Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Haunting of the Gothic Mansion

One of the movies filmed at the Gothic Mansion over the years was the 2001 Showtime feature “Sightings: Heartland Ghost”. The insomniac  felt that October, being a somewhat spooky month, might be a seasonable time to share with you a few scenes from the movie.

A brief synopsis ... Jeff and Pam Mason, a young couple in High River, Kansas (filmed in High River, Alberta) are certain the 19th century house they've moved into is haunted. They contact Derek (Beau Bridges), the director of a reality TV show called Sightings, to investigate. Derek and his crew move into the house and with the help of a paranormal investigator they uncover the house's history, tracing the original owners back to the last days of slavery. Although Derek is a disbeliever, after witnessing levitating toys, moving objects and strange apparitions, he concludes the house is indeed haunted by the ghost of the young girl Sallie. The movie is based on a True Story.

Before we begin, allow the insomniac  to quell your fears by assuring you that no William Morris wallpaper was harmed in the making of this film. Well, with the exception of one small piece ... but the set decoration crew touched it up with some paint and it looks almost as good as new. We regard it as kind of a memento, really.

We begin, as should all good ghost stories, with “It was a dark and stormy night ...”

Fake ivy leaves were found in the garden for, literally, years afterwards ...

The movie took roughly one month to shoot, during which time the family moved into a nearby apartment building, allowing the offspring to continue attending school during filming which, as expected, they were not exactly overjoyed about. They were thrilled at having Cable TV for a whole month though, after having been deprived of that luxury for Practically Their Whole Lives. And at the end of the shooting, the eldest was quite pleased with his new BMX bike that was purchased with a portion of the earnings, and which he had been forced to live without for Far Longer Than Any of his Friends.  As was the youngest, who was finally able to get the Sony Playstation she'd been wanting Since Forever.

Looking horrifyingly similar to when it was first purchased ...

This room (commonly referred to as The Fireplace Room) was repapered by the set dec crew with a lovely olive green Morris knock-off. And though the insomniac   might be considered a bit of a wallpaper elitist, she decided to leave the knock-off paper up after filming as it was a considerable improvement over the original burgundy hand-printed Morris paper she had chosen. Through no fault of the wallpaper really, but more due to the fact it's quite difficult finding anyone with the skills necessary for hanging unpasted, hand-printed wallpaper.

Little Sallie, the Heartland Ghost

Note to the Offspring:
The clock on the mantel belonged to your great-grandparents.
Don't sell it.

Spoiler Alert

The semi-naked man was messing around with the scissor-wielding man's wife.
Which he now regrets.

The eldest offspring's bedroom shown decorated above for filming the turn of the century scenes, and below for the present day scenes during renovation by the Mason family. Throw a mattress and an Xbox in the middle of that mess and you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference between the film set and his actual bedroom.

Rubbish everywhere. Yup, almost identical.

At the time of filming, most of the rooms in the Gothic Mansion had already been papered. But the set decoration crew were very clever, creating fake walls with layers of peeling wallpaper which, when removed, left the original wallpaper intact. Well, except for that one spot where they attached the candle sconce.

Ugh ...

After years spent stripping and staining the woodwork, it was coated with some sort of wax so as to look exactly as it did before all the years spent stripping and staining. Most of the wax coating was removed when filming was complete. Pretty much.

The insomniac  overheard rumours of how the set dec crew achieved this dirty, dripping effect on the walls, but chose not to dwell too long on those stories. Ignorance is bliss, as they say.

Only a fool who'd never seen a horror movie before
would go up those stairs, right?

Here's a lovely shot of the eldest offspring's room going up in flames, which was hopefully achieved through the use of special effects and not actual fire. One preferred to remain in the dark about that particular technique, as well.

A perfect example of why it's never a good idea to visit the set during filming.
Because then you worry - as does your insurance company.

Same room after being burnt to a crisp.
The eldest thought it was cool and asked if they could leave it that way.

