TV land has long been filled with haunted houses. This plot device goes way back before the History/Discovery channel multiplex that sends idiotic fake ghost hunters in search of things that don’t exist. You can have your ghost hunters with their EMFs and recorded voices that only they can make out and shadowy figures that they try their darndest to convince viewers is something other than a shadow. Give me a good old-fashioned haunted house story on episodic TV. Even if it turns out the house wasn’t haunted at all. You know, like every one of those houses on those “real life” haunted adventures.
The Wild Wild West
“Night of the Man-Eating House” is the title of the episode and, really, what more do you need? Many haunted house stories on TV turn out to be one of those “it was all a dream” situations at the end. Where “The Wild, Wild West” tweaks the haunted house plot a bit is by letting you know straight from the beginning that this is all a dream. As far as haunted houses go, the Man-Eating House of this Steampunk-esque show is pretty nifty. Time has little meaning within the domicile and there is every indication of sentience rather than spectres within doing the haunting.
“The Purple Room” is one of those examples of perhaps the oldest haunted house plot device in the book. Duncan Corey’s brother has died and left behind a home on some valuable property. Duncan wants that property and he is entitled to it per the brother’s will and testament. Entitlement rests upon just one little requirement. You can probably guess what that requirement is if you have any history at all of watching haunted house movies and TV episodes. Yeah, that’s right, Duncan Corey must spend the night in the house in order to inherit the home. Needless to say, that does not turn out to be as easy as he thinks.
The Strange and Deadly Occurrence
A 1974 TV-movie starring Robert Stack and Vera Miles as your typical TV family who move to the country only to find that things are not quite as idyllic as they expected. The centerpiece of the haunted house in which the strange and deadly occurrences occur is the question of whether the spacious country home really is haunted or whether the local yokels are just one heck of an unwelcoming gaggle of gaping gawkers. You’ll have to watch for yourself to determine the malevolence at work in this TV haunted house.
You would think that anyone buying a home in a town called Lucifer Falls would not be terribly surprised to find that the house may be haunted. This TV-movie that is essentially a “Wonderful World of Disney” presentation from the 1980s is very charming and entertaining. Bigger on laughs than scares. “Mr. Boogedy” is that rare TV haunted house that you can watch with younger children without being scared and adults getting bored.
The biggest, splashiest, most lavish of haunted house stories on TV was the multi-part miniseries penned by Stephen King. King had been having good success with his TV miniseries that fit his tendency to go on and on much better than does feature films. But “Rose Red” comes up on the short end of the lollipop that is Stephen King on TV. Too bad because the house that is haunted is a kind of fictionalized version of perhaps the most famous supposedly real life haunted house of them all, the Winchester Mansion. As is often the case with Stephen King, “Rose Red” gets off to a promising start but eventually fizzles out.