Haunted Houses in Film
Haunted mansions are a staple of horror
movies and tv shows. I thought it would be interesting to make a
of cinematic (and some tv) examples and see what commonalities they
hold. You can use these descriptions as a checklist for
your own house for Halloween. Note: Not all of these are
"haunted" in the supernatural sense so much as they are designed to be
a singular setting that instills awe or fear.
houses seem to fall into three categories: Mansions, castles, and more
modest residences, although there are plenty of other creepy locations
that I file under "other" in the lists below.
Psycho - Bates house at the top of
the hill from the Bates Motel.
The House on
Haunting - The classic haunted gothic mansion.
Changling - Another huge place.
- The Thorn family's home.
Haunted Mansion - The ride is filled with iconic imagery.
The Ghost and Mr. Chicken - The
bloodstains on the organ keys! Gasp!
Dracula - Dracula's castle/house
(one in Transylvania, one in England with a great basement).
- Dr. Frankenstein's castle. Note that there are several castles
throughout the series of these films plus the remakes over the years.
Horror Picture Show - The Transylvanians' castle.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
Baby - Apartment building
Exorcist - Reagan's house
Elm Street house
Suspiria - The girls school.
Shining - Hotel based on the Stanley Hotel in Colorado.
2 - The asylum.
Phantom of the Opera - The opera house.
Presents - The New Orleans (and Detroit) horror host Dr. Morgus
the Magnificent had a great lab above the old city ice house.
- Loads of great settings: Haunted airfields, museums, castles, mines,
- The tv series features tons of haunted locations: old houses,
hospitals, factories, etc. It's Scooby Doo played for serious.
features of Haunted Houses
These are common denominators that most people think of when you say
Laboratory - Almost every castle and many haunted houses have a
often in the basement.
Dust covers on furniture - Or at
very dusty furniture to indicate abandonment.
Cobwebs and dust - Signs of neglect.
Cracked plaster - Deterioration of the building so that there's
exposed lath beneath.
Of all varieties.
Chandelier - Especially if
we're talking about a famous opera house.
Bookshelves - Filled with old
Secret passages - Accessed behind
bookshelf, of course.
Old portraits of ancestors -
villains can spy through their eyes.
Suit of armor (plus family crests) - This is just manditory.
Stone walls in basement - Makes a nice place to attach chains.
Large staircases - Great for pushing people down.
Red velvet cushioned furniture - Suitable for Elvira's bottom.
Basement - And there's always
barrels down there for some reason.
Grandfather clock - Often with
creepy hidden inside (or perhaps the entrance to a secret passage).
studies: The Addams Family and Munster homes
Because tv series have more viewing time than movies, you often get a
better look around the homes of tv families where the series is
set. Below are lists of items found in the homes of these
Addams Family House
the following inventory on this page and broke
it down into a list. Note the plethora of animal-oriented
artifacts (grouped in the middle of this list).
Eskimo totem pole
Suit of samurai armor
Elephant's hoof filled with popcorn
King cobra candle holder
Moosehead (named Pierre) over the
fireplace with one whimsically drooping left antler
Bearskin (rug that growled when stepped
Two-headed sea turtle
Giant brown (and later) white bear
The hastate head of a swordfish stuffed
with a human leg (Cousin Ferook's)
On the front gate: "Beware of the Thing"
In the basement: Torture instruments: Iron
maiden, Rack, Bed-of-nails chaise lounge, Stocks inscribed "Hers," and
a Flogging table
Munsters were more gothic than the merely eccentric Addamses, so I
always felt they were more oriented toward Halloween.
Trap door in floor leading to basement lab
Secret compartment under the stairs (where
Spot -the pet dragon- lives)
Cobwebs, candles, cracked paster (exposing
the wood lath underneath)
Old portraits on the walls
Cuckoo clock (with a raven)
Secret passages: Under the stairs and behind the suit of armor upstairs
It's funny that these two shows had variations on a similar set of
props. A suit of medieval armor vs. the samurai armor. A
pipe organ vs. the harpsichord. Electric chair vs. torture
instruments. And so on.