Haunted Mansion is the new freaky supernatural flick based on Disney's theme park ride and out this Friday – but the tales behind the nation’s real creepy homes will also give you the willies.
The film’s all-star cast includes Jamie Lee Curtis, Jared Leto, Owen Wilson and Rosario Dawson, and follows a single mum who hires a motley crew of experts to help her exorcise her new home after discovering it’s plagued with ghosts.
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It’s inspired by the ride of the same name located at Disney parks in California, Florida and Tokyo, while Eddie Murphy starred in a previous 2003 movie.
We look at the spooky stories behind America’s real haunted mansions. Feeling brave? Most offer B&B stays or tours so book… if you dare!
Lizzie Borden House, Fall River, Massachusetts
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In 1892, the mutilated bodies of Borden’s father Andrew and stepmother Abby were discovered in this house. They had been hacked to death with an axe. Borden, 32, was tried and acquitted for the murders by an all-male jury who couldn’t believe a woman could be responsible for such a gruesome deed. Andrew and Abby are said to still haunt the house, as is Lizzie, plagued with guilt. The ghost of the maid Bridget Sullivan, the only other person in the house that day, is also said to still lurk there.
House of Death, Greenwich Village, New York
The chilling moniker comes from the 22 people who have died there – and whose spirits reportedly still linger. Residents have reported seeing the spectre of one-time resident, author Mark Twain. Actress Jan Bryant Bartell who lived there in 1957 claimed to see a vision of a man, feel a brush against the back of her neck and smell a rotting odour throughout. In 1987, lawyer Joel Steinberg killed his adopted daughter Lisa there after taking crack cocaine and was convicted of manslaughter.
Sallie House, Atchison, Kansas
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Built in the mid-1800s, this place is said to be haunted by the ghost of a young girl called Sallie who bled to death in the house while a male doctor performed surgery for appendicitis on her. Former tenants, especially men, have reported paranormal activity including being scratched until blood appeared – leading to Sallie being dubbed “The Man Hating Ghost”.
Whaley House, San Diego, California
This home was built on the site of a gallows where thief “Yankee” Jim Robinson was hanged in 1852 for attempting to steal a ship. His spectre has since been spotted. The Whaley family itself was beset by tragedy including the death of 18-month-old son Thomas from scarlet fever. Tiny footsteps and giggling have been heard. There’s also reports of a young woman lingering on the second floor thought to be Violet Whaley who killed herself after her marriage failed.
Amityville Horror House, Amityville, New York
This was the scene of a mass murder in 1974 when Ronald “Butch” DeFeo killed six members of his family. George and Kathy Lutz and their three children moved in a year later but only lasted 28 days after being terrorised by everything from moving objects to mysterious green slime. George woke repeatedly at 3.15am – the time of the murder – hearing strange noises. Son Danny, then 10, later revealed voices would whisper to him and claimed to have experienced “bodily possession”. The case spawned a hit book and a string of Amityville horror movies.
Villisca Murder House, Villisca, Iowa
In 1912, six members of the Moore family and two guests – six of whom were children – were found bludgeoned to death with an axe, suffering severe head wounds. No one was ever convicted of the crimes but it’s thought the culprit hid in the attic waiting for them to return from church. Since then children’s voices and footsteps have been heard, while flickering lights, moving ladders and flying objects have also been spotted.
Franklin Castle, Cleveland, Ohio
Eerie footsteps, moving objects, crying babies and the figure of a woman in a window have been reported here. German immigrant Hannes Tiedemann built the pile in the 1800s but his four children died as did his wife Louise aged 57. One woman who lived there in the 1960s said she once awoke to find herself screaming on her bedroom floor, with an unseen presence screaming beside her, while her children claimed blankets were pulled off their bed by an invisible being.
LaLaurie House, New Orleans, Louisiana
In the 1830s Delphine LaLaurie was one of the city’s top socialites. But when a fire broke out in 1834, rescuers found slaves in her attic who showed evidence of cruel, violent abuse. They were malnourished and chained up by neck and leg. She escaped to France where she later died. It’s said you can still hear screams and footsteps coming from the house at night. In 2007 it was bought by actor Nicolas Cage for £2.3million.
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