8 Movies with Truly Magical Houses

Posted April 20th, 2012
by Isabell Davila (no comments)

8 Movies with Truly Magical Houses

There is something incredibly intriguing about a magical house. Even haunted houses pique human interest time and time again. We can easily let our imaginations soar, visualizing worlds that exist beyond special doors, bookcases that act as trap doors, and outdoor gardens that house enchanted fairies. The theme of a home with magical elements pops up regularly in fantasy and sci-fi literature and film. Perhaps we continue to recreate this idea because we are charmed by the thought that our common lives could secretly host something greater, more exciting, and much more magical. The following list has been compiled to illuminate eight films that involve enchanted houses, stirring up our love for divination around the household.

  1. Howl’s Moving Castle

    The house featured in Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpiece of a film, Howl’s Moving Castle, is just as it sounds: a moving castle. The clumsy, banged together conglomeration of stone, wood, and steel meanders across the countryside using magic. It seems to walk as if it is a creature of its own biding, but it has been bewitched to do so by Howl himself. Others cannot see the castle as it has invisible properties. The interior of the castle is not as expansive as it seems from the outside, and merely looks like a charming bungalow. It is said to be the demon spirit Calcifer’s home, and he lingers in the fireplace with small flames when he is sad or weak and large flames in moments of strength. There is one door within the house that appears to be able to open up to various places, regardless of their proximity to them. Lastly, the castle is able to grow and shrink according to Calcifer’s size in the fire hearth. For example, towards the end of the film, Calcifer is reduced to a mere ember and the castle has shrunken down to a platform of teetering wood on a single wheel.

  2. Coraline

    Coraline is a clay, stop-animation film adapted from the novel by Neil Gaiman. In the story, the young girl, Coraline, finds a mysterious door in her new home that leads down a winding tunnel. At the end of that tunnel, Coraline re-emerges into her home, but it is a peculiar, idealized version of its former self. In this alternate universe, Coraline’s parents are strangely indulgent, feeding her rich, tasty meals with desserts and showering her with praises. Coraline is endeared towards this alternate universe, but wakes up in her own room, in the boring, dim life she knows outside of the magical door. The following night, she crawls back into the mirrored life beyond the door, but begins to realize that it has sinister components. For example, everyone in the alternate universe has buttons for eyes, and her mother wants to replace her human eyes with buttons. Likewise, her friend Wybie has had his mouth sewn shut, as Coraline’s “other mother” found him to be an annoyance when he spoke. The more we see the alternate world, the more we realize the door in Coraline’s home leading to it was locked for a good reason. The home is completely normal save for the doorway leading to the “other home,” but this doorway guides the entire magical element of the story itself.

  3. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

    In the first film of The Chronicles of Narnia series adapted from the popular books, we are introduced to Narnia through a peculiar doorway. The children are staying at Professor Kirke’s house, a large, dusty sort of mansion, in which they are instructed not to touch anything. Plagued by boredom, the children engage in a game of hide-and-seek, which is when Lucy discovers a wardrobe. As she recedes into the fur coats in an attempt to hide in the back of the wardrobe, she feels a chill, takes one more step back, and is suddenly in a thick, wooded forest covered in snow. It appears that Narnia is accessed through the back of the wardrobe. Narnia itself is full of mythical beasts, talking animals, witches, and magic alike. In the first film, it is in a state of perpetual winter because the White Witch has bewitched it to do so. Time in Narnia is vastly different from the real world; while the children stay in Narnia for a length of 15 years for their most important adventure, it calculates to only a few seconds in earth time.

  4. Monster House

    The film Monster House is a computer animated feature about 12-year-old DJ who lives next door to a crotchety old man, Mr. Nebbercracker. Nebbercracker’s house is the magical element of the film, as it consumes anyone or anything that comes too close to it. Growing up, the children in the neighborhood think Nebbercracker merely hates children and loves to pluck their belongings off of his lawn. For example, if a kite flies that way, he will snatch it up before the owner can retrieve it. In truth, Nebbercracker is trying to protect people from his house, which is very much alive and possessed by the spirit of his wife. It has eaten several people who, at the end of the movie, are set free from the basement dwellings of the house. The house extends a Persian rug from its interior several times, which acts as its tongue. The house even has a uvula, which takes the shape of a glowing lamp that the children grab onto to make it vomit them out at one point.

  5. Amityville Horror

    The Lutz family moves into the infamous house on 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, New York a little more than a year after a gruesome murder was committed there. The previous family that lived in the house was entirely slaughtered — six of them died leaving only the son, who committed the murders, alive. The Lutzs move into the house knowing full well of its history, and are unfazed by it until strange things begin to happen to them. Not only does the house appear to be haunted, but they become increasingly convinced that it was the house itself that drove the eldest son, Ronald Defeo, to kill his entire family. It seems the house has a demonic presence, possessed by the devil. Indeed, when a priest comes to bless the house, he is expelled from the home with his hands covered in blisters. Likewise, a hoard of flies attacks the family at an unseasonable time of year for flies, which has biblical connotations to the evil swarm of locusts mentioned in The Book of Revelation.

  6. Zathura

    It may not be the house itself that is magical, but the house in Zathura is certainly under a magical influence as it floats in space on a supporting rock structure. In this children’s science fiction film based on the illustrated book of the same name, brothers Walter and Danny and their sister Lisa discover a board game in the basement that, when played, lunges their spaceship of a home closer and closer to the destination of the planet Zathura. Try as they might, they cannot get their house to return to Earth until the game is complete. Amidst the horrors of the game, they must avoid ill-willed space creatures, befriend an astronaut who, coincidentally, is stuck in the game from when he played it decades ago, and Walter and Danny must overcome their hatred for each other as brothers. Once they finally reach Zathura, it turns out to be a black hole which navigates the house back to Earth unscathed.

  7. Beauty and the Beast

    In this Disney tale based off of the traditional fairytale, an old woman made to look like a beggar approaches the prince’s castle, where she pleads for a night’s respite in exchange for a single, red rose. The prince callously turns her away, and the old woman removes her guise to show that she is in fact an enchantress, who then turns the prince into a beast and all of his court into various household items. The beast has until his 21st birthday, which is also when the rose will wilt completely, to break the curse. To break the curse, he must love someone who reciprocates his own love. The castle is magical because of the enchantress’ curse, as the maids and butlers are transformed into talking candles and teapots. The concierge is turned into a clock, the chef becomes the castle’s stove, and even the castle’s pet dog is transformed into a tasseled footstool. Likewise, there is the highly protected rose, encased in glass, which counts down the days until the beast must accept his fate as a beast eternally, lest he find his true, reciprocated love.

  8. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

    Twelve Grimmauld Place is the house shown in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It belongs to the Black family, and is invisible to muggles who merely see a skip between houses 11 and 13. It is located in London and is encased by the Fidelius Charm, which means that even wizards who know its approximate location are still unable to see it because it is protected. True to form of the rest of the magical world, the house is full of dark, wizarding mysteries and artifacts. The Black’s loyal house elf dwells inside. The moving tapestry on the wall of one of the upstairs bedrooms shows the various members on the family tree, each animated in ways that regular tapestries could never feasibly be. In terms of appearance, the house is rather decrepit. The wallpaper is peeling, it is full of dust and spiders, and the walls are lined with dimly lit, flickering gas lamps.

Categories: Fun

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