They say home is where the heart is. In principle, I’m not opposed to this saying. But when it comes to these movie houses, you might want to be a little more careful with your words, because I’m willing to bet they all have a few bodies buried in the basement.
With the housing market improving — and the horror-thriller Don’t Breathe hitting theaters this week — it's as good a time as any to take a moment to appreciate all the horrifying homesteads cinema has gifted us over the years. The only rule for this list is that it had to be a house, not a car in a driveway (sorry, Cujo), not a spaceship (apologies, Event Horizon) and not an apartment complex or compound. What we’re left with is some prime real estate that's perfect for young families looking to climb onto the property ladder — and who don't mind being pushed to the brink of insanity.
10. The Sandin House: The Purge (2013)
At first glance, the Sandin house seems like the perfect abode. Boasting all the latest and greatest in anti-Purge technology, it’s basically a fortress with no way in. But that level of security is a double-edged sword, because once the door is breached, there really isn’t a way out, either. The Sandins learn that lesson the hard way as they find themselves trapped with a bunch of bloodthirsty yuppies exercising their once-a-year right to Purge. The Sandin chateau quickly becomes their tomb as they find themselves having to do exactly what they were trying to avoid, and they must fight for their very survival.
9. The Chase House: The Collector (2009)
For the sake of this list, we’re going to go with the Chase family home, but really any house the Collector has his eye on will quickly become a place I certainly don’t want to visit. I have to admit, I’m impressed with the Collector’s work ethic. The guy manages to turn regular homes into death traps in only a few hours, and not many people live long enough to tell the tale. Indeed, the Chases’ home had bear traps, razor-blade-lined windows, and plenty of other gruesome methods of torture. However, the real kicker is that the Collector actually comes in to do the dirty work himself, up close and personal. A true DIY professional.
8. Hill House: The Haunting (1999)
Hill House was a terrifying, twisted old home that once belonged to an equally terrifying, twisted old man. The home is cursed with tragedy, and death seems to befall anyone who lives there. On the plus side, it’s got tremendous square footage and a beautiful gate that is locked every night to make sure nothing gets in to bother the owner. Of course, this also means that no one is going to come a-knockin' anytime soon to save those trapped inside from whatever goes bump in the night. This is one house that just has a bad attitude.
7. The Vannacutt Asylum: House On Haunted Hill (1999)
This one is a little bit iffy since it’s technically an asylum and not an actual house. But the title is House on Haunted Hill, so I’ll allow it. The film features an eccentric millionaire trying to get even with his wife by throwing her a terrifying party in a supposedly haunted house, offering the dinner guests $1 million if they can make it through the night. It quickly becomes apparent that there is no “supposed” about it, as the party guests find themselves tormented by not just ghosts, but insane ghosts (that makes them extra spooky, natch) and dollar signs soon becomes the last thing on their minds.
6. Jigsaw’s House: Saw II (2005)
This little fixer-upper is fully equipped to make all your nightmares come true. The home features eight roommates with criminal records, plus various amenities including a pit of needles and fully functioning furnace that seats two. Jigsaw is one of the more creative killers in modern cinema history, so it makes sense that his house would be just as lively. While this might not be the most memorable movie in the franchise, it definitely makes this top 10 list because this is one house I never want to be invited to. Renovate or detonate.
5. Cyrus's Mansion: Thir13en Ghosts (2001)
What could be better than a free mansion? Well, how about a mansion that doesn’t come with a baker’s dozen ghosts? All of who seem pretty pissed off that they’re trapped in a giant glasshouse without any stones to throw. That being said, at least these specters are anything but boring. In fact, Cyrus’s mansion is a pretty impressive spook zoo, though I’m not sure how humane something like that would be. Still, it’s a lovely house, if you don’t mind it being a machine designed by the devil himself.
4. The Landlords' House: The People Under The Stairs (1991)
This early '90s film seems oddly relevant, even today. Leave it to Wes Craven to come up with a universal theme that can last the ages. That theme? White people are into some weird stuff. I mean, besides the titular people under the stairs, the whole house is one gigantic maze. Why? I guess it’s meant to deter would-be thieves. Then again, I don’t remember seeing a sign out front for Daedalus Security. Either way, this is one house I would cross the street to avoid.
3. The Freeling House: Poltergeist (1982)
It’s true that most of the Freeling family was able to come and go as they pleased, but little Carol Anne was not that fortunate. Sure, the house was spacious and located in a lovely neighborhood — but it also had a portal to a ghostly dimension and grumpy corpses buried in the backyard. Those last two clearly weren’t included in the listing brochure. As if that wasn’t enough to drive would-be investors away, there is the matter of the possessed clown doll. Basically, this whole house is three bedrooms, two bathrooms of NOPE!
2. The Aunt’s House: House (1977)
Now this is probably the craziest house on our list. Mostly because it tries to eat six schoolgirls.
I mean that. Quite literally, things inside the house come alive and attack the people who visit. It’s like a creepy version of Beauty and the Beast, except instead of singing “Be Our Guest,” the furniture is more spooky and the feast. Seriously, mattresses and light fixtures are among some of the villainous items pursuing the girls. In all honesty, it seems like an interesting place to stay, but not exactly a house I would want to call my own.
1. The Amityville House: The Amityville Horror (1979)
What I don’t understand is why people keep moving into that old Amityville house. With all the strange happenings and what have you, you’d think most folk would give it a wide berth. Well, it might also help if the realtors disclosed the whole murder-suicide thing when people were looking to buy. The Amityville house is No. 1 on this list because it messes with its inhabitants in subtle ways, slowly escalating until it drives them to madness. The big lesson to take away is if you have a priest bless your house and he suddenly gets sick doing it, then it’s time to sell up.
Honorable mention: The house from 2015 horror-comedy Crush the Skull. It's all kinds of creepy.
So, there you have it. Ten houses — 11 if you count the honorable mention — that really aren’t worth the mortgage, no matter how cheap the deal is. Of course, there are plenty of other creepy houses from movie history.
Let me know which movie abode is your favorite in the comments section!