Monday, April 30, 2012

Winchester Mystery House movie in the works

Deadline Hollywood reported last week that Hammer Films (yes, they are still around) is developing a horror movie about the famous Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California. The house is one of the best examples of Spiritualism run amok as the owner, Sarah Winchester, heiress of the Winchester rifle fortune, was told by her spirit guides that if she kept adding to her house she wouldn't die. The result is a sprawling 160 room maze-like mansion with doorways to nowhere and stairways into ceilings.

But why I'm bringing this up here is there are several Houdini connections to the famous home. First off, Houdini himself visited the house in the 1920s shortly after the death of Sarah (yes, she did die). In fact, the original newspaper article about Houdini's visit is on permanent display in the house museum, as I discovered during my own visit in 2006.

Here's an extra bit of trivia about that visit. In 1988 a man by the name of Fred Paul Faltersack died at the age of 94. In his obituary it was reported that Faltersack was the tour guide who showed Houdini the house that day. It also claims Faltersack later "helped Houdini create some of his illusions."

The Winchester Mystery House was also the site of a Houdini seance in 1977 held by the Society of American Magicians Assembly No. 94. The event -- which was called the "50th Anniversary Seance" even though 1977 marked 51 years -- was covered in The New Tops magazine. The unsuccessful seance was followed by a "nostalgic seance" in which the S.A.M. pros made sure the guests enjoyed some ghostly manifestations.

Finally, in 2009 a graphic novel was developed called Winchester that featured Houdini as "the bad guy." The book was written by Dan Vado with artwork by Drew Rausch. Winchester was supposed to be released in October of that same year, but I was never able to track down a copy, so I'm sure if it ever actually made it to stores. But you can get a peak at Winchester's "bad guy" Houdini below (this comes from the blog, The Mind of Drew Rausch).

I wonder if this new movie might put Houdini into the story in some way? It's never a bad idea...


  1. I'm sure you've seen this. According to Milbourne Christopher in Houdini: The Untold Story (p. 200), Houdini wrote the following about his visit to the house (Christopher doesn't site the exact source, but I suspect it was in one of the many letters in his collection): "Her spirit guide told her that as long as she kept adding to her home she would live. For thirty-six years she kept building and building. I walked through the house at midnight with Mrs. Houdini and know that she will never think we live in a big house. Mrs. Winchester built 160 rooms, there are over 200 doors, 10,000 windows, over 150,000 panes of glass. Some of the windows must have cost over $2,000.
    "There are forty-seven fire places, one room especially built to hold a séance has a wardrobe in which she had different colored robes and whenever she wished to talk to any particular spirit she would don the colored robe required. . . .It was the greatest house I ever saw, meaning it is the largest dwelling place ever built."

    1. Thanks, Tom. I haven't read Untold Story in years and I didn't recall this.

  2. I know this is an old post, but I've read this comic and liked it okay; it was pretty clear it was winding up to a bigger story that never happened because the Winchester estate threatened a lawsuit, according to I read in a couple places they got a cease and desist and had to cancel, which is a shame, because it was a neat idea... and clearly not the actual real-life Winchester house, but a fictional version that was fenced off and abandoned instead of becoming a tourist attraction.

    The name changed, too, it was released as "Secrets of Sarah Winchester" #1. Definitely got released, at least that much.

    1. Thanks so much for the comment, Shannon. I've wondered about this book because I was never able to find it and assumed it never came out. But knowing the name change certainly helps. Thanks again.

    2. I now have a copy in hand. Thanks again Shannon.