As a horror film writer—yes, I write flicks about zombie nuns—I consider myself an expert on all that is creepy. During my teen years, while my girlfriends were at the mall, I explored abandoned buildings, murder sites and every haunted house in the area. When I moved to L.A., I couldn’t resist checking out the city’s eerie side and the haunts of Hollywood’s dearly departed. Instead of being obvious and hitting these spooky places during October, why not play tourist and check out some of my favorites during our long summer nights?
Opened in 1942, the Silent Movie Theatre on Fairfax paid homage to the bygone era of silent films and was frequented by silver screen legends like Charlie Chapman and Clara Bow. It closed in 1979, but was reopened by Laurence Austin in 1991 in an effort to preserve the quaint theater’s amazing legacy. In 1997, Austin was shot and killed in the lobby by a 19-year-old hit man hired by his projectionist boyfriend, who was set to inherit the theater and Austin’s estate. Since the murder, many guests have claimed to see a large red blood stain appear right where Austen was killed, while others have spotted his ghost chilling in the lobby.
Built in 1933 and originally named The Lady Windemere, The Georgian Hotel was designed as a posh retreat catering to the rich and famous. It was home to one of L.A.’s first speakeasies and frequented by celebrities seeking respite, such as Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Bugsy Siegel, Al Capone and Fatty Arbuckle. An official Santa Monica landmark, the vintage art deco hotel is packed with charm—you can feel the history in the rooms. In the mood for a deliciously haunted brunch or happy hour? Hit the oceanfront terrace. Even if you don’t experience a supernatural presence, you can enjoy the gorgeous view while you sip on an amazing cocktail or savor a delicious French Toast soufflé. To this day, the hotel attracts the likes of Oliver Stone, Robert DeNiro and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and allegedly, a number of other unearthly guests. Over the years, reports of spooky phenomena in the Speakeasy include the sounds of running footsteps, loud gasps, sighs and strange voices—when it is completely empty.
We all know about the fun antics they offer at Halloween, but you can also take guided night tours of the Queen Mary all year long, like the Paranormal Ship Walk. The ship’s history is filled with events that make it ripe for hauntings—its many years of service in war and 49 alleged deaths occurring there over the past 60 years. The Paranormal Ship Walk is the perfect way to learn the history of the famed ship—the guide is incredibly knowledgeable about all that went down during its days as a luxury liner, as well as the hotbeds of paranormal activity, including the second class pool deck, the engine room located 50 feet below sea level and “Door 13,” which crushed at least two men to death, including an 18-year-old crew member whose ghost is often seen by guests. Many visitors also report hearing voices and rattling chains during tours and overnight stays.
At first glance, the nondescript stucco building in L.A.’s rustic Laurel Canyon looks like a modest duplex, not the former drug-den-turned-site of four grisly lead pipe homicides, aka the Wonderland Murders. Porn legend John Holmes, who was closely associated with the heroin-addicted, drug dealing Wonderland gang, was implicated in the 1981 crime but never convicted. The story inspired the film, Wonderland, starring Val Kilmer, Kate Bosworth and Dylan McDermott. The house is perfect for a drive-by—you can easily imagine the seedy characters who lurked there.
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