The Haunted Mansion (film)

The Haunted Mansion (film)

name=The Haunted Mansion

caption = Theatrical poster for "The Haunted Mansion"
amg_id = 1:283306
writer=David Berenbaum
starring=Eddie Murphy
Jennifer Tilly
Terence Stamp
Marsha Thomason
Nathaniel Parker
director=Rob Minkoff
music=Mark Mancina
cinematography = Remi Adefarasin
distributor=Walt Disney Pictures
released=November 26, 2003
runtime=89 min.
producer=Andrew Gunn
Don Hahn
budget=$90,000,000 (estimated) | followed by=The Haunted Mansion 2 |

"The Haunted Mansion" is a 2003 fantasy film based on the ride of the same name, directed by Rob Minkoff and starring Eddie Murphy, Terence Stamp, Jennifer Tilly, Marsha Thomason and Nathaniel Parker. It was released on November 26, 2003.


Jim and Sara Evers are proprietors of Evers and Evers Real Estate and parents of 10-year-old Michael and 13-year-old Megan. Jim is a workaholic who has not been spending time with his family, much to the disapproval of his wife. On a weekend trip in which he has promised to devote time to the family, they make a detour through the swamps of New Orleans, Louisiana to Gracey Manor, a decaying but valuable property. The owners had earlier contacted Sara with interest in selling.

Once the Evers arrive, a violent rainstorm erupts, and they are led inside by Ramsley, the creepy butler who is immediately disturbed that Sara did not come alone. The family is introduced to Master Edward Gracey, the heir of the house, and invited to stay the night as the roads have flooded. Michael and Megan are sent to one bedroom, Jim and Sara to another.

As Jim and Sara are separated, and Jim finds himself trapped in a secret passage, Michael and Megan are led by a floating blue orb into an attic room where they discover an antiquated painting that looks exactly like their mother. They encounter Ezra and Emma, a footman and maid respectively who work for the mansion and also warn the kids of impending danger. Megan and Michael discover that Emma and Ezra are actually ghosts, as is Master Gracey, and that Master Gracey thinks their mother is his lover Elizabeth returned to him from beyond the grave; years ago, she had seemingly committed suicide.

Meanwhile, Jim discovers the animated head of gypsy Madame Leota stored inside a crystal ball. Through her help, he is led to his kids and together, they follow her instructions through a ghost-populated graveyard to find a key that will help them flee the mansion. Jim, Michael, and Megan learn that there is a curse binding the souls of everyone who has died in the mansion to walk its premises until it is broken.

Jim and Megan go into a mausoleum, per Madame Leota's instructions, and locate the key in question, only to be attacked by hundreds of zombies. They find themselves trapped in the mausoleum, but Michael overcomes his fear of spiders (which are crawling all over the outside of the crypt door) and frees his father and sister just in time. They use the key to unlock a trunk, inside of which is a letter from Elizabeth declaring that she loved Master Gracey and that she did want to marry him. It is revealed that Ramsley, also a ghost, did not like the idea of Master Gracey and Elizabeth getting married. So he wrote a different letter (which was taken as Elizabeth's) stating that Elizabeth felt differently than she really did, and poisoned Elizabeth to prevent an interracial marriage between her and Gracey. Ramsley traps Michael and Megan in a trunk suitcase, and literally throws Jim out of the mansion, locking him outside. He confronts Sara and makes it clear that she will either proceed with the marriage (and a suicide), or that her children will die.

Jim, attempting to break back into the mansion but finding it magically sealed, sits outside in vain until the head of Madame Leota rolls up to him to encourage him to keep trying. Jim drives his BMW E65 through the wall just in time to stop the wedding and confront Gracey with the truth. When all is revealed, Ramsley becomes enraged and invokes the fires of Hell. The multiple windows of the mansion shatter as evil spirits fly around the room. Then out of the fireplace comes a giant demonic dragon. The dragon sucks Ramsley into the fireplace for his eternal punishment in Hell. Before that, Ramsley grabs Jim's left leg but fortunately, Gracey saves him before he is pulled in. Unfortunately, Sara has had enough of the poison given to her before the wedding to die. Just in time, Elizabeth's spirit, which is actually the blue orb, moves into Sara's body and revives her, breaking the curse and saving her life. After everything he's put the Evers through, Master Gracey repays them by giving them the deed to the mansion. Thus all of the spirits in the mansion, including Elizabeth, Master Gracey, Ezra, and Emma ascend into the light of Heaven, their curse broken.

