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13 Really Creepy Movie Locations

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Getty Images

It's not too hard to scare up a nightmare on a movie set, but it takes extra effort to find a spooky location to go with your tale. Although not all of these places are haunted, they look like they could be!

1. Danvers State Hospital, Mass.

Brad Anderson shot his terrifying horror film Session 9 on location at the Danvers State Hospital, an abandoned mental asylum in Massachusetts haunted by the pain of its former residents and the treatments they endured. A host of underground tunnels connected the castle-like buildings, the perfect location for five men brought in to clean up the place to slowly lose their minds. Anderson said about the location, "We found all sorts of creepy medical instruments and a straitjacket and stuff. We also got a sense of the asylum's history. Even if you're a very skeptical person about the supernatural, that place is so emotionally heavy. Hundreds of thousands of people were wrongfully committed and lived out their lives locked in these tiny little rooms that they call 'seclusions.' It's tragic."

Danvers is now an apartment community. Welcome home! Just watch out for those hydrotherapy tanks in the corner.

2. The Dakota, New York City

Courtesy of TheNails

This posh Upper West Side apartment building was the setting for Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby, and later was the tragic scene of John Lennon's assassination. Whether you believe in tales of paranormal activity or not, there's no doubt that this giant Gothic edifice looming over Central Park West is unforgettable.

3. Roosevelt Island, N.Y.

Courtesy of OnTheSetofNewYork.com

This beautiful island just minutes away from Manhattan was the home to several creepy hospitals around the turn of the century, like the Smallpox Hospital known as Renwick Ruin. Although Walter Salles' Dark Water didn't take full advantage of its eerier locations, screenwriter Rafael Yglesias was inspired by the island. "When I was thinking of shooting a movie in the rain in New York, when you drive along the FDR Drive and you look at Roosevelt Island in the rain, which I guess you can probably do today, it looks a little bit ghostly."

4. Georgetown, D.C.

Courtesy of Mark's_DC_Pictures

A tween possessed by the devil wasn't the only scary thing in The Exorcist, especially if you are a little out of shape. Father Karras met his untimely end on a series of disturbingly steep steps that are used by locals to amp up their workouts.

5. St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, New Orleans

Courtesy of Greg Headley

Are these tombs gorgeous or creepy? Whatever your taste, there's no denying the cemetery's place in history, both as the resting place of many famous people (reportedly including Voodoo priestess Marie Laveau) and plenty of movie scenes. Perhaps the most infamous of these is Easy Rider, when Wyatt (Peter Fonda) and Billy (Dennis Hopper) drop acid and do…other stuff in the cemetery with some lady friends.

6. Hanging Rock, Victoria, Australia

Courtesy of Nuffcumptin

In the film Picnic at Hanging Rock, based on the novel by Joan Lindsay, a host of curious schoolgirls go exploring on a field trip to the famous Australian geological formation (which is actually a former volcano) in the Macedon Ranges. Petticoats and corsets can't stop them from exploring, but their Valentine's Day trip turns to disaster when several disappear without a trace. Perhaps they went spelunking in those creepy caves?

7. Devil's Tower National Monument, Wyoming

Courtesy of Lietmotiv

Steven Spielberg used this incredible formation in Close Encounters of the Third Kind as a possible hub of alien activity, but it's also packed with religious significance for the Lakota and a number of other Native American tribes. And it looks awesome. 

8. Amargosa Opera House and Hotel, Calif.

Courtesy of David's-Photos

It's in Death Valley. It was the Lost Highway Hotel in David Lynch's Lost Highway. And it may be haunted. This strange, adobe-style hotel is full of incredible murals and other paintings that only add to its strange desert presence.

9. Bagdad Cemetery, Leander, Texas

Courtesy of jimmywayne

Is any cemetery not creepy? Well, this one is a famous creepy cemetery, for horror fans at least. It stars in the opening scenes of Texas Chainsaw Massacre (narrated by none other than John Larroquette) as the victim of graverobbing and other unsavory activities. 

10. London, U.K.

Courtesy of Fox Searchlight

In 28 Days Later, poor Cillian Murphy wakes up all alone in the hospital—yes, all alone, because there's been a zombie outbreak and he's one of the few remaining humans. The eeriest scene in the movie is when his character, dressed in medical scrubs, walks across one of London's busiest intersections without a soul in sight.

11. Monroeville Mall, Penn.

Courtesy of MonroevilleMall.com

The mall can be stressful, but it's downright scary in Dawn of the Dead. George A. Romero's sequel to Night of the Living Dead was primarily shot on location at the Monroeville Mall, where four survivors of the zombie apocalypse have taken refuge. It is now a destination spot for both shoppers and horror lovers, as well as the occasional zombie crawl.

12. Yankee Pedlar Inn, Conn.

Courtesy of Historic Buildings of Connecticut

Director Ti West was staying at the Yankee Pedlar Inn while he was in production on his horror film The House of the Devil, and the strange goings-on at this little rustic inn inspired his next film, The Innkeepers. He ultimately filmed The Innkeepers at the Pedlar. He said, "Weirder stuff would happen back at the hotel than on the set…I don't believe in ghosts, but the TV would go off and on, the phone would ring and there was no one on the other end, I had really vivid dreams. It's just a weird vibe in this kooky old place."

13. Santa Cruz Boardwalk, Calif.

Courtesy of irene

In The Lost Boys, the vampires of Santa Carla love nothing more than a good trip to the amusement park after dark. After all, what's the use of being young forever if you can't have fun in between feedings? The Lost Boys was filmed in and around Santa Cruz, with its colorful boardwalk the stand-in for where the undead mix, mingle and fight at night.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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What Happened to Jamie and Aurelia From Love Actually?
May 26, 2017
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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief

Fans of the romantic-comedy Love Actually recently got a bonus reunion in the form of Red Nose Day Actually, a short charity special that gave audiences a peek at where their favorite characters ended up almost 15 years later.

One of the most improbable pairings from the original film was between Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia (Lúcia Moniz), who fell in love despite almost no shared vocabulary. Jamie is English, and Aurelia is Portuguese, and they know just enough of each other’s native tongues for Jamie to propose and Aurelia to accept.

A decade and a half on, they have both improved their knowledge of each other’s languages—if not perfectly, in Jamie’s case. But apparently, their love is much stronger than his grasp on Portuguese grammar, because they’ve got three bilingual kids and another on the way. (And still enjoy having important romantic moments in the car.)

In 2015, Love Actually script editor Emma Freud revealed via Twitter what happened between Karen and Harry (Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, who passed away last year). Most of the other couples get happy endings in the short—even if Hugh Grant's character hasn't gotten any better at dancing.

[h/t TV Guide]

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