There is nothing like a brand new home. Whether it is a new house that you and your family have just embarked on homeownership with or a temporary residence that you and yours may only be spending a summer in, there is a certain, special excitement that comes with crossing that threshold and unpacking those bags. Unfortunately, it is not always all good things that come with the new dwelling.
Maybe it is some undisclosed structural damage in the basement that needs shoring up or perhaps that “new roof” is not as high quality as stated in the buyer’s brochure. No big deal, you suppose, it is only money and any investment into the home just brings a return for you. But what if the house itself is the something bad, teeming with malevolent spirits, violent & undead, or even really ticked off furniture and appliances? It’s hard to walk away from equity, and below are 10 Bad Houses That Horror Characters Just Moved Into.
10. House by the Cemetery (1981)
While this one topped my homes with a cemeteries attached compilation, it must also make a star appearance on this list. Lucio Fulci’s gorefest features a New York City family who move into a house with a terrible history, The Oak Mansion, where evil doctors, secret passageways, and scary cellars abound. That is about all I’m going to say here to avoid any spoilers but suffice it to say that this film offers enough twists and turns to make for a fun scary movie night.
9. Rose Red (2002)
This early aughts miniseries adaptation of an original Stephen King screenplay is in my estimation a worthy entry on to this list. King stated that this was his loose interpretation of Shirley Jackson’s novel The Haunting of Hill House, which is the grandmother of all modern haunted house tales and will appear more than once in this compilation. In King’s retelling, a group of psychics takes up temporary residence in a gigantic and mysterious mansion in Seattle, Washington and the evil of the house proves to be far more powerful than any of the psychic abilities of its short term inhabitants.
8. House (1986)
This horror-comedy starring Willam Katt (Carrie) as Roger Cobb and Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2) as his old Vietnam buddy is a really interesting take on the horrors of PTSD. When Cobb moves into his deceased aunt’s sprawling old house, the audience is never completely sure if the terrors he witnesses are just a part of his troubled mind or if they are manifestations of the evil nature of the home itself. Packed with a great balance of actual scares as well as dark humor, this film is absolutely worth your time, whether as a new discovery or a rewatch.
7. The Amityville Horror (1979)
This list would not have been complete without the film with loose origins in a strange true (but maybe not true) story. The true story is that in 1974, in Long Island New York, a troubled young man killed his entire family in their large Amityville home. One of the next families that inhabited the residence claimed to have bizarre supernatural experiences there, and it is that slightly sketchy recounting upon which this film is based. While this movie has had numerous sequels, international reimaginings, and even a 2005 reboot, it is the original that is by far the best of the bunch.
6. Poltergeist (1982)
I absolutely love this film for so many reasons, not least of which is the talent behind it. Directed by the legendary Tobe Hooper (Texas Chainsaw Massacre), produced by Stephen Spielberg (E.T.), and featuring the talents of Craig T. Nelson (The Devil’s Advocate) and JoBeth Williams (Barracuda), this movie still holds up all these decades later. It tells the tale of a Californian family that moves into a brand new home in a brand new development only to find that there is an ancient evil lurking within its walls. An evil that really wants their little girl…
5. Burnt Offerings (1976)
This creepy film tells the story of a family who take up summer residence in an evil, old mansion with just one caveat to their extremely inexpensive stay; they must care for the homeowner’s elderly and introverted mother who resides in an upstairs bedroom. Sounds simple enough but as the poor family, played by the incomparable Oliver Reed (Gladiator) and the prolific Karen Black (Easy Rider), soon learn, the dilapidated old Victorian house needs to feed.
4. Hell Baby (2013)
This goofy horror comedy gets a place on this list due to being a pure parody of the new family moving into a haunted house trope. Ridiculously silly but with some gore and jump scares, it is worth a watch if you’re in the mood for something fun and funny. It tells the tale of a young couple, about to have a baby, and their scary hijinks in a run-down old house in New Orleans. This movie stars a host of familiar comedy faces including Keegan Michael Key (The Predator) and Thomas Lennon (Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich) as well as horror movie veteran Leslie Bibb (Trick r’ Treat).
3. Paranormal Activity (2007)
I feel like I might be in the minority here but found footage is one of my favorite horror sub-genres and this haunted house flick is one of the best of the bunch. This is one of only two films directed by Oren Peli (Area 51) and he did a frighteningly impressive job with a minimal budget and as-yet undiscovered actors. This terrifying movie tells the story of a young couple in their first house that unfortunately comes with a lot of sinister surprises. The tension created with just a few stationary cameras, a wiggly chandelier, and some bumps in the night may seem like found footage tropes now, but this was really one of the originators and deserves a watch with fresh eyes.
2. The Haunting of Hill House (2018)
I struggled a bit with which of Shirley Jackson’s novel adaptations to include here, the newer streaming series only beat out the 1963 film by a hair, mainly due to the Crane family’s depiction more closely fitting the terms of this compilation. When they move into the cursed Hill House, things get scary very quickly. I cannot express my level of fandom for Mike Flanagan’s (Oculus) terrifying and wonderful work on this series. With both nods to the novel as well as to the 1963 film, it is at times horrifying as well as heartbreaking and deserves multiple viewings. You’ll find new discoveries with each subsequent watch.
1. House (Hausu) (1977)
This twisted, Japanese film had to have a place on this list as it may very well depict one of the most bizarre possessed homes in a horror film. When Gorgeous (Kimiko Ikegami) takes a group of lively and talented friends with her to stay in her elderly aunt’s rambling old home, it is not the idyllic summer vacation that any of them had planned. It is stated that the initial inspiration for this film was to be Japan’s version of Jaws, however I’ll leave it up to you to determine if any of the great white’s influence comes through.