Get spooky at Laurel Hill Cemetery with the continuation of their “Cinema at the Cemetery” series. Their next screening on Aug. 18. features “A House on Haunted Hill.” The classic 1959 film stars Vincent Price as an eccentric mansion dweller who invites guests for a scary good time. Although the cemetery provides the perfect backdrop for a horror film, the staff doesn’t want you to get a fright from anything but the film.
Laurel Hill Director of Programs Emma Stern says that public views on cemeteries shifted after the Civil War. Laurel Hill, founded in 1836, served as a place of entertainment as much as it was for burials and ceremonies. When it first opened, visitors would go to Laurel Hill for walks and picnics, just as they do today.
“Like all rural cemeteries, Laurel Hill was founded for the living to enjoy,” she says. “We like to remind people that we are just like a park in most ways.”
The film series has become a summer staple over the years. The series began in order to show a short video of a Laurel Hill exhumation from 1937. This footage had been lost for years, and then recovered by organization Secret Cinema. In 1930, wealthy widow Henrietta Garrett was buried without a will. Thousands of people turned up at Laurel Hill claiming to be long lost relatives with rights to her fortune. The cemetery hired armed guards to protect her grave from robbers. The exhumation did not yield a will, but the process was filmed by an eager witness. Viewing this particular piece of Laurel Hill history attracted one thousand people to their first film screening in 2012.
“This story is a fun way to tie the movie nights into the history of the cemetery,” Stern laughs.
Events organized by the Cemetery benefit the upkeep of the historic landmark. Their programming includes the movie nights, nighttime and daytime tours and theatre events.
“Because we are no longer an active cemetery we can do things that are a little nontraditional,” she says.
If you can’t make the showing on Aug. 18th, Laurel Hill will be screening “Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things” on Friday Sept. 8.
If you go:
Cinema in the Cemetery: “A House on Haunted Hill”
Friday Aug. 18
9 p.m., $10
Laurel Hill Cemetery
3822 Ridge Ave.