Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The actual structure can be anything from a decaying European feudal castle to a newly occupied suburban ranch house of fairly recent construction, though many authors and movie directors prefer that the architecture be from the 1900s or earlier. The key feature of a haunted house, however, is the presence of one or more ghosts, often due to a murder or other tragic death having occurred on the property, or to an owner of the house elsewhere, at some time in the past.
In North America, an event open to the public which simulates the experience of visiting a haunted house is itself called a haunted house. These events are commonly held in the month of October as a Halloween activity. Notwithstanding the name, such events are not necessarily held in houses, nor are the edifices themselves necessarily regarded to possess actual ghosts. A Hell house is a similar frightening attraction put on by members of evangelical churches during the Halloween season, meant to depict the sufferings of the damned in Hell.
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