Haunted Houses

Haunted Houses

Every town has at least one, an abandoned old home aged by the hands of time. Its paint peeled, the weeds untouched by human hands, its windows dirty enough to block whatever might be inside. Kids dare each other to get close, but most stay away – they’ve watched enough scary movies to know what haunted houses look like.

Haunted Houses have been around far longer than the movies and there are thousands of the purported places dotting the landscape. They usually have one thing in common – some sort of grizzly death occurred there in the past, sometimes many. One such place is San Diego’s Whaley House, thought to be one the most haunted places in the United States. Once the site of a courthouse, many a criminal was hung from a tree in the backyard. Locals and tourists have reported strange occurrences there ever since.

As haunted as the Whaley House may or may not be, it doesn’t quite fit the image that most of us have in our heads of what a haunted house is supposed to look like. That image comes straight from Hollywood, which has been delighting us with these spooky places throughout its history.

For decades, Kids saw their fare share of animated haunted houses on the Saturday morning staple Scooby Doo and other cartoons like The Groovie Goolies, Casper, the Friendly Ghost and The Flintstones. They were also displayed in classic sitcoms like The Addams Family and The Munsters.

But it is the big screen that has provided the scariest dwellings. Despite an admitted lack of spirits, there is perhaps no Hollywood abode that ever looked creepier than Norman Bates Victorian house on the hill in the Hitchcock masterpiece, Psycho. And speaking of houses on a hill, no Halloween would be complete without a viewing of the Vincent Price classic, House on Haunted Hill.

Another favorite is The Ghost and Mr. Chicken starring Don Knotts as a man who has to stay in haunted house overnight. From The Amityville Horror to The Blair Witch Project, audiences are sure to flock to the theater anytime there is an opportunity to walk through one of these dark dwellings.

It probably comes as no surprise that Walt Disney plays a role here as well. In 1964, he released Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House allowing millions of kids to listen to a bunch of spooky sound effects, all with wonderfully sinister narration. It has remained a Halloween staple for decades. And, of course we would be remiss if we failed to mention the Haunted Mansion attractions that are featured at every Disney theme park. Walt loved these legends and brought them to life as only he could do.

With all of that iconic imagery, it’s no wonder that kids let their imaginations run wild anytime they see a place that even remotely fits their preconceived notions. Sometimes the places are abandoned, sometimes not, which can make life miserable for the residents, especially when Halloween rolls around. In most cases though, the haunted house is nothing more than innocent fun, a way to exercise those imaginations and face our fears of things that go bump in the night.

Did you have a haunted house in the neighborhood where you grew up? Do you have any spooky experiences to share with all of us? We’d love to hear any of your Haunted House memories in our comments section below.

7 Responses to “Haunted Houses”

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  1. Easyreader says:

    The haunted house I knew of was in my old neighborhood as a child. It was a cottage style home overgrown in trees and shrubs. The overgrowth was an unwelcoming border you didn’t dare cross. The house was haunted by a live person. An old mean lady who shouted at kids and had one of those old fashioned wire carpet beaters!!

    Only fools went there on Halloween!


  2. missj2you says:

    My neighborhood had a house that was just falling apart. The stairs were partly gone. We even ventured inside, a few times. The place was a mess, filled with old dusty books and a few pieces of furniture. But each time, we would hear a strange noise, we would run out of there as fast as we could! Of course, we would never go in at night, only in broad daylight in groups!

  3. Allie Fox says:

    I grew up not too far from Amityville (as did you Eric) and had family who lived there. We would frequently drive past 112 Ocean Avenue on our way to visit my Aunt and Uncle.

    I never understood the big deal. The “House” looks totally unassuming from the road.

    Nevertheless, my Grandmother was a Parapsychologist and taught at Hofstra in the early 70s. I’ve heard many stories of haunted houses, ghosts and other paranormal things over the years. I have always been a skeptic though.

