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Witness the Horror That is Florida

  • Jun 10, 2010
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I was born in Ohio and I now live in Illinois but I spent entirely too many years in the state of Florida. Even now that I am free of it's unrelenting heat and humidity and elephant sized cockroaches  the state continues to haunt my dreams. So, in an attempt to exorcize it once and for all, here is my first list of THE HORROR THAT IS FLORIDA! The films are listed somewhat in my order of preference...

Henry - Portrait of a Serial Killer
This one may be a stretch because not one microsecond of the film takes place in Florida but I'm including it because of the film's pretenses. It ALLOWS you to believe that you are watching a more or less true film about the deeds of Henry Lee Lucas and Otis Toole--but you're not. In real life Otis wound up in prison in Florida where he died of Aids, but not before confessing, recanting, confessing, and recanting again ad nauseum to the murder of John Walsh's son Adam. That's this film's Florida connection.
Movie poster
Yes, the third movie in George Romero's DEAD series was also the first one NOT filmed in Pennsylvania.
This early episode of THE X-FILES is set in Gibsonton, a town that started off as a sort of retirement town for circus performers, carnies et. al.
Creature from the Black Lagoon
This underwater scenes for this classic creature feature were filmed in Silver Springs, Flordia, near Ocala where a great many of underwater movies and TV shows were shot because of the crystal clear water.
Blair Witch Project
The guys who made this flick went to school in central Florida and some of the interior pick up shots were done there. I read it in the credits.
Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things
Filmed on Key Biscayne, just down the road a piece from tricky Dick's house, this is one of my favorite Florida flix. It's the early 1970s and a troupe of theatrical actors and their head honcho trip out on an island with a deserted cemetery where they try to raise the dead. They succeed.
See the full review, "Gather around children, Uncle Alan is going to curdle your blood.".
Think "The Monkey's Paw" , the Vietnam war, and vampire/zombies and you've pretty much got it. Terrific flick from Bob (Benjamin) Clark and writer Alan Ormsby.
They Bite
An ichthyologist and a filmmaker team up to fight off aliens who have come to spawn in the waters off the Florida panhandle. Hilarious softcore fun with Ron Jeremy.
Revenge of the Creature
Again the underwater scenes were shot in Silver Springs, but some film was shot in Marineland near Daytona Beach where the creature is being kept after his capture.
Ghost Story
The real story takes place in New England but our hapless young hero is employed as a University professor in Central Florida at the beginning of this classic ghost story.
Extra-terrestrial hi-jinx in and around St. Petersburg, Florida. In fact the swimming pools scenes were shot in a great old mansion on Park Street, about 2 blocks from where I grew up. This is classified as horror because of the traffic problems they caused while shooting the film...everybody wanted to see Opie.
Swamp Thing
A mad scientist uses recombinant DNA to create a "plant with an animal's aggressive power for survival". Supposedly set in the deepest, darkest Everglades, it was obviously made by someone who has never seen the Everglades.
Filmed in North Florida in the winter to simulate the 4th of July weekend in the rest of the civilized world. One of the first of the eco-horror flix.
See the full review, "I've Got a Frog in My Throat!".
A Seminole Indian returns from the Vietnam war a little out of sorts and cuts himself of from society preferring to spend his time with his snake friends, especially his bestest friend a rattler named Stanley. But folks just won't let him alone doggone it.
Deadly Species
Big game hunter leads a team of archaeologists in to the jungles of deepest Florida. (snicker) Before long they become the hunted.
Devil's Advocate
I'll bet you're going to tell me that this film took place in New York, right? Well the opening and closing scenes are in Tallahassee. Close enough for me.
Alien abduction and Florida rednecks--a winning combination only if you're making up a list like this.
See the full review, "Aliens in the Florida Backwoods".
Sting of Death
I'm beginning to sense a theme here . A marine biologist transforms himself into a half man half jellyfish while Neil Sedaka sings "The Jellyfish Song" on camera.
Death Curse of Tartu
Four archaeology students piss off the spirit of titular character, a Seminole "witch doctor", by dancing the frug on his grave--never a good idea.
2000 Maniacs
BRIGADOON for rednecks as only Herschell Gordon Lewis could do it.
Flesh Feast
1969 flick in which mad Nazi scientist Veronica Lake rejuvenates Hitler in her basement lab. Uh Ms. Lake, anyone in Miami who tries to have a basement will find themselves with an indoor swimming pool instead.
Lamberto Bava directed this misogynistic Italian production set along the coast of Florida in which dedicated Eco-scientists square off against a genetically created hybrid, a product of the "Seakiller Project whose aim was to rip off every movie they possibly could. Avoid at all costs.
Attack of the Giant Leeches
Early Corman flick about, well, giants leeches in the everglades, an innkeeper, his unfaithful wife, and what happened when they all got together.
Blood Feast
Herschell Gordon Lewis takes over a Miami motel and has an Egyptian caterer stuff rotten sheep's tongues down a woman's throat in this early gross-out legend.
Aka ATTACK OF THE SWAMP CREATURES. A deranged scientist plans to turn himself into some form of aquatic life and conquer the world. I can't recall but I think it was something like an octopus.
Phantom of the Ritz
This rare film was shot entirely in Clearwater, Florida, and starred Joshua Sussman as the Phantom on the Ritz Theater which was demolished shortly thereafter. Joshua was a regular figure (and at over 6'6" an imposing one!) at BARF--the Bay Area Renaissance Festival in Largo.
Automaton Transfusion
Zombies in Florida...and a very bad movie, which usually are the same thing.
The Norseman
This Lee Majors will doesn't qualify as horror or science fiction in the strictest sense, but believe me it was pretty horrifying to see all those Vikings landing in a New England covered with spanish moss!