The insomniac  refrained from visiting during the day while filming was in progress. Not only was it extremely disconcerting seeing one's home in that condition, perhaps even more unsettling were the hundreds of complete strangers traipsing in and out of it. But she made a point of popping by in the evenings with homemade cookies for the Security Guards. Her own form of insurance, if you will.

It almost seemed as though fourteen years of restoration had never happened ...

One certainly wouldn't want to live in that  haunted house ...

The most horrifying shot from the movie has been saved for last. Prepare yourself, as this will undoubtedly cause you many sleepless nights for years to come. It would seem likely the reason for one's chronic insomnia can be attributed to this very scene.

They painted the kitchen yellow!
With stenciled apples!! And orange checkered curtains!!!
And is that a Kitchen Witch hanging on the wall? Oooohhh Nooooo ...

It was briefly debated whether to close this post with a photo of the insomniac  and Beau Bridges in front of the Gothic Mansion, taken after filming was complete. But although Mr. Bridges was very charming and quite photogenic, the insomniac  is not. Photogenic, that is. Oh, fine - not especially charming either.

This week's Giveaway is completely unrelated to this week's post, although one is certain she could locate the orange checkered curtains and Kitchen Witch somewhere in the basement, and would be overjoyed to include them with the winnings. Thrilled, even. Should you decide to waive this generous offer, the Giveaway does include a few items for that spooky October gathering you're planning for this month. Bear in mind, everything shown below would display much more advantageously with a pair of orange curtains and a Kitchen Witch thrown into the mix.

Hallowe'en Entertaining Giveaway

Black Raven Candle
The Raven Napkins & Paper Plates
Raven Candelabra (black tapers included in case you've run out)
Bats, Spiders & Moons (for artfully decorating your table)

The winners of last week's Giveaway are Rhonda S. and Becca N. Congratulations to you both, and please enjoy the fruits of your baking labours responsibly.

Until next time, the insomniac  wishes you nights of blissful sleep filled with pleasant dreams. Goodnight, my pretties ... and Good Luck in this week's Giveaway!


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  1. Omigod! That candlestick holder with the raven!!!! I neeeeed it!

    It is so cool that your house was the set of a movie, how thrilling! It is terrifying what they did to it, though, especially the kitchen! And I hope they cleaned up those dirty walls when they left!

    Must... win.. raven.. candlee...

    1. The set dec crews on all the movies and TV shows we've had filmed here over the years have always been fantastic, Laura! Not only did they clean up the dirty walls, but they also have hung Anaglypta wallpaper for us, painted and glazed said wallpaper, left a few props behind; in general, just wonderful people.

      Let's hope you do win the raven candle - sort of a compensation for having to miss out on the Dusk candles, which the insomniac  did Google and yes, awesome indeed! :D

  2. ...♥...
    Wow a fantastic post...loved it

  3. Okay, I'm totally confused here and I request that the Insomniac will check to make sure that I entered properly. Now that that's out of the way I want to say wow! When you referred to the Gothic Mansion, I thought that perhaps, you were embellishing your living space somewhat. But now, I'm totally impressed. You really do live in a Gothic Mansion and it has a wonderful history to boot. Thank you for sharing your awesome photos with us.

    1. The insomniac  has checked and you are definitely entered in the Giveaway! Was it confusing to enter? It's definitely confusing on this end, but that's because one is not particularly known for one's excellent computer skills ...

      Oh yes, one does have a tendency to embellish the truth a little bit, so you are wise to take everything said in this blog with a modicum of doubt, Nightwind! But the Gothic Mansion (a.k.a. Riley Lodge) does have a lovely history, and we are quite proud of her!

      Good luck in the Giveaway this week! :D

  4. I did indeed get a bit confused while trying to enter the giveaway; but then again, I confuse easily sometimes. Thank you for checking.

  5. Wow, that it a pretty awesome film story! Although we get a lot of movies filmed here in Pittsburgh, I've never known an actual private residence to be the set of a film. Thats so cool! How did they approach you about using your house? How did they know about your house?

    And btw, your house is awesome! I want!!!!

    Or that purple Victorian house in the mountain town about 50 miles east of here known as Ligonier...

