Room With A Boo: The 13 Scariest Houses In The History of Film
By Dan Berry
When spirits of the deceased become trapped between worlds, their ghosts remain to haunt the area of their death. And ghosts are terrible landlords. They’re always coming into your place when you’re not around, rummaging through your things, and telling you to get out, even when the rent’s paid.
Haunted house lore is vague but has thrived for thousands of years and persists today with Gallup polls showing more people believe in haunted houses than any other paranormal occurrence. Think your house is haunted? Want to find out for sure? It’s as simple as going online. Numerous sights offer an “investigative service,” so it’s something to think about, especially if you happen to be 16-year-old Alice Turner on KoldCast TV’s macabre new supernatural adventure series, Malice.
Moving into grandma’s old house was supposed to signal a reboot to the Turner family’s lives, but no sooner do they settle in than dark, strange and disturbing events seemingly manifest from the very foundations of the old house. Tensions mount as family members, one at a time, start to disappear, and it falls to Alice – the youngest of two daughters, with an active imagination – to solve the mysteries of her family’s plight and survive the dangers seemingly emanating from property.
Click to play Episode 1 of Malice
New episodes of Malice premiere on Monday’s
Haunted houses, demonic dwellings, evil abodes and paranormal pads have long appeared in literature and have been a staple of film practically since its inception. Hundreds of shows and movies about possessed properties have found their way to the screen, but only the great ones, like Malice, depict houses so scary that viewers will find themselves sleeping outdoors.
“They’re here.” They’re also horrifying. The house from Poltergeist is so scary it killed off its cast one by one in a curse after the movie was released. But more importantly, the movie taught us that Native Americans don’t care if you build a house on top of their cemetery, so long as you don’t refer to it as an “Indian” burial ground.
Paranormal Activity (2007)
Paranormal Activity is both frightening and informative. That’s right, there’s a lesson to be learned: If your girlfriend ever claims that an “evil” presence has haunted her since childhood and followed her to your new house, KICK HER TO THE CURB! Don’t go setting up cameras. And if you do, and the cameras capture evidence of an entity, START PACKING! If you stay and die, it’s your own darn fault.
The Shining (1980)
Okay, so The Stanley Hotel in Colorado – which serves as the Overlook Hotel in The Shining – isn’t technically a house. But a hotel is really just a big house with lots of rooms, and this one’s got elevators that open to unleash rivers of blood. So if anyone still has a problem with The Stanley Hotel being included here, they need to relax and reevaluate their priorities. Remember, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
The ghosts, ghouls and giant shrimp hands that suck people into their soup aren’t what make the house from Beetlejuice scary; it’s all that awful modern art — Miami Vice meets The Nightmare Before Christmas. Instead of moving to the country to work on his book, the husband should have gotten a divorce and taken the kid to get some new colorful clothes.
House on Haunted Hill (1959 & 1999)
A millionaire playboy offers people an obscene amount of money to stay in his house for one night. Sounds a lot like Indecent Proposal, expect that instead of sex, his guests are horribly murdered. It has Vincent Price, cinema’s sultan of scary. The remake has Geoffrey Rush, who enjoys dressing up like a pirate.
The Legend of Hell House (1973)
Who hasn’t secretly dreamed of “doing it” with a ghost? No one? Okay, well, never mind. Regardless, The Legend of Hell House is obsessed with eroticism and is the first film to show a person having sex with a ghost—a scene hilariously parodied in Scary Movie 2.
Alice from Malice
The Others (2001)
Katie Holmes take note: Nicole Kidman also thought being married to Tom Cruise and the Church of Scientology was the worst thing ever… until she found herself living with a couple of photosensitive kids in a dark, old haunted house.
Evil Dead II (1987)
Director Sam Raimi’s cult classic is possibly the coolest, most innovative horror comedy film ever made, thanks to hyperkinetic camera acrobatics, rapid-fire editing and, of course, the amazingly goofy performance of Bruce Campbell as he fights off flesh-possessing spirits in a remote cabin in the woods. “Gimme back my hand… GIMME BACK MY HAND!”
The Changeling (1980)
Powerful political families frequently have skeletons in the closet. But how many have a murdered son being replaced with an imposter in a scheme to inherit money? Oh, that many? Well, how many have the murdered son return as a specter to haunt a mansion so that the new tenant will investigate and bring forth justice? That’s what I thought.
The Haunting (1963 & 1999)
You want to talk haunted? Until the day I die, I’ll be haunted by the knowledge that I wasted two hours of my life watching the 1999 remake of The Haunting. The original is a classic, which is probably how they got so many big-name stars to sign on for the reboot. But even Liam Neeson and his “special set of skills” couldn’t save this one.
The Amityville Horror (1979)
The “true” story of the Lutz family spawned a book and a series of ten films, with the most well known being the original, starring James Brolin (before he became Mrs. Barbara Streisand) and Margot Kidder (before she went crazy). Much like with Paranormal Activity, The Amityville Horror begs an obvious question: How come no one tore down the house?
The Innocents (1961)
On an official resume, the title of “governess” sounds so much better than “nanny.” Either way, though, it goes down as the worst job ever when the kids are odd-natured orphans living in their absentee uncle’s haunted mansion. Adapted from Henry James’ Turn of the Scew, this early horror classic made Martin Scorcese’s personal list of the scariest horror films of all time.
Psycho (1960 & 1998)
The secluded motel where Norman Bates and his “mother” lived wasn’t haunted, but its inhabitants were just as scary as any spirit or spook, enough so to make this movie Albert Hitchock’s most iconic film. The Bates Motel induced such fear into the American psyche that it became attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood.
Dan Berry staggered onto the comedy scene while drinking heavily and skipping class at New York University. The warped mind behind The Prison Kite and HBO’s upcoming project The Bid, Dan has served as a network staff writer and is co-author of the soon-to-be-released biopic Madoff Uncuffed, documenting disgraced financier Bernie Madoff’s first year behind bars. Be the first person to follow him on Twitter @RealDanBerry.