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Scariest Movie Houses!


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Movies can either give us homes that we drool over and would love to live in.



Or, homes where we'd run like hell from spending even one night in.



Can you think of a particular "Horror House" that made you cover your eyes and wondered why anyone in their right mind would stay overnight (but if that happened, we'd not have a couple of thousand horror films to thrill to since the beginning of movies).



Tonight, TCM shows one my favorite haunted houses, THE HAUNTING from l961, that proves to be a perfect example of what a hell house should do: it terrifies, it tries to destroy and it witnesses events that drive most people mad.



Director Robert Wise brilliantly makes Hill House the main star. We see the dark, rambling old mansion set against a sky filled with racing clouds. The house resembles a huge, crouching monster. A group of talented performers enact the story of a psychic experiment being carried out that needs their expertise. Julie Harris who portrays Nell gives an extraordinary performance and she's assisted by some great thespians--especially Claire Bloom and Richard Johnson (who can be seen in Lucio Fulci's gore-fest ZOMBIE).



Wise uses no special effects, except a bulging door lets his camera travel over the dark carved wooden furniture, walls, ceilings. Sound is also instrumental in laying on another layer of fright. Whatever walks here, walks alone.



NIGHT MONSTER (1942) is another great "spook house" movie that showcases the talents of probably the most outstanding group of veteran performers on the Universal lot. Fay Helm wonderfully portrays the troubled Margaret Ingston who tells psychiatrist, Irene Hervey, that when the frogs stop croaking outside on foggy nights, the hideous night monster emerges and murders someone. Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill, Frank Reicher, Doris Lloyd (fabulous as always as the sinister housekeeper), Leif Ericson, Nils Asther, etc. all work to give us a deliciously chilling fright-fest that was released on a double-bill in l942 with THE MUMMY'S TOMB. By the way, Lugosi was supposed to have played the role of psychic that went to Nils Asther so Lugosi, once more, is given a nothing role of a butler.



THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE from 1974 will make you wary of visiting any lone farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. The one showcased here is furnished with the bones and flesh of countless victims and enjoyed by a family of cannibals. Based on the true life case of real cannibal, Ed Gein, you want to take a bath after watching our horrific family prepare a captured woman for their main course.



PSYCHO. Only a very mixed up person could live in this rambling, dark old wooden house and Norman Bates (played brilliantly by Tony Perkins) feels very much at home here--since his strange mother resides upstairs in her bedroom. The interior of the Bates house is clammy, moldy, old with a closet full of women dresses and a bed with a large impression in the center--as if a body has lain there. The Bates Motel is a tourist trap I think I'll avoid.



Honorable mention goes to the castle in DRACULA, THE OLD DARK HOUSE, ROSEMARY'S BABY and another classic on tonight, THE UNINVITED.



Can you think of any Horror House movies I failed to mention?



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I'm glad you mentioned "The Uninvited". One of my favorites which I am currently watching again for the upteenth time.



I would like to add 1973's "The Legend of Hell House" (Probably my favorite Roddy McDowell performance.) and this year's "The Women in Black" (Daniel Radcliffe demonstrated to me that he is more than Harry Potter with this one.) to your list. Unlike the house in "The Uninvited", I don't think I would want to live in those two movie's abodes even if they weren't haunted.



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Some good titles that I should have mentioned but especially THE WOMAN IN BLACK with an amazing Daniel Radcliff. I watched this movie on a dark and stormy night on my brand new 48 inch flat TV screen and was thrilled with the brilliance of the acting--but especially of that gifted production designer who created that truly horrifying house!



The movie had so many layers of enjoyment--Daniel, the house, the interiors, the music--I think I want to see this one again.



As to the UNINVITED, I've seen this movie several times, and again last night, and I'm afraid my fear status wasn't very high. I loved the atmosphere,the house, but I wanted something more chilling and perhaps a shock or two. Gail Russell was so luminous and lovable--so tragic about her later years as an alcoholic.



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Great topic, Princess!!!


You have it going on as far as your list! I'd move up OLD DARK HOUSE though, but you mentioned that one! I'd also consider the house in THE GORILLA!!! That one is pretty spooky, as is the house in SPOOKS RUN WILD with the East Side Kids and Bela!


I think the house in PSYCHO would probably be second on my list, after Dracula manor from the 1931 classic!!

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