The Haunted Mansion is one of the most beloved attractions at any Disney Park. There are sites dedicated to archiving the history of the ride, As I mentioned last week, there’s also a documentary about the fans.
People love this ride. For so many fans, this ride holds a special place in so many peoples’ hearts. I like to believe that for a lot of people this ride is their first foray into horror kinda like how Scooby-Doo served as a gateway to horror for so many. The Mansion has its scary moments but also has a lot of levity with comedy. This is something the Imagineers have debated over the years as to whether the Mansion should be scary or silly. My opinion:
It should be both. Also, looking at The Mansion is one of the most adapted attractions. There have been comics, video games, and books.
These adaptions speak to two big things, the first being that Disney knows how profitable the Mansion is and also how beloved it is by its fans. This movie could have been good if it leaned into what makes the Mansion great being scary and silly but it goes too hard on the silly. I will say that I do believe the people who designed the Mansion for the movie were fans of the attraction. However, I still think this movie has quite a few problems and one of the biggest is creating an original villain for the story. The Mansion is unique in that it’s an attraction that has a villain aka The Bride/Constance Hatchaway.
She’s a Disney villain with a body count for one thing and she is truly terrifying. Also using her would have been a great ride to homage to the history of the ride because Mansion fans are interesting in that they don’t just love the ride but they also love the history of the ride and what it could’ve been. Instead, this movie goes with the blase Butler did it, type villain. I’m sorry but I just find that takes to be a bit boring and even more so when this is a character that has nothing to do with the original attraction. It wasn’t until last Halloween in a Muppets special that Constance finally got to fill the villain role.
And yes, I will be covering her later on in this event. Now, there is a new Haunted Mansion movie coming next year starring the likes of Danny DeVito. Owen Wilson and Tiffany Haddish.
So maybe Constance will finally get her to do in a film adaptation. Film adaptions of The Haunted Mansion have an interesting history because at one point there were plans for a tv movie for The Wonderful World of Disney like the Tower of Terror movie
In 1997, the project was picked up again, this time by Keystone Productions. It was not, however, a theatrical release, but rather, as a TV movie to be shown on “The Wonderful World of Disney” in the Fall of 1998. However, Keystone’s other theme park TV movie, Tower of Terror, didn’t pull in decent enough ratings, which resulted in both ABC and Keystone dropping the project.
And funnily (even with everything regarding the Black Widow kerfuffle), Scarlett Johanson is working on a big-screen adaption of the Tower of Terror. Disney seems invested in making more theme park adaptions. As because besides, Mansion and Tower of Terror, there are plans for two more entries in the Pirates franchise. Though I’ve heard they might drop Jack Sparrow and replace him with the new character Redd.
A sequel to Jungle Crusie and an adaption of Space Mountain. And you know what I’d rather have these over more remakes. Anyways, that brings us to the actor that plays the villain here in one of the earlier theme park adaptions.
Stamp is a legendary actor and has also given us one of cinema’s greatest villains in one of the best sequels.
Alas, while Stamp does give one of the better performances in this movie but something still feels missing with this character. There are many fun moments with Stamp’s character being the smartest one in the room. And while Stamp does the best with what he’s given, Ramsley never felt like a true threat.
One thing I find interesting about the character of Ramsley is how his introduction makes him seem unassuming as that is such a big part of his character to play on people suspecting him to be nothing more than a frail old man and a butler that is just serving his master. This plays into his first appearance being a phone call to the Evers family as his Master hopes to sell the Mansion and also because he believes that the wife of the family, Sarah is the reincarnation of his beloved Elizabeth. This also plays into his evilest deed which propelled the events of the movie.
Ramsley is a character that is very cold and looks down on others as being idiots. This is seen in how he despises Eddie Murphy’s character and has no qualms about attempting to kill the Evers children. It also seems as though the other ghosts are afraid of him. Such as with the ghosts played by Wallace Shawn and Emma.
I could cover these two in the Lackeys section but I won’t because they help our heroes much more than they do Ramsley and the idea of them serving Ramsley is rather underdeveloped. There is an interesting idea in having the servants be scared of Ramsley because of how he carries himself and them learning to overcome that fear. This is something that good adaptions of The Mansion have gotten right, it can be used as a tool to help people overcome their fears. This is a heavy theme in the Disney Kingdoms comic adaption and also for Gonzo in Muppets Haunted Mansion especially when he sees himself as an old whatever.
There’s a kernel of a good idea in showing how the other ghosts could be scared of Ramsley because of how he presents himself. This could honestly have presented him as a truly terrifying villain that would not stand for failure and just his presence alone would frighten you with how much everyone talks about not wanting to fail him. The movie does kinda try something with this as he doesn’t have a lot of screen time but I do wonder if his lack of screen time could have been more effective. There’s a good idea of a villain buried deep within the movie but not enough is done to make him work.
In some ways, his desire could be boiled down to him wanting to pass on. Consider that like everyone else in the Mansion, he’s already dead but he wants to move on to the next life. However, there is a catch and that does come up with the worst thing he ever did. You know the phrase, take some secrets to the grave, that is kinda what Ramsley is hoping to attempt. This also ties back into his personality and how he believes what he does and did is right.
Most Evil Deed
Ramsley killed Elizabeth, the love of Master Gracey’s life and he was motivated by racism pure and simple as Gracey loved a Black woman. A specified time of when the inhabitants of the Mansion died is never given but I think it was at least a hundred years before the events of the movie. But I do think that it was around a time when people would claim his actions were acceptable and justifiable. Even though they never were but this does show how truly villainous Ramsley could be. As his killing of Elizabeth led to Master Gracey taking his own life.
Ramsley gets quite a gnarly death for a Disney villain. a dragon forms around the Mansion’s fireplace that is made out of the stone and pulls him into flame as he is dragged to Hell.
His death is rather fitting for someone that commits such a heinous act and tries to justify it by saying he was trying to protect his Master from what society would have thought. It’s clear that he believes this too but that is how racists work and that is what Ramsley is through and through and because of that, he deserves to burn in Hell.
Is Ramsley A Good Villain?
He could’ve been a good villain as there is a good idea for a villain here but I don’t think enough is done with him to make him good. There’s a good idea in here and Stamp gives a wonderful performance but part of me wonders if he would have been stronger if the movie had removed the Eddie Murphy plot and have Master Gracey be the main character as that would make a much more personal villain.
Our next entry brings me to the newest theme park movie as I look at Jungle Cruise and this is rather interesting as this is a film with two villains. I went back and forth if they should only cover who the film presents as the main antagonist but the villain I’m looking at tomorrow is just as important and also that personal villain to the film’s main character. Join me as I look at…
Lope de Aguirre