Halloween is a time for embracing all things spooky. To our detriment, self storage facilities often get a bad rap for being places that under the guise of night, can make you question your senses (Did you see that? Did I just hear something?). Now we can’t speak for all self storage businesses, but at StorAmerica, many of our properties employ motion sensors, LED lighting, onsite resident managers, and limited access hours for safety – all of which take the scare-factor down a few notches to make your storage experience safe, pleasant, and worry-free.
But even with efforts to make self storage less scary, storage facilities are many times portrayed in popular media as locations used to conduct illicit activities and all sorts of shadiness. Just in time for Halloween, we’ll be analyzing some representations of self storage that center on the supernatural, the murderous, and the occult. Welcome to Storage: Fact vs. Fiction – Halloween Edition (cue maniacal laughter)!
*Reader discretion is advised.
Agents of S.H.I.E.LD.
Synopsis: Embedded in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the TV show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. finds itself parallel to the overarching events of franchise films such as The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Iron Man, amongst others, and occasionally intersecting them. In the season 4 episode titled Let Me Stand Next to Your Fire, Agent Gemma Simmons and Agent Daisy Johnson (codename: Quake), are ambushed by super-powered James Taylor Slade, AKA Hellfire. The agents find themselves cornered in a vacant storage unit, where Hellfire breaks through and is moments away from finishing them off.
Fortunately, Robbie Reyes, AKA Ghost Rider, intercepts just in time, resulting in a fiery showdown. (Crash course: Reyes received the powers of the Ghost Rider by making a deal with what’s believed to be the Devil. Reyes is at one point gunned down by gang members, and in exchange for saving his life, he must do the Devil’s bidding by exacting vengeance on corrupt souls). The sequence ends with Ghost Rider incapacitating Hellfire in a neighboring fireworks warehouse, because why not?!
Fact and Fiction: Looks like your typical storage facility, but we’re highly dubious about the roll-up doors depicted in this clip. While it was a cool nod to see Ghost Rider wield his signature flaming chain, chain hoists are typically reserved for especially large or heavy roll-up doors to help provide leverage. The doors seen here are standard-size, in which case chain hoists would not be necessary. One more nitpick — the chain would not serve much purpose on the inside of the unit, as storage doors should be opened from the outside, not the inside. End rant.
And while not quite a storage-specific qualm, city zoning laws would likely prohibit a fireworks warehouse from sharing a wall with something as sensitive as a storage facility, although the show does poke fun at itself for using such an absurd plot device.
Synopsis: The lauded HBO anthology series, True Detective, was a watershed moment in television when it premiered in 2014. The show, which hops back and forth between events in 1995, 2002, and 2012, tracks tortured homicide detective, Rust Cohle (played by Matthew McConaughey), as he obsessively continues to hunt down a mysterious killer that has eluded him for nearly two decades.
In the season 1 episode, When You’ve Gone, Rust (who as of 2012, is no longer on the force) reconnects with his estranged and former detective partner, Marty Hart (played by Woody Harrelson), and invites him to his storage unit where he has set up a makeshift investigation. It’s during this scene that Rust shows Marty a video tape of a chilling sacrificial ritual – evidence that compels the two men to cast aside their differences and reignites their motivation to finally catch the killer.
Fact and Fiction: Apparently, Rust has been hoarding evidence in his storage unit for several years. We’d assume police evidence shouldn’t be kept in storage, and rather, in police custody, but what do we know?
For argument’s sake, we suspect this is a 24-hour storage facility, although you really shouldn’t be working from your storage space. There have been some modifications to the storage unit itself, most notably the literal writing on the wall. Modifications to storage are generally prohibited. On a related note, don’t display such disturbing material so openly, especially if you have a drive-up unit!
Awakening the Zodiac
Synopsis: In 2007, David Fincher released his much anticipated, highly-acclaimed film, Zodiac, which recreated the real-life events surrounding the notorious and yet-to-be-caught Zodiac Killer. Now the obvious question is…what if there was a sequel to that?? Unofficially, you’d have Awakening the Zodiac, a direct-to-video film that released in 2017.
This thriller follows couple, Mick and Zoe, as they win an auctioned storage unit filled with valuables. They believe they’ve hit the jackpot as nearly every item appraised is worth something, with one last item left to be determined. What could it possibly be, you ask? Why, evidence of the Zodiac Killer’s identity, of course! Their greed gets the best of them as they chase after the long-unclaimed reward money for identifying the infamous Zodiac. The “hunters become the hunted,” as the killer is hot on their heels, coming out of hibernation to add more victims to his tally and to ensure that he’ll never get caught!
Fact or Fiction: We’ll admit that we haven’t watched this one yet, so it’s hard to comment on how accurate it is. But we do know that if you buy an auction unit and find incriminating evidence of any kind, take it directly to law enforcement! No need to provoke a prolific serial killer.
