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If you had to name the most famous fictional movie houses, you’d mostly come up with the haunted ones. Houses hardly end up as the main characters or the sole location for an entire film unless they’re haunted or something’s up. Even the best mansions and castles are the ones crawling with something not of this world.
But what about some of the ones slightly below the radar that could’ve used a spooky touch? Rather than your average haunted movie house feature, here’s a list of 10 movie residences that would’ve been better if they had been haunted.
Pee-Wee’s Playhouse – Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure
A house where the furniture has eyes and the appliances talk. Out of context, we’re talking about some kind of scary house, right? Well — kind of. Pee-Wee’s Playhouse should be a fun and inviting place for a child, but I think if one were to stumble upon it accidentally, it would be sort of terrifying. Anyway, imagine those friendly inanimate objects had malicious intent. Now, add Paul Reubens to that image, the man arrested for indecent exposure in an adult theater (a.k.a Pee-Wee), inviting you into this house. That’s enough to make a grow (decent) man shudder.
The Beast’s Castle – Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Don’t get me wrong, I love the song “Be Our Guest” and Lumiere might be one of my favorite Disney characters, but Belle would have had a much tougher time falling in love with the Beast if the castle servants that had been turned into assorted objects were torturing her and playing games with her mind. If that’s too much, what if the Beast were a real Beast that went on a horrific tear through unsuspecting French villages murdering people women and children? I don’t think anyone’s slow-dancing in fancy clothes to the famous title ballad at the end of that story.
The Hometree – Avatar
Okay, so I just picked this “residence” because it’s by far the most obscure “home” I could think of, but who’s to say that the Omaticaya tribe doesn’t have ghost stories? The Na’vi are one with their planet and all spirits, so why not dead ones? I’d like to see James Cameron’s vision for some supernatural 3D Pandora creatures. A dose of horror or at least suspense could have made Avatar a bit more entertaining for the somewhat large group of people that found the film overrated. At the same time, if the Hometree had been haunted, no one would’ve minded the humans blowing it up.
Wayne Manor – Batman Begins
Bruce Wayne became Batman because he conquered his fear by embracing and embodying it. We got a pretty awesome superhero as a result, but imagine if Wayne Manor hadn’t had a bat infestation, but perhaps a … poltergeist infestation. Poltergeistman might not roll off the tongue as easily, but he would probably kick Batman’s ass. A horror/superhero mash-up doesn’t sound like that bad of an idea either: They could call it Supernormal Activity.
Satis House – Great Expectations
I’ll credit the South Park “Pip” episode for this bit of inspiration, but Satis House represents all other Gothic manors (see Jane Austen and Bronte Sister novels) on this list. Most film adaptations of this Dickens novel paint Satis House as a creepy unkept place, appropriate considering it hasn’t seen the light of day in ages. With the wealthy old Miss Havisham holed up in that house with several beautiful little girls as her attendants, this story has horror written all over it. Pip could have been the recipient of a truly terrifying education.
Frank-N-Furter’s Mansion – The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Sure, a lot of weird stuff goes on in Frank-N-Furter’s mansion, the one full of time-warping crazies and transvestites, but the place isn’t haunted so much a supremely awkward and uncomfortable for non-eccentric/flamboyant types. In other words, a dash of the not campy kind of horror could make this cult classic film into something you’d actually want to see more than the one that one time you watched it because you knew you’d have to see it one time or another. At the very least the premise of the film screams “torture porn” along the lines of “Hostel: Rocky Horror Edition.”
The Lake House – The Lake House
Romance films lend themselves quite perfectly to horror twists, if for no other reason than the mere fact that any twist would make a movie like The Lake House better. But a haunted house with time travel capabilities sounds delightful. Imagine Keanu Reeves writing letters to Sandra Bullock in the future (or is it vice-versa? Obviously I haven’t seen this movie) and having to warn her of an evil spirit residing in the house that will soon descend upon her. Better yet, what if the ghost were Keanu and he didn’t even know it yet? Leave a comment at the bottom of this post if you’re a studio exec looking to purchase this one. I’ll happily negotiate and reasonably so.
The Baker House – Cheaper by the Dozen (2003)
A family of 12 move into a new home and find out the previous family of 12 that lived there before all died after killing each other in a battle royale-style fight over who got to record what primetime shows on the DVR. The only thing nastier than sibling rivalry is bloody sibling rivalry. Cheaper by the Dozen wasn’t an awful family flick, but it wasn’t anything we hadn’t seen in the many seasons of The Brady Bunch. Some evil spirits causing family unrest, perhaps through causing living family members to blame other living family members for violent things they didn’t actually do would be quite tense and fun to watch. I’d call it Reaper by the Dozen.
The Von Trapp Estate – The Sound of Music
Hum in your head the “Do-Re-Mi” song from The Sound of Music for a second. Okay, now remix that horror movie trailer style: young children singing it nice and slow with a wispy echo effect that fades into creepy laughter. Now you see what I’m talking about. The Von Trapp children were forced to live in blissful ignorance of the fact that their country had been overtaken by Nazis, which is a horror story all of its own, but if the young nun/governess Maria (Julie Andrews) had encountered these children and learned they might not be real or had another Von Trapp child locked up in the basement because he/she was tone-deaf, well, you have a horror masterpiece.
Hotel for Dogs – Hotel for Dogs
Horror films and animals tend not to go hand-in-hand unless it’s the dog with the sixth sense that barks when evil spirits are near. In the case of the kid flick Hotel for Dogs, if it were my film, I would gladly screw over audience discomfort with scary things and animals in order to make a movie people would actually watch. Two kids discover an abandoned hotel in this film and use it to house and feed stray dogs. An abandoned hotel? Never in the history of film has the “abandoned hotel” motif not involved someone dying or going insane, so this one ought to be crawling with ghosts. My thought would be the ghosts would possess the dogs, thus turning this into a ravenous creature flick with canines mauling unsuspecting visitors.
Happy Halloween from the Player Affinity Movie Staff!!!