Boo! 20 Hollywood Horror Movies That Were Filmed in Prague
There’s something about the atmospheric streets of Prague that evokes the fantastic and the supernatural, and the Czech capital has had a long and storied history with the horror genre that continues this year with production of the new TV series Carnival Row in the city.
Did you know, for instance, that the very first feature-length horror film ever made was shot in Prague?
Filmed in 1913 by German director Paul Wegener (who would later make The Golem, based on a Prague legend), The Student of Prague echoes the classic Faust tale in its story of a man who sells his soul to a devil.
The Student of Prague featured exteriors shot in locations in and around Prague Castle, including Zlatá ulička and the Daliborka tower. Clocking in at 83 minutes in its original version, it’s generally considered to be the first feature-length horror movie ever made.
It would be the better part of a century before Hollywood would make it out to Prague, but the fall of Soviet rule in the country lead to a boom in foreign productions. Many of which just happened to be horror movies.
Not all of the features on this list are strictly “Hollywood” flicks, but they’re non-Czech productions shot in English that were filmed (at least partially) in Prague. And while many of the movies below are fairly awful - for a variety of reasons - there are some real gems in the rough.
In chronological order:
Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf (1985)
Christopher Lee, Sybil Danning, and Reb Brown star in this horror sequel that was derided upon release but now considered a cult item. It was primarily filmed in Barrandov Studios, with location work done in Prague (don’t miss those cutaways to the Astronomical Clock) and Český Krumlov.
Snow White: A Tale of Terror (1997)
Perhaps the best movie on this list. Sigourney Weaver and Sam Neill star in this dark-dark-dark version of the fairy tale, which wildly succeeds where the later Brothers Grimm failed. Gorgeously shot at Barrandov Studios in Prague and Castles around the Czech Republic including Kost, Dobřichovice, and Pernštejn. Stromovka Park in Prague became the Black Forest.
This underrated tale of cannibalism in the mid-19th century midwest starring Guy Pearce and Robert Carlyle, very loosely based on the real-life tale of the Donner party, was primarily filmed throughout Slovakia’s snowy Tatra mountains. Interiors, however, were shot at Barrandov Studios in Prague.
From Hell (2001)
Prague stood in for Victorian London in this Jack the Ripper film starring Johnny Depp and Heather Graham. While many exteriors were shot in the UK, primary filming took place in the Czech Republic and often on the cobblestone streets of Prague at night; locals will be able to spot the difference.
The Pool (2001)
See pre-stardom Isla Fisher and James McAvoy get hacked up in this cut-rate slasher film that was shot entirely in Prague (albeit primarily in a single suburban home location that makes little use of the city). Noted Czech actress Aňa Geislerová also shows up in a Scream-like intro.
Blade II (2002)
Director Guillermo Del Toro and star Wesley Snipes shot this vampire-hunter sequel entirely in Prague; while primarily filmed on sets at Barrandov Studios, there’s some memorable work on the dark streets of New Town and Karlín, with scenes of vampires feasting beneath the Negrelli viaduct.
Rural locations in Prague and Benešov recreate the trenches of WWI in this unusual - and mostly effective - supernatural war film from director Michael J. Bassett (Solomon Kane), starring Jamie Bell and Andy Serkis.
Van Helsing (2004)
Hugh Jackman’s monster hunter battles Mr. Hyde atop Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris in the opening scene of Van Helsing - but it’s actually Prague’s Old Town Square with some creative digital f/x.
While studio work was done at Universal Studios in Los Angeles and Orlando, most exteriors in the film were shot in and around Prague, including another sequence set under Charles Bridge. Pernštejn Castle filled in for Dracula’s lair in Transylvania.
AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004)
Yes, AVP was shot in Prague, though you’d never know it; filming almost entirely took place on sets built at Prague Studios, with additional work at the neglected ČKD buildings in Vysočany. After two failed Alien/Predator mashups, Hollywood seems to have thrown in the towel on this series.
