A pop culture geek’s guide to graveyards

A guest post by Ringa Sunn

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! And if you’re anything like me, the Halloween season means lots of trips to pumpkin patches, bonfires, haunted attractions, and all other things spooky. As a (only slightly obsessive) Halloween addict and a self-admitted giant dork for all things pop culture, it seems only natural to combine my love of the two whenever possible. So for all of you confirmed ghost story and horror film addicts, here are five real cemeteries you can visit that served as movie sets for some of my favorite flicks.

LaFayette Cemetery #1, 1416-1498 Washington Ave, New Orleans, LA 70130
This cemetery doesn’t really need a special reason to visit it. It’s picturesque and full of incredible tombs and structures; an architect’s dream. But this graveyard was also featured in one of the movies that got me through grade school: Interview with the Vampire. It’s used early in the movie, as Louis is deciding to become a vampire. The Vampire Chronicles books mention real New Orleans locations often, so it’s no surprise that this gorgeous place was used in the movie. Of course, the statue that comes to life and looks at Louis was built for the movie and cannot be found here, but there are plenty of other things to take in. The cemetery is open from 7am-3pm Monday through Sunday. If you don’t want to explore it alone, you can take a tour daily at 10:30am for $15 per person. Visit saveourcemeteries.org for tickets or to find out more about the historic graveyards of New Orleans.

interview with a vampire - cemetery

Old Burial Hill Cemetery, Pond & Orne Streets, Marblehead, MA 01945
Another historic graveyard, this one is a good place to visit if you happen to be in Salem doing some witchy sight-seeing. It was built in 1638 and is the final resting place for many Revolutionary War soldiers, as well as one of the victims of the Salem Witchcraft Trials. It only makes sense that this scenic hill was featured in possibly the greatest Halloween movie of all time: Hocus Pocus. It was only used for the daytime graveyard scenes, as the night ones where Doug Jones pops out of the ground zombified would not have worked in a real cemetery. Those were all filmed on a set build for the movie. But Old Burial Hill has its own charm, with graves scattered all over the hill as opposed to the rows and lines we have become used to. I couldn’t find any visiting hours, so dawn to dusk is a pretty safe bet if you’re visiting.

Hocus Pocus Old Burial Hill

Mount Hope Cemetery and Crematory, 1048 State Street, Bangor, Maine 04401
This large cemetery was featured in the first scary movie I was ever allowed to watch, and the reason I didn’t sleep well for weeks afterward: Pet Sematary. I have since met Dale Midkiff (the actor who played Louis Creed, the father in the movie), and he apologized for scaring the bejeezus out of me and gave me a hug, so we’re good now. While this cemetery is not the pet “sematary” that brings the dead back to life, it can be seen in the burial scene that includes Stephen King’s cameo of the movie, and in the scene where Louis digs his (spoiler alert) dead son up to transport his body. The cemetery is open 7:30am-7:30pm from May to October, and from 7:30am-4pm the rest of the year. You can download a self-guided tour map at bangorhistoricalsociety.org.

Pet Sematary - Stephen King

Pioneer Cemetery, 601 E Sierra Madre Blvd, Sierra Madre, CA 91024
This one’s a little less interesting than the others, but I had to include it because it was used in one of the classics: Halloween (the 1978 original). In the movie, Dr. Loomis is being shown to Judith Myers’ grave, only to find the tombstone has been stolen. Of course, it was Michael who took it, and it shows up later in the movie, but this cemetery is where that scene takes place. The cemetery was built in 1882 and hosts several historic graves. It is open daily from 8am-5pm.


Evans City Cemetery, 8600 Franklin Rd, Evans City, PA 16033
Last but definitely not least, some hometown pride! Pittsburgh is known as the Zombie Capital of the World, and it’s largely thanks to George Romero for creating and filming his popular zombie movies here. This cemetery was the main filming location for the classic movie Night of the Living Dead. The gravestones that are featured in the film are highly recognizable, and people come from all over to recreate the dramatic poses from the movie near them (with black and white photography, of course). The cemetery itself is rather small compared to the others listed here, but it makes up for it in ambiance and historic pride. Pittsburgh hosts an annual Zombie Fest, including a zombie crawl and brain-eating contest, and Evans City has an annual Living Dead Weekend. The 2016 LDW is October 14-16, and you can find more info over at thelivingdeadweekend.com.

night of the living dead graveyard

These five are only the beginning! There are so many graveyards used in movies or housing the Earthly remains of interesting celebrities that are calling out to you to pay them a call. Cemeteries are made to be visited and used as memorials, to entertain the living and honor the dead. Even if there’s not a movie set graveyard near you, ‘tis the season to get out and enjoy the monuments, but please be respectful to the graves and your surroundings! Happy haunting!

Ringa Sunn is a writer, thespian, craft vendor, and professional cake decorator from Pittsburgh, PA. You can read more of her geeky ramblings at wordynerdy.tumblr.com.

RELATED POST- Spirits in October: A southern Halloween tradition

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