Need Halloween movie night ideas? Check out these creepy vintage films shot in London
You’re lying if you say an empty Tube station doesn’t give you the creeps
Halloween is looming closer, and you’re probably getting your costumes ready for a mad night out. But why not enjoy the spooky season to the full with a creepy movie night to get your thrills closer to home?
While you might not be thrilled with London at this time of year, legions of cult directors have drawn inspiration from the city, choosing its Tube stations, parks, and alleyways as the backdrop for all sorts of bizarre happenings.
The London Tab combed the archives for some of the creepiest films ever made in the foggy capital. Bonus points if you can spot your campus!
All the Colours of the Dark (1972)
All the Colours of the Dark is an Italian horror classic. Director Sergio Martino chose to set this autumnal tale of cultic stalking in deserted bits of Putney, Kensington, and Southwark. And I’d be lying if I said this didn’t intensify the creepy, mythic vibes (sorry, LSBU students).
You can expect all the hallmarks of the giallo genre: Strange dreams, theatrical murder sequences, malfunctioning lifts, and runway-ready outfits. It’s also recommended that you break cinephile convention to watch this film with its English dub, because it’s disorientating in a super ‘70s way.
And when you’re ready to return to your chosen London library after the film, you’ll be blessed with the groovy and eerie soundtrack that has engrained itself in your brain – the perfect study music.
Watch if: You think the Tube would be more fun to take if it was totally empty and came with a prevailing sense of doom and dread
Get a glimpse of the English capital in the Swinging Sixties with Michelangelo Antonioni’s meandering masterpiece. The story revolves around a fashion photographer who inadvertently captures a murder on camera in a park near Greenwich (there’s a good chance we’ve all done that by accident on trips to Primrose Hill). The plot thickens as iconic models and musicians of the era – Jane Birkin, Veruschka, the Yardbirds, etc. – get involved in the intrigue.
The camera follows the protagonist as he zooms all over London in his convertible, so you can expect tantalising views of Peckham, Piccadilly, Notting Hill, and Marble Arch.
Also, expect mimes.
Watch if: You think go-go boots should be the official new seshing shoes or you’re dealing with the pitfalls of trying to build an Instagram persona
Deep End (1970)
You might have heard of Polish director Jerzy Skolinowski for his 2022 film EO (beautifully described by NPR as a “brash film about a wandering donkey”), but he originally hit it big with this film. The unnerving tale of young obsession sees a teenage pool attendant becoming awkwardly infatuated with a female coworker and drawn into a messy tangle when he finds out about her recent engagement.
While the film’s visual centrepiece, a maze-like complex of swimming baths, is actually located in Germany, exterior shots feature parts of Soho, Leytonstone and Stratford.
Watch if: Your part-time job isn’t panning out the way you hoped it would
Sure, it might have been easier to find a London flat back in the 1960s, but at what psychological cost? In Repulsion, French cinema legend Catherine Deneuve plays a South Kensington beautician who lives in constant terror – first of her sister’s boyfriend, then of her landlord, then of her own flat, which appears to be after her.
You might relate if you live in certain London halls. Just saying.
Watch if: You can never get anyone to come around to fix your flat’s mould problem and fear it’ll one day eat you alive
The Passenger (1975)
UCL, SOAS, and Birkbeck students may be cheered by a shot of Jack Nicholson walking through the Brunswick Centre in this critically acclaimed classic.
The story follows a war correspondent, played by Nicholson, as he is stuck in a game of mistaken identity. His travels in the film also take him to Chad, Munich and Barcelona, but it’s the iconic actor’s confused ambling around west and central London that really stands out.
Watch if: You love spotting celebrities on campus and Russell Brand doing a SOAS degree didn’t feel like enough of an event for you
Peeping Tom (1960)
Join Mark, a buttoned-up shut-in, as he wanders around dodgy bits of London and uses incredibly questionable tactics to navigate the world of women.
No, it’s not Peep Show, it’s a horror film from 1960 directed by national treasure Michael Powell.
Despite its colourful proto-Euphoria lighting, this film remains so shocking that one of Royal Holloway’s University Challenge contestants recoiled at the memory when a still came up on the picture round. Most original locations have been ripped down, but you can still look for recognisable parts of Oxford Street and Holland Park during its signature murder sequences.
Watch if: You’ve seen all of You on Netflix and want more – at any cost
Secret Ceremony (1968)
This hysterically-Freudian psychological thriller was masterminded by American director Joseph Losey, who was banned from Hollywood due to suspected Communist ties and forced to make films in the UK instead.
While the production shines with over the top performances from megastars Elizabeth Taylor, Mia Farrow and Robert Mitchum, its real centrepiece is its setting: An Arts-and-Crafts mansion in Kensington, which looks like a cross between a Roman villa and a 1900s Tube station. It’s still standing today.
Watch if: You’d like some historical background for the Drag Race acting challenges and you can’t stop searching “coquette” on TikTok
The Abominable Doctor Phibes (1971)
Can we predict when and how we die? Wouldn’t London’s winters be so much more cheerful if you could go home to an enormous pink and purple 1920s castle instead of a student hall where fairy lights are banned? What would scream king Vincent Price look like in a weird skull mask?
These questions and more are answered in this campy and colourful horror, which uses Highgate Cemetery to set the mood for a series of convoluted, Cluedo-esque deaths.
Watch if: You love studying in the Senate House Library but secretly think the interior design could be improved with the addition of lots and lots of neon pink plexiglass
Bunny Lake is Missing (1965)
This widescreen psychological thriller was originally set in New York but relocated to the odder, quainter London by director Otto Preminger. The film tells the story of a little girl who disappears from her North London nursery. Or does she?
Creepy dolls, cursed artefacts, and nighttime chase sequences abound in this tale that you won’t want to watch with the lights off.
Watch if: You’ve ever spaced out in the V&A Museum of Childhood staring at shelves and shelves of definitely haunted Victorian toys, or you’re wondering whether you should do a PGCE.