13 Haunted Things That Are Not Houses
Article By: Ben Raphael Sher
Thank heavens (or hells?), haunted houses have come back into style. The success of the first season of American Horror Story and films like Insidious (2010) and The Conjuring (2013) ensures that, after a period of drought, supernaturally infested abodes will continue to rain down upon us. But why must evil demons lack creativity? Why don’t they go and haunt something else? In today’s Friday 13, we investigate other places and things that have been taken over by crafty ghosts, ranging from corporate offices to chic outerwear.
1. Haunted Skyscraper - Poltergeist III (1988)
What’s the only thing scarier than creepy cult leader Reverend Henry Cane haunting a suburban house? Creepy cult leader Reverend Henry Cane (played by a new actor) haunting a massive Chicago skyscraper, complete with swimming pool, supermarket, high-end restaurant, a pretentious modern art gallery, and lots and lots of mirrors. Alright, maybe that’s actually not scarier. However, even though Poltergeist III is one of the more notorious horror sequels, it’s actually really stylish and a lot of fun.
2. Haunted Woods and Mirrors - The Watcher in the Woods (1980)
In Disney’s first (and only) foray into the horror genre, ‘70s teen icon Lynn Holly Johnson (Ice Castles) finds herself haunted by Karen, a teen ghost whose home base seems to be the woods around Lynn’s creepy old mansion. Karen also haunts any mirrors that she can find, leading to a particularly memorable spectacle in a funhouse.
3. Haunted Spaceship - Event Horizon (1997)
A crew investigates a spaceship that re-emerges from a black hole with its own inhabitants vanished, but “life forces” everywhere. The supernatural beings seem to bring out the worst in the members of the crew, leading to murder and mayhem.
4. Haunted Kimono - Crucible of Terror (1971)
In this bizarre British thriller, a group of art dealers seek out a reclusive artist in his mansion, only to find that he and his wife have gone completely insane (she appears to be in her 50s, but dresses like a toddler and likes to play with dolls and stuffed animals. This character type was weirdly a trend in movies of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s). One by one the visitors get killed. Out of left field, it turns out that the killer is one of the artist’s former models that the artist turned into a sculpture using some extremely hot liquid metal. She came back to life with help from a haunted kimono! There should be more movies about haunted haute-couture, possibly starring Anna Wintour and Grace Coddington.
5. Haunted Movie Theater - Blood Theatre AKA Movie House Massacre (1984)
A group of ne’er do well multiplex employees have to restore and re-open an abandoned movie theater in Beverly Hills. As always, terrible mass murder took place there long ago. Soon plants fall off shelves and doors slam without explanation, and a series of deaths ensue, including one by popcorn-maker! Could the original mass murderer have risen from the grave? Many people (wrongly!) consider this one of the worst horror movies ever made. However, if you appreciate incredibly ‘80s hair and clothes, and the uniquely bizarre, very intentional humor of director Rick Sloane (Hobgoblins; the Vice Academy series), there is much here that will warm your heart. Mary Woronov gives a typically hilarious performance as an embittered secretary, and the film contains priceless footage of a long gone giant movie palace. They don’t make them like that anymore, and they never will again.
6. Haunted Office - Office Yauh Gwai AKA Haunted Office (2004)
Offices are filled with hauntings. The nosy co-workers who look over your shoulder to see if you’re surfing the internet. The mysterious forces who monitor your e-mails. The palpable tension at office birthday parties that must be the manifestation of a malevolent supernatural force. Office yah gwai capitalizes on what all office workers already know. It is a horror anthology whose protagonists include a woman stalked by a haunted bathroom stall; an employee trying to decide whether her sexually harassing boss or the ghostly apparition that haunts her in the elevator is more annoying; and an evil executive plotting to lay off a longtime employee before she can collect a hefty pension. Unlike in life, most of these scenarios play more funny than scary.
7. Haunted Mental Institution - Session 9 (2001)
A list like this would not be complete without a movie about a haunted mental institution, and Session 9 is probably the most acclaimed of them all. An asbestos removal team is hired to overhaul an extraordinarily creepy old mental institution, filled with ominous archaic equipment and remnants of former patients’ lives. In the building’s incinerator, they find a doctor’s tape recordings of his psychoanalysis sessions with a man with split personalities. As the members of the team play the tapes, the building seems to close in, and they start to mentally decompensate. The movie leaves you wondering, is the institution really haunted, or are these men tormented by hauntings within themselves?
8. Haunted Convenience Store - Cursed (2004)
Due to a terrible secret involving its architecture, angry spirits haunt a convenience store named Cosmo Mart. Most who work and shop there face ghastly fates: murder, insanity, falling crows, phantom girls emerging out of refrigerators. If Cosmo Mart could use its powers to resurrect Hostess Sno Balls and the great beverage Sparks, it would be worth shopping there.
9. Haunted Carnival - Carnival of Souls (1962)
After surviving a drag racing accident, a church organist moves to a new town. While driving there, she finds herself strongly drawn to a creepy abandoned carnival. She returns to the carnival several times, and its ghostly occupants begin to reveal themselves. Carnival of Souls is one of the most beautiful, spooky horror movies ever made. It is an absolute must see.
10. Haunted Computers - Ghost in the Machine (1993)
A man murders people who he finds in stolen address books. He mostly strategizes his killings using paper and pen (so ‘80s), until a freak accident involving a lightning bolt traps his soul into a large computer network, making him the hacker from hell. Extremely dated graphics abound in this sort of ridiculous pre-Windows 95 cautionary tale about the possible dangers of technology.
11. Haunted Internet - Pulse (2001)
If the computer brought with it many possibilities for horror, the internet provides even more fertile ground (as anybody who has ever witnessed a break up take place on facebook, or watched The Net, knows). A group of college students install a world wide web program that offers people a chance to interact with the dead, and then (to their regret) gives them what they want. Writer-director Kiyoshi Kurosawa smartly makes the urban isolation wrought by the internet as scary as the spirits that haunt it. Pulse was remade in the U.S. in 2006.
12. Haunted Submarine - Below (2002)
A vulnerable WWII submarine and its shell-shocked crew add to the heightened tensions aboard the ship when they pick up three survivors from a sunken hospital boat. Interpersonal and emotional conflicts arise as the oxygen on the ship runs out, threats outside the ship abound, and eerie occurrences suggest that the ghost of the vessel’s mysteriously deceased Skipper may be aboard.
13. Haunted Luxury Liner - Ghost Ship (2002)
2002 was a big year for hauntings at sea! Julianna Margulies and Gabriel Byrne head a salvage crew out to claim the Antonia Graza, a cruise ship that disappeared in 1962 (we see what happened to the ship, and its passengers, in an unforgettably disturbing prologue). The passengers explore the ship, and meet the expected grizzly fates. Ghost Ship isn’t a total success, and it loses steam (har har) as it goes along. However, the deserted boat provides a terrific atmosphere for a haunting, and several of the film’s passages are beautifully shot. Of course, compared to what the people on that sewage infested Carnival cruise had to deal with, Ghost Ship is nothing…