Posts Tagged ‘Abandoned School’

The Top Ten Movies Filmed in Abandoned Places

Written by: Sean L.

When I wrote the original “Top Ten Movies Set in Abandoned Places” article, it was meant to be a throw-away piece. Just something to fill time. We had been busy in the early spring of last year, riding off our recent visit to the abandoned Enchanted Forest in Rhode Island. We needed a fun piece just to keep the site going, so I wrote it within an hour. A year later, it has become our most popular article with hundreds of views every month. There has been much demand for a sequel, and it has taken me a long time to put together. But it has finally arrived. I did the best I could to provide a nice mix of indie gems and Hollywood blockbusters. Enjoy!

Here are the Top 10 Movies Filmed in Abandoned Places.

#10 – Almost Mercy – Woonsocket Middle School

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3480446/

As per tradition, we start this list off with one of my movies (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm4649390/). Yes, it’s petty. But it’s my list. Plus, this is the best movie I have ever been in. Even though most of my scenes got cut, it is still my favorite film I have worked on. I wouldn’t call it a horror movie, but it is pretty dark. The film follows outcast best friends, Jackson and Emily, who take it upon themselves to take revenge on the wicked world that wronged them. A good proportion of the film was shot at the abandoned Woonsocket Middle School in Rhode Island. After closing in 2009, this behemoth took on the honor of becoming the largest abandoned school on the entire eastern seaboard. The haunting location just adds an extra layer of darkness to an already eerily fun movie.

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#9 – Session 9 – Danvers State Hospital

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0261983/

Number 9. Session 9. Get it? Though it may have flown under the radar for some, this spooky indie horror film has managed to withstand the test of time. Starring TV veteran actor David Caruso and a young Josh Lucas, the film follows an asbestos removal crew slowly unraveling mentally while working in a ghostly abandoned hospital.  Filming took place in the safe and usable sections of then abandoned (now demolished) Danvers State Hospital in Massachusetts. Little set design was said to be needed for the film, and even actor David Caruso reported a few strange experiences while filming in the abandoned asylum.

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#8 – House of Dust – Mansfield Training School

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1309374/

We’re really sticking with the New England theme here. Featuring a few MTV stars and allegedly based on true events, the film was helmed by local film legend A.D. Calvo. The movie may not be a classic, but interestingly it was both set in and filmed at the abandoned Mansfield Training School in Storrs, Connecticut. The movie follows a group of college students exploring the defunct hospital that accidentally release some malevolent spirits from their ashy resting place. One by one, they become possessed by the souls of those long since past. Like I said, it may not be a classic. But the set design and the cinematography make it certainly worth a look.

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#7 – Skyfall – Hashima Island

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1074638/

Number 7 for 007. This one is farther down the list as it is a bit of a technicality. Technically, the film did not shoot on Hashima Island, as the Japanese government forbids anyone to set foot on it. But the production of the movie was permitted to use exterior footage of the island in the final cut. I think it’s still pretty cool. The film follows agent 007 on his latest adventure, pursuing the mysterious villain Raoul Silva, whose evil lair just happens to be the deserted industrial island of Hashima. The crew were forced to built a set and use CGI for scenes taking place on the island, but that is the real place you see in those exterior shots. Not bad for one of the best Bond films of all time.

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#6 – The Road – Pennsylvania Turnpike

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0898367/

I assure you that “The Road” will be the only movie to feature on both this and the previous list. But it is just such an interesting movie with a very unique filming location. After an unexplained apocalypse decimates the world, a man and his son trek towards the coast in hope of survival. In order to capture this, the filmmakers turned to the famous abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike. Though it is now a popular tourist attraction, this long stretch of abandoned highway was bypassed by a series of new roads. It was eventually left behind. Though cars no longer travel down it, local cyclists certainly enjoy it. But just like in this movie, beware of the long empty tunnels on the road.

