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Gas Station of Doom

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The gas prices aren't the only scary thing here.
It's a foggy, winter day in the middle of nowhere. And on the long, curving highway is a gas station. A generic, everyday, normal gas station. The perfect place to be haunted by a ghost, stalked by a serial killer, or realize how ridiculously expensive the fuel is there.
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For a number of reasons, writers like to use lonely gas stations as a setting for horror. Much of this is perhaps that gas stations are a place that almost anyone who's been in or driven a car needs to visit at least once in a while. As such, it is bound to attract some weird and even dangerous people, both in real life and in fiction.

Combine this with their sometimes dingy, run-down look and feel, as well as the fact that they can be found in all but the most remote parts of the world, and you have the recipe for a decent horror setting.

Compare Creepy Gas Station Attendant, who often manages these. My Car Hates Me is almost guaranteed to happen. May even involve Sinister Cars. For more road trip points you absolutely do not want to get caught up in, see Inn of No Return, Hell Hotel and Old, Dark House.

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Examples:

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    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • In A Frozen Flower, Otto points a client that he and Olive are helping, the Root Beer Man, to a gas station convenience store so he can get some root beer, instead of getting it from a tree. When he goes into the store, he seemingly disappears, causing Otto to follow him once the case is solved. It turns out to house a group of dormant lamberos who have killed the man and who nearly do the same to Otto once he walks inside and discovers the corpse.

    Films — Live.Action 
  • In 68 Kill, Chip has to stop at a remote gas station to fill up, and the cashier Monica notices the large bundle of cash he is carrying and tries to blackmail him. This marks the point at which the Plethora of Mistakes kicks into high gear.
  • In Big Driver, Tess's rape and assault takes place in the shell of a abandoned gas station on a remote stretch of country road.
  • 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, at first in her thoughts and later for real.
  • 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 a Reusable Lighter Toss, but this only slows it down briefly.
  • 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.
  • 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 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 movie Splinter revolves around a gas station being under the attack of a parasitic organism.
  • The gas station in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) unfortunately turns out not to be the sanctuary for Sally Hardesty as the proprietor ties her up, gags her, and forces her into his truck. It also turns out to be the place where human meats are barbecued.
  • Subverted with the opening kill of Urban Legend, which depicts the scenario described below in the Folklore section.
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    Folklore 
  • A woman traveling 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.

    Literature 
  • 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.
  • In the short story "Gas Station Carnivals" by Thomas Ligotti, the protagonist's acquiaintance reminisces about the titular carnivals that he used to visit as a kid when he and his parents stopped at gas stations. While the carnivals themselves were mostly just crappy (the attractions and rides were miniatures, the hypnotist and sideshow freaks were costumed attendants, and there was an air of oil-soaked dinginess about the whole thing), one of the employees, known as the Showman, was uncannily creepy and menacing. Subverted, it turns out that these carnivals never existed. Double subverted, since the Showman is actually real - and now coming after the protagonist.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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.
  • Sapphire and Steel has a story set at an isolated gas station, but it's set in England, not the northern US.
  • In Twin Peaks, the extradimensional being MIKE says that, prior to his Heel–Face Turn, he and BOB had lived above a convenience store, using it as a base of operations while praying on humanity. In The Return, the long-awaited third series, we finally visit this convenience store, which seems to also be a gas station, and is ruled over by the nightmarish Woodsmen, murderous beings of pure evil. The convenience store at first appears to have only one floor, though we eventually learn that the second floor - where MIKE and BOB had lived - is actually in Another Dimension.
    • Averted, however, by Big Ed's Gas Farm, the local garage and gas station within Twin Peaks itself. Big Ed Hurley is one of the nicest people in town.

    Music 
  • Referenced in the video of Blue Öyster Cult's "Take Me Away", where the young couple in the car get the first inkling something is not right; the band logo of the hooked cross painted on the petrol station wall is as big a clue as the sinister proprietor.

    Video Games 
  • 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 Deus Ex, 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.
  • In the video game version of I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream, Gorister's scenario starts inside a steampunk air ship. The ship lands in front of an abandoned gas station/truck stop, inside which Gorister has to face his inner demons.
  • Resident Evil 2 (Remake) 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.
  • Night Shift, the playable prologue to Puppet Combo's Stay Out of the House, is set at an isolated gas station where you control a gas station attendant who is stalked throughout the night by a serial killer, culminating in the attendant being captured.

    Web Original 

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