A spooky house. A staple of Horror. Where Haunted Castles would appear in European tales, the Haunted House takes its place in American stories. It is commonly associated with bumps in the night, strange lights, and a shady history involving violence and terror.
When you enter, the "wind" closes the door behind you. Creepy portraits may adorn the walls and the eyes may literally follow your every move. There are probably cobwebs everywhere. The Ominous Pipe Organ may start playing Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor all on its own. Mirrors reflect things that aren't there... when they aren't all broken. The house itself may seem alive, having a mind of its own, yet it may be surrounded by dead trees and blackened grass. Will usually be always in permanent night time, if not having localised Grave Clouds.
It might be a ramshackle abandoned shack standing alone. Or a Big Fancy House maintained by a Creepy Housekeeper. Or a typical suburban home built on an Indian Burial Ground. It has a distressing tendency of killing its way through a family receiving it as an Unexpected Inheritance, and if it gets a sufficiently sordid reputation it will be chronicled by a Haunted House Historian who tries to warn new would-be victims.
This is somewhat a Discredited Trope nowadays, with parodies, Abandoned Hospitals, and amusement park attractions being similarly popular to the straight portrayals. It's also an enduring trope, however, with stories of haunted houses going back at least to the ancient Romans, making it Older Than Feudalism.
Compare Haunted Headquarters, which is any haunted primary setting, and Old Dark House, which may or may not have a supernatural element. Big Boo's Haunt is this trope in video games. Will often end up invoking Never Recycle a Building, for good reason.
- Sabrina the Teenage Witch spent at least one story dealing with a hostile haunted house, within which her magical powers were unavailable.
- The little cabin in The Evil Dead contains a haunted book, so, for all intents and purposes, is haunted.
- Gracey Manor in The Haunted Mansion (2003) starring Eddie Murphy is a parody.
- Beetlejuice is a haunted house comedy from the perspective of the ghosts.
- Darkness (2002), starring Anna Paquin, had a family moving into a haunted house as part of an Evil Plan to complete a demonic ritual.
- Poltergeist features a suburban California home that is normal at first, but is invaded by ghosts that torment the owners in various ways. Because it was built on top of a cemetery.
- Somewhat inverted in 13 Ghosts in which an occultist builds an infernal engine in the form of a glass house, then deliberately moves ghosts into it as a power source.
- I tAke caRe oF tHe PlacE wHiLe tHe MaSteR iS aWaY.
- The Amityville Horror and all sequels.
- The Haunting in Connecticut: The house was formerly a funeral home.
- The Burbs: The suburban house next door takes on some cliches of a haunted house after the extraordinarily creepy neighbors move in. Though it's not haunted, the neighbors do turn out to be a clan of murderers.
- The Ghost and Mr. Chicken.
- Burnt Offerings
- The Haunting
- Whether the House on Haunted Hill actually is haunted is moot. What's important is that people think it is.
- The House by the Cemetery. And being haunted isn't the worst part, there's an Undead Mad Scientist living in the cellar.
- The Changeling from 1980 features George C. Scott moving into a house that is haunted by the ghost of a crippled child who was drowned in the bathtub by his father.
- Played straight and Inverted in The Others starring Nicole Kidman. The house is haunted, but by the main characters, who don't realize that they're dead.
- The Grudge and Ju-On series
- Many ghost stories.
- Really, every town seems to have at least one of these.
- Shirley Jackson's classic novel, The Haunting of Hill House. The first paragraph has been cited by Stephen King as one of the finest openings in English-language literature:
No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.
- Matheson's Hell House rivals Shirley Jackson's Hill House.
- In Myth Adventures Skeeve received from the natives (Deveels), notoriously canny businessmen, a big house on Deva as a part of a deal. Why do they give him a cheap house? It has a back door that leads to the Überwald-like vampire dimension.
- And the native vampires avoid it as haunted. Some even say they saw humans there -- just imagine it!
