John Carpenter is one of the most prolific filmmakers, especially when it comes to horror movies and cult classics. With movies like The Thing, The Fog, Halloween and others – when you think of horror movies, chances are a John Carpenter film is probably in your top five.
But did you know, Carpenter has a strong connection to Kentucky?
He was born in Carthage, New York in 1948, but he and his family moved to Bowling Green, Kentucky in 1953 when his father took a job at Western Kentucky University. Carpenter also attended WKU after graduating from high school, but transferred to the University of Southern California in 1968 due to WKU not having a filmmaking program at the time. Carpenter wouldn’t graduate from USC, but is listed on the university’s notable alumni page, along with other famous directors like George Lucas, Ron Howard, and John Singleton.
While he didn’t live in Bowling Green for long, the city and surrounding areas did impact his films, using local street names and community names. One of the biggest examples of this is the “Smith’s Grove Sanitarium” where Michael Myers escapes in the 1978 film Halloween. Smiths Grove is a small town in Warren County around 20 miles northeast of Bowling Green.
If you want to explore some of the sites mentioned in Carpenter’s films, The city of Bowling Green hosts the “Reel Sites, Real Scary: A John Carpenter Driving Tour.” The tour takes you to 17 different locations mentioned in Halloween, Halloween II, and The Fog. The tour also takes you by the former home of the Carpenter family, College High, WKU, and the Capitol Arts Center. Bowling Green’s city website also has the times where the street and city names are mentioned in the films.
If John Carpenter really isn’t your thing, don’t worry, The Bowling Green Area Convention & Visitors Bureau has you covered in the spooky department.
The Old Richardsville Road Bridge is located north of Bowling Green off Highway 185. The bridge, built in the late 1800s, has a ghostly legend attached to it. According to the Bowling Green Area Convention & Visitors Bureau website, if you drive onto the bridge at night and put the car in neutral, your vehicle will be push to the other side of the bridge. After you get to the other side of the bridge, some have said a handprint can be seen on the bumper.
If you don’t like spooky bridges with helpful ghosts, how about dinner with a spirit named Mary? Mary calls the second floor of 440 Main & Micki’s on Main home. According to a plaque on the outside of the building, Mary “appears in long, flowing gowns, and is sometimes quite bothersome at night, but will settle down if told to read.”
The Capitol Arts Center, on East Main Avenue in Fountain Square, does have a connection to John Carpenter, but the Capitol has enough spooky happenings to stand on its own. There are reports of phantom footsteps in the lobby, doors opening and closing on their own, and images of phantom children in the upstairs conference room.
There are several other locations you can check out – the Bowling Green Area Convention & Visitors Bureau has everything set up for you on their website, including information on hotels, restaurants and other events happening in the area.