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The scariest movie scenes filmed in London

Ten of the most spine-tingling scenes ever shot in London – and the locations where they were filmed

By Tom Huddleston
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James Wan's ‘The Conjuring 2’ is loosely based on a real-life case that shook the sleepy north London borough of Enfield in the 1970s. But London has always been a prime location for cinematic shocks and scares. Here are a few of our favourite spooky scenes set in the capital – plus the real locations where they were shot.

An American Werewolf in London (1981)

Film Comedy

What? The perfect horror-comedy mashup, as an American tourist gets nibbled by a Yorkshire werewolf and ends up loose, hairy and on the prowl in London town.

Where? One of the film’s most memorable scenes takes place in the tunnels of Tottenham Court Road Underground station.

Why so scary? We’ve all walked through a deserted tube station late at night, and wondered if we heard footsteps behind us. Well, for one soon-to-be-shredded businessman, those footsteps belong to something very large, very fast and very hungry.

Peeping Tom (1960)

Film

What? British filmmaking legend Michael Powell’s story of a serial killer who gets a kick out of filming his victims scandalised early 1960s London.

Where? The film’s deeply unsettling opening scene sees killer Mark Lewis stalking a prostitute along Newman Street (near Goodge Street tube) and into the murky doorway of Newman Passage.

Why so scary? Filmed through the lens of a roving 16mm camera, it’s one of the first and creepiest eye-of-the-killer shots in horror history. ‘Halloween’, eat your heart out.

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Hellraiser (1987)

Film Horror

What? Celebrated novelist Clive Barker turned filmmaker to direct one of his own short stories, about a wholesome American family terrorised by the Cenobites, hell’s own soul collectors.

Where? The main action of the film (including the mind-fracturingly bonkers final sequence) takes place in a suburban house at 187 Dollis Hill Lane, NW2.

Why so scary? Nearly three decades later, ‘Hellraiser’ still feels thrillingly subversive and uncomfortable. The three-way clash of suburban normalness, S&M shocks and outright gore culminates in a gruesome, face-ripping finale.

The Omen (1976)

Film Horror

What? This is ‘Antichrist: The Early Years’. The American ambassador in London finds out he’s raising the son of Satan himself.

Where? The film is packed with top-notch death scenes. But one of the best sees a nosy priest (played by Patrick Troughton – one of the early Doctor Whos, dontchaknow) get his unholy comeuppance when he’s skewered by the falling spire of All Saints Church in Fulham.

Why so scary? It’s not so much scary as sudden and shocking. The priest staggers through a mighty howling storm, and we know something horrible is coming. Then lightning strikes…

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28 Days Later (2002)

Film Horror

What? Danny Boyle’s game-changing zombie flick introduced the controversial concept of the running dead. Cillian Murphy stars as a young man who wakes in hospital to find that the world has changed forever.

Where: The film’s most memorably creepy scene sees Murphy wandering out of Guy’s hospital and over Westminster Bridge, through the deserted streets of post-apocalyptic London.

Why so scary? The idea of waking up alone – really, really alone – is bad enough. Add hyperactive, bloodthirsty brain-eaters and it’s your basic total nightmare.

Death Line (1972)

Film Horror

What? This terrific ’70s shocker is known in some countries as ‘Raw Meat’, which pretty much sums it up. A cannibal is terrorising passengers on the Underground and no-bullshit detective Donald Pleasance is sent in to investigate.

Where? It may say Russell Square on the signs, but most of the Underground sequences were shot in Aldwych station, which is still fairly grotty today, to be fair. The most unnerving scene sees Donald Pleasance heading into the tunnels on the trail of the killer, and finding something truly horrific.

Why so scary? The discovery of the cannibal’s lair remains a genuinely unpleasant sequence, as we learn exactly how this disturbed mutant came to be trapped underground – and how he got a taste for human flesh.

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Repulsion (1966)

Film Horror

What? Roman Polanski’s breakthrough film is the story of a young woman (Catherine Deneuve) living alone in her Kensington flat, and losing her mind.

Where? One of the film’s most memorably jarring sequences sees Deneuve walking across Hammersmith Bridge and coming across the site of an automobile accident.

Why so scary? The film creates such a mood of mounting, increasingly unbearable unease and panic that it remains supremely powerful, half a century on.

Frenzy (1972)

Film Thrillers

What? This is Hitchcock’s return to London after decades in Hollywood, with one of his ugliest films – in the best possible sense. This is pure ’70s sleaze, as a necktie strangler stalks Covent Garden, and hapless Jon Finch is caught up in the inquiry.

Where? Proving that, even at pension age, he could still push the boundaries, Hitchcock sets up one of the most memorable scenes of his entire career at 3 Henrietta Street, overlooking the old Covent Garden flower market.

Why so scary? We never see the murder itself, but as Hitch’s camera tracks back from the killer’s front door, down the steps and out into the bustling market, we're left in no doubt as to what’s happening upstairs.

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Attack the Block (2011)

Film Action and adventure

What? The best British sci-fi movie of recent years features superstar-in-waiting John Boyega as Moses, the taciturn leader of a Brixton gang forced to fight back against invading aliens.

Where? The majority of the film takes place in and around the now-demolished Heygate Estate in Southwark – including the gloriously intense mid-film chase sequence, which sees Moses and his squad fleeing from the wolf-like critters on their BMXs.

Why so scary? It’s a scene of pure, visceral excitement and terror, as the marauding monsters leap and snarl, and Moses’s friends shriek, freak and pedal like mad.

Theatre of Blood (1973)

Film Horror

What? Actors and critics alike are skewered (sometimes literally) in this hilarious horror satire. Vincent Price plays a hammy actor who returns from his faked death bent on murdering those who mocked him, in a variety of gruesomely Shakespearian ways.

Where? In one of the most gleefully nasty scenes, the critics gather in Kensal Green Cemetery to pay their respects to a recently bumped-off actor. The whole thing is interrupted by the hideous site of a bloody corpse being dragged through the gravestones behind a horse, à la ‘Troilus and Cressida’.

Why so scary? Like the film as a whole, it’s more wincingly gruesome than outright scary. Although for anyone who makes a living critiquing the work of others, the film does possess an added cautionary sting.

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