Yesterday, I visited the house from Spookies. Stood right in front of it with the old VHS tape, like a big dummy:
In real life, it’s the Peter Augustus Jay House, located in Rye, NY. It’s a preserved and protected landmark now, but it certainly wasn’t in the mid ‘80s, when Spookies was filmed. Back then, it was just a rundown mansion with moldy walls and busted electricity. Terrible for most purposes, but perfect for a low-budget horror movie:
Now, this place wasn’t just “in” the movie — it WAS the movie. Everything you see in Spookies was shot in that house, or in front of that house, or in back of that house. Hell, if I remember the story correctly, many in the cast and crew actually slept there during filming.
While inside tours are on hold due to Covid, I mainly just wanted to see the front of it, anyway. Turns out that I live just an hour away from the Jay House. (On a good day, at least. I have to take the GW Bridge to get there, which is often so stuffed with traffic, I’d get to Point B faster by mailing myself via UPS Ground.)
Yesterday was cold. Stupidly cold. Naturally, I wore the same light hoodie that I’d rock on a chilly July night. Suffice it to say, even if I wasn’t crumbling under social duress — thinking that someone in the house was staring out its windows, waiting to call the cops on me — this was going to be a short visit.
Two minutes of freezing winds were all it took to make my fingers feel like they’d been victimized by one of those hammers people use to flatten chicken. Oh well, at least I got what I went for: A photo of the REAL ACTUAL SPOOKIES HOUSE, with the REAL ACTUAL SPOOKIES VHS within frame. I don’t know if I’m the first to do it, but I’ll forever claim that I was.
I’m not writing this because I think it’ll be one of those articles that “gets around.” Actually, I had no plans of writing this at all, believing that a photo of the Spookies house was really more of a social media thing. I could summarize this story in 280 characters, after all.
Now a day removed from the visit, I’m realizing how much it meant to me, and how easily I plow through thousands of words about things that matter to me way less. So here we are.
Why haven’t I been doing stuff like this throughout the pandemic? Stuff that’s easy to do and inarguably safe. I let “slug” become my default mode, and I’ve memorized enough sitcom reruns to prove it. Over the past year, do you know how many times I’ve seen the “Blair gets upset when Mrs. Garrett serves enchiladas to her sorority sisters” episode of The Facts of Life?
I’d forgotten the thrill of adventuring. Of pumping the volume during good songs. Of stopping at a stranger’s pharmacy because I forgot to eat breakfast, and “pharmacy” is French for “supermarket.” (I left with bags of jerky and Love Corn, and one of those 6000-ounce Smartwater bottles. Seriously, you could bathe a buffalo with one single bottle.)
I’ve loved Spookies for a while, but over this past year, I’ve grown to love it a lot. It’s just the most “me” movie ever. Like Castle Dracula from Wildwood, in film form.
Remember when we were kids in video stores, gazing up at the scary horror movie boxes? Most of us were too afraid to rent them, and could only imagine what the films were like. For me, Spookies is the flick that best lines up with what I envisioned horror movies to be. Just an endless parade of monsters under bad lighting. Monsters every minute!
It’s incredible that Spookies’ one single filming location is intact and perpetually open to guests. Spookies, of all movies!
Those are the same stairs that the forty-year-old teenagers walked up! Duke, the guy dressed like a pleather spaceman, was ON THOSE STAIRS!
And that’s the same lawn that doubled as a zombie farm. Were my feet on the exact patch of grass where THE WERECAT once stood? Possibly!
Mostly, though, this was just an excuse to be part of the world for longer than it takes to get cat food from Target. (14 minutes is my personal best.) I’d like to go back when the weather’s warmer and they’re doing indoor tours again, but for now, I am very satisfied with how I spent my Friday.
When I got home, I promised myself that I’d do things like this more often. Mental reset buttons, masked as minor trips. If you take nothing else from this article (and I’m not sure you could), it’s the encouragement to get out and do silly things, even if they don’t involve visiting filming locations from old horror movies.