The most memorable haunted buildings from movies (2024)

Sometimes, a person is haunted. Other times, though, a person is in a space that’s haunted. The idea of a haunted house is almost as old as the concept of houses. Time and time again in movies and TV haunted houses, and other haunted buildings, have been the center of scary action, but also sometimes funny action, and then there are the movies and shows that mix horror and comedy together. Here are the most memorable haunted locations from film.

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“The Haunted Mansion” (2003)

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Disney took two stabs at turning rides into films in 2003. “Pirates of the Caribbean” worked with gusto, leading to a massive film franchise. On the other hand, “The Haunted Mansion” didn’t manage to take an even more iconic ride and turn it into an effective film. It mostly worked, to the extent that Eddie Murphy movies worked, by evoking fond memories of the ride. There’s a reason why they tried again in 2023.

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“Ghostbusters” (1984)

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There are several haunted buildings in “Ghostbusters.” A few of them definitely stick out, though one rises above the rest. That would be the site of the movie’s climax, the building that Dana (and Louis) live in. Having been built as a lightning rod to bring Gozer back, the building manages to turn even fridges into ominous portals.

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“Paranormal Activity” (2007)

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Horror films have long been popular with studios because you can make them on the cheap and reap a ton of profit. “Paranormal Activity” basically takes “The Blair Witch Project” and builds upon it for the modern era. It’s the peak “found footage” horror franchise, and it basically turned Jason Blum into one of the most important figures since the turn of the century.

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“Beetlejuice” (1988)

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Warner Bros.

When the Maitlands die, they find themselves stuck haunting their old house, even after the Deetzes move in. Desperate to get their house back for themselves, they turn to a certain "bio-exorcist" who shows up when you say his name three times. The Maitlands try their best at haunting, but nobody delivers like the Ghost with the Most. Notably, Betelgeuse (aka Beetlejuice) is the villain of this film, before being turned into Lydia's friend in the cartoon.

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“The Amityville Horror” (1979)

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The Lutz family moved into a house in Amityville, a village on Long Island, where violent crimes had happened. They made claims of supernatural experiences, which led to a polarizing book in 1977 that took everything at face value, which led to an early “based on a true story” haunted house film. Owing to the “reality” that “The Amityville Horror” is based on, there are a ton of “Amityville” movies out there, as you can’t control the rights to “true” events.

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“Poltergeist” (1982)

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Steven Spielberg and horror don’t necessarily go hand in hand, but he played a key role in the crafting of “Poltergeist,” so much so that there has long been controversy about Tobe Hooper’s directorial work on the film. What is for sure, though, is building a house on a burial ground can cause issues for a suburban family, what with the hostility that poltergeists can have for you in such an instance.

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“The Conjuring” (2013)

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New Line Cinema

Ed and Lorraine Warren were real-life “paranormal investigators” whose hucksterism helped inspire the real Amityville phenomenon. In fact, “The Conjuring 2” begins with Ed and Lorraine investigating the Amityville house. First, though, there is the original “The Conjuring,” which was a massive hit that spawned an entire cinematic universe.

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“The Shining” (1980)

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Warner Bros.

Stanley Kubrick directing a horror film? Yeah, that makes sense to us, and he gave “The Shining” a cinematic robustness that has turned this into a critically acclaimed horror movie some consider one of the best films of any genre. This time, the haunted building is a hotel, one that has quite the pull on Jack Torrance (and his son Danny, for that matter).

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“The Evil Dead” (1981)

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New Line Cinema

By the third film in Sam Raimi’s “Evil Dead” trilogy, Ash is the one who is haunted more than any particular building. In the first two films, though, it is very much a “haunted cabin” situation. Now, the Deadites are happy to leave the cabin if need be, but this is certainly a case of a haunted building that is decidedly not groovy for those involved.

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“The Ghost and Mr. Chicken” (1966)

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In addition to having a great title, “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken” brings a bit of levity to this list. That’s what to expect from a Don Knotts comedy from the 1960s. It’s a classic “spend a night in a haunted house” story, and at first the ending seems to indicate there was no ghost. Then, things take a turn once again.

