Rose Red (Movie Review)
As far as a haunted house movie goes, Rose Red is fairly standard. It lacks the working class bravado and character development that made Hill House so popular, but it does offer a few minor jolts and jumps.
The ghosts of Thornewood Castle seem to hate light bulbs, as they frequently blow them out or unscrew them from their lamps. Deanna Robinson once noticed that a lamp in her smoking room would suddenly be found with a different light bulb unscrewed from it.
The History of Thornewood Castle
The estate was supposedly haunted long before Rose Red was filmed there, but the rumors really took off after the series premiered. Currently, the mansion is owned by Wayne and Deanna Robinson, who use it as their private home and as a bed and breakfast and special event venue. Guests have reported sightings of various ghosts, although not as evil as the mansion is depicted in the show. One of the most active spirits is a young girl who is believed to be the granddaughter of the original owner. She is often seen sitting on the settee of her bedroom watching lawn parties and weddings through the bay window.
The Castle was built in 1911 by Chester Thorne, one of the founders of the Port of Tacoma, for his bride Anna. He spared no expense during construction and even dismantled a 400-year-old manor in England so that the bricks could be used to build his dream home.
The Story of Rose Red
A Seattle historian uncovered a set of three films featuring Rose Red in the 1930s. The films, called Eyes of the Totem, were made by Weaver Studios.
Stephen King drew inspiration from multiple sources for his miniseries, including Shirley Jackson’s novel The Haunting of Hill House and the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California. He also drew upon his own personal experiences with hauntings.
While the house isn’t cursed in the way Rose Red depicts it, unexplained deaths and disappearances have taken place at the residence. The mansion also contains many optical illusions, including an upside-down room and a library with a mirrored floor.
During construction, the Rimbauer family used artifacts from all over the world. For example, the red brick facing that appears on the exterior of the house was shipped around Cape Horn from Wales. Also, a fine oak staircase was imported from England. Those items are still present at the castle.
The Cast of Rose Red
In the series, Dr. Joyce Reardon, a hotshot parapsychology professor (much to the chagrin of her department chair, Dr. Carl Miller), leads a ragtag group of psychics into one last investigation of Rose Red, Seattle’s supposedly haunted mansion. The house is supposed to be cursed, causing unexplained deaths and disappearances. The home also is said to be full of optical illusions like an upside-down room and a library with a mirrored floor.
The great-grandson of Ellen Rimbauer, Steven, inherited the property and is offering to turn it into condominiums. But before they can do so, he agrees to allow Joyce and her team into the house for one last investigation.
As the psychics tour the mansion, they witness a number of eerie events, including the ghosts of Ellen, Sukeena, and Joyce watching them leave from the tower window. And although the house looks like a castle in the series, it is actually a Lakewood home.
Despite its cliche haunted house story, Rose Red was a very creative horror movie with tons of psychological thrills, interspersed with just the right amount of paranormal action and phenomena. It also features some of the best special effects ever seen in a horror film, including a perspective hallway, an endless library with mirrored floors and an upside-down room.
The actual house from Rose Red is known as Thornewood Castle in Lakewood, Washington and was built over a 3-year period beginning in 1908. Its owner, Chester Thorne, used red brick facing from Wales for the exterior and purchased art pieces from the 15th through 17th centuries to decorate the interior.
The castle is now an inn and offers overnight accommodations as well as vacation rentals, weddings, and events. It is also known for its alleged hauntings and mysterious happenings, including floating orbs and disappearing people. Even the filming of Rose Red wasn’t without its challenges: tools would mysteriously disappear and appear in odd places, and doors opened and closed on their own, sometimes interfering with the shooting of scenes.