  4. Rod Whitenack says:

    My childhood neighborhood here in Louisville, KY had its own haunted house just a block away from our house. It was an abandoned Victorian manse on a large corner lot that actually had a dirt carriage path that winded from the street down an old tree lined trail to the house. This particular street did not have street lights during those days and was well avoided by us kids at night, except on Halloween when after we got enough treats we’d dare each other to make the yearly pilgramage to the house.

    The yard was large and we often played football and other sports there during the Summer and Fall. It was rumored that some kids who would occasionally run away from home would stay in the house, but I never tried to get inside. I did peek in one of the first floor windows and there was a room filled with old China dolls. I have no idea who owned the house or why it sat abandoned for so long. At some point in the late 1980s it was torn down and a church was built on the land where it stood. Many of the trees that lined the carriage path were destroyed in an ice storm a couple of years ago and most where cut down that remained.

    When I was 15, I had a paper route with a friend next door and we had to deliver the morning paper before sunrise down that street which ended with the haunted house. My buddy once forced me to cover his morning shift because I made him go to a horror movie with me at the local theater the night before.

    I miss that place and still walk my dogs to that yard occasionally. I need to go to the local library and do some research about the history of the house.

  5. Jennifer harris says:

    The Crypt,The Thirteenth Relam,Exit 13,I can’t remember the name of the other Haunted houses.

  6. Rob Morbidious says:

    When I was 14, two of my cousins came to visit from SC. They brought with them their shotguns and they asked if I would take them quail hunting. I knew of a field near a school friend’s house not far from where I lived at the time (Carroll County, Md) where we use to ride mini-bikes as kids. I took them there, and as the day wore on, it began to storm, so we headed towards the foot of the field where there was an old abandoned barn and farmhouse.

    We first went in the barn to escape the rain, but then my two cousins began to ask about the old farmhouse next door. I had never been in it because the rumor was it was haunted. Soon as I relayed this info to my two cousins, they just had to go inside it! So next thing I know we’re all inside upstairs in the far left bedroom poking around…. my cousin finds a small door in the side wall that looked like a tiny closet door, but when we opened it, we found a small narrow staircase that led to the attic. first my cousin started up the stairs, then I followed and my other cousin was right behind me. It was dark because of the storm outside…. as my cousin got to the top of the steps, he froze. He seemed to be staring in the direction of the corner of the attic and I watched as all the color drained from his face. I asked him what was it, and he came barreling down the stairs and knocked me over as he hurtled past me!

    I didn’t wait to see what it was that spooked him, for I was right on his heels running down the steps with my other cousin right on my heels! we all bolted outside into the front yard and ran a short distance away from the house before we stopped. The house’s windows were all smashed out and there was a wrap-around porch on it which had a thick briar patch growing up through the floorboards of it all the way around to the back of the house, blocking any entrance or exit from the back of the house. The only way in was through the front door.

    As we all stood out in the front yard catching out breath, I asked my cousin “why did you run? what was it you saw? He said he was looking around the attic and saw what first looked like the silhouette of a man with a brimmed hat over by the wall. He said that for a second, he thought it might be an old mannequin or something, but then he realized it was a shadow on the wall, but nobody was there to cast it! Then, he said, as he watched, the shadow came off of the wall and began moving towards him! That must have been when I saw the color draining from his face and then he bolted. After he told us this, his brother (my other cousin) scoffed at him and said “aww, he’s full of it! he’s making it all up just to scare us!” No sooner than those words left my cousin’s lips, we heard footsteps coming from the upstairs broken bedroom window where we had just been! We fell silent and listened…. it seemed to be pacing the floor….heavy slow footsteps!… we could see the back wall of the room through the open window, and there on the wall right before our eyes, moved the silhouette of a man….with what appeared to be a brimmed hat on his head! I felt a cold chill run up my spine and we all ran as fast as we could with our shotguns in tow down the old gravel path towards the road at the bottom of the hill.

    I’ve never been back there since. I would love to go and see if the place is still standing though.

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