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#5 – Hanna – Spreepark 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0993842/

This 2011 action film really doesn’t get enough credit. With a lot of heart and another fantastic performance from a young Saoirse Ronan, it is much more than meets the eye. The movie follows a young assassin, raised her entire life to be a killer, as she treks across Europe on one final mission towards freedom. One of her stops on this mission is at an abandoned amusement park in Eastern Germany. This is in fact Spreepark, an infamous former attraction of East Berlin. Known for its animal and wildlife themes, the park has remained derelict since 2002. Though there are plans to reopen the park in 2018, it makes an excellent backdrop for one of the key action scenes in this sleeper thriller.

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#4 – Blade Trinity – The McBarge

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0359013/

This one is actually one of my favorites. Not the movie, but this place. It’s not a bad picture by all means, in fact I think it’s the best of the Blade series. But that really isn’t saying much. Human/vampire hybrid Blade must team up with a gang of vampire hunters known as the “Nightstalkers” to take on the mightiest vampire of all: Dracula. The word vampire gets used a lot in that sentence, but I really didn’t know how else to word it. What makes this new gang interesting, beside being headed by Jessica Biel and a young Ryan Reynolds, is their hideout. A seemingly dilapidated boat, this is actually the fabled McBarge. A failed idea from the 1986 Expo in Vancouver, this floating McDonald’s has been bobbing around in the water ever since. While shooting in Vancouver, producers thought it make the perfect hideout for their new vampire hunting team.

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 #3 – The Blair Witch Project – The Griggs House

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0185937/

One of my personal favorite horror films, and the movie that arguably relaunched the “found-footage” genre. Whether you love it, or hate it, you cannot deny the impact that this movie made. The film follows three college students searching for and eventually being stalked by the elusive urban legend The Blair Witch in the woods of Maryland. But what many fans may not know is that the house where the climatic finale takes place was not a set. It was real. Though now demolished, filming of the movie’s ambiguous ending took place in the historic Griggs House in Patapsco Valley National Park (where most of the filming occurred).  The house was over 200 years old, and made for the perfect creepy location to end this creepy movie.

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#2 – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Michigan Central Station

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2975590/

I think the title of this movie kind of explains the plot better than I could. Following the events of “Man of Steel”, Superman finds himself in a clash of ideals with the Gotham City vigilante Batman. An interesting piece of trivia about this movie though is that it was one of the bigger ones to take advantage of shooting in the city of Detroit during their financial crisis. With the first few weeks of shooting taking place all across the city, one of the more climatic fight scenes of the film was shot at the legendary Michigan Central Station. With many failed redesign attempts, the station has been abandoned for years. But she may have found a new niche as a filming location as other movies such as “8 Mile” and “Transformers” have used the building as a set.

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#1 – Jurassic World – Six Flags New Orleans

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0369610/

Just because I’m a big “Jurassic Park” fan. Always have been. The plot of this movie follows a very similar plot to all the other films in the franchise, except that the park is actually open in this one. But one factor that makes this film really unique from its predecessors is a certain location where filming took place: the abandoned Six Flags New Orleans. Following the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina, the park was left flooded for some time. After a long legal battle, Six Flags was able to break their lease on the park and left it abandoned. Though many redevelopment proposals have come forward, it still sits abandoned. But much like Michigan Central Station, this old park may have found new life as a movie location. Big budget films such as “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters”, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”, and of course “Jurassic World” have all filmed at the ruined park. How? Life found a way.

original-jurassic-park-jeep-front

Know of any other movies filmed in abandoned places? Let us know in the comments! Likes/shares/comments/concerns/confessions/criticisms/questions are always welcomed.

One Day Too Late

The Abandoned Ladd School

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

Let me start this off by saying that this was a spontaneous visit. We didn’t really plan on searching for this lost legend, it just happened to be on our way. Rhode Island is one of my favorite places to visit in all of New England. I make several trips a year up there to work on movies, but its rare we go up there together to explore abandoned places. We had just finished our exploration of the Enchanted Forest, and were on our way to an audition of mine. I had heard many stories about the Ladd School. Some said that it had been demolished years ago. Others said that pieces of it still stood. A quick stop at Google Maps and around the web proved to be inconclusive. Some said it had been destroyed. Others said that certain buildings could still be seen and explored. With its location a mere stone’s throw away from us, we decided to check it out. It appears now that we were too late.