- The Shrieking Shack in the Harry Potter series. Arguably, Sirius Black's house as well.
- The Shrieking Shack wasn't really haunted, but people thought it was due to the strange noises coming from it (which were caused by Lupin in his werewolf phase).
- Technically the Weasley's house had a ghoul in the attic.
- Subverted in Tom's Midnight Garden. Tom only thinks he is staying in a haunted house; in truth, he is travelling through time, during which he is able to pass through solid objects and people.
- Subverted in The Haunting of Grade Three, where the eponymous third-grade class has relocated to an old house, which has mysterious noises and objects that moove seemingly of their own accord. In truth, the house is sinking, which accounts for the odd noises and movements.
- Subverted in The Ghosts of Cougar Island, which features an abandoned, seemingly haunted house. In truth, the "haunting" is caused by some runaway orphans.
- In Shunned House by H.P. Lovecraft, the hero of the story becomes obsessed with a mysterious house that, since it was first built, wound up either driving its occupants insane or causing them a slow wasting death. It turned out that the house was built over the final resting place of a magician who slowly drained the Life Force from the people near him in the night.
- Also the titular house in The Dreams in the Witch-House, that has a haunted reputation, but is actually periodically visited by a living, immortal witch who used to live in the house, and still uses its sealed attic for her work.
- Arabian Nights: The story Ali the Cairene and the Haunted House in Baghdad.
- House of Leaves: A postmodern horror story about a family that slowly discovers that their house is larger on the inside than on the outside. Much, much larger. Also,
possibly there's a monster.
- Nick Arcade: The Creepyville board has a haunted house crawling with ghosts that scare Mikey (the player).
- In Aaron Allston's Galatea in 2-D, Donna thinks she's going mad because she can barely sleep, the house feels like it's haunted by stuff out of Edgar Allan Poe.
- Edbrook Manor from Haunted 1988 is haunted by ghosts.
- Anne Rivers Siddons' The House Next Door is a very strange example in that the house is still unbuilt at the start of the book, and there's no obvious reason why it turns out the way it does (it's not built on a cemetery, for example). All the same, it's a very Bad Place indeed.
- But the people next door figure it out. It's the architect that's cursed. All his previous projects were unfinished because someone died or was blinded in a freak construction incident. No reason why it's him but he was adopted and doesn't know who his real parents were, so that tells us something. After they kill him and are killed by the house someone finds the plans to that house and it looks like it's going to happen again.
- The Clancy House, in Vampires Don't Wear Polka Dots, where Mrs. Jeepers moves in. This is what initially signals to the kids that Mrs. Jeepers is a vampire.
- In The Dark Tower series, the Dean brothers visit the reputedly-haunted Mansion, but never work up the nerve to go inside. This was a wise decision, as the house itself is the guardian of a portal between worlds. A very aggressive guardian.
Live Action Television
- In American Horror Story, the house is haunted by numerous previous residents who died there. Anyone who dies on the premises appears to become a ghost, and this leads to something of a snowballing effect when the ghosts start killing people.
- In Being Human (UK), George and Mitchell are able to rent a city centre house on the cheap because it's haunted by a girl called Annie. George, being a werewolf, and Mitchell, being a vampire, don't have a problem with this.
- The haunted, gothic Collinwood Mansion is featured in Dark Shadows.
- The British domestic comedy So Haunt Me deals with a suburban home haunted by its previous resident, a Jewish Mother. While the father is mostly annoyed by her presence, the other family members generally enjoy her company.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer had a couple of these in its time, such as in "Fear Itself" and "Where the Wild Things Are".
- Cordelia's apartment in Angel was also haunted. Except the ghost was friendly and generally treated like an invisible room mate (that Cordy called 'The Phantom Dennis').
- That's because she found out his name while doing research for the place. Mainly because it was originally haunted by Dennis' mother who was far less nice, and attempted to kill Cordelia or convince her to commit suicide, believing her to be Dennis' fiance, who she hated in life.
