Morgan County Courthouse is a familiar film site

From Mystic Falls to Camp Crystal Lake: Discover Madison, Georgia’s Top 5 Spooky Films

“The Vampire Diaries” has been a hit show since it first aired in 2009, but did you know that the series has filmed in Madison, Georgia? A quintessential southern, small-town, Madison’s historic homes and surrounding state park have served as the site for numerous well-known spooky films.

Check out five of our favorite films (and shows) below and come experience them for yourself!

5. Goosebumps

Filming at the Madison Welcome Center

R. L. Stine’s books come alive in the 2015 horror comedy film “Goosebumps,” starring Jack Black, Odeya Rush and Dylan Minnette. When Zach (Minnette) accidentally opens R. L. Stine’s books in a mysterious neighbor’s house, the stories become real and the fight to save the town begins.

Some of the familiar sites around Madison include the Welcome Center, an 1887 firehouse that was transformed into the police station, and the Morgan County Courthouse, which was crushed by…well, we will not spoil the movie.

4. The Vampire Diaries

Film crew outside of Bonar Hall

Two of our favorite shows, “The Vampire Diaries” and the spin-off “The Originals” filmed at this Georgian-style home on Dixie Avenue. Bonar Hall was one of the first of the grand-style homes built in 1839 at the start of the town’s cotton-boom heyday, 1840-60.

First owned by John Byne Walker, the home was constructed with bricks handmade by enslaved people on Walker’s plantation. Recognized on The National Register of Historic Places, today this private home’s 13 sprawling acres also include formal boxwood gardens with rare trees and shrubs imported from around the world.

The Oak House was a film location for the ficticious Mystic Falls in The Vampire Diaries

“The Vampire Diaries” also filmed at the Oak House in Madison’s historic district. This Neoclassical Revival home was built in 1897, but it does look similar to older Greek Revival houses. Plus, with dirt brought in to cover the paved roads and some movie magic, the scene feels just about right.

3. They/Them

Lake at Hard Labor Creek State Park

The 2022 film “They/Them,” starring Kevin Bacon, Theo Germaine and Anna Chlumsky, follows a group of teenagers at an LGBTQ+ conversion camp who face both psychological terrors and a masked killer. The camp was set in a familiar film buff location, Hard Labor Creek State Park.

Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930s, the Park contains the only extant CCC camp in Georgia – where workers lived while planting more than 850,000 trees, building two lakes and numerous other facilities in a New Deal reforestation and recreational usage effort. Hard Labor Creek State Park is the second largest state park in Georgia and will return with more horror film listings again…and again.

2. The Fear Street Trilogy

Jessup Atkinson House on Main Street in Madison, GA

The 2021 films, based on the R. L. Stine books of the same name, are a mix of horror and slasher genres. In the trilogy, a teen and her friends struggle to fight against an evil force that has plagued the town of Shadyside for centuries. While Shadyside and its residents continue to face poverty, crime and an abundance of serial killers, the curse does not seem to reach neighboring Sunnyvale.

Scenes of the prosperous Sunnyvale were shot along Main Street in Madison. Throughout the trilogy, especially in the second installment “Fear Street: 1984,Hard Labor Creek State Park was the film site for many of the scenes in the woods and at Camp Nightwing. Yet, this is not the most infamous camp to hit the big screen from the park.

1. Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives

Cabin at Hard Labor Creek State Park

The 1984 horror film “Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives” brings Camp Crystal Lake and a dead Jason Voorhees to life at, that’s right, Hard Labor Creek State Park. Starring Thom Mathews, Jennifer Cooke, David Kagen and C. J. Graham, this was the final film to feature Tommy Jarvis as the protagonist.

The popularity of this franchise has brought events to Hard Labor Creek State Park like a film screening in the park where people could stay in the cabins overnight. The park offers events and cabin rentals year-round as well as traditional camping. Book a stay and tell your own ghost stories around a campfire…if you dare.

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