Much like most mental institutions in the area, the Ladd School has seen many different names and purposes over the years. Before earning its current name, the facility was formerly known as “The Exeter School” and “The Rhode Island School for the Feeble Minded.” Opening in the early 1900’s, the institution began as an experimental program to train the intellectually disabled on basic life and farm skills. But over the years the Ladd School evolved into something else entirely. Unfortunately, much like most similar institutions, she suffered from overcrowding, public disapproval, and scandals. She limped on up until 1993, when her doors were finally closed for good. For years, she was left empty and desolate. She became a hotspot for local ghost hunters and independent film makers. The order for her demolition finally came a few years later. Certain buildings were razed, others found life by being re-purposed.

When we arrived on the grounds on that chilly early March day, it was hard to believe that this was once one of the most well known schools in the area. The grounds are unrecognizable today. We drive around for a long time without finding anything that even resembling the stories we had read. There was a large soccer field there. A few multi-purpose buildings stood around. Large groups of people were jogging and/or walking around the grounds. We almost thought we were in the wrong place. Until we came upon a quiet pocket of the area. Standing far off from any visitors was a memorial for the old grounds. Protected by a stone wall, it almost looked like a graveyard. But in the center of it all sits a plaque detailing the history of the Ladd School. It appears that this may be all that is left of the now famous school. There may be more evidence out there, but we weren’t able to find it. It seems that the old Ladd School is gone. All that remains is this quiet memorial, and memories long since passed.

Destroy or Decay – The Abandoned Mansfield Training School

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Destroy or Decay

The Abandoned Mansfield Training School

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

Decay, it’s a bit of a fickle word. Just the mention of it conjures up unsettling images of rot and decomposition. Destroy, do I really have to define this one? It’s a word we all know and maybe even use too much. But which is worse, to destroy or to decay? It is a question that many of our great abandoned wonders have faced over the years. Many local legends such as Sunrise Resort and Undercliff Sanatorium have been demolished. But others, such as the abandoned Mansfield Training School, have faced decay. Rather than being demolished it has merely been left to rot. Sure, certain precautions have been taken to shore up the property. But let’s be honest, we’re simply delaying the inevitable. Though many tall fences have gone up since our last visit, Mansfield Training School is continuing its slow decent into destruction.

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The facility was created following the merger of the institutions in both Lakeville and Mansfield, Connecticut during 1917. It was christened the Mansfield Training School and Hospital, a facility for the care of the intellectually disabled. They started off with a relatively small number of patients. Major events in history such as the Great Depression and World War II caused the population of patients to grow and become overcrowded. But during the sixties and seventies, regulations began to change, resulting in more staff and caregivers being provided. Some years later, patients began to be moved from the hospital to on-site cottages and group homes. Regrettably, while there were many stories of good and fair treatment of the patients, there were also several tragic ones. Under a pile of lawsuits, the facility was forced to close its doors in 1993. The property was then split amongst the University of Connecticut and the neighboring Bergin Correctional Institute.

In the waning days of Summer 2016 began to slowly fall off the calendar, like leaves from a tree, we made our return to the abandoned Mansfield Training School. Some places are just worth a second or even a third visit. And this is certainly one of them. Sitting on the far side of the Depot Campus of the University of Connecticut, the abandoned Mansfield Training School was as quiet as I remembered it. Just a short stroll from the hustle and bustle of the main campus, it is shocking how desolate this corner of the school feels. We did not come across a single soul on our walk through the former hospital quad. Just like our previous visit. The whole place felt like something out of a nightmare. Even though it lies in such close proximity to one of the largest and well known schools in the country, this place was as quiet as a tomb. The only signs of life were the scurrying families of squirrels darting for cover as we strolled through this abandoned wasteland.

