10 Cinematic Houses You Don’t Want to Live In

We know it’s technically a buyer’s market right now, but that doesn’t mean you have to rush into buying a property – especially if the chairs are going to rearrange themselves or you’re going to end up being raped by trees. Be a smart consumer and avoid these listings.
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By  · Published on March 26th, 2009

After having moved earlier this year, I realize that the market is in the toilet, and finding a place is more difficult than finding a career that doesn’t involve a cardboard sign and a top hat whose top has been comically punched out. And this is a buyer’s market. Still, just because it’s a flagging economy doesn’t mean you should be suckered into buying any of the houses on this list.

While some are obvious, my only arbitrary criterion is that the house be a main focal point or character in the movie. So as much as I don’t think you should move into the house next door to Ray Peterson in The ‘Burbs, it was more the cannibalistic neighbors that made it scary instead of the abode itself.

Now that none of us are on the same page, let’s check out the list:

The House from House (1986)

The Pitch: Roger Cobb (William Katt) is a Vietnam vet (who wasn’t in the 80s?) who is also a horror writer (same question) moving into his recently deceased Aunt’s house. His son is missing, his marriage is destroyed and George Wendt is his new neighbor. It doesn’t take him long to realize that the house is haunted and wants him out.

Why You Shouldn’t Move In: The house has all sorts of standard scares that, at the very least, would be mildly bothersome when you’re trying to make toast in the morning. An old woman appears and hangs herself, a ghastly figure keeps popping out of every single door in the place, and your missing son’s spirit fades in and out taunting you. Plus, an axe keeps flying across the room, and George Wendt would be your neighbor.

Kathy’s House from House of Sand and Fog (2003)

The Pitch: Kathy (Jennifer Connelly) misses a ton of payments so her house is put up for auction. When a former Colonel in the Iranian army, Massoud Behrani (Sir Ben Kingsley), buys it, he decides to flip the house for profit. Kathy, desperate to get the house back, hires an attorney and a depressing feud heads further down a slippery slope.

Why You Shouldn’t Move In: Despite sand and fog not being solid foundational materials, if we’ve learned anything from the Behrani family’s experience, it’s that buying this house means a crazed addict will hire a lawyer to get you deported. When that fails, he’ll take you hostage, force you down to the county courthouse and drive your son to pull a gun on him – leading the police to take action. Devastated, your only option will be to turn to poisoning your wife and committing weirdly ritualistic suicide with a plastic bag. Also, Jennifer Connelly does not come with the asking price of the house.

The Bates’ House from Psycho (1960)

The Pitch: Marion Crane steals a bunch of money from her employer and jets it to California. After driving in the rain, and taking the advice from an asshole highway patrolman who tells her it’s dangerous to sleep in your car, she takes a room at the Bates Motel which leads to her demise. This sparks her sister and a private investigator to go check out the nefarious motel.

Why You Shouldn’t Move In: I’m guessing you expect me to say that moving in will get you stabbed in the shower, but that’s the motel. Definitely don’t rent a room there, but moving into the Bates home means that your mother will become an overbearing, no-more-wire-hangers type that lords herself so completely over you that you become schizophrenic, start wearing her hose, and keep her long-deceased corpse in the basement to talk to. However, you do get to be a small-business owner and spy on attractively naked blondes.

112 Ocean Avenue House from The Amityville Horror (1979)

The Pitch: The Lutz Family (James Brolin and Margot Kidder and some kids) move into a house where a mass murder took place a year prior. The house goes crazy. They leave before they can get the full worth out of a month’s rent.

Why You Shouldn’t Move In: Moving is a major investment of time and money, and you definitely don’t want to go through the rigmarole of battling with a Realtor, moving money around for a down payment, and loading up the rental truck only to move right back out in under a month. However, on the plus side of things, the house comes with a room full of flies, will give you what appears to be a bad case of stomach spiders, and make your religious leader lose his mind. Unfortunately, the house also somehow steals money from you and drives your dog crazy.

The Distress Sale Mansion from The Money Pit (1986)

The Pitch: Two naive newlyweds (Tom Hanks and Shelley Long) purchase a dilapidated mansion thinking foolishly that they will be able to handle the repairs themselves. This assumption is proved hilariously incorrect.

Why You Shouldn’t Move In: The old woman that sells the mansion claims she needs to move it quickly because her husband has just been arrested for being Hitler’s poolboy, but it’s more likely that she has to sell it fast to avoid falling through a light fixture and impaling herself on a rotten floorboard. The place is a dump of the highest order that any sane human being would recognize upon stepping foot on the property. Nothing works, bathtubs keep falling through the floor everywhere, and a raccoon nests inside the dumbwaiter. Only Tyler Durden would like living there. Oh, and by living there, it also means you’re in a tragically inferior remake of Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House.

The Brooklyn Heights Brownstone from The Sentinel (1977)

The Pitch: A tightly wound model (Cristina Raines) moves into a beautiful house that’s been converted into apartments only to find that it’s a portal to Hell.