- And the reason behind the said haunting was that Dennis's mother walled him in a closet to keep him from moving out to live with the said fiance, and suffered a heart attack immediately afterwards.
- Cordelia's apartment in Angel was also haunted. Except the ghost was friendly and generally treated like an invisible room mate (that Cordy called 'The Phantom Dennis').
- In the The Sarah Jane Adventures episode "The Eternity Trap", Sarah Jane, Rani and Clyde accompany Professor Rivers to investigate Ashen Hill Manor, supposedly one of the most haunted houses in Britain. As Clyde puts it, it's "Hogwarts, Tim Burton-style".
- The Stephen King-scripted miniseries Rose Red.
- The Monkees: Featured in "Monkee See, Monkee Die" and "Monstrous Monkee Mash".
- The Castle episode "Demons" has the Body of the Week be a ghost-hunter killed in a reputedly haunted mansion. Castle, naturally, eagerly buys into the possibility of demonic possession, while Beckett is a lot more skeptical. Although the case of the week is ultimately discovered to have a human hand behind it, it's still up in the air whether the house actually is haunted.
- Aaargh Manor is reputed to be the most haunted house in Bottom World, in The Legend of Dick and Dom. The owner is faking it... but there is actually a ghost there as well.
- Diana Thornton's Lover's Last Chance. The song starts by describing innocent childhood Halloween fun, but then< "All of them hush past the house on the corner/A darkened old mansion than never did sell/Even the grownups just whisper about her/Nobody knows how she died... or won't tell."
- The titular "Loa House" in King Diamond's song by the same title, from the Voodoo album.
- The Haunted Mansion at Disney Theme Parks. There's 999 Happy Haunts, but there's room for a thousand...any volunteers?
- Halloween Horror Nights 2010 at Universal Studios Orlando features the haunted house Legendary Truth: The Wyandot Estate, which is the first literal haunted house the event has had and has a group of spirit seekers attempting to summon the angry ghosts of a mass murderer's victims and the murderer himself in the most haunted place in the world.
- Run For Your Lives is an annual event. Runners go through a 5 mile obstacle course in the wilderness which is infested with zombies.
- Haunted House. Well, duh.
- Luigis Mansion is basically the story of Mario's hapless younger brother getting a free house... which he then has to clear of ghosts. Apparently, the whole thing was a ghostly creation, and it disappears when he's done. For some reason, the money in it wasn't, so he buys a new one. Which is presumably not haunted.
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion has a quest which involves buying a haunted house and clearing it of ghosts.
- There's several of these in Castlevania II: Simon's Quest.
- Might and Magic VII had one.
- A haunted house appears in the Neighborhood in Backyard Skateboarding.
- Fatal Frame
- And there's the titular Atari 2600 game Haunted House and its late-released sequel, which makes it Older Than the NES.
- The House point-and-click Flash game series focuses on exploring a house whose inhabitants committed suicide. Or did they?
- Unsurprisingly, used in The Lost Crown: A Ghosthunting Adventure. Also a Haunted Museum, two Haunted Churches, a Haunted Boathouse, etc. Basically, if it's got a roof, some ghosts are sheltering under it.
- Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines' Oceanside Hotel level features a hotel that is haunted by the ghost of a woman who'd been murdered by her husband. Most fans consider it the most terrifying part of the game.
- Spookyraven Manor in Kingdom of Loathing, with such bizzare undead as the "Pooltergeist" (made out of Snooker balls) and "Undead Elbow Macaroni".
- While the main threat in the first two Clock Tower games is Scissorman, the Barrow's mansion and Barrow's Castle are both haunted, and have various other threats within them.
- The Haunted Mansion for the Gamecube. Playing it as a kid and being used to Mario Kart and other kiddy games did NOT help whenever rotting arms burst out of boarded doors and "The Ring" girl in a red dress flipped her hair up with a screech.
- In the second No More Heroes game, Travis fights Matt Helms, a ghost kid who haunts his creepy, abandoned house, complete with a graveyard on the front lawn.
- The entirety of Sweet Home takes place in one of these, referred to as a "House of Residing Evil."
- Draynor Manor in RuneScape. The front doors refuse to open from the inside, the grounds are filled with dead trees (some of which can and will lash out and attack), the eyes in paintings frequently follow the player... As do chairs. This is not to mention, of course, the fact that the manor happens to be owned by a vampyre...
- The entire setting of the first Nightmare House fan game.
- Shining the Holy Ark has a massive sprawling mansion in the middle of a graveyard where the powerful being Galm lives. The house has seen much better days. Seeing how Galm was only released from imprisonment you do have to wonder who built such a massive house (which is bigger than the King's castle) and why it was abandoned.
- Shining Force III had another mansion with yet another Vandal living in it. He had transformed all the village folk into Kyon-Shi. Dantares, the brave Knight, is teased by the young mage about being scared of ghosts at this point in the game.
- In Annyseed, Uncle Tarkwin's mansion is known to be haunted. Perry Elliot, the ghost, frequently visits the library, and, (though he would like you to believe otherwise) Anny's bedroom.
- The Kesandru / Brie Meighsaton House in Sluggy Freelance.
- Stupidity in Magic has this. Twice, actually. Both times, the main cast is only called in to see why the house is haunted - they never get the house itself (they have their own place already, anyways). The first time, the ghosts were stuck in the house because of a curse, and most of them were happy to leave once the problem was fixed. The second time, the ghosts were haunting a house being rented out by a college - the rent was very reasonable, due to the haunting, and the college students only called for help because the ghosts had started possessing the occupants and were getting a bit violent; once things were fixed so that they wouldn't be in danger of getting hurt any more and they realized why the rent was so low, they were quite willing to let the ghosts stay - they preferred slightly-haunted accomodations that were within walking distance of the college to anything else they could've afforded.
- Goblin Hollow: well, Goblin Hollow.
- Olive Specter's home in The Sims 2. Actually, if you have a Sim die on your lot, their ghost will show up and cause trouble.
- This is the backbone of Amber: Journeys Beyond. Rule of Three on the ghosts, one from roughly 1910-1920, one from 1942, and a third from the late fifties.
- In Roza, they stumble on an entire haunted village.
- In Sinfest, Crimney trick-or-treats at one. It's good that Fuschia already has a crush on him.
- The Global Guardians PBEM Universe: Doctor Ka's New Orleans mansion is home to literally hundreds of ghosts. And some of them are angry. Very, very angry.
- The student republics in the new Forum/RPG, Grave Academy, akin to Hogwart's Houses, all have elements of this, the students being monsters probably help.
- The trio of heroes from Filmations Ghostbusters set up shop in what resembled a run-down haunted house—Ghost Command—that featured haunted appliances such as (most memorably) the wisecracking Ansabone. Similarly, the Big Bad Prime Evil had Hauntquarters, a cathedral-like building located in the Fifth Dimension.
- In a Simpsons Treehouse of Horror segment, the Simpsons move into a haunted house, which does its best to make them leave... but they refuse, because it's pretty much their dream house. The segment ends with the house destroying itself rather than live with the Simpsons.
Lisa: You can't help but feel a little rejected.
- Subverted in another episode, where the family have to spend the night in a haunted house. Homer, foolishly, says it's perfectly safe since there's no such thing as ghosts. The spooky music rises and the door slams behind them, complete with a flash of lightning... Next morning, the sun is shining and it's beautiful out, and they've had a pleasant night's sleep and absolutely nothing's happened.
- In The Simpsons' sister show Futurama, Bender the robot inherits a castle and finds it's haunted by robot ghosts. The haunting is stopped when they find that it was caused by improperly shielded cables from the robot cemetery. Still it led to this great exchange:
Uncle: Come to us, Bender. You'll like being dead!
Bender: That's what they said about being alive.