Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Haunted Dwellings

Haunted houses and other buildings which lack the special architectural or cosmic significance of an Edifice. The Wrongness which makes the HD a Bad Place generally lies in its contents, usually a Ghost or Revenant (as in numberless Ghost Stories), or a psychic disturbance of the inhabitants, as in Rudyard Kipling's "The House Surgeon" (1909) and most tales of Poltergeist phenomena, or the impression of some powerful emotion which has been absorbed by the fabric of the HD, as in H G Wells's "The Red Room" (1896), whose Haunting consists of pure fear. In Gothic Fantasy and Dark Fantasy the HD may physically mirror the wrongness within: Edgar Allan Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher" (1839) flamboyantly reflects the insane morbidity of Roderick Usher with a mansion façade which is literally cracked, while the house in The Haunting of Hill House (1959) by Shirley Jackson (1919-1965) – filmed as The Haunting (1963) and imitated as The Legend of Hell House (1973) – has many windowless rooms and no precise right angles. In terms of the Cinema, the most sustained sequence concerning HDs has been the Amityville sequence, so far comprising The Amityville Horror (1979) – based on a supposedly real case, unlike its successors – Amityville II: The Possession (1982), Amityville 3-D (1984), Amityville: The Evil Escapes (1989), The Amityville Curse (1990) and Amityville: A New Generation (1993). The first of the House sequence is also of interest, though really it is in the province of Dark Fantasy rather than haunting. Ghost Story (1974) and The Pagemaster (1994) are further movies involving, in very different ways, HDs. [DRL/JG]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.