Over the years, there have been many horror movies that use abandoned prisons and abandoned insane asylums as their prime location. As a writer who focuses on horror symbolism, I have found that I have been able to identify many layers of horror symbolism that can be discussed directly by abandoned prisons and abandoned insane asylums in horror movies.
Abandoned prisons and abandoned insane asylums are locations that symbolize penned up rage. These types of locations are where people were placed and forgotten about for many years at a time. The loss of human interaction could drive people mad…or drive them closer to the brink of full-blown insanity. This is one reason why abandoned prisons and abandoned insane asylums are prime locations for horror movies. The air of that rage lays think around the building.
The fact that unethical experiments that were performed for years in prisons and insane asylums is something that most people would rather forget than deal with. The ghostly memory of what was done in the past is something that has been a staple of horror for many years. The spirits of the defiled coming back to enact their revenge on the living of the modern day was a common thread in many of the gothic stories of writers like Poe, Dunsany, and Lovecraft.
The stench of the evil of humankind is something that many horror movie directors will speak to directly in horror movies that are located inside of abandoned prisons and insane asylums. Character will usually have a foreboding feeling that there are just not able to shake once they enter the ground of one of these facilities.
Who…or What…is Left
Many of the horror movies that take place in abandoned prisons and abandoned insane asylums deal with restless spirits that were so tormented in life that they were not able to cross over to the other side of reality. Some of these horror movies deal with creatures that were born of the pain inside the walls. Others will deal with a former resident that never left once the facility was closed. While one might think of these as clichés, the horror of leftovers in scary areas is something that many horror fans share.
In reality, there are many shows on TV that deal with ghost hunting. Many of the more popular points of, “evidence,” have actually come from abandoned prisons and abandoned insane asylums. TV shows like, “Ghost Hunters,” “Ghost Hunters International,” and “Ghost Adventures,” have made real life abandoned prisons and abandoned insane asylums as regular focuses for their investigations. Why wouldn’t a Hollywood director want to exploit these same kinds of buildings since many in the paranormal community believe that these kinds of locations are prime for real haunting.
Keep these aspects of horror symbolism in mind the next time that you see a horror movie that is based in an abandoned prison or an abandoned insane asylum. By understanding the points of horror symbolism to be found in a horror movie draws you into the movie in a way that few horror fans are ever drawn in.