Carnivals and amusement parks have always been popular settings for horror movies. The colorful and cheerful environment of the park creates an exciting contrast with the terror that eventually ensues.
The sounds of the carnival rides, the laughter of the children, and the screams of the riders all create a unique atmosphere that is the perfect backdrop for horror movies. Here are our picks for the best horror movies at (or partially at) a carnival or an amusement park.
The Funhouse (1981)
Directed by Tobe Hooper, The Funhouse is a classic horror movie that takes place at a carnival in the 1980s. The film follows a group of teenagers who decide to spend the night in a typical funhouse at a traveling carnival. However, they soon realize that they are not alone and that a deranged killer is on the loose. The movie is known for its creepy atmosphere, suspenseful moments, and memorable ending.
Hell Fest (2018)
Hell Fest is a modern horror movie that takes place at a Halloween-themed amusement park. The story follows a group of friends who attend the park to have some fun on Halloween night. However, things turn dark when they realize that a masked serial killer is stalking them. The movie is known for its intense scares, impressive production design, and clever use of the park’s attractions.
Final Destination 3 (2006)
While not entirely set at an amusement park, Final Destination 3 has one of the most memorable scenes set at a carnival. The film follows a group of teenagers who cheat death after one of them has a premonition about a deadly roller coaster accident. The scene at the amusement park involves a rollercoaster ride that goes horribly wrong. The movie is known for its creative deaths, suspenseful moments, and thrilling set pieces.
Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)
Based on the novel by Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes is a dark fantasy movie that takes place at a carnival. The story follows two boys who discover a sinister carnival has come to their town. The carnival is run by Mr. Dark, a mysterious and evil man who grants people their deepest desires for a price. The movie is known for its eerie atmosphere, memorable performances, and poignant themes.
Carnival of Souls (1962)
Carnival of Souls is a low-budget horror movie that takes place at a deserted carnival. The story follows a young woman named Mary who survives a car accident and moves to a new town to start a new life. However, she soon begins to experience strange visions and encounters a group of mysterious figures that seem to be following her. The movie is known for its haunting atmosphere, dream-like visuals, and memorable ending.
House of 1000 Corpses (2003)
Directed by Rob Zombie, House of 1000 Corpses is a horror movie that takes place at a roadside attraction that includes a haunted house and a freak show. The film follows a group of teenagers who stop at the attraction on their way to a concert. However, they soon realize that the attraction’s owners, the Firefly family, are a sadistic and murderous group of people. The movie is known for its over-the-top violence, twisted humor, and memorable characters.
While not entirely set at an amusement park, Zombieland has one of the most memorable scenes at an abandoned amusement park. The story follows a group of zombie apocalypse survivors traveling across the country, searching for a safe haven from the hordes of zombies. The scene at the amusement park involves a fun and hilarious encounter with a group of zombie clowns. The movie is known for its unique blend of horror and comedy, memorable characters, and creative action sequences.
American Horror Story: Freakshow (2014)
American Horror Story: Freakshow is a season of the popular anthology series that takes place at a circus freak show in the 1950s. The story follows a group of performers struggling to keep their performance afloat in a changing world. However, they soon encounter a new villain, a wealthy and sinister man named Dandy, obsessed with the freaks. The season is known for its memorable characters, impressive production design, and poignant themes of acceptance and discrimination.
It: Chapter Two (2019)
While the majority of the movie takes place in the town of Derry, It: Chapter Two has a memorable scene set at a carnival. The story follows the adult versions of the characters from the first movie as they return to Derry to confront the evil entity known as It. The carnival scene involves a funhouse filled with horrors and leads to a tense confrontation with Pennywise the Clown. The movie is known for its impressive cast, creepy visuals, and satisfying conclusion to the story.
Willy’s Wonderland (2021)
Willy’s Wonderland is a recent horror movie at a deserted family entertainment center. The story follows a quiet drifter trapped in the center after his car breaks down. However, he soon realizes that the animatronic characters supposed to entertain children have come to life and are out for blood. The movie is known for its fun premise, impressive fight scenes, and memorable performance by Nicolas Cage.
The Funhouse Massacre (2015)
The Funhouse Massacre is a horror-comedy at a theme park with a haunted house attraction. The story follows a group of serial killers who escape from a mental institution and decide to use the haunted house as their hunting ground. However, they soon realize that the victims they have chosen are not as helpless as they seem. The movie is known for its fun and gory kills, memorable characters, and witty humor.
Carnivals have almost always provided a unique setting for horror movies. From classic horror movies like The Funhouse and Carnival of Souls to modern horror movies like Hell Fest and Willy’s Wonderland, there is something for every horror fan. Whether it’s the creepy atmosphere, the creative kills, or the memorable characters, these movies all capture the thrill and terror of being trapped in a carnival or amusement park. Grab some popcorn, push play, and prepare for a scary carnival ride.