Disney Studios goes for its second try to convert their popular Haunted Mansion ride into a motion picture.
Inspired by the classic theme park attraction, Haunted Mansion is about a woman and her son who enlist a motley crew of so-called spiritual experts to help rid their home of supernatural squatters. The film’s producers are Dan Lin and Jonathan Eirich, with Nick Reynolds and Tom Peitzman serving as executive producers.
You may remember twenty years ago Disney made a movie called The Haunted Mansion (2003), starring Eddie Murphy (Shrek, Coming to America, The Golden Child, Beverley Hills Cop) as an overworked realtor who tried to sell a haunted mansion, only to have the former owner, now a resident spirit in the mansion, covet his wife. It emphasized the comedy over the horror and was generally regarded as a B movie. Rotten Tomatoes rated it an unfortunate 14%.
In 2021 Disney Plus made and broadcast The Muppets Haunted Mansion, which was generally regarded as a success. However, it went directly to streaming and did not appear in theaters.
Third time’s the charm, they say. It looks like this version will capture the spirit of the Haunted Mansion ride and tell an exciting, frightening story. See the trailer for yourself and make up your own mind.
As a ride, The Haunted Mansion is one of the most popular at both Disneyland in Anaheim, California, and Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Back in the days when Disneyland used a ticket system, it was an E ticket ride. E stood for Exciting and was reserved for the best rides and attractions: the Matterhorn, Pirates of the Caribbean, Big Thunder Mountain, etc.
This version, due to be released this year, appears to be going for thrills and chills instead of laughs. There will be some laughs, of course. Hollywood learned years ago horror and comedy work well hand in hand.
All Star Cast
Rosario Dawson (Ahsoka Tano in The Book of Boba Fett & The Mandalorian) plays Gabbie, a single mom who buys the mansion, then hires a tour guide, a historian, a psychic, and a priest to investigate and exorcise her new home.
“Scream Queen” Jamie Lee Curtis (Everything Everywhere All at Once, Halloween, The Fog) plays Madame Leota.
Danny DeVito (Taxi, Matilda, Twins, Batman Returns) plays a history professor hired to investigate the mansion.
Jared Leto (the Joker in Suicide Squad & Zack Snyder’s Justice League, Michael Morbius in Morbius) plays the Hat-Box Ghost.
Owen Wilson (Lightning McQueen in Cars, Jedediah in Night at the Museum) plays Kent, who gets some of the best lines in the trailer.
Death lurks around every corner.
Harriet : Other more powerful entities may come through!
Kent : Not on my watch
.Ben Matthias : Well, what are you gonna do?
[Kent holds up an axe]
Ben Matthias : Seriously?
Harriet : They’re already dead!
Kent : They’re gonna be deader.
You have to appreciate that kind of attitude in an exorcist.
Kent: This mansion is unhinged, She needs all the help she can get. You wanna be a hero?
Ben Matthias: Pass
Kent: Two thousand dollars.
Ben Matthais: What’s the address?
Even exorcists need to pay the rent.
After watching the trailer, the new Haunted Mansion film reminds me as much of The Legend of Hell House (1973) as it does the Haunted Mansion ride. It frankly looks — dare I say it? — like it’s going to be a pretty good movie.
It’s directed by Justin Simien (Dear White People), whom Variety named on their Ten Directors to Watch list in 2013. The movie was originally supposed to be directed by Dr. Guillermo del Toro, but his version was going to be too frightening for a family film, so Disney went with Simien instead. Katie Dippold wrote the script.
Haunted Mansion is set for release on July 28, 2023.
Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as short stories in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress #30”, “Supernatural Colorado”, “Barbarian Crowns”, “Cat Tails””Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on SCIFI.radio’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions, Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.