The best-laid plans of builders and developers often go awry if the buildings they erect are located on forgotten cemeteries, sites of ancient atrocities or arcane rituals, and psychic stress lines. Sadly, none of these considerations are written into any building code and the use of electromagnetic field detectors, infrared thermometers and the approval of a gifted psychic are optional, or occur far too late in the construction process.
Here are some Halloween-themed films that elaborate on this important construction consideration.
The Amityville Horror (1979)
Jay Anson, the writer of the bestselling book on which this film was based, claimed that the title house was built on an unsanctified Native American burial ground. That was likely a bald-faced lie, but who were the filmmakers to argue with such an intriguing set-up? The results of that planning error: hordes of black flies; supernatural possession; a demonic ghost pig named Jodie; and a foul-smelling red basement room filled with goo that may be a portal to hell. “Houses don’t have memories,” says one of the family members. Maybe so, but the land disagrees.
Darr @ The Mall (2014)
Construction horrors speak an international cinematic language. This Bollywood feature stars Jimmy Sheirgill as a security guard on duty on the opening day of one of the largest shopping centres in Asia. Problem is that construction workers have already called out the site as a paranormal pesthole. If he’d listened to them, the developer wouldn’t have agreed to spend opening night among spooks and paranormal vermin…relieved only by one obligatory dance number.
The Beyond aka Seven Doors of Death (1981)
The original builders of a Louisiana hotel probably knew it was located on the grounds of one of the seven gateways to hell — but didn’t include the information on their application for a building permit. The predictable results: painters, plumbers and architects are murdered by aan assortment of ghosts, zombies and tarantulas; the entire fabric of space and time is inverted; and nobody appears happy with their hotel stay. Director Lucio Fulci worked on two additional films, City of the Living Dead (1980) and House by the Cemetery (1981) featuring two other gateways located in Massachusetts. That leaves just four gateways to go.
A developer, played by Craig T. Nelson, believes his boss when he’s told that that the cemetery previously situated under the subdivision he now lives in was respectfully relocated. Now there’s hell to pay as spooks inhabit clown dolls and television sets among other inanimate objects. Nelson’s classic quote should be included in textbooks at developer school: “You moved the cemetery, but you left the bodies, didn’t you? You son of a bitch, you left the bodies and you only moved the headstones!” Oh, and moving doesn’t help. One of the spooks easily follows haunted family member, little Carol-Anne, to Phoenix in Poltergeist II (1986) and Chicago in Poltergeist III (1988).
Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (2006)
It’s hard enough to start a successful restaurant without building it on top of an ancient burial ground. The owners of fast food chain American Chicken Bunker — and their unfortunate employees and patrons — soon discover that possessed fried chickens aren’t the pushovers they’re cut up to be.
The Shining (1980)
The owners of the haunted Overlook Hotel at least developed their tainted property with complete candour — it was built on a Native American burial ground and construction workers battled openly with them while it was under construction. Could that be why Jack Nicholson’s character goes off the deep end, why the ghosts of creepy little girls haunt the hotel’s hallways, or why elevators spill rivers of blood? Maybe. But director Stanley Kubrick never revealed exactly why the hotel was haunted. He told Entertainment Weekly: “I don’t understand it myself. It’s a ghost film!”
For more on how construction has played a role in several scary movies check out The Construction Record’s latest podcast at https://canada.constructconnect.com/dcn/podcasts.