The Poltergeist House
4267 Roxbury St. · Simi Valley, CA
I had been living in Simi Valley for nearly a year before I caught wind of the fact that the Poltergeist house was practically in my backyard. I couldn't believe it. Growing up, Poltergeist was the only movie to actually scare me. Of course, it isn't as frightening now, but as someone who was never really taken in by horror movies, this one stuck in my mind for quite a while. It's still pretty entertaining, though, and I'll stay up any night to watch a late showing on TBS.
The house itself is pretty normal. If you lived on the very same street, you probably would never guess this is the house in which Carol Anne was taken to the other side. Not unless you happened to catch the Superstation around Halloween and catch a glimpse of your neighborhood. However, I'm sure pretty much everyone in the area knows and they all make a special trip there for Trick-or-Treat.
I don't have any interesting stories about the real house, but the model that stood in for it at the end of the movie had a pretty fascinating, although short-lived, existence. A replica about four feet across was constructed for the final scene in which the house is quite convincingly sucked into the Netherworld. The model was positioned face up over an industrial vacuum through which wires were run and attached to points inside the house. The camera, located directly above the model, was run at 300 frames per second, or twelve and a half times normal speed. When the camera was ready, the vacuum was turned on and the effects guys blasted the house with shotguns. Today, they would have gotten some 3-D graphics house to simulate the effect and, in my opinion, wouldn't have looked nearly as good. Shotguns - that's what I call special effects.