Marian Carcache: Scary movie houses are the best

Marian Carcache: Scary movie houses are the best

October is scary movie month at my house. 

We start in September making the list of movies for the coming Halloween season.

My favorite horror movies are the “atmospheric” ones that usually involve a beautiful old—often haunted— house.

Looking back on my childhood, I realize that old houses played an important part. My Blackstock ancestors built my own family’s home, and both of my best friends’ houses were also filled with history and memory.

Weapons were hidden in the columns of Lynne’s house during the Civil War, and as children, we were convinced there was a ghost on the premises. There is a downright scary story about a restless deceased ancestor’s paintings that began flying off the walls one night at Joan’s aunt’s house.  And a seventeen-year-old ancestor who died in 1903, the same year she married, was “laid out” for viewing in the front hall of the house I grew up in.  We were imbued early with a strong sense not only of place, but also of the lives that came and went before us.

 So, even before we watched “Dark Shadows” obsessively, we were conditioned to appreciate houses that had rich history—and to long for hidden passageways, secret compartments, drawers with false bottoms, and perhaps, even stairways to another dimension. 

The first half of the October 2020 Carcache movie marathon has included  “Die! Die! My Darling”, starring Alabama’s Tallulah Bankhead, and “What’s the Matter With Helen”—both excellent examples of the Grand Dame horror genre.

“House in Marsh Road”—in which the house a young woman inherits from her aunt protects her from her feckless husband—was a pleasant surprise, as were “Web of the Spider,” “She Waits,” “Scream, Pretty Peggy,” and “The House that Dripped Blood.” 

There are a lot of complicated explanations for why people enjoy the horror genre, but for me it’s pretty simple: the very best houses show up in scary movies.

Marian Carcache welcomes 

comments at carcamm@auburn.edu.