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Bad Times At The El Royale: the 5 movie hotels we couldn't wait to check out of


Opening for business this October, blackly comic thriller Bad Times At The El Royale introduces us to a truly seedy establishment.

It's written and directed by Drew Goddard, who co-scripted brilliantly meta 2012 horror The Cabin in the Woods with Joss Whedon, and features a scene-stealing ensemble crammed with A-list talent. True Grit's Jeff Bridges, Mad Men's Jon Hamm, Fifty Shades of Grey's Dakota Johnson and Thor's Chris Hemsworth play the assorted miscreants drawn into a deadly mystery at the eponymous motel, which conceals a shady past.

In anticipation of the film's release, we take a look back at five of cinema's most horrifying hotels…

1. Bates Motel – Psycho (1960)

Off the beaten track, and with suspiciously high numbers of vacancies, the Bates Motel ticks all the boxes for creepy hotels. In fact, this notoriously scary property, which lies at the centre of Alfred Hitchcock's groundbreaking horror movie, can be said to have influenced practically every other film on this list.

Proprietor Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) might be all smiles in the beginning, but his destitute motel hides a terrifying secret in the form of his "mother". It would be unfair to spoil it if you haven't seen this creepy classic before, but after you've seen it, you might find yourself double-checking that bathroom door is locked before you step into the shower...

2. The Overlook Hotel – The Shining (1980)

Stanley Kubrick's unforgettable adaptation of Stephen King's novel features one of the scariest hotels in film history. With its labyrinth of corridors and isolated, snowbound setting, The Overlook is terrifying simply based on appearances alone. Then, of course, there is the building's troubled past, which has seen at least one of its former caretakers go slowly insane and murder his own family.

This, of course, is exactly what happens to Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson), who, along with his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and telepathically gifted son Danny (Danny Lloyd), has taken up what he believes is temporary residence in the mountain resort. If you're feeling brave, you can stay in the real-life hotel that doubled for The Overlook: The Timberline Lodge in Oregon. If they offer you Room 237 however, run while you still can…

3. The Hotel Earle – Barton Fink (1991)

Whatever your interpretation of the Coen brothers' richly enigmatic drama – Satanic horror? A parable about writer's block? – there's no denying its enveloping atmosphere of menace. Key to this is the seemingly desolate and eerie environment of the Hotel Earle in Los Angeles, where aspiring movie screenwriter Barton Fink (John Turturro) finds himself holed up.

A somewhat snobby playwright who is tasked with writing a B-movie wrestling picture, Fink is plagued by mosquitos, peeling wallpaper and an overly gregarious neighbour in the form of John Goodman. Somehow, the building comes to act as a reflection of Fink's increasingly cracked state of mind, and the fiery finale remains one of the most memorable moments in the Coens' canon.

4. The Motel – Vacancy (2007)

Picture the scene: you're on the road, you take a wrong turn, your car breaks down, and then you just happen across a deserted hotel. Would you venture inside? Well the couple in horror-thriller Vacancy – played by Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale – find themselves in this exact predicament, and it doesn't exactly go well.

Apparently they were not put off by its menacing exterior. And when they find some disturbing video tapes in their room, they quickly realise they're the next victims of a elaborate set-up, which lures unsuspecting patrons into the motel before their gruesome murder is captured on film. They then try to escape from their seemingly inevitable fate, and it's a race against time to check out before the killers find them.

5. The Dolphin – 1408 (2007)

Finally, we have another Stephen King adaptation, and one that reinforces the author's penchant for creepy hotels. Sitting alongside The Shining's Overlook is the New York establishment The Dolphin, as featured in King's short story 1408, and its subsequent movie adaptation. Don't be fooled by its deceptively innocent name, however: The Dolphin is a terrifying place.

Cynical Mike Enslin (John Cusack) is a bestselling yet creatively frustrated writer, who tours seemingly haunted locations and makes a buck off them, attempting to debunk their mysteries. Finding himself at The Dolphin, he decides to check in to the supposedly possessed room, Number 1408. Like Room 237 in The Shining, this particular room has a rather notorious reputation – and Enslin soon finds himself at the mercy of its terrifying secrets.

Bad Times At The El Royale is released in Cineworld on 12th October, so tweet us your scariest movie hotels @Cineworld.

Sarah Buddery is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.