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“Insidious” (2010)

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Produced by Blum, “Insidious” has a lot in common with “The Conjuring” franchise, with ghosts and paranormal investigators and Patrick Wilson being one of the stars. The first film sees a couple have their child enter a comatose state, at which points he becomes a vessel for ghosts and demons to haunt their home.

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“Casper” (1995)

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Not all ghosts are trying to torment you. Casper is, after all, a friendly ghost. The comics character finally got his own film in the ‘90s, with Christina Ricci playing the kid who befriends the titular apparition in the mansion that Casper and his compatriots “haunt.” It’s a family-friendly take on the haunted house, though this film does feature Bill Pullman drunkenly falling through a manhole and dying.

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“What Lies Beneath” (2000)

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Rarely has a bathtub ever been this spooky. Robert Zemeckis must have been feeling himself, because in the middle of production of “Cast Away,” while waiting for Tom Hanks to lose weight and grow a beard, he went ahead and directed a whole other film in “What Lies Beneath.” This supernatural thriller features Harrison Ford out of action mode, with Michelle Pfeiffer as the one sensing the presence in the house they now share.

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“The Haunting” (1963)

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A classic example of atmospheric horror, “The Haunting” is based on a book by Shirley Jackson. Martin Scorsese, for one, is a huge fan. The story centers on a paranormal investigator and some others who are called to Hill House to look into its reputed haunted nature. Jackson’s book was also the source material for the Netflix series “The Haunting of Hill House.”

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“Ghost” (1990)

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Sam Wheat, Patrick Swayze’s character, is not much of a “haunter,” though he’s not afraid to get his haunt on in assorted locations. However, here’s a shout out to Vincent Schiavelli as the subway ghost. He very clearly considered the subway his domain, and is even haunting it in relation to other ghosts.

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“Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl” (2003)

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We mentioned 2003 as the year of both “The Haunted Mansion” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” from Disney. Notably, both films involve a haunted location. In this case, though, it’s the ship the Black Pearl that is haunted. Now, a ship is not a building per se, but a pirate ship has living quarters, so it’s kind of like a building that floats on the water. Hey, it spawned a billion-dollar franchise. Why not let the Black Pearl, and its ghostly denizens, count?

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“Pet Sematary” (1989)

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Arguably, the cemetery is the haunted location. However, those that return from the dead in the “Pet Sematary” don’t stay there. The Creed house finds itself hosting animals, and people, who have died and come back changed. Plus, don’t forget the ghost of the jogger from the beginning of the film, the one who tells Louis about the cemetery and its power in the first place.

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“Monster House” (2006)

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While comedy writers of note Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab – along with “Corpse Bride” scribe Pamela Pettler – wrote the script for “Monster House,” this is a straight-up horror film. Yes, even though it is animated. Yes, that did lead to consternation for many parents back in 2006. Notably, this haunted house is, literally, a haunted house. The house itself is sentient, and it sets about creating havoc on Halloween.

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“Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City” (2021)

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Within the “Resident Evil” series of games, the haunted Spencer Mansion plays a role. However, Spencer Mansion was not really involved in the films. That is, until the reboot movie “Welcome to Raccoon City.” This time, Spencer Mansion finally served as a significant location, bringing the haunted house element to the “Resident Evil” movies.

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“13 Ghosts” (1960)

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Yes, there was a remake of this film in 2001, which may be the one you remember better, but we’re going with the original, in part because it was produced and directed by schlockmaster William Castle. Once again, Castle used one of his gimmicks to promote “13 Ghosts.” In theaters, you could see the movie in “Illusion-O.” If you looked through the red filter on your glasses, the ghosts were vivid and intense. If you looked through the blue filter, though, the images of the ghosts were “removed” from the screen. Good times. Also, there was an accurate number of ghosts found in the house left to his nephew by Dr. Plato Zorba (also the ostensible inventor of Illusion-O, according to press materials).

Chris Morgan is a sports and pop culture writer and the author of the booksThe Comic Galaxy of Mystery Science Theater 3000andThe Ash Heap of History. You can follow him on Twitter @ChrisXMorgan.

The most memorable haunted buildings from movies (2024)
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