With the upcoming release of the horror film GHOST OF NEW ORLEANS, which has an all-star cast that includes Josh Lucas, Terrence Howard, Lake Bell, and Cary Elwes, we thought we would take a look back at some of the best paranormal/horror movies that have been set in the infamous city of New Orleans. In GHOST OF NEW ORLEANS, we are introduced to a disgraced detective, post-Katrina, who encounters the ghost of a murdered woman who wants to help him identify her killer.
If there was one place I would tell anyone to visit in the United States, I would say New Orleans. The history is rich and the tales of urban legends run rampant through the streets and dark alleyways. The following are the top 5 horror films set in good ole' New Orleans, starting with the most famous one of all...
1. INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE (1994)
Director: Neil Jordan
Stars: Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Antonio Banderas, Christian Slater, Kirsten Dunst
Synopsis: A vampire tells his epic life story: love, betrayal, loneliness, and hunger
Thoughts: This list wouldn't be complete if we didn't add in INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, the adaptation of Anne Rice's novel of the same name. In this film, the city of New Orleans ends up becoming a personality in and of itself, becoming the perfect backdrop to showcase the centuries that Lestat and Louis have lived as the undead. The scenery is gorgeous, almost dream-like, and it's easy to understand why those who may harbor deadly secrets would want to reside here. There are many films that incorporate vampires that are set in New Orleans, DRACULA 2000 being another one, and it's because of the stories that the folk of New Orleans have passed down from generation to generation. If you want to learn more, I urge you to research why New Orleans is such a hot spot for vampires. You'll be shocked with what you uncover.
2. THE BEYOND (1981)
Director: Lucio Fulci
Stars: Catriona macColl, David Warbeck, Cinzia Monreale
Synopsis: A young woman inherits an old hotel in Louisiana where, following a series of supernatural "accidents", she learns that the building was built over one of the entrances to Hell.
Thoughts: I saw Lucio Fulci's THE BEYOND for the first time a few years ago and I instantly fell in love with it. This is a classic supernatural story that is both beautiful and scary and it captivates the audience almost immediately. With Fulci's Giallo touch combined with the sweltering heat of the Louisiana sun, this supernatural thriller makes for one of the best horror films ever to be set in New Orleans.
3. THE SKELETON KEY (2005)
Director: Iain Softley
Stars: Kate Hudson, Peter Sarsgaard, Joy Bryant
Synopsis: A hospice nurse working at a spooky New Orleans plantation home finds herself entangled in a mystery involving the house's dark past.
Thoughts: This film may not be on everyone's must-see list, but it's a fantastic and creepy mystery that deserves more credit than it gets. THE SKELETON KEY is a southern gothic tale with the added bonus of Hoodooism. Similar to THE BEYOND, you can almost feel the sweltering heat through the screen as you watch the mystery unfold. This film is a definite true-blue mystery that takes place in a beautiful, but dilapidated, plantation mansion. Combine that with fantastic visuals and quality scares, this film will have you guessing till the very end.
4. HATCHET (2006)
Director: Adam Green
Stars: Kane Hodder, Joel David Moore, Deon Richmond, Tamara Feldman
Synopsis: When a group of tourists on a New Orleans haunted swamp tour find themselves stranded in the wilderness, their evening of fun and spooks turn into a horrific nightmare.
Thoughts: Though I wouldn't necessarily categorize this as a supernatural film, it still falls into the bracket of horror films set in New Orleans. Adam Green's HATCHET is a fun serial killer driven movie that takes us to the back-swamps of Louisiana and has moments that are truly terrifying and beyond gory. HATCHET brought about a new killer, one that has gone on to spawn sequels, to an already over-populated segment of slasher films, and made it unique and memorable.
5. CANDYMAN: FAREWELL TO THE FLESH (1995)
Director: Bill Condon
Stars: Tony Todd, Relly Rowan, William O'Leary
Synopsis: The Candyman arrives in New Orleans and sets his sights on a young woman whose family was ruined by the immortal killer years before.
Thoughts: I think the synopsis makes it pretty clear as to why this film is on the list. As a huge fan of CANDYMAN, I was beyond excited to see his character move his sights to New Orleans. Considering how much the first film left an impact on me, especially in terms of art direction and musical score, I could see why it would take place in The Big Easy. I'm not saying this is the best movie out there, but it's definitely one should watch if you want to see a snapshot of New Orleans.
There are many more films that could be added to the list, but this is just based off the films I have seen and appreciated over the years. If you are looking for films that have the backdrop of The Crescent City, then make sure to check these and make sure you see GHOST OF NEW ORLEANS when it's released in theaters and on VOD and Digital Feb. 17th.