4 Comedy Movie Locations with Disturbing Backstories
Locations are hugely important when it comes to a narrative comedy’s success. After all, would anyone have gone to see Superbad if it all took place inside the conference room of an airport Ramada? But occasionally, the actual places where these hilarious movies and TV shows were filmed have jarringly bleak real-life histories, such as how…
The ‘Only Murders in the Building’ Building Was Nearly Destroyed by a Tyrannical Slumlord
In Only Murders in the Building — aka Three Amigos, But Don’t Worry, We Replaced Chevy Chase with Selena Gomez — the titular dwelling is the Arcadia, a luxury complex that’s home to wealthy Manhattanites, including celebrities like Sting and Amy Schumer.
But the building’s real-life history is a touch less glamorous. The “Arcadia” is really the Belnord, which was completed back in 1909 and was touted at the time as the “largest apartment building in the country.” But by the 1970s, the building was owned by Lillian Seril, “one of the city’s worst landlords.” The building was in such a state of disrepair that stalactites “formed in the basement.” Seril refused to fix “even the simplest issues,” with tenants forced to sneak new appliances into the building because she wouldn’t repair the broken ones and didn’t allow them to be replaced.
In 1978, half the building “went on a rent strike” (it proved to be the longest in the city’s history). There was so much animosity between the landlord and her tenants that Seril, at one point, reportedly “prevented delivery of a hospital bed to a gravely ill tenant,” who subsequently died. One city official compared the battle to “the siege of Beirut.” She eventually sold the building to a developer who restored it to its former, Sting-worthy glory.
There Were Numerous Tragedies at the ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ House
The Rocky Horror Picture Show famously unfolds at a secluded Midwestern mansion, where a mad scientist is throwing a kinky musical sex party. The real-life manor where it was filmed, however, was less fun/horny.
The real Rocky Horror castle is a place called Oakley Court, an English country mansion built in 1859, which similarly served as the filming location for several Hammer horror movies after it was left “uninhabited” for 14 years beginning in the 1950s. It was also the site of several real-life tragedies, which some believe had supernatural causes; for instance, in the early 1970s, a family living in the converted servants’ quarters saw two of their three children die by drowning.
The mother told reporters: “The house has an aura of evil, and I could never go back there.” Later, police reportedly responded to allegations of witchcraft being performed on the grounds. When it was converted into a hotel in the late 1970s, there were claims of mysterious appearances of ghostly figures who may or may not have resembled Tim Curry in fishnet stockings.
The ‘Big Lebowski’s Mansion Was the Site of a Famous Murder-Suicide
The Big Lebowski is full of great locations: Jackie Treehorn’s palatial beachside house, the Dude’s local bowling alley and that black nightmare abyss full of dancers, Saddam Hussein lookalikes and Kenny Rogers tunes.
Then there’s the mansion belonging to Jeffrey Lebowski, which, in real life, is known as Greystone Mansion.
Greystone was built by oil tycoon Edward Doheny Sr. in the 1920s for his son Ned, but not long after its three-year construction was completed, Ned and his childhood friend/secretary Hugh Plunkett were found shot to death inside, following a scandal that “put the two at odds with one another.”
While it was officially ruled a murder-suicide (authorities concluded that “a deranged Plunkett had shot his employer and then turned the gun on himself”), the incident remains “a source of rumor and speculation” and, incidentally, inspired another movie that’s decidedly less funny than The Big Lebowski.
The ‘Dumb and Dumber’ Hotel is Allegedly Haunted by Pervy Ghosts
The third act of Dumb and Dumber finds Harry and Lloyd living it up at a luxurious Colorado hotel called The Danbury.
While The Danbury doesn’t actually exist, those scenes were filmed at the very real Stanley Hotel. If that name sounds familiar, that’s probably because it’s the same joint that inspired Stephen King to write The Shining.
Since it was made famous by America’s creepiest wordsmith, people have pored through the Stanley’s history for grisly details, such as the story of a chambermaid who accidentally blew up one of the rooms after lighting a candle and sparking a gas leak in 1911. Although she survived the incident, people still believe that her ghost haunts the room. Other phantoms some believe stalk the Stanley Hotel include a cowboy, a dead pastry chef and a pervy poltergeist who “inappropriately touched” some female guests. Although no evil spirits can come close to the horrors unleashed by the Dumb and Dumber guys…
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