Top-notch horror casino movies

Audiences are used to seeing casinos as key settings in action and thriller films. They high stakes nature of casino gaming, the large quantities of cash available makes for a range of setups for heist, hostage, and other crime centered movies. But less common is horror films set against the backdrop of spinning roulette wheels and neon lights. With the sheer size of modern casinos, and their tendency to be elaborate and eclectic in design – they make for interesting visuals on screen. And the rise of virtual gambling, including sites like means this imagery is more common in everyday life, something we might see popping up in upcoming movies.

There are a few horror films featuring aesthetics inspired by gambling or scenes taking place in casinos. Here’s a few examples that we particularly enjoyed.

Resident Evil: Extinction

Part of a series of adaptations of the popular video game franchise, the Resident Evil collection has been somewhat of a mixed bunch. Resident Evil: Extinction features Las Vegas, considered the world capital of gambling, overtaken by the sands of the Nevada desert. The special effects team behind the film recreated elements of the Paris Casino, including a partial replica of the Eiffel Tower submerged in rising sand – giving the horror flick an epic, disaster quality. The

Nightmare Before Christmas

Not quite as obvious, but there is a very prominent and memorable character in this much loved stop motion spooky movie. A favourite of both adults and little monsters, as well as a modern classic for both the Halloween and Christmas seasons – The Nightmare Before Christmas features a host of imagery in Tim Burton’s signature gothic style.

The main villain of the story is the infamous Boogie Man – aka Oogie Boogie, who even gets his own song in the musical. The song takes place in his lair, with an abstract collection of props used to illustrate his sinister nature. Many of these props are inspired by gambling and casinos. Oogie Boogie enters the scene, opening his song by throwing a set of dice. We then see him spin a kidnapped Santa Claus on the spiked centre of a giant roulette wheel, followed by several evil robots with fruit machine dials entering the lair. The bright neon colours and distinct patterns of the casino props stand out against the black backdrop, making it one of the most visually impressive scenes in the animated film.

The Saw Franchise

This one is a little more abstract in its casino influence, but certainly draws from some of the experiences of casinos and gambling. There is an element of chance and risk taking in many of the traps and challenges faced by the victims of the gory franchise. Often the players of elaborate, deadly games in the Saw movies must make calculated choices or chance selections in order to escape their gruesome fate. Saw has been the theme of several escape rooms, often as an evolution of traditional gambling based games. It’s only a matter of time until the iconic Jigsaw also becomes a feature in casinos.

What’s your favourite horror film inspired by casinos or gambling? Are there any famous casinos you think would make interesting settings for horror films – what about a zombie invasion of Las Vegas!?