7 Real-Life Filming Locations Featured In Film Adaptations Of Stephen King Novels

“King of Horror” Stephen King has written over 60 novels and hundreds of short stories, many of which have been adapted for stage and screen. In addition to horror staples such as This and the brilliant, King has written psychological thrillers, coming-of-age adventures, and sci-fi fantasies. The Portland, Maine native imbues his fictional worlds with autobiographical detail, often setting his stories in small New England towns; now 74, King divides his time between Maine and Florida.

Film adaptations of Pet sematary, Carrie, The Shawshank Redemption, and other King classics are as well known (if not more so) than the best-selling books themselves. Even if you’re not a rabid King fan, it’s obvious the prolific writer has more than lived up to his royal family name and left his indelible mark on pop culture.

From the rocky shores of Nova Scotia to a notoriously haunted Rocky Mountain retreat, here are the actual filming locations featured in the film adaptations of seven Stephen King classics.


The 142-room hotel towers ominously over the town of Estes Park, Colorado.

1. Stanley Hotel and Timberline Lodge (the brilliant)

Open since July 4, 1909, the Stanley Hotel in Colorado had its share of ghost sightings and paranormal activity long before King and his wife moved into room 217 on October 30, 1974. Inspired by the large, desolate 142-room hotel that hovers ominously over the town of Estes Park, King Set the brilliant at the similar (fictitious) Overlook hotel. King’s 1977 novel inspired a film – Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 classic starring Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall – as well as a 1997 TV miniseries and a 2016 stage opera.

While Kubrick primarily used studio sets, establishment shots of the exterior of the hotel were filmed at another majestic mountain hotel, the Timberline Lodge in Oregon. But that hasn’t stopped horror fans from making paranormal pilgrimages to the Stanley Hotel for ghost tours, mystery dinners and masquerade balls. You won’t find a hedge maze in the grounds, but you will find a pet cemetery, which predates King’s 1983 novel Pet sematary and his own subsequent film adaptations.


a brown road sign says
Genoa, Nevada. | Photo: Travel Nevada/Flickr

2. Genoa, Nevada (Misery)

King’s 1987 novel, Misery, set in snowy Colorado: when writer Paul Sheldon has a car accident in a blizzard, he is rescued by the infamous nurse (and her self-proclaimed “number one fan”) Annie Wilkes. In the 1990 film adaptation starring James Caan and Kathy Bates, Nevada’s oldest city, Genoa, doubles for Silver Creek, Colorado. The film’s production constructed several buildings on the town’s main street, including a cafe, a heater shop, a sheriff’s station, and a general store. “Nevada’s oldest thirst saloon,” the Genoa Bar and Saloon, has been featured in several films in addition to Miseryincluding The shooter with John Wayne and Honkytonk Man with Clint Eastwood.


Two red brick buildings on a deserted street in a small town on a blue sky background
Brownsville, Oregon. | Photo: Jasperdo/Flickr

3. Brownsville, Oregon (support me)

Rob Reiner’s 1986 coming-of-age film, support mewas based on King’s 1982 novel, The body. Following four young boys as they search for a missing person in the fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine, support me was filmed in Brownsville, Oregon. Located less than 100 miles south of Portland and home to less than 2,000 residents, Brownsville hosted the big production and crew, which included ’80s idols River Phoenix, Corey Feldmen and Jerry O’Connell. More than 30 years later, fans still flood the small town for tours and events around July 23, officially designated in 2013 as “Stand By Me Day.”


the entrance to an imposing castle-like beige stone prison
The Ohio State Reformatory. | Photo: Alexandra Charitan
a cardboard cutout of andy dufresne from the shawshank buyout stands in the office of an old abandoned prison
A cutout by Andy Dufresne. | Photo: Alexandra Charitan

4. Ohio State Reformatory (The Shawshank Redemption)

Shawshank Prison, the dark setting of King’s 1982 novel, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, may not be real, but fans of the 1994 film adaptation can take a self-guided tour of the Ohio State Reformatory (OSR), located in Mansfield, Ohio. Filmed primarily inside and around OSR, the 1994 film adaptation (abbreviated as The Shawshank Redemption) starring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins, was a box office flop. But it found belated success thanks to awards buzz, the release of a video, and ubiquity on cable TV.

The penitentiary, which opened in 1896 and houses the largest steel cell block in the world, closed in 1990. Housing more than 155,000 inmates over its nearly 100 years of operation, the correction re-opened as a museum in 1995. More than 25 years later, OSR reflects on its Hollywood and paranormal connections, hosting Shawshank– themed events and nocturnal ghost hunts.


The exterior of the Tennessee State Prison, a large, imposing castle-like structure surrounded by a fence and against a backdrop of blue sky
Tennessee State Prison before being damaged by a tornado in 2020. | Photo: Brent Moore/Flickr

5. Tennessee State Prison (The green Line)

Like Shawshank, Cold Mountain Penitentiary in Louisiana was an invention of King. But the setting of his serial novel, The green Line, was portrayed by the real Tennessee State Prison in the 1999 film adaptation starring Tom Hanks. Abandoned and off-limits to visitors since the early ’90s, West Nashville’s towering castle-like structure has been featured in several movies, TV shows and music videos, including the 2005 biopic Johnny Cash. walk the line. Opened in 1898 and closed due to overcrowding, the prison remained empty for decades; in March 2020, tornadoes tore through Nashville, further damaging the crumbling structure and making it unsafe for future film productions.


A hill in a cemetery with tombstones and a layer of snow
Mount Hope Cemetery. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons

6. Hancock and Bangor, Maine (Pet sematary)

King’s 1983 novel, Pet sematary, was adapted into two successful films. The first, released in 1989, was filmed in Hancock and Bangor, Maine. The story begins when Louis Creed, a Chicago doctor, moves his family to a rural home in Ludlow, Maine. The house, a private residence at 303 Point Road in Hancock, is still recognizable decades later, with its distinctive red roof, yellow siding and wraparound porch. Fans who understand that “sometimes death is better” can visit Mount Hope, the second oldest garden cemetery in the United States, located less than 80 km north of Bangor. This real, active (human) graveyard was featured in several scenes, including one in which King makes an appearance.


A red and white striped lighthouse sits beside blue water against a blue sky
Brier Island Lighthouse. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons

7. Long and Brier Islands, Nova Scotia (Dolores Claiborne)

The 1995 film adaptation of King’s 1992 psychological thriller Dolores Claiborne, was shot on location around Nova Scotia. Kathy Bates stars in her second King project as the titular Claiborne, a widow working as a maid on Little Tall Island in Maine (located near Derry, the setting of King’s killer-clown thriller, This). A pivotal scene between Bates and his estranged daughter Selena St. George (Jennifer Jason Leigh) unfolds during a dreary ferry crossing between Canada’s Long and Brier islands. The two islands, connected to the mainland by a series of water crossings, are rich in maritime history, offering whale-watching cruises, historic lighthouses and rocky coastlines.


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