Jim has learned an important lesson about family, and his son and daughter have learned bravery in the face of evil. The family, now in possession of the deed to the house, head out on their vacation to the lake (with the encased head of Madame Leota in the back seat and a quartet of singing busts strapped to the back of the car singing their own version of "When the Saints Come Marching In").

Box office

"The Haunted Mansion" grossed approximately $35,000,000 on its opening weekend in the United States. Its final U.S. gross was $75,847,266, barely a quarter of the earnings of its theme-ride predecessor "". The film did marginally better in foreign markets, with a world-wide total of $106,443,000.


*Eddie Murphy as Jim Evers: A workaholic real estate agent. Jim is often late for family gatherings or celebrations, and tries his best to make up for it.
*Terence Stamp as Ramsley: The English butler of Gracey Manor and a fatherly figure to Master Gracey. He is rather creepy, but strict and well-mannered.
*Nathaniel Parker as Master Edward Gracey: Owner of Gracey Manor. He is polite and a friendly man, who longs for his lost love Elizabeth to return to him after her apparent suicide. He hung himself so he could find her in the afterlife, with little success.
*Marsha Thomason as Sara Evers/Elizabeth Henshaw: Jim's supporting wife. Master Gracey believes she is a reborn Elizabeth and forms a friendship with her.
*Marc John Jefferies as Michael Jordan Evers: Jim's 10-year old son. He has a fear of spiders, which he conquers to save Jim and Megan from a group of zombies.
*Aree Davis as Megan Evers: Jim's typical 13-year old daughter, who is impatient and stroppy. She helps her father to locate a key hidden in a mausoleum.
*Jennifer Tilly as Madame Leota: A gypsy woman whose head is encased in a crystal ball filled with green mist. She is very intelligent and witty, and has a great deal of magical powers.
*Wallace Shawn as Ezra: A bumbling footman who worries about getting into trouble, but nevertheless, he helps the Evers save the mansion.
*Dina Waters as Emma: A nervous but helpful maid who seems terrified of Ramsley. However, she very compassionate and banters a lot of Ezra.

Production notes

The mansion scenes were filmed at Sable Ranch in California. The main building was constructed over a period of weeks while the cupola and chimneys on the top of the mansion were CGI. The paperboy in the opening scene is the nephew of the director, Rob Minkoff. There are several Hidden Mickeys in the film. One is an oddly-shaped padlock on the gates of the Gracey Manor, and the second is briefly seen when Ramsley pours the poison in the goblet of wine during the wedding.

The costume and special effects designers wanted the ghost characters to become "more dead" the further they were from the mansion. Note that while Ezra and Emma look human in the house, their leaving it causes them to become blue and transparent. The zombies in the mausoleum are the "deadest", as they are furthest away. This is the first movie to air on Disney Channel to contain any profanity beyond Hell or Oh My God (Damn you, Damn you all to Hell!) for years. It even had a humorous disclaimer at the beginning of the movie. The design of the mansion is based on The Haunted Mansion at Disneyland in Anaheim while the iron/glass conservatory was based from The Haunted Mansion at The Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. In the opening scene of the film, Nathaniel Parker had great difficulty trying to carry Elizabeth up the staircase, which is shown on the expressions of his face.

The DVD release came with several special features, including a behind-the-scenes look at the film's production, describing how the zombies were created, and how certain visual effects were performed or produced; a scene anatomy of the graveyard; a virtual interactive ride of the film's Haunted Mansion with Emma and Ezra as hosts; a single deleted scene; an outtake reel; and a minute and a half long video about the attractions.


