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  • [Fun] Fix the Haunted Mansion Movie

    In honor of the Haunted Mansion's approaching 51st anniversary, I thought we could try a creative exercise. The 2003 film adaptation of the ride had a few good points (set design, Nathaniel Parker's performance, special effects), but is overall a disappointing take on what is probably the most beloved ride in theme park history.

    So how could it have been done better? Here, I'll start:

    In the first place, it shouldn't have been a movie, but a TV series about a small group of urban explorers/"ghost hunters" who stumble across the abandoned mansion in the bayou (or the woods, if they decided to go in a more WDW-ish direction) and decide to investigate. It would start with a "monster of the week" conceit, each episode featuring a different threatening ghost whose story the protagonists must figure out, by discovering clues within the mansion, in order that the ghost might be pacified. Most of them prove to be rather amiable once they get their baggage sorted out, and the mansion gradually becomes a friendlier place...but at the same time, the much more sinister overarching plot (probably involving Constance and the Hatbox Ghost, I don't love it but fans would expect it) is building in the background.

    What are some other possibilities?
    Like this post? Read more like it at The Disneyland Dilettante!

  • #2
    Seeing this thread is so weird because my family was just talking about this today! Also, while the film is bad, I'll admit I grew up with the movie and have a ton of nostalgia for it. I only realized how bad it was when I showed it to my boyfriend and I had to watch those child actors! AHHH!

    I think Disney could make a lot of Money turning both POTC/ HM into Disney+ shows. There was a great DSNY newscast where he proposed a HM anthology series about each ghost. Also, I remember there was an HM cartoon in production not too long ago, but it didn't seem to go anywhere. I personally think it would fit a series better, since I think they have a lot of characters to work with that could make quite a goofy cast. Maybe a young, alive innkeeper moves in and befriends all the ghosts? That would be so cute!

    I really like your idea too! I love those kinda shows! I think it would be funny if some house flippers bought the mansion... That would be a great movie!

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    • #3
      I think the biggest challenge with turning the HM into a film or even a TV series is its lack of a traditional story. It’s more of an environment to me. An ambiance you could say.

      In essence, the haunted mansion is where we, the living, can get a glimpse of the party atmosphere that exists in the afterlife. It doesn’t really get much deeper than that. In any conversion to film, the HM and the characters in it are going to need an entire story created to work around it and that’s where its biggest challenge lives.

      The Eddie Murphy movie is cheesy and campy, but it does have a charm to it that I can appreciate. It’s not the (near) perfect adaptation that POTC turned out to be, but anything in comparison I think will fall short of that. I wonder if Jungle Cruise will be a great or just ok adaptation as well.

      We will see.
      Mike_M

      Disneyland Trips
      Walt Disney World
      Disneyland Paris

      1980, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1989
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      2000, 2001, 2006, 2007, 2009
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      2020

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      • #4
        The Haunted Mansion doesn't tell a traditional narrative, but it seems to. Notice how often you get people trying to explain "what happened" with the Bride and the Ghost Host and all the rest. They think they're doing detective work, putting together clues in the ride. They're not, really--those "clues" are just small parts of the overall ambiance--but the ride really does a great job of giving an impression that there was a story here, and I think that hurt the movie because the writers felt beholden to that perceived story. It really limited what they felt they could do with the plot. The Haunted Mansion, more than any other Disney ride, has a fandom who would have felt betrayed if the movie didn't reflect what they thought the ride was about (and incidentally included all the notable gags and special effects).

        Pirates of the Caribbean doesn't really have a narrative either, but it also doesn't seem to, to the same extent. It's entirely generic: here are some pirates, doing pirate-y things. The writers of the POTC films felt free to spin an entirely new story about original characters, and just slip in gags from the ride here and there to maintain the connection.

        In any case, to the extent that the Haunted Mansion has a story, it's not about the ghosts. It's about you, encountering the ghosts. I think that's what the film writers were going for with the Evers family, but Eddie Murphy was 100% the wrong choice for a lead as he is not relatable to audiences. We can enjoy watching him explore a haunted house because he's funny, but it will never feel like us exploring that haunted house. The specific dynamics of the Evers family might not be relatable to everyone either. So I think more of an ensemble piece about a group of 4-5 young people with different interpersonal dynamics, stands a better chance of working.
        Like this post? Read more like it at The Disneyland Dilettante!

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        • #5
          I thought Guillermo del Toro’s version was to come to fruition..... seems deader than the Haunted Mansion
          MY SIGNATURE:
          Dear Peoplemover Fans, If you want to see a new attraction that at least mimics the 1967 Peoplemover in a future Tomorrowland remodel, you need to write to the powers-that-be, and let them know. If you don't - Then the next time Tomorrowland is remodeled, you will see a land barren of any "Peoplemover" type attraction.

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          • #6
            I have to wonder if bringing the story of Phantom Manor to the screen, which has a more fleshed out story associated with it would be a better choice.

            With its western setting, and ties to BTMRR, it brings a different spin to the haunted house story and I think, if done right, could be a very cool film. Perhaps it could follow a new suitor for Melanie (Their version of Constance) who slowly starts to discover the tragic life (and death) of his bride to be, the curse of Big Thunder Mountain, and the danger to himself along the way.

            I’d watch that.
            Mike_M

            Disneyland Trips
            Walt Disney World
            Disneyland Paris

            1980, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1989
            1990, 1992, 1993

            2000, 2001, 2006, 2007, 2009
            2010, 2011, 2014, 2016, 2016, 2017, 2/2019, 11/2019
            2020

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Tomorrowland_1967 View Post
              I thought Guillermo del Toro’s version was to come to fruition..... seems deader than the Haunted Mansion
              Yea I think that one has been dead for a few years. Its sad because I was really looking forward to it. The documentary Foolish Mortals is supposed to be out now but its very hard to get a digital copy to watch it.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Karalora View Post
                In the first place, it shouldn't have been a movie, but a TV series about a small group of urban explorers/"ghost hunters" who stumble across the abandoned mansion in the bayou (or the woods, if they decided to go in a more WDW-ish direction) and decide to investigate.
                I like this idea. Sort of like the NBC Sunday Mystery Movie, back in the day. Bring on Dennis Weaver. Or better yet, Darren McGavin as Kolchak: The Night Stalker.
                We need another Walt...and fast!

                "It's always more difficult to recover than it is to do the right thing at the beginning" - Tony Baxter,
                The Imagineering Story, Episode 4 "Hit or Miss"

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Mike_M View Post
                  I have to wonder if bringing the story of Phantom Manor to the screen, which has a more fleshed out story associated with it would be a better choice.

                  With its western setting, and ties to BTMRR, it brings a different spin to the haunted house story and I think, if done right, could be a very cool film. Perhaps it could follow a new suitor for Melanie (Their version of Constance) who slowly starts to discover the tragic life (and death) of his bride to be, the curse of Big Thunder Mountain, and the danger to himself along the way.

                  I’d watch that.
                  I'd totally go see that! I think you'd have to market it as a new Haunted Mansion movie in the states, since most of the general public probably isn't aware of PM's existence! I think it could be a very fun gothic Victorian story with all the cheesiness that come with that!

                  Comment

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