Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Creepy Manor Brainstorm

I adore creepy manor stories - especially in older eras or fantasy. They're just a super cool location. I'm not a fan of haunted mansion ghost stories, though. Perhaps I just find it hard to sympathise with the super-rich yet incredibly bland families that populate them. I liked the American Horror Story family but they were intriguingly disfunctional and their mansion was a lot smaller than that used in your typical haunted mansion movie. I find modern haunted tales set closer to my personal experience such as apartment buildings or regular homes to be more emotive. I suppose the distinction is the level of realism. Haunted mansions are generally not surreal enough to warp my mind enough to fear it nor is it close enough to my own experience to make me uncomfortable in my home. This isn't any mark against haunted mansions but it sort of explains why I don't personally care for them very often.

Anyway, onto the list:

Hedge Mazes (claustrophobia, confusion, artificial naturalism, beauty contrasting horror) - Castlevania
Drawbridges that shut at night (foreshadowing of night horrors, fear of being trapped outside, isolationism) - Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Curtain Walls and Moats (archaic, claustrophobic when inside, fear of the outside world, fear of drowning) -
Multiple Safe in the Moat outside (fear of drowning, difficulty in staying alive due to need to tread water) - Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Porcullis (fear of entrapment, fear of decapitation or having it dropped on you, fear or murder holes above, isolationism)
White roses in a rose bed with a few red roses (suggestive of sin staining innocence, of blood stains)
Atrium in Disrepair (beauty contrasts with horror, rays of sunlight in gloom if only a few windows or they're faded, fear of the open, almost cavernous symbolism)
Overstocked large library (multi-storeyed thus who's peering down, books strewn about or piled suggest obsessive research or pseudo-scientific enemy, hidden secrets, dark truths)
Violinists (a musical instrument that is pure, beautiful, yet so often mournful or eerie)
Piano playing (sometimes eerie, beauty contrasts with horror)
Sudden discordant end to a song drifting through the rooms (mystery, possible foul end)
Stuffed animals (desecration of the dead, taxidermy equipment is wicked looking, suggestive of grand hunts, pride in violence)
Wax Mannequins (uncanny value, fear that they might be human, fear they moved) - sometimes a monster in games
Suits of Armour (archaic, mystery of what's inside, fear they moved) - often a monster in games
Partially submerged room (fear of what's hidden, unreality, reminder of fragility of the world beyond nature) - often hides monsters in games
Blood spatter leading to an area (fear of injury, fear of death, anticipation toward a revelation, evidence of violence, temptation to follow, temptation to render assistance)
Blood smear leading to an area (fear of injury, fear of death, anticipation that you will see a corpse, evidence of violence and possibly someone trying to hide that violence, temptation to follow, knowledge their dead)
Stained Glass Windows (religious connotations, beauty contrasts horror, mysterious figures exalted, obscured world outside)
Depraved nobility (fear of no recourse, fear no one would believe you, fear of how far they will go)
Weathered stone and aging grey brick (ancient secrets, archaic, sense that the best times are behind us)
Isolated location (fear of being cut off, isolationism)
Village of the Downtrodden by the manor (fear of disease, superstition, clues as to threats, xenophobia, strange customs)
Heavy curtains (blocks the world outside, wealth contrasts horrors)
Follies - Artificial Ruins and Caves (mystery, false history - perhaps real if transplanted ruins from elsewhere)
Victorian oddments stack every surface (mystery, plenty to see, suggestive of travels)
Exotic vases, statues, steles (secrets, strange history, xenophobia, fear of the unknown)
Experimental Chambers (fear of injury, fear of cruel science)
Crumbling stairwells (fear of injury, archaic, best times are behind us)
Hidden Doors (unknown intentions, secrets, mystery)
Creepy puzzles to unlock certain doors (unknown intentions, sense of playfulness but perhaps cruelty, plus reminders of similar videogame experiences in creepy games)
Tape Recorders, Film Reels, Slide Projectors (archaic, disconnect from our modern reality, mystery of what will be seen, growing revelations)
Journals, Diaries, Letters (voyeuristic peek into what may not be expected to be seen, mystery, growing revelations)
Occult books with bookmarks (cruel hints of terrible things, growing revelations)
Survivor that dies after you leave them briefly (fear of death, fear of not being there for people)
Need to hide from an unstoppable beast (fear of being found, regression to childhood, vulnerability)
Twitching, spasmodic enemies (uncanny valley, suggestion of pain or alien movements)
Teleporting Monsters (fear of where they're gone, knowledge they could appear anywhere, fear of being spotted, inability to predict the threat)
Gouged lines in the walls (threat of violence, hints as to the enemy)
Masks (hidden selves, mystery, beauty contrasts horror, suggestions of decadence, implied history of the masks)
Antiquities (histories, so many lives witnessed by that object)
Creaking Floorboards (hints of someone approaching, gives away own position, sense of age and decay)
Radios (unreliable connection to the outside world)
Rain, Storm, Dreary Weather Patterns (needing to shelter somewhere unsafe)
Fog (mystery, hidden threats, reduced visibility)
Altars (religious significance, xenophobia, impressions of sacrifice or religious cruelty)
Dungeon with chains and cell bars (miserably history, fear of death and entrapment)
Greenhouse choked with exotic plants (nature trying to escape artificial confines, exoticism, beauty contrasts horror, threats from unknown plants)
Guard dogs (threat of injury, threat of betrayal from man's best friend, fear of death)
Guard dogs showing terror (fear they know what you do not, anticipation)
Boarded up rooms or areas (fear of the unknown, curiosity about what is hidden)
Inhuman or robotic seeming servants (fear of the unknown, uncanny valley, fear of monsters wearing human skin)
Seductive nobility (fear of missing out on something fun, fear of monsters wearing human skin, fear of consequences of sex)
Disturbing paintings of dreary or darkened landscapes or scowling individuals (fear of corrupted genealogies, sombre atmospheres)
Queer historical accuracies, i.e. fainting rooms and photographs of recent corpses that look sleeping (alien nature of our own history, unpredictability)
Long histories i.e. curtain walls that are 400 years old, ruins from the middle ages (mystery, fear of the barbaric past and what may be left behind)
All too helpful and prescient butlers (norms of a prior era, mundane training or mystical abilities, vulnerability)
Silent servants standing patiently by (alien norms of a prior era, easy to forget yet always watched, vulnerability, ghostly resonances)
Statue of an angelic woman that weeps tears of blood when you approach as an ill omen or the creation of a monster to attack (macarbe, image of death, religious significance, surreality - stone should not bleed) - Castlevania 64
Blood weeping through bricks or scratching behind bricks and stonework (what may lie behind it, hidden monsters, buried alive)

What else might you add to this list of creepy manors?  Any and all ideas are welcome!  Monsters, events, locations, places....

A good link filled with architectural elements in the References section.

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