What did you think of this list?

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June 14, 2010
Thanks Queenb for this ingenious list! It was a lot of fun to read and to realize that so many films were shot in Florida.
June 14, 2010
After film studios moved out of New York and Jersey in the silent era, their first stop on the way west was Florida. I think the weather there just got to be too difficult to handle though. If it's not the heat, it's the 4--to 6:OO p.m. daily thunderstorms. Oddly you can't set your clock by those the way you once could. The weather patterns have definitely changed. over the last 10 to 15 years.
June 12, 2010
I'll be back to read this through once I'm more awake. If you don't hear from me, be sure to remind me.
June 12, 2010
"Death Dream" and "Stanley" look promising. I can't believe that you included "Jaws 3" on here. That's one of the worst sequels I've ever seen and that's saying something! A little surprised that you included "The Devil's Advocate" as well. I never particularly liked the last third of that film, which went over-the-top for me.
June 12, 2010
There's nothing about liking these flix in my mission statement. DEATHDREAM is supposed to be really good. I bought it a while ago but haven't watched it yet. Stanley I've seen and it's standard drive-in fare. It does co-star Steve Alaimo though. He had a couple of minor hit records back in the day. "Cast Your Fate to the Winds" was his biggest.
June 13, 2010
Oh, sorry, I made the assumption that if you didn't like the film you would have told us in the text.
June 13, 2010
Nope. The only criteria they had to meet was Florida.
June 13, 2010
Okay, so overall film quality is out of the picture then... which explains the presence of a few of these, "Jaws 3" in particular.
June 13, 2010
Right. But I didn't hate JAWS 3 that much. It wasn't any worse than the other sequels. And Dennis Quaid was in it.
June 13, 2010
Yeah, that did nothing for me. "Jaws 2" was far superior. "Jaws 3" had a terrible plot, bad 3-D effects, and the most fake looking shark in the whole series. The absence of Scheider, Shaw, and Dreyfuss also hurt it beyond measure. At least the first sequel had Scheider.
June 13, 2010
I didn't like that one at all.
June 13, 2010
You may be the only person I know who favors 3 over 2.
June 14, 2010
I may be the only person you know who lived in Florida.
June 14, 2010
Nope, our neighbors lived in Florida for sometime and so did the people who used to rent the downstairs apartment in our house and so did my grandparents' neighbors.
June 15, 2010
What? For the summer? (voice oozing sarcasm)
June 16, 2010
Actually, yes. One of them did have a Summer house there... the rich bastards.
June 16, 2010
Ha ha! I knew it. That doesn't count, Count.
June 16, 2010
Only one of them out of five had a summer home there; the other four had all lived there year round before moving here. In fact, I could probably name one person for each state in the country that has lived in our county. It's like a black hole, every one comes here before dying. LOL!
June 17, 2010
No. Ask Ian Fleming. He described Florida (specifically St. Pete I think) as America's graveyard.
June 17, 2010
Clearly he had never been to Franklin County, Maine. ; )
June 17, 2010
Of course when he wrote that FLA was still consider retirement heaven and nothing else.
June 17, 2010
Um, what else is it?
June 18, 2010
Now you've got South Beach which is no longer just a place for little old Jewish couples and you've got a tourist industry aimed at families and younger people.
June 11, 2010
wow! You should be a Florida-horror tour guide, Queenie! Very creative list! I love it!
June 11, 2010
My favorite is trying to pass west central Florida (Tampa to be exact) as New England. That's so funny!
June 12, 2010
But Florida and New England are nearly identical! LOL!
June 11, 2010
You composed a wonderful list!! Thank you for the great review!
June 11, 2010
I'm a compulsive list maker. Glad you enjoyed it.
June 10, 2010
Wow, Karen, this is an AWESOME list! I know there are swamps out there and all, but I had no idea that there were so many horror movies based in Florida. I should send this to my friend in Florida. Maybe it'll spook her into moving back to California ;) Thanks for sharing!
June 10, 2010
Glad you enjoyed it. It's funny how all the movies seemed to be limited to 3 or 4 themes. There are a lot of other movies set in Florida of course that don't have a horror theme (althought they may be horrific like WHERE THE BOYS ARE or FROM JUSTIN TO KELLY  WITH LOVE, or is it the other way around?) and I might do them for fun.

That HYDRA cover is from the wrong movie.
June 11, 2010
I'm loving this unique and creative theme! And yes, those two other movies, though not marketed as horror, are pretty horrific :P And is the movie cover for Hydra correct now?
June 11, 2010
I don't think so. That looks like a DVD cover and it's never had a DVD release. It's from the very late 60s or very early 70s. Congratulations on finding an illo from PHANTOM OF THE RITZ though!
June 11, 2010
Ah, found it! Looks like it's also called The Bloodwaters of Dr. Z as well as Zaat, but it's more popularly referred to as the latter, so I hope you don't mind if I changed the name to that. People will probably be able to search for it more easily that way. Now I'm intrigued by this movie with so many names :)
June 11, 2010
Wait a minute, shoot -- Zaat is already on your list.  So #10 is this movie?  Oy!  Back to hunting for Hydra for me.... :P
June 11, 2010
Aaaarrggghhh! A little more research proved that it IS the same film!
June 11, 2010
lol, phew! Glad we figured that out ;)
June 11, 2010
It wasn't listed as one of the alternate titles for that flick and I've only seen one of them and read a synopsis on the other. So many of these flix sound alike that it's an easy mistake to make. (blushing)
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karen ()
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I am the poster child for inertia. Where ever I am is where I plan to stay FOREVER.   So much so in fact that it took me decades to understand the punchline about why   the chicken … more
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