Secret Passages

Secret passages are one of the tropes of horror and related genres (e.g., murder mysteries, thrillers, etc.).  I live in a somewhat-large, somewhat-spooky, and genuinely-old house, so I started thinking about how neat it would be to install a secret passage somewhere in the house (or maybe more than one).  So far we haven't, but a lot of other people have!  In thinking about building one, I started researching secret passages and making note of their appearances on film and tv as well as occasional real-life examples.


Where do they lead?

Activated by...


Some Examples

There's no way to ever compile a complete list of all the secret passages that have appeared in various movies and tv series, but here are some prominent ones and a few others I've noticed since I started this list.
Batman - Everything from the '60s tv series to the Christopher Nolan movies featured a passage that allowed Bruce to slip from Wayne Manor to the Batcave.  Additionally, it could be said that the Batcave itself allows access through secret passages for the Batmobile and other vehicles.

The Changling (1980) - Not a secret passage per se, but there is a hidden doorway to a forgotten attic room.  (Note: Also a great movie worth checking out!)

The Diary of Anne Frank (1959) - The access to the attic where Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis.

The Munsters (1964) - Secret passages under the stairs and a rotating wall behind the suit of armor at the top of the stairs.

Night Monster (1942) - No creepy old mansion is complete without a secret passage.  This one doesn't figure into the movie prominently; it's just a given that creepy old mansions always have at least one secret passage!

Phantom Of The Opera (1925) - There are secret passages throughout and under the opera house.  The most prominent is the one behind the mirror in Christine's dressing room.  There are others through which the Phantom delivers messages and places other items.  The majority, however, are trap doors: one into his lair, another to escape from the hot chamber, and another still into the Phantom's room from the chamber full of gun powder.

The Private Eyes (1980) - According to the IMDb, the secret passages featured in the film actually exist in the Biltmore Estate mansion in Asheville, NC.  The only portion of the passage that was constructed is the rotating wall, and the owner of the house liked it so much that he decided to keep it.  (Note: The film was among a number of pictures, mostly comedies, made and released between the mid-1970s and mid-1980s, that revived the old-dark-house movie. These films include: The Spiral Staircase (1975), Neil Simon's Murder by Death (1976), The Cat and the Canary (1978), The Private Eyes (1980), House of the Long Shadows (1983), Kenny Everett's Bloodbath at the House of Death (1984), Clue (1985), and Haunted Honeymoon (1986).)

Son of Frankenstein (1939) - Secret passages between the castle and below.  One of these is one of the columns against the wall.  It moves to reveal a passage.  (The sequel, Ghost of Frankenstein, had a secret passage in the floor to the forbidden portion of the laboratory.)


There are a great many examples of real-life secret passages that folks have built.  Here are a few I enjoyed:
See also:


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