San Luis Obispo is one of the happiest cities in America — but what about the scariest?
With its sun-soaked beaches, missions and oak-covered hills, San Luis Obispo County may not seem like the spookiest location. But the Central Coast has served as the backdrop for a horde of horror movies, ranging from bone-chilling blockbusters to frightening indie flicks.
Here are five fearsome flicks made right in our own backyard.
This creepy-crawly horror-comedy stars Jeff Daniels as a big-city physician who’s scared of spiders.
Unfortunately, his new hometown is crawling with eight-legged freaks — the deadly offspring of a particularly nasty new species of arachnid from the Amazon. The doctor must learn to overcome his fears and exterminate the critters with the help of a pest control pro (John Goodman).
“Arachnophobia” was largely filmed in Cambria, with scenes shot at the Cambria Cemetery and Coast Union High School. Also featured are Adelaida and Moonstone Beach.
‘I Know Who Killed Me’ (2007)
Lindsay Lohan won three Golden Raspberry Awards — two for worst actress and one for worst screen couple — for her dual role in this serial killer thriller.
Lohan plays Audrey, a pianist and aspiring writer who vanishes one night. Two weeks later, she’s discovered by a passing motorist, shell-shocked and mutilated.
There’s only one problem: This girl (Lohan again) insists she’s Dakota, a down-on-her-luck stripper.
Several San Luis Obispo landmarks show up in “I Know Who Killed Me,” including City Hall, the Fremont Theatre and San Luis Obispo High School. Movie watchers will also recognize the now-closed Morro Bay power plant.
‘Midnight Ride’ (1990)
A post-“Star Wars” Mark Hamill plays a hitchhiker with a serious case of road rage, in this terror-on-wheels thriller.
His latest victim is Lara (Savina Gersak), the estranged wife of a police officer (Michael Dudikoff). Now the cop must track down his captive wife and stop the psychotic killer before it’s too late.
Shooting locations included Grover Beach, Morro Bay, Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo.
‘Murder by Numbers’ (2002)
Homicide detective Cassie “The Hyena” Mayweather (Sandra Bullock) matches wits with two high school students (Ryan Gosling and Michael Pitt) who believe they’ve committed the perfect murder.
Downtown San Luis Obispo gets plenty of screentime in the movie, with scenes shot in Mission Plaza, along San Luis Obispo Creek and in front of the county courthouse.
So do Montaña de Oro State Park in Los Osos and the Morro Bay harbor district. Cassie goes for drinks at the Great American Fish Co. restaurant and docks her houseboat at the Morro Bay Yacht Club.
‘The Monster of Piedras Blancas’ (1959)
Shot in Cayucos, this low-budget creature feature is a real scream.
Pinup queen Jeanne Carmen stars as the daughter of the local lighthouse keeper, who leaves food for a cave-dwelling creature. The locals fail to take notice of the sea monster, which looks like a nastier version of “The Creature From the Black Lagoon — until it starts killing people in gruesome ways.
Surprisingly, the Piedras Blancas Light Station doesn’t appear in the movie. Instead, the lighthouse at Point Conception stands in for the real thing.