Like many films, "The Haunted Mansion" has a number of allusions to other topics, in this case, a large amount of references to the attractions the film is based upon (similar to the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy), and also some Disney references.
*A large amount of the Haunted Mansion's sets are based on scenes from the attractions. Some are practically identical (e.g. the ballroom, the library, the graveyard and the portrait gallery of changing paintings), while some are a bit more unique (e.g. Madame Leota's seancé chamber, which is styled like a gypsy tent).
*Several notable quotes from the attractions are used in the film as a nod to fans. Some of the most recognisable quotes including "Welcome foolish mortals", the opening greetings line of the original ride, voiced by Corey Burton (in place of the late Paul Frees); "There's always my way", also originally quoted by Paul Frees; and the post-credits farewell by Madame Leota.
*The Hawaiian-styled bar is actually a reference to the Enchanted Tiki Room, the first attraction at Disneyland to use audio animatronics. The scene was filmed in Rob Minkoff's house, and the production's film editor, and the actors of the three Hitchiking Ghosts appear as background characters.
*In audio commentary on the film, Don Haun describes the journey from the tiki bar scene to the Haunted Mansion scene as being based on the path between the Enchanted Tiki Room and the Haunted Mansion attraction at Disneyland.
*The Haunted Mansion's story is set in Louisiana near New Orleans, referencing to the fact that the original attraction was built in the New Orleans Square section of Disneyland.
*The library set features a red sofa, which is actually a set piece from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Rather ironically, this is the second prop from the film to be featured in one of the Haunted Mansion's forms. Captain Nemo's pipe organ is used in the original attraction's ballroom scene.
*A section of scenes about a third into the film has a large number of references to the attractions. The changing portrait gallery is a replica of a scene from the attraction, although the portraits themselves are actual real paintings. The staring busts and "breathing" door also refer to gags in the attraction. Another set was based on the void-like Loading Areas of the attraction where guests boarded Doombuggy vehicles.
*The debut scene of Madame Leota features a table spinning and floating in midair. This effect was incorporated into the original attraction.
*The graveyard scene is heavily based on the traditional scene from the attractions. The graveyard and actors seen were shot separately from each other. Rick Baker, Mona May, Jay Redd and other production members appeared in cameos. Two groups of characters in the scene were to be main characters in early scripts of the film - the caretaker (invisioned being played by Don Knotts) and the Hitchiking Ghosts. A orchestral version of Grim Grinning Ghosts plays through the scene.
*The singing busts in the graveyard are voiced by the Dapper Dans. Two are the likenesses of Thurl Ravenscroft and Paul Frees, both men having voiced characters in the attractions. There was also unseen busts shaped like Marc Davis and Blaine Gibson.
*The songs the busts sing are Down By The Old Mill Stream, By The Light Of The Silvery Moon, She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain, By the Beautiful Sea, I Left My Heart In San Francisco and When The Saints Go Marching In.
*The raven seen in the film is based on the animatronic raven in the attractions, often considered a secondary trademark after the Hitchiking Ghosts. However, the bird used in filming was actually not a raven but had African origins.
*The mausoleum scene seems to be based on the underground cemetery in Phantom Manor, Disneyland Paris' equivalent of the Haunted Mansion. Rick Baker created the zombie costumes, which were worn by very skinny men. To add some comic relief to the scene to not cause too much fright to viewers, Baker made one zombie an undead old man. The zombie that climbs out of the coffin in the middle of the mausoleum is a nod to a character from the attractions, who is trapped within a coffin.
*Eddie Murphy has to battle a group of suits of armour which move on their own accord, a reference to the attractions' moving armour suits. A set of samurai armour originally entered the fray, but the character was cut.
*Ramsley's death is rather similar to that of Judge Claude Frollo from Disney's portray of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, being pulled into an inferno by a monstrous creature (in this case, a dragon made of flames).

External links

*imdb title|id=0338094|title=The Haunted Mansion
* [ Official Site]
* [ Movie stills]
* [ The Haunted Mansion] at [ Rotten Tomatoes]

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