10 real-life houses made famous by horror movies |
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10 real-life houses made famous by horror movies

by Jillian CariolaPublished: October 23, 2015Updated: October 23, 2015

Gearing up for a movie marathon this Halloween? Check out the history behind the properties made famous by some of the scariest films of all time.

All Hallow’s Eve is just around the corner, which most likely means watching horror movies is on your to-do list to get you in the mood. If you’re the kind of person who sees the location of freaky films as just as much a character in the movie as the people themselves, you’d probably want to know more about them. To satisfy your curiosity, we’re bringing you a rundown of 10 real-life homes and buildings used in horror movies. Bonus: some of the properties are actually allegedly haunted.


1. Lutz home, The Amityville Horror (1979)
Allegedly based on a true story, a couple and their children move into a home with a questionable past, and begin to experience supernatural disturbances that eventually drive them out.

Image from Doug Kerr/Flickr Creative Commons

Popularized in 1974 when Ronald DeFeo shot and killed his entire family that led to its supposed haunting, the original Lutz home located along Ocean Avenue in Amityville, New York, is a Dutch colonial structure built in the 1920s. With a floor area of 3,370 square feet, it has 10 rooms and a boat house at the back. Although the actual home wasn’t used in the film, the production team visited it as part of the publicity junket. Because it was hard to keep horror film addicts away from the site and causing disturbances in nearby homes, it has since been renovated (for one, the sinister-looking quarter-circle “eyes” at the attic have been changed to square-shaped windows) and the house number changed to protect its current owners. The property in which the movie was in fact shot – a four-bedroom home in Toms River, New Jersey that was renovated to replicate the Amityville home – was sold in 2013 for $350,000.


2. Overlook Hotel, The Shining
A family looking after an empty hotel for the winter experiences paranormal activity that encourages violent behavior in the father and triggers nightmarish premonitions in the clairvoyant son.

Image from Stan Wiechers/Flickr Creative Commons

The 140-room colonial revival Stanley Hotel in Colorado is the inspiration for Stephen King’s The Shining. According to King, when he and his wife arrived at the Stanley to stay for one night, they learned that they were the only overnight guests. The echoing halls, empty rooms, and a disturbing dream inspired him to pen one of his most famous works. (It probably didn’t hurt either that the hotel is allegedly haunted to begin with.) The book was eventually brought to the silver screen by Stanley Kubrick, who used a different hotel as the Overlook. King reportedly disliked Kubrick’s adaptation, causing him to make a made-for-television version shot primarily at the Stanley Hotel.


3. Eel Marsh House, The Woman in Black (2012)
A lawyer sent to an old English village to arrange the sale of an old mansion uncovers the mystery surrounding the ghost of a woman terrorizing the town.

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Locals in the film refer to the ancient-looking (and haunted) home as the Eel Marsh House, but its actual name is the Cotterstock Hall. Built by a small landowner and parliamentarian named John Norton during the Commonwealth, the country manor has a date stone of 1658, making it over 350 years old. For The Woman in Black, only the exterior of Cotterstock Hall was shot and used. Wondering why it looks so pleasant compared to how it appeared in the film? Fake cobwebs and ivy were draped all over the property to create the creepy appearance. That and a bit of movie magic (a.k.a. editing). The seven-bedroom Cotterstock Hall is currently listed on a real estate website with a guiding price of £1.995 million (its previous asking price of £2.150 million was slashed from £2.5 million in 2014).


4. Hill House, The Haunting (1963)
A paranormal investigator invites a group of people to spend the night in a haunted mansion, which eventually comes to life.

Image from Heather Cowper/Flickr Creative Commons

While interior shots were taken at MGM-British Studios, the exterior and grounds are of the Ettington Park Hotel in Warwickshire, England. Ettington Park Hotel is a neo-Gothic mansion with a rich history: according to historians, there is evidence that the property has been inhabited by people as far back as 2000 years ago. It was also once a nursing home, and was used as a camp for World War II prisoners. After being damaged by a fire in 1979, it was restored to its former glory in 1983 to what it is today. Lending authenticity to the movie is the fact that Ettington is considered one of the most haunted hotels in England, with reports of guests and staff seeing ghosts and hearing disembodied voices in different parts of the property.