Why You Shouldn’t Move In: If the phrase, “portal to Hell” didn’t get you, there’s not much more of a case to make. Moving into this luxurious space also means that you’ll have to deal with random, pale, old guy walking briskly across the room to go stand in your corner. Although your upstairs neighbor is a totally cool blind Priest, it turns out that since you’ve tried to kill yourself a few times, he and the church that owns the property are primping you to become his replacement as the caretaker and guard of the gate to the nether realm. Sitting around staring out a window is basically my job now, but I wouldn’t want to become blind in order to do it. On the flip side, this would be perfect for anyone wanting to work from home.

The Robeson’s House from The People Under the Stairs (1991)

The Pitch: A young boy (Brandon Adams) lovingly known as “Fool,” breaks into his parents’ landlords’ house for revenge and the promise of gold coins. Waiting inside are some sick booby traps, two crazy fundamentalist incest-fans, and a few dozen young men locked in the basement.

Why You Shouldn’t Move In: Pretty much the only reason to even visit that house would be to see A.J. Langer, but since there’s a solid chance you’ll either get attacked by vicious dogs or lose a limb to a kitchen drawer, you probably shouldn’t bother to come a’courtin’. Plus, you’d have to deal with her parents who are actually a brother and sister couple (Everett McGill and Wendy Robie) who are hyper-religious, will judge you for seeing evil/hearing evil/speaking evil, and subsequently cut your eyes/ears/tongue off. Oddly enough, the people living under the stairs are actually not a reason against moving there, although a kid defecating between your walls probably drags the property value down.

Hill House from House on Haunted Hill (1959)

The Pitch: An eccentric millionaire (Vincent Price) and his future ex-wife (Carol Ohmart) invite five people to a dinner party, claiming they’ll earn $10,000 if they spend a full night in the house. Shit goes completely to hell from there.

Why You Shouldn’t Move In: Leaving aside the actual plot of the film involving a cheating lover, a plot to trick innocents into committing murder and a psychotic Vincent Price, the house itself is incredibly creepy. Even when it’s not bending in and out, as if breathing heavily while imagining new ways to rip your skeleton from your body, the house exudes a sense of terror and emptiness without even trying. It’s haunted as all get out, skeletons seem keen on popping up, and people keep faking their death. Plus, all of the frightened, frantic human beings in the house have guns. However, if you do plan on buying this house, I’d hope you’d be more responsible than to leave giant vats of acid just lying around the place.

The Cabin in the Woods from The Evil Dead (1981)

The Pitch: Five friends, including Bruce Campbell, plan on having a fun, woodsy get-away at a cabin but end up releasing a bunch of demons and getting raped by trees.

Why You Shouldn’t Move In: For one, country living is overrated unless you dig the solitude and have a reliable transport to the general store. Secondly, if your home has The Book of the Dead just lying around in it, someone is bound to get raped by trees. That’s just a fact of life. Purchasing this property inevitably means you’ll be possessed yourself and stab your friend in the ankle with a pencil. Even if you’re strong of spirit, you’ll probably end up having to dismember your friends’ bodies, shoot demons with a shotgun to little avail, and bury body parts in the yard. Oh, and your basement fills up with blood. Have fun with that. As a side note: no matter what house you live in, do not purchase the “Naturon Demento” even if you think it makes a great coffee table book.

The Freeling’s Suburban McMansion in Poltergeist (1982)

The Pitch: A bunch of spirits who haven’t crossed over mistake a five year old girl (Heather O’Rourke) for the Light of their salvation and steal her through a bedroom closet which leads to a struggle that destroys the entire house.

Why You Shouldn’t Move In: If you value your young daughter’s life or your own, stay away from this house at all costs. By moving in, you subject yourself to objects flying around, kitchen chairs re-arranging themselves, and a few other zany happenings. These are all fun and games until your child is stolen by The Beast, and your wife has to go into am ecto-plasm-covered parallel dimension after her. Beyond that, there’s rotting skeletons all over your unfinished pool and a creepy-as-hell clown that comes to life. Is that something you really want to deal with? No it isn’t. Plus, why buy a house that you know is only going to implode anyway. There’s a ton of reasons that this house shouldn’t be on the market at all, and I’m pretty sure, even though it’s never explicitly mentioned in the film, that George Wendt would somehow be your neighbor.

Honorable Mentions

Big Momma’s House from Big Momma’s House; The last house on the left from The Last House on the Left; Gregory House, M.D from “House,” although it should be mentioned that Executive Editor Neil Miller believes it would be awesome to live in the innards of Hugh Laurie, Innerspace style.

Editor’s Note: I feel it necessary to also thank Ryan Rotten from ShockTillYouDrop who helped me remember the name for The Sentinel after wracking my brain for an hour. For the record, Rob Hunter and his massive film knowledge also knew it. For the record.

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