When you mix imagination with reality, you get a pretty perfect blend of potential fear. These following locations all have the truth behind them and then are mixed with cinematic imagination to bring the story to life, and thus resulting in our nightmares.

These following locations all have the truth behind them and then are mixed with cinematic imagination to bring the story to life, and thus resulting in our nightmares.

“The Shining”: The Stanley Hotel

The Stanley Hotel was built in 1909 in Estes Park, Colorado. Tucked away deep in Colorado wilderness, near Rocky Mountain National Park, it is truly one of a kind. That is exactly what Stephen King and his wife thought when they stayed there for a couple nights in September 1974. On his website, King describes their stay—which, of course, lead to the inspiration for his novel The Shining, and thus the film:

“We were the only guests as it turned out; the following day they were going to close the place down for the winter. Wandering through its corridors, I thought that it seemed the perfect—maybe the archetypal—setting for a ghost story.”

King had a dream that night where his 3-year-old son was running around the hotel hallways being chased by a fire-hose. Within just a few minutes after waking from the dream, he says he “had the bones of the book firmly set.”

Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film adaptation of the novel was actually shot on soundstages in England, with some exterior shots in Montana and Oregon. The 1997 mini-series, however, was actually shot at the Stanley.

“Sleeping Beauty”: Neuschwanstein Castle

In 1869, Ludwig II of Bavaria, known as the “Eccentric King,” had a castle built overlooking the Bavarian Alps of Germany. Before the construction of Disneyland in the early 1950s, Walt Disney and his wife, Lillian, took a trip through Europe and visited the castle.

Disney had a certain respect for Ludwig’s peculiar sense of innovation, particularly as it reminded Disney of himself. For instance, according to Oyama Caviness of The Orange County Register, “Neuschwanstein, which Ludwig dedicated to his favorite composer, Richard Wagner, was his most notable. Unlike the traditional, dark castles of medieval architecture, Neuschwanstein’s bright colors and fairy tale-like location gives it a majestic essence.”

Caviness continues, “Also like Walt Disney, Ludwig II was an innovator. The castle was the first of its kind built from using many technological advances never before used.”

It was this visit that influenced the design of the castle in Disney’s 1959 film Sleeping Beauty. The castle even overlooked the Black Forest on one side, which would come to inspire the dark woods in the film. 

“As Above, So Below”: Paris’ Catacombs

There is a plethora of found footage films that aren’t worth watching; this one, however, definitely is. One of the reasons is that it’s scary as hell, which makes sense when you consider where the film takes place: As Above, So Below was shot on location throughout the actual catacombs of Paris.

It was the first time any production crew was allowed to go beyond the one-mile perimeter to which the general public is restricted. They crew had full reign to film throughout over 100 miles of tunnels that crawl beneath the city of Paris, filled with the remains of over 6 million Parisians.

The catacombs were created because the cemeteries were impeding into the city streets, quite literally; in the late 1700s, a wall that held up one side of the largest cemetery in Paris collapsed, sending those buried into the surrounding neighborhood. Thus began the movement to take all the remains and place them into the old mining tunnels creating the crypts.

It was a mess, with bones placed haphazardly throughout. At least until 1810 when one of the head miners arranged the bones into a setting more like a mausoleum. The catacombs have become a trendy underground spot to visit.

As Where to Watch explains, “Parisians have since become fascinated with sneaking into the restricted tunnels. A distinct and rich counterculture of cataphiles (underground explorers) has flourished for decades. Over the years, people have scrawled graffiti, opened popup eateries, and even held raves in makeshift nightclubs. There’s an underground art scene and even a defunct restaurant-theater, found eerily abandoned.”

“Jaws”: Beach Haven, New Jersey

Though Jaws terrified audiences during its premiere in 1975, the inspiration for the story happened just over 100 years ago in a sleepy beach town off the Jersey coast. In 1916, in the small town of Beach Haven, New Jersey, there were four vicious shark attacks, beginning on July 1 with 25-year-old Charles Vansant. He was attacked in just three-and-a-half feet of water and died from his wounds just minutes later by the shore. Five days and 45 miles later, there was a second victim. Then on July 12, a shark took two more victims.

Prior to this string of attacks, sharks were practically unheard of. They were generally thought to be mystical creatures of the deep—not vicious animals that hunted people. However, now they had become known as monsters.

Writing for History.com, Christopher Klein explains the reaction to the attacks as something out of Beauty and the Beast: “The killer fish became public enemy number one with bounty notices promising a $100 reward to the person or persons killing the shark believed to be in Matawan Creek. Revenge-minded mobs wielding spears and pitchforks descended upon the banks of the creek as flotillas of shark hunters took to the water.”

A shark was found in a net and killed a few days later. When they inspected his stomach, there were what appeared to be human bones inside, but the evidence was never conclusively identified. Always remember: you’re gonna need a bigger boat.

Arkham Asylum: Danvers State Mental Hospital

From 1878 to 1992, the Danvers State Mental Hospital in Danvers, Massachusetts, welcomed the mentally ill. The thing is, most of their patients never got out.

Danvers was known to be one of the worst facilities in the country for the mentally insane. As The Things explains, “This state hospital was infamous for patient abuse, a lack of sanitation, and a spectacularly high death rate for both patients and caretakers. Moreover, it’s also rumored to be the birthplace of the frontal lobotomy.”

The hospital has since been closed down but from the pictures, it appears that in its heyday, it was just as creepy as it sounds. In fact, it was the inspiration behind the horror film Session 9, which was filmed there in 2000.

The infamous Arkham Asylum in H.P Lovecraft’s horror-filled books lead to the same name and themed hospital from the D.C. comics with Arkham Asylum in the Batman universe. That’s not all though: It was also the inspiration behind the second season of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story.

“The Blair Witch Project”: Adams, Tennessee

One of the scariest ghost hauntings in the United States took place in the 1800s in Adams, Tennessee. John Bell and his family were allegedly haunted by this witch for years. According to stories, they heard voices, experienced demons, and observed animals wondering around without heads; even President Andrew Jackson visited the farm, which became notorious for its hauntings.

There were several articles on the “witch” published in books and news articles, as well as eyewitness accounts from the late 1800s claiming they all saw or heard this ghost.

Later on, a cave was discovered on the property where they think the demon, ghost, or witch—whatever it was—came from. It was this story that led to the film The Blair Witch Project. 

It is one of the most well-documented supernatural stories that’s still researched today; it has since become legend in the town of Adams, Tennessee. You can even take tours of the property including the 500-foot cave.