It's a foggy, winter day in spooky Insert Northern U.S. State Here. And on the long, curving highway is a gas station. A generic, everyday, normal gas station.
Oh, and it's the site of nearly every single B-list horror story.
For some reason, writers like to use lonely gas stations in some U.S. state like Pennsylvania or Maryland as the site of their spooky ghost story. It's an odd phenomenon, really. Maybe ghosts are just attracted by the thought of Maryland petroleum and nerdy 30 year old attendants.
Compare Creepy Gas Station Attendant, who often manages these.
- Nightmares segment "Terror in Topanga". A woman hears over the radio that a serial killer is on the loose. She naturally goes out to get a pack of cigarettes and stops at a gas station. The attendant perfectly matches the serial killer's description and she gets worried. The attendant drags her out of the car, pulls out a gun and shoots...the real serial killer, who was hiding in her back seat.
- The horror anthology film Body Bags has one segment appropriately named "The Gas Station" that played out like a Slasher Movie. A new attendant working the night shift is stalked by a lone killer as she tries to fight him off.
- In the action movie Legion, a group of strangers hold up in a lonely diner/gas station out in the desert to stage a gun battle for the survival of mankind.
- The horror movie Splinter revolves around a gas station being under the attack of a parasitic organism.
- The first vampire attack in Fright Night 2: New Blood takes place at a deserted gas station. The victim manages to set the monster on fire by blowing up her car with with a Reusable Lighter Toss, but this only slows it down briefly.
- In Life Blood, Rhea and Brooke decide to hole up in a remote gas station till the sun goes down; taking the clerk hostage. It is here that Brooke goes completely off the deep end and most of the killings occur.
- The flashback in The Dresden Files where a teenage Harry encounters an Outsider at a random gas station (and blows them both to smithereens).
- The opening scene of Jinx High has a character walking to a closed gas station to use the pay phone (the book was written before everyone and his goldfish had a cell) and promptly becoming Eldrich Horror Chow.
- Sapphire and Steel has a story set at an isolated gas station, but it's set in England, not the northern US.
- The pilot episode of Criminal Minds (and a small chunk of the second, both in flashback) featured a Serial Killer that was the sole employee of a middle-of-nowhere gas station. Other Serial Killers Of The Week also used gas stations (in use or abandoned) as bases of operations throughout the show.
- A woman travelling alone stops for gas late at night. When she tries to pay for the gas, the attendant tells her that her credit card has been declined and asks her to come into the office. She goes into the office, but the attendant starts acting creepy and locks the door. She escapes and runs back to her car with the attendant in pursuit. She drives away in a panic and doesn't hear the attendant screaming that there's someone in the back seat. This urban legend is also the first scene of the movie Urban Legend.
- In Deus Ex 1, an abandoned gas station near "the ruins of Los Angeles" is a place where you have to rescue a hostage. She'll die if your enemy so much as hears a footstep, so tread carefully. And then kill her yourself. There actually isn't any penalty for that.
- The most elaborate location in the horror point-and-click game Barrow Hill is an all-night petrol station with adjoining restaurant and garage. It's creepy when you first arrive, and gets worse after the monster breaks into the room where the attendant is hiding and reduces him to ash.
- In the video game version of I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, Goristers scenario starts inside a steam punk air ship. The ship lands then in front of an abandoned gas station/truck stop, inside which Gorister has to face his inner demons.
- Resident Evil 2 sets the tone by beginning at a gas station on a rainy night, where Leon or Claire make their first encounter with the zombie outbreak in the back room of the station. The station doubles as a tutorial level before the plot moves on to Raccoon City itself.