Another Thursday, another Top Five. And this time, Brett McNeill will be taking us on a tour of cinema’s most disturbed domiciles. So come inside… if you dare…
Haunted houses are cornerstone of the horror genre and yet, they always seem to be swept under the rug for the likes of serial killers, zombies, vampires, and even killer dolls. So today we’ll be counting down, in no particular order, the top 5 haunted houses of cinema to show our appreciation for the creaks and the bumps in the night. Be warned though, this will be a list of houses, so haunted hotels, mental institutions and other living situations don’t appear on this list. Nor do films in which there are ghost that aren’t tethered to a specific house, like THE ENTITY (1981) or INSIDIOUS (2010). With that out of the way, let’s get on with it.
THE CHANGELING (1980)
Here’s a house that doesn’t get talked about as often as it should, most likely, because the ghost in this film is a sympathetic one. A little boy named Joseph was killed by his senator father and wants the truth to come out. However, that doesn’t lessen the creepiness Joseph initiates in order to get his point across. He terrorizes John Russell (played by George C. Scott), namely through a creepy sequence involving a toy ball. While Joseph’s motives may not be as malicious as others, his methods make this house worthy of this list.
THE HAUNTING (1963)
If this list just consisted of the houses, the Hill House of The Haunting (1999) might be at the top of it. Gothic and brooding, the mansion looks so sinister and foreboding it’s baffling why anyone would enter it. But it’s not just the houses that make a haunted house, but the ghosts that inhabit it. And that’s where the remake of Shirley Jackson’s story fails: The ghosts aren’t scary. The ghosts in the 1963 version are never seen, which of course is much, much more menacing that those CGI creatures in the remake and the reason the original house trumps the second.
Though it is built on an Indian burial ground, this suburban house looks very normal on the outside. But once the spirits come about, the horror they cause is more unnerving than any kind of appearance the house could give off. They possess clowns, kidnap children and take them to the “other side”, and even make a character hallucinate clawing his face off. Acts such as these and others has cemented this house into viewers’ minds since their childhood, making it essential in the pantheon of haunted houses.
THE AMITYVILLE HORROR (1979)
Perhaps the most famous “true story” in horror cinema, the Amityville house is completely iconic. More than anything, the look of the house has been ingrained in viewers’ imaginations. The innocent white-painted front, perpetrated by sinister windows that shape the house to look like an evil face. The house itself might not do much in the film (other than bleed from the stairs and have weird eyes look into the house) but the image of the house is enough to warn off anyone who even thinks of entering it.
JU-ON (THE GRUDGE) (2002)
This list may not be in any particular order but there is definitely a reason this is the final house. The haunting of this house, once stepped in, stays with you and follows you until you are dead. Making it infinitely more sinister, and more powerful, than any of the other houses on this list.
Any houses you think we’ve missed? Think there are other properties that could go “on the market”? Make your comments below, let us know what you think.