While the atmosphere of the abandoned Mansfield Training School may not have changed at all since our last visit, the grounds themselves have taken a rather serious toll. Chain link fences have been installed around the infamous Knight Hospital and a few of the farther south buildings. The tunnels systems have all been dug up or filled in. But even worse, vandalism has taken a massive rise in the past year. Doors have been kicked open. Windows have been smashed. Access to these dark and dangerous places is as easy as it has ever been. And inside these former hospital buildings is like the edge of Hell. Around each corner lies more chaos and destruction. Though it is as quiet as death in here, the pain and the anguish that this place feels cannot be ignored. We’ve seen a few spooky things happen here, such as the fabled “Angel of the Asylum,” but today this place felt more haunted than ever. The Saint Mary Statue had been moved. Shadows crept in the corners of every room. And there was a strong presence to be felt.

And so I ask again, is it better to destroy or to decay? Over the years, there allegedly have been many different proposals to demolish these infamous grounds. But none have come to fruition. With the recent additions of the chain link fences, clearly someone wants to preserve this place. It is, in fact, listed as a Historical Landmark. But one would not likely be able to guess that after one look at the state of the Mansfield Training School. It has fallen quite a long way in just twenty odd years since its closure, mostly at the hands of vandals. To destroy it would cost the state millions of dollars, and be the end of a once beloved landmark. But to leave it to decay would be the same result, except for the number of years it would take to get there. Neither of them seem like good options, and seems that some have chosen to forget about the abandoned Mansfield Training School. But its still there. Everyday. Wondering. Waiting. Destroy or Decay? Destroy or Decay? Destroy or Decay?

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The Top Ten Movies Set in Abandoned Places

By: Sean L.

We love movies. Like…a lot. Comedies. Action. Drama. Horror. Well, it just so happens that most of the movies on this list happen to be horror. But it’s hard not be when your film takes place somewhere abandoned. There is always something creepy and unnerving going exploring, and these ten films capture it very well. They may not all be Academy Award winners, but if you enjoy urban exploration they’re a must see.

#10 – Flesh for the Inferno (2016)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4779826/

I’m not going to lie. I like this one because I’m in it (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm4649390/). The budget is admittedly WAY lower than any of the other films on this list. But the fact that it was filmed exclusively in an actual abandoned location makes it very cool. The film follows your quintessential horror movie story line – a group of young people are tasked with cleaning up their local abandoned Catholic School, which just happens to be haunted by demon nuns. They are accidentally set loose upon our young heroes, and bloody chaos ensues. Flesh for the Inferno may not be a masterpiece, but when you look at the budget it was shot on, it is a fun little film.

Flesh

#9 – The Road (2009)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0898367/

Based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy and partially filmed on a famously abandoned Pennsylvania highway, The Road is a really depressing movie. Like, super depressing. It’s not a bad movie, not by a long shot. It is just one you don’t ever really want to ever see again. Everything is just so damn bleak. The cause of the apocalypse is never given in the film, and neither are the names of our two main characters. They are on a long trek through the wasteland, seeing all sorts of horror along the way. The visuals are simply breathtaking, and the story is so damn real. It can be a bit unsettling.

The Road

#8 – Doomsday (2008)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0483607/

Some call it dreadful. Some call it underrated. I call it awesome. Doomsday is a fun throwback to the Mad Max series with a dash of 28 Days Later (yes, we’ll get to that). Following an outbreak of a flesh-eating disease in Scotland, the British government quarantines off the island and leaves all those left there to die. Some twenty years later, the virus appears again. This time in the streets of London. So a special forces team is sent into the apocalyptic wasteland to search for a cure to the disease. What they find is a ruined city run by two warring factions of feral survivors. Check it out.

Doom

#7 – Chernobyl Diaries (2012)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1991245/

I’m not saying it’s good. I’m saying it’s fun to watch. From the makers of the vastly popular, yet arguably overrated, Paranormal Activity franchise comes Chernobyl Diaries. A group of young tourists sneak into the infamous Ukrainian city of Pripyiat, home to the Chernobyl Disaster. The city has been abandoned for years, and is highly radioactive. The group soon learns that they are, in fact, not alone. What ensues is a jarring mess including shaky camera work, a nonsensical plot, and some questionable acting from a certain former Disney star…we’re looking at you, Jesse. But in the end it is a fun little jump-scare film with some wonderful set design that really captures the feel of Chernobyl.