    1. The house was “discovered” by a location scout and was then put on a list at City Hall which is available for all location scouts to reference whenever they are searching for potential movie sites in the city.

      And thank you, Clementine; we think the house is awesome, too! Although a purple Victorian house in a mountain town sounds pretty darn nice, too!

      Good luck in the Giveaway, and nice to read that you've managed to finish all your costume duties! ;o)

  6. Wonderful post! Amazing story about how they transformed the house to something similar of the house you once bought. If I got the energy I would have done something similar in our hallway for Halloween, but I can save it to another year.
    Your giveaway looks wonderful!

    1. Thank you, linnea-maria! And yes, the film crew could have saved themselves a lot of work if only they'd filmed fourteen years earlier!! :D

      Conserve your energy, my dear ... the lovely Haunted House you created was maybe enough Hallowe'en decorating for this year. And Good Luck to you in the Giveaway this week!

  7. What an experience! I would have been anxious too seeing what they did to your house. I would love to see pictures of it as it really is.

    1. One day, the insomniac is planning on going through her album of pre-restoration photos and possibly doing a This is How it Used to Look and This is How it Now Looks post. But before she can do the Now Look portion, a good dusting will definitely be in order! ;o)

  8. Love your blog - just recently found it. Also a fantastic giveaway. Keep up the great work.

    1. Thank you, Kathy - so glad you've found us! Thanks for commenting and good luck to you in this week's Giveaway! :D

  9. Oh, I love those napkins! I'd love to have my house done up like that!

    1. One would love to have cloth napkins and a porcelain table setting in that pattern! But since nobody seems to make that type of thing, we'll just have to settle for paper ... ;o)

      Good luck in the Giveaway!

  10. WOW! How cool is that! I'm sure your kids really did get a kick out of your house being used in a movie like that. I'm with you. I don't think I'd want to know how they did a lot of those special effects- better left unknown.
    When I was in high school, "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" was filmed in Manor, TX- the town I grew up in. One of my classmates house was used for Gilbert's house- it gets burned down at the end of the movie (they really didn't burn his house down). It was really cool though to see his house in a movie like that. The whole town was involved in that movie. I was in the scene with the opening of the Burger Barn where John C. Reilly works. Part of the band. ;0

    1. One hasn't watched that movie in ages, but since it has a couple of the insomniac's  most favouritest people in it (Johnny Depp, and now you!) it would be an excellent choice for this evening's viewing, with much pausing at the Burger Barn scene so we can get a good look at your high school self! :D

    2. What's Eating Gilbert Grape is scheduled to PVR this Sunday at midnight. The youngest offspring and I just watched Edward Scissorhands again yesterday, and we're very excited to see you “live” on Sunday! :D

  11. This is so cool! It would totally creep me out, I think. :D We are having renovations, and some of our ghosts are scared away. I hope that the not-that-nice-ones.

    Thanks for the give away, I have my eye on the raven napkins. ^^

    1. It does seem as though renovating seems to dislodge some of the more unwanted residents of an older home, doesn't it? One hopes that you are correct and that all the not-so-nice ones have decided to move elsewhere!

      Good Luck on the Giveaway, but please check under Recent Activity on the Rafflecopter Logo above, as it doesn't seem as though your entry worked. If you don't see your name, please send the insomniac  your email address so she can enter you manually to be sure you have a chance at the napkins! :D

    2. Oh, I guess I was late for this one. :D

      I hope I'll have better luck next time. (Or don't mess totally up the entering.)

    3. When the insomniac  didn't hear back from you, she took the liberty of entering your name in the contest manually, although she mistakenly entered you as Gothic M. instead of Goth M.P. So when the draw takes place this evening, should you win she'll most certainly be in touch for a proper mailing address for you!

      Good luck in the next two Giveaways and if you have problems again, be sure to let the insomniac  know so she can add you in herself!! :D

  12. How exciting to have your house in movies. I heard that Canada is a very popular place to film.

    1. Yes, it was rather exciting!

      Congratulations on winning last week's Giveaway, Rhonda - thanks again for entering!! :o)