Two years after Blade II, director Guillermo Del Toro came back to Prague to shoot another comic book horror creation. Hellboy was primarily filmed at Barrandov Studios, filling for New York City, but keep an eye out for Prague landmarks at Vítkov (as the Bureau of Paranormal Research), the Invalidovna complex (as Bellamie Hospital), and the Czech Ministry of Transport (Machen Library).
Prague filled in for Bratislava in this controversial (at the time) horror movie from director Eli Roth and producer Quentin Tarantino that paved the way for the “torture porn” genre. Lots of great location work on some lesser-seen Prague streets during the first act, though the movie soon moves underground. Filming also took place in Český Krumlov and Nymburk.
The Brothers Grimm (2005)
This notoriously troubled production, which imagined the real-life fairy tale creators Wilhelm and Jakob Grimm (Matt Damon and Heath Ledger) as phony exorcists, was delayed for weeks when director Terry Gilliam feuded with producer Harvey Weinstein; in the wake of the recent Weinstein scandal, co-star Lena Headey (now on Game of Thrones) has accused both of them of abuse.
Filming primarily took place on sets constructed at Barrandov Studios, with location work done throughout the Czech Republic in Křivoklát, Kačina, Kutná Hora, and Ledeč nad Sázavou.
Like AVP: Alien vs. Predator, Doom was shot entirely Prague, though you wouldn’t know it; filling in for the moon, filming entirely took place at Barrandov Studios. This adaptation of the video game series starring Dwayne Johnson and Karl Urban was widely trashed by critics and audiences.
The Omen (2006)
This rote remake of the 1970s classic about is inferior in every regard. Prague filled in for contemporary Florence, poorly, with Czech-language street signs visible in many scenes.
Look out for Charles Bridge, the National Museum, Prague Congress Center, Laterna Magika theater, and the Štefánik Observatory in Petřín among the misused city landmarks.
Hannibal Rising (2007)
Prague filled in for 1950s Paris in this largely-derided prequel to the Hannibal Lecter movies, which nearly killed off the franchise until it was revived on TV with Mads Mikkelsen. Filming locations included numerous central Prague streets, with work also done in Brno.
Hostel II (2007)
Eli Roth and co. returned to the Czech capital for this sequel, which infamously shot scenes in Prague brothel Big Sister. Like the first film, there’s some good location work in Prague early on, though the movie quickly becomes tough to sit through. Production also took place at locations in Český Krumlov and Karlovy Vary.
Solomon Kane (2009)
James Purefoy and Max von Sydow star in this underrated action-horror film directed by Michael J. Bassett, who also filmed Deathwatch in Prague. Primary filming took place at Prague’s Barrandov Studios; location work around the Czech Republic included scenes shot at Točník Castle.
Psych: 9 (2010)
Sara Foster (D.E.B.S.), Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride), and Michael Biehn (The Terminator) star in this horror-thriller set at a mostly-abandoned hospital. Primarily filmed in Prague’s Barrandov Studios in 2006, Psych: 9 sat on the shelf until four years later.
Underworld: Blood Wars (2016)
A lot of the locations and props in the vampires vs. werewolves Underworld series seem like they could be from Prague, but this fifth entry is the first to actually shoot in the Czech capital (the original shot in Hungary). Filming primarily took place on sets constructed at Barrandov, but Hluboká Chateau served as the vampire’s castle, and the Žižkov railway station was home to the werewolves.
Personal Shopper (2016)
There are a lot of awful horror films on this list, but I’ll close it out with a legitimately great one: Olivier Assayas’ Personal Shopper is one of the chills-down-your-spine scariest movies to hit cinemas this year.
While the movie was primarily shot in Paris, the central ‘haunted house’ location - where Kristen Stewart’s character may or may not encounter the ghost of her dead brother - was a building on the outskirts of Prague.
Bonus! Grindhouse (2007)
While Death Proof and Planet Terror weren’t shot anywhere near the Czech Republic, Eli Roth made the fake trailer for the holiday-themed slasher film Thanksgiving, which appeared in-between the two features, entirely on locations in Kladno during the production of Hostel II (look out for the Czech signs during the Thanksgiving Day parade). It’s one of the best segments in Grindhouse - and probably the best work Roth has ever done.