The opening credits of THE HAUNTED MANSION introduce viewers to a little history of a once colorful estate. A foreign woman loves the owner of the house, but mysteriously dies from a poisoned drink. Unable to live without his love, the master hangs himself rather than live without her.
Across town years later, workaholic real estate agent Jim Evers (played by Eddie Murphy) concludes another successful sale in his fast-growing family business. Later that day, he misses an important anniversary dinner because another selling opportunity arises. When his business partner wife, Sara (Marsha Thomason), is summoned to an old estate for a sales consultation, Jim sees a huge windfall coming their way. This frightful HAUNTED MANSION resides in swampy Louisiana and has a massive cemetery for a back yard. The Evers and their two children arrive with a promise from dad that this is “just a 20 minute detour” from their weekend vacation plans.
The family is met by a creepy butler named Ramsley (Terence Stamp) and introduced to mansion owner Master Edward Gracey (Nathaniel Parker). A predictable storm whips up, a swollen river floods their way out, and the Evers family is forced to stay the night in this haunted place.
Master Gracey is more than mesmerized by Sara, because she is a dead-ringer for his dearly departed love. Meanwhile, Jim and the children discover secret passageways in the haunted mansion, good and evil spirits, and a plot to take Sara’s life in order to lift a centuries’ old curse. An evil ghost plans to kill her first so that she can rightfully marry Master Gracey. To rescue Sara from this grave danger, her family must battle frightening creatures, face down their fears, retrieve a key from a crypt, and bring the hidden truth to light. Along the way, the children and dad experience nightmare-inducing hours and learn to face their fears directly. Helping them are “friendly” ghosts and a headless Gypsy medium guiding them from her crystal ball.
Jim’s bravery and determination stops the wedding in time, but fails to prevent Sara’s poisoning and death. An evil ghost of THE HAUNTED MANSION calls on more evil spirits to attack the family, but instead finds himself dragged down to Hell. Then, a good ghost possesses Sara’s dead body, tells Master Gracey the true story, then resurrects Sara. In the end, the “devil’s curse” is broken, and all the remaining lost souls are allowed to ascend to Heaven.
The Disney execs must have sold their own souls to get a PG rating for THE HAUNTED MANSION. Though the language is toned down, the scare-factor of this movie easily exceeds THE PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN (another Disney theme park ride turned blockbuster movie). The movie has high production values, but this mouse-house suffers from plot rot and it should be condemned. The greatest abomination is that this movie is marketed to families and children. The heavy-handed occult worldview, along with the intensely scary scenes of THE HAUNTED MANSION, make this a lousy ride for all.
Please address your comments to:
Michael Eisner, Chairman/CEO
Buena Vista Distribution Co.
(Walt Disney Pictures, Caravan, Hollywood, Miramax, and Touchstone Pictures)
Dick Cook, Chairman
Walt Disney Pictures
500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521
Phone: (818) 560-1000
SUMMARY: THE HAUNTED MANSION, based on a theme park ride and starring Eddie Murphy, is about a family trapped overnight in this creepy place and forced to rescue their mother from the clutches of evil ghosts. The heavy-handed occult worldview, along with intensely frightening scenes, make this a lousy ride for all.
(OOO, Ab, H, LL, N, V, A, MM) Very strong occult worldview with anti-Christian and humanist messages about a family trapped in a haunted mansion, with abhorrent theology such as tarot cards playfully used in opening credits, Gypsy medium (headless woman in crystal ball) prophesies and calls up evil spirits, “devil’s curse” forces good ghosts and bad ghosts to walk the grounds eternally, murder plot to kill children’s mother to lift the curse, possession after her death and resurrection by the “good” ghost, belief expressed by main character that “you only go around once, so live full out,” sinister ghost dressed as and takes on role of priest at wedding then threatens others with Purgatory, and evil ghost dragged to Hell by fiery dragon while all other ghosts (good and bad) allowed to go to Heaven (even ghost who jokingly curses); 10 mild obscenities and one strong exclamation of “Oh my God”; often scary, comical violence includes man being thrown out high window and crashing onto his car, fighting with disembodied knights, ghosts, and decaying skeletons crawling from crypts, two women die from poison drinks, man shown suicide-hanging from rafters, man sees a frightful decaying version of himself in mirror, intensely frightening scenes of children being terrorized by scary creatures and spiders, one scene shows spiders all over young boy who has a fear of spiders, ghosts “playfully” being beheaded and shot in head with arrow, and ghosts moving around headless; artwork nudity (both male and female nude drawings) and some kissing; some alcohol use; and, joke makes light of divorce, lying, betrayal, husband rebuked for working too much, son’s language rebuked by dad immediately after father curses.