Chernobyl

#6 – Ghost Ship (2002)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0288477/

Remember the early 2000’s when all kinds of bigger budget horror movies actually got made? Pepperidge Farm remembers. There were a lot of little gems out there that nobody really remembers anymore. Ghost Ship, however, has always been one of our favorites. From the makers of Thirteen Ghosts, Ghost Ship follows an Alaskan salvage crew that stumbles upon an abandoned ocean liner that has been missing since the 1960’s. They soon discover that the ship is haunted, and the ghosts aboard just might not let them leave. Say what you will about the cheesy ghost plot, the art department and set design of this film make it a must watch. Imagine what it could have been with the right director…

GhostShip2002_RipsB_0023_Layer 12

#5 – The Abandoned (2006)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0475937/

The title says it all. While it may not be the most creative, it certainly is effective. This loveable little indie horror film flew under the radar when it was given a limited theatrical release. An adopted Russian woman returns to the home she never knew after receiving a mysterious phone call. Upon arriving at the now deserted farm where her family once lived, Marie meets her twin brother Nicolai for the first time, whom also received a mysterious phone call beckoning him back to the farm. All kinds of mysterious and spooky things happen from there. Dark and foreboding, The Abandoned is both bizarre and frightening. The supernatural horror element of it is perfectly done.

The Abandoned

#4 – House on Haunted Hill (1999)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0185371/

Horror remakes are inevitable, much like horror sequels. Most are painfully forgettable. But this one was actually pretty good. House on Haunted Hill was a much needed update to Vincent Price’s black and white horror classic of the same name. While this film may not be as strong narrative wise, it certainly has some great scares and downright creepy moments. Through an unsettling chain of events, an eccentric billionaire offers a group of strangers one million dollars each to spend the night inside of an abandoned insane asylum. The film is a bit on the campy side, but it does the original justice while giving a fresh spin on the material.

House Hill

#3 – I Am Legend (2007)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0480249/

The alternate ending was better. Seriously. Watch it. It makes a mediocre movie into a memorable one. With that out of the way, here is a good movie that could’ve been great. I Am Legend follows Dr. Robert Neville, the last man on Earth, and his awesome companion Sam the German Shepard. They are survivors living in the now abandoned city of New York. But they are not alone. While the movie may have fallen a bit flat, it does an excellent job of showing life after people. Whether it be the the decimated streets of NYC, or the family of lions that compete against Robert for food. The set work is great, but the script could’ve used some work.

iamlegend06

#2 – 28 Weeks Later (2007)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0463854/

The much darker and grittier sequel to the widely successful 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks falls just a bit short of living up to its predecessor. Many fans complained that it was too Hollywoodized for their taste, others were just unhappy we didn’t get our original characters back. 28 Weeks Later takes place, well, 28 weeks after the Rage Virus decimated all of England. With the virus seemingly eliminated, people begin to move back into the deserted city of London. What they don’t know is that the virus has simply been dormant, and soon all Hell breaks loose. What follows is a gritty and gripping thrill ride through an abandoned city. Will we ever get another sequel? We certainly hope so.

28 weeks

#1 – 28 Days Later (2001)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0289043/

Of course it was this. What else would it have been? Arguably considered one of the best and most revolutionary horror films of our generation, 28 Days Later tells us the story of what happens 28 days after the end of the world. After being set loose from a lab, the Rage Virus has caused total destruction. And our hero Jim wakes up from a coma 28 Days Later to find his entire country abandoned. Taking place in England (they really just can’t catch a break on this list) we follow a loveable group of survivors trying to survive an apocalyptic plague. Featuring deserted city streets, decaying houses, a darkened London skyline, and an abandoned farm, the film is an absolute triumph. If you haven’t seen it yet, what are you waiting for?

28 Days

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