaths. But the express checkout service is to die for!
THE PINE VIEW MOTEL - VACANCY 2007
If you're shy and aren't particularly fond of being spied upon by a network of hidden cameras as you exhale your last breath, I'd pass on the Pine View. Taking full advantage of its single-location claustrophobia, this run-down, remote motel is one of those kinda joints that only appears at the end of a mountain road accessed after an unfortunate wrong turn. If the decor doesn't kill you, don't watch those VHS snuff tapes, and beware of homicidal gas-station attendants!
THE STARLIGHT HOTEL - EATEN ALIVE 1977
AKA Horror Hotel, this grindhouse horror flick by director Tobe Hooper took on the dark deeds going on inside the world's filthiest redneck hotel. This Louisiana swampside lodging is home not only to a deranged maniac, but also to his hungry pet crocodile kept out back when guests show up for dinner and a room. Not recommended for any sort of romantic rendezvous unless you're overly fond of ravenous reptiles.
THE BLACKWELL HOTEL - SEE NO EVIL 2006
Accepting a job offer to help clean and restore this rotting, burnt hotel is not the smartest idea, even if your benevolent plans call for turning it into a homeless shelter. Trust me, even the homeless would move on down the line after taking one glimpse of this ghastly place, makeover or not. The dirty domicile of a reclusive psychopath and his equally nutso mom, the Blackwell is the kind of dilapidated joint that would have been better off bulldozed to the dirt instead of attracting a pair of torture-prone squatters.
THE RAVEN'S INN - THE CITY OF THE DEAD (1960)
The late, great Christopher Lee stars in this occult tale of a foreign student studying witchcraft at an ancient New England Inn. While the fall may be the nicest time to enjoy the autumn foliage in the quaint village of Whitewood, it's also the prime season for human sacrifices by a coven of witches at the inn, which may delay your peak leaf-peeping plans. Turn back around and utilize the free Wi-Fi at a Motel 6 to research your graduate paper instead.
THE YANKEE PEDLAR - THE INNKEEPERS 2011
Little seen but oddly atmospheric, this indie horror flick chronicles the final weekend of a historic Connecticut hotel and the odd occurences that manifest themselves in the wee hours of the night to the ghostbusting duo manning the front desk. Spectral guests past and present arrive to shut the place down, and the ensuing slate of apparitions, suicides and disembodied voices from beyond the grave would make for an extremely restless night of sleep should you fall into its cozy four-poster bed. Guzzle a pot of coffee straight on until morning.
Which of these Hollywood horror hotels could you sleep overnight in without losing your mind? Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments!