Houses in films have a long history of creating amazing atmosphere and being the centre of action which might be frightening, or dangerous and exciting, or hilarious, or all of these facets combined.
If you’re scared out of your tiny mind by a dark cellar, or get a kick out of houses and buildings being blown apart, or laugh hysterically at slapstick ladder and window jokes, then you’ll love our collection of 10 of the most ‘dangerous’ houses in movie history.
Get ready to (probably) literally wet yourself with fear, excitement and laughter:
In one of the greatest horror-thrillers of all time, Alfred Hitchcock’s 1964 classic ‘Pyscho’, the Bates family home is central not only to the fear the movie generates but also to the psychology of the frightening lead character, Norman Bates. The house reminds Bates of the strange relationship he had with his mother, feeding his madness and impulses to kill while dressed in her clothes.
The video above offers an interesting analysis of the importance of the house to the film (and includes clips from the film) and its influence on later movie history.
Dr No (1962)
Dr No’s underwater house in the Bond film Dr No, obligatorily referred to as a ‘lair’, as all bond villain’s enormous homes should be, sets the standard for all the ‘lairs’ seen in subsequent Bond movies.
Dr No’s lair is a death trap full of high-tech wizardry built to repel and kill intruders, and also ready to blow the world apart. The film was a huge hit, but film site IMDb.com suggests that after seeing the film Bond’s creator, Ian Fleming, said it was “Dreadful, simply dreadful”.
Home Alone (1990)
The Home Alone house would be lethal to enter. Youngster Kevin (Macaulay Culkin), having accidentally been left behind while his family head off on holiday, wires it with booby traps to stop a couple of burglars from robbing the place and to bring them to justice.
The house used in filming was located in Chicago and sold last year for $1.58million, $1million below the original asking price. Clearly its reputation from the film had rubbed off on potential buyers.
According to The Guinness Book of Records Home Alone is the highest grossing ‘comedy’ of all time, accumulating $533milion.
10 Rillington Place (1971)
10 Rillington Place first horrified audiences in 1971 with its dramatization of the crimes of British serial killer John Christie, who committed nearly all his hideous murders in the flat at number 10, Rillington Place, in London. Christie used his flat as a prison for his victims.
The above clip shows a scene from the film which gives you a great idea of how good the acting was (with Richard Attenborough, John Hurt and Judy Gleeson starring, they couldn’t go wrong) and the claustrophobic, frightening set filming took place on.
The Lady Killers (1955)
A comedy-thriller from the mid-1950s, The Lady Killers manages to be both amusing and somewhat disturbing. Starring British acting greats Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers, it’s now heralded as a British cinema classic.
The house used in filming was actually in Ealing, London, near to the famous Ealing studios, but in the film it is a boarding house run by a Mrs Wilberforce in Kings Cross. The gang which moves into the boarding house double cross and kill one another after plotting to murder Mrs Wilberforce.
The Birds (1963)
The danger of being in or near the schoolhouse in Hitchcock’s 1960s thriller classic, The Birds, is extreme. Killer birds, the murderous ‘stars’ of the film, flock to the school and attack the teachers, parents and children inside and any who leave.
Not a film for sufferer of ornithophobia (fear of birds). The original school house used for filming is in Bodega, Northern California. It is still there today and has become something of a tourist destination.
7. National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978)
This slapstick comedy about a misfit bunch of frat kids who challenge their university’s administration made a film star out of the already well-known comedian John Belushi.
Being a frat member in the house was a dangerous prospect as it meant consuming huge amounts of booze and weed, and getting off your face every night whilst getting very little sleep in the process.
Originally due to be filmed at the University of Missouri, the president of the University refused permission after reading the script. It was eventually filmed at a real fraternity house in the University of Oregon, Eugene, instead. The house has since been demolished.
8. The Shining (1980)
Stanley Kubrick’s psychological thriller and horror film, The Shining, stars Jack Nicholson in one of his most iconic roles and is a favourite with many film buffs, who you’ll often find repeating the line ‘Here’s Johnny’ ad nausea.
As much of a star, and central to the plot, is the hotel the main character Johnny looks after for the winter, with the suggestion that it’s haunted and responsible for driving him mad.
According to film site IMDb.com the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, was Kubrick’s original inspiration for Stephen King’s famous novel from which the film was adapted.
9. Downfall (2004)
In the brilliant and award-winning film Downfall, which depicts the last days of Hitler and the Nazi regime in Germany at the end of the Second World War, Hitler’s ‘home’ is his bunker in Berlin.
Being in it is dangerous both because of its occupants (Hitler and his murderous Nazi cohorts) and also the fact that thousands of Allied troops are hell bent on finding and either killing those inside. The film has spawned a whole hilarious sub-genre on YouTube.
10. Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
The original film from 1974 is truly frightening (unlike many of the subsequent remakes and spin offs). The above link is to the film trailer, which shows plenty of the house and the crazy, flesh-eating family that lived in it.
The house was in the middle of nowhere in the deep south of America, making escape to civilisation difficult, especially when other locals seem to be in on the evil acts. Entering the house would mean almost certain death, and only one of the youngsters who arrive there escapes.
Contrary to urban myth, the events depicted in the film were fictional and hadn’t happened in real life.