5. The Stewart house, The Others
A mother and her two children are terrorized by ghosts after three strangers, who seem to have other motives, move in as helpers.

Image from Daniel Munoz/Flickr Creative Commons

Although the movie supposedly takes place in Jersey (off the coast of Normandy, France), much of it was shot on location in Spain’s Las Fraguas, more specifically the Palacio de los Hornillos. The six-bedroom Victorian palace was built at the beginning of the 19th century by British architect Ralph Selden Wornam for the Duke of Santo Mauro’s family. It is currently owned by the Marquis of Santa Cruz, the Duke’s great-grandson.


6. The Lambert house, Insidious
A couple tries to fight supernatural forces threatening to trap their comatose son in an otherworldly place called The Further.

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Built in 1909, this Los Angeles home was specifically chosen for the movie for looking like it could actually be haunted. Because of budget constraints, the producers used both the exterior and interior of the house in shooting the film. Fun fact: the house the Lamberts move into in an attempt to get away from the evil forces in the first home is less than 3 miles away from this one, and both its exterior and interiors were used in the film as well.


7. Haunted house, The House on Haunted Hill (1959)
An eccentric millionaire challenges five people to spend the night in a haunted mansion, promising to pay $10,000 to whoever survives an evening trapped with ghosts and murderers.

Image from Ian Rutherford/Flickr Creative Commons

Designed by award-winning architect Frank Lloyd-Wright and built in 1924, the Los Angeles property is dubbed the Ennis House after owners Charles and Mabel Ennis. Only the exterior was used in the movie, though, and the interior shots were actually done in sound stages. The entire property, which reflects ancient Mayan architecture and spans 6,200 square feet, is currently owned by American billionaire investor Ronald Burkle.


8. The orphanage, El Orfanato
When a woman returns with her family to the orphanage where she stayed as a child, unseen beings start fixating on her adopted son.

Image from Luis Villa del Campo/Flickr Creative Commons

Located in Asturias, Spain, this home is officially named El Palacio de Partarríu or Villa Parres. It was completed in 1898 as ordered by Don José Parres Piñera, a national politician. Perfect for the true isolationist who enjoys living in a scary old mansion far from civilization, El Palacio de Partarríu is located near the sea and is surrounded beaches, cliffs, and a forest. The home’s exterior and some interiors were shown in the movie, but several parts of the home were reconstructed in sound stages to achieve certain cinematographic techniques.


9. The Freeling house, Poltergeist (1982)
A family living in a suburban home located in a planned community is suddenly terrorized by its unseen evil occupants.

Image from

It’s established that the home the Freeling family occupies is at Orange County, California, but the house featured in the film is actually in Simi Valley. According to production designer Jim Spencer, the two-story mock Tudor home was chosen by director Steven Spielberg because it was at the end of the road in a normal-looking residential area. While most of the movie was filmed in sound stages at Culver City’s MGM Studios (including the infamous pool scene where Mrs. Freeling does a few laps with living skeletons), exterior scenes of Poltergeist were shot on location. The home still stands today (although parts of it have been renovated) and is a popular tourist attraction, much to the chagrin of its current residents.


10. The Bramford, Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
A young couple moves into an old apartment where the woman has ominous dreams, her husband becomes strangely distant, and the nice neighbors are more sinister than they appear.

Image from Naotake Murayama/Flickr Creative Commons

Known in the film as The Bramford, The Dakota Apartments is a 1880s Gothic structure located in Manhattan’s Upper West Side, and is one of the most exclusive residential buildings in New York City. Some of its notable past residents include singer Roberta Flack, actor Boris Karloff, and actress Judy Garland. Director Roman Polansky wanted the interior to look bleak and shabby to match the mood of the film, but when the building’s owners refused filming inside the building, the settled for exterior shots instead. Creepy fact: The Dakota was also home to musician John Lennon, and was also the site of his murder in 1980.


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