Synopsis: Based on a true story, 2003’s Monster follows Aileen Wuornos (played by Charlize Theron, who won an Oscar for the role) as she tries to clean up her life and become a functioning member of society. But unfortunately for her, old habits die hard and as desperate times rear their head she slips back into a life of crime. Aileen’s pursuits end with her killing 7 men, designating her as one of the world’s most notorious female serial killers. She’s subsequently found guilty for 6 of those murders, and she’s executed via lethal injection.
In the film, Aileen stores most of her belongings in a storage unit due to her unpredictable living situation. As a result of her being late on her rent, she sneaks into Central Park Self Storage to access her storage space. She’s startled by her friend and storage property manager, Tom, who appears to be patient with her despite her delinquency.
Fact and Fiction: While StorAmerica does not condone trespassing, it’s clear in this case that management was ok with her being on their property. In real life, a delinquent tenant may be denied access to their storage space (they wouldn’t even be able to open the door to their own storage unit).
Aside from this minor criticism, this is probably the most accurate (albeit, easily the shortest and least consequential ) depiction of self storage on this list.
The Vampire Diaries
Synopsis: Not long ago, a vampire and werewolf craze took a hold over Hollywood, with several related movies and television series coexisting in the pop culture zeitgeist. Some were faithful adaptations for the most part, while others took some very generous liberties with these creatures, such as making vampires sparkly and allowing them to freely walk in daylight (WHY???).
A few properties exploited the ludicrous or risqué nature of vampire/werewolf mythology (such as True Blood and What We Do in the Shadows), but if you preferred your vampires with extra soap, CW-style, The Vampire Diaries was for you! This series takes place in the fictional hamlet of Mystic Falls, a setting known for its, well – mystical happenings.
Now stay with us here – the season 3 episode titled The Departed, shines the light on an ancient and powerful vampire named Klaus, whom many characters hold a grudge against. Through the powers of magic, Klaus is neutralized, thrown into a coffin, and locked in a storage unit to keep him safe and hidden. Why protect a villain? Well, this will ensure that his progenies also stay safe, because if he dies, then they all die. In pursuit of Klaus is anti-vampire Alaric, who is also a vampire himself (don’t ask). Our heroes (Damon and Rebekah) attempt to evacuate the coffin, but they’re are too late, as Alaric catches up to stake Klaus. Plot twist: Alaric was able to prepare ahead and switch bodies after biting the dust, sparing his life as well as his vampire progenies. Phew, that’s a lot of setup!
Fact and Fiction: Again, this is a pretty straightforward representation of self storage. It’s immediately noticeable that most tenants at this facility use disc locks to secure their storage spaces which is what StorAmerica recommends — although Alaric was able to easily dispatch them with his bare hands.
What gets us is that Klaus is locked away with a measly padlock, as evidenced by the broken shackle that’s left on the door. Sure, Alaric could just as easily snap any kind of lock, but it’s the underlying message here. Klaus should be considered a MVP (Most Vampiric Player), so why not take the extra precaution? Use a disc lock! Also, don’t store anything living, dead, or undead — this goes for any storage facility.
The Silence of the Lambs
Synopsis: Very few films reach the level of acclaim as The Silence of the Lambs. After releasing in 1991, the film has earned awards and recognitions left and right, and is often included on best-of lists to this day. Clarice Starling (played by Jodie Foster) is a young FBI agent assigned to capture an active serial killer who goes by the moniker of “Buffalo Bill.” In order to gain a more intimate understanding of the mind of a serial killer, she enlists the help of another – the infamous human-eating doctor, Hannibal Lecter (played by Anthony Hopkins).
Following a lead by Lecter, Agent Starling finds herself at a self storage facility on the outskirts of Baltimore called Your Self Storage. With the assistance of the owner, she forces herself into a locked storage unit and is confronted by several creepy objects. She ultimately stumbles upon a grisly discovery that could have possible ties to Buffalo Bill.
Fact and Fiction: Self storage space, or aircraft hangar? This storage unit is absolutely massive! Although not seen in this clip, there’s enough room in there to store the contents of a very large home AND an entire hearse with room to spare. We should also point out that this storage unit appears to have windows, which is questionable for a unit located on ground level. If this type of storage truly exists, then it would be considered rare, or it was possibly a building that was converted into storage.
The storage unit in question has not been accessed in roughly 10 years, and rent was prepaid well in advance. Again, rare, but not entirely unheard of. What brings up suspicion is that Starling is easily able to access the storage unit seemingly with no search warrant, and with the owner’s assistance, no less. But we can accept that the warrant presentation could have happened off screen.
The last bit of knowledge that we can deduce from The Silence of the Lambs is that red meat pairs very well with fava beans and a nice chianti. And always put the lotion in the basket.
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