"Houses are alive. This is something we know, news from our nerve endings. If we're quiet, if we listen, we can hear houses breathe. Sometimes, in the depth of the dark night, you can even hear them groan. It's as if they were having bad dreams. A good house cradles and comforts...a bad one fills us with an instinctive unease. Bad houses hate our warmth and our human-ness, that blind hate for our humanity is what we say when we use the word haunted. Yet, isn't a house supposed to be a place of shelter, it’s the body we put over our bodies. As our bodies grow old, so do our houses. And as our bones may sicken, so do our houses sicken. But what of madness, when mad people live inside a house, does this madness creep into the rooms, the walls, the corridors, the very boards? Does this madness linger on after death? Don't we sometimes sense that madness reaching out to us, calling to us? Isn't that a large part of what we truly mean when we say a place is cursed, unquiet, spooked, festered up with ghost? We say haunted, but what we really mean is that the house has gone...insane!" (Rose Red 2002)
Rose Red was a very successful TV Mini-series scripted by Stephen King. The series was first broadcast in the United States on ABC in 2002 with 18.5 million viewers, making it a ratings hit. The story centers around an enormous and legendary turn of the century mansion in the heart of Seattle named Rose Red which is sworn to be haunted. Since it was first built it is believed to curse anyone who dared to live there; killing males and responsible for females vanishing within its walls forever. Indeed, there was another world inside Rose Red, a second world, and there is much more to this grand house than meets the eye.
Due to its long history of mysterious deaths and disappearances from the past, the house is investigated in present day by parapsychologist Dr. Joyce Reardon and a team of truly gifted psychics. It is up to Joyce and her teammates to find out the deadly secrets of Rose Red and reveal the mysterious and evil forces inhabiting the property, or die trying.
- Rose Red is also a companion to the best selling novel titled: "The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer: My Life at Rose Red" by Ridley Pearson, published in 2001.
Rose Red: A Fairytale
"Rose Red is a fairy tale for grown-ups. Not the Disney version of fairy tales, the other kind, where the story doesn't always have a happy ending. The kind in which the old woman in the forest just might put Hansel and Gretel in her pot or the shape under the covers greeting Little Red Riding Hood might gobble her up too. Think the brothers Grimm, who penned the story of Snow White and her sister, Rose Red, I subconsciously used as a name for my house from hell. I used all the metaphors, all of the symbols in this story – the evil spirit, the wicked witch, the doppelganger. All of the essential ingredients of Grimm are the basic material. If you think about it, Alice fell through a hole and ended up in Wonderland. Our characters once they find they’re trapped in Rose Red, they’re kind of in a weird and wicked wonderland where things don't make sense or respect the laws of logic. So our big bad wolf is actually a haunted house, a house with a mind of its own. A house that is bigger on the inside than on the outside. A house you could get lost in, and might never find your way back."-(Stephen King)
The Evil Behind Rose Red
Built on cursed land, in the middle of an ancient Indian burial site, Rose Red was thought to be "born bad", as even before it was fully completed, severel workmen on the area +died during the house's construction under strange and bizzare circumstances.
The house itself -- or rather, the force that possessed it and gave it a life of its own -- can only be described as a mysterious, evil parasite from the ancient Indian burial site that the establishment stood upon, living like a toxic organism inside Rose Red's walls. Over time, it became a powerful poltergeist and tormented its inhabitants. For whatever reason, this nameless force was extremely jealous of the warmth and emotions of humans. (It is not clarified if it is one spirit possessing the home or several spirits working together.) Out of spite, this force ate off the feelings of thuse who resided there and drained both the life source and spiritual energy from its chosen victims. By consuming their physical form, it keeps them in a state of "limbo" where they are cursed and doomed for eternity (or for as long as the house stands), to roam the property of Rose Red as they become somewhat "trapped" within the unseen spirit realm that the house has created. It uses these people as mere pawns in all of its evil schemes, such as to lure more prey into its trap. Rose Red was unapologetic, even to its owners, having no regard or remorse when taking whomever it took. This proved to be true when the house took Ellen Rimbauer's beloved, six year old handicapped daughter named April Rimbauer who vanished within the mansion's kitchen, never to be seen again.
The force inside the house was very jealous, unpredictable and always hungry for souls. Interestingly, Rose Red was particularly fond of the ladies, and when no one was looking, it would swallow women up without a trace and their fate would result in them becoming "one with the house". But the men who entered or lived within Rose Red, yet who crossed it the wrong way or offended it, would simply die or be killed in horrific and unnatural ways. With each victim Rose Red killed, consumed and sucked dry, the more powerful and dangerous the house became as it would add wings, rooms, staircases, closets, corridors and even furniture to itself at will until it was eventually abandoned shortly after Ellen Rimbauer disappeared in its halls in 1950 at the age of 70. After that it was had presumably fallen dormant, thus entering into a supposed "House-Coma".
Timeline of Rose Red
"Every House Has a Story to tell...This One Will Kill You!"
If Some Houses Are Born Bad...This One Was Created In Hell...
- Pre- 1906- In the heart of Seattle, a Native American burial ground for the dead has been chosen as the site of where Rose Red will stand.
- 1906-Construction begins on Rose Red as a gift from Omnicron Oil founder John P Rimbauer, to his fiancee, Ellen Gilchrist, on Spring Street and 7th avenue, Seattle, Washington, on 40 acres of land. While building, the spirits of the Ancient Indian burial ground are awaken from their rest and wreck havoc among the area in anger.
- 1906-1909- Construction workers die on site: Teamster Harry Corbin shoots Foreman, One worker decapitated by falling glass, one choked on a piece of apple, one falls off scaffolding and breaks his neck.
- May 11th 1907- Willaimson, is shot by Corbin. (Other sources list his name as O'Riley). Ellen is proposed to by John. Ellen names the house Rose Red. The spirits of the Native American burial site have by now possessed the house and live within its walls; watching and waiting.
- November 12th 1907- John and Ellen Gilchrist marry.
- 1907-1909- Ellen and John honeymoon across the Pacific Atolls, Africa, then Europe. They acquire many of the furnishings in the home during the trip. Ellen contracts an STD from John and is nursed to health by an exotic tribeswoman named Sukeena, who accompanies the Rimbauers back to America to be Ellen's companion and to also work full time at Rose Red.
- January 15th 1909- John, Ellen and Sukeena arrive at Rose Red and are welcomed by a large staff of maids and butlers. Soon Rose Red becomes rather fond of Ellen and takes a mysterious liking to her. Despite the house being built under John's orders, Rose Red views Ellen as the true owner of the estate for naming it Rose Red.
- March 13th 1909- Rose Red claims its first victim to feed of their life force: Connie Fauxmanter vanishes while admiring a globe in the west wing library. She is never seen again despite numerous searches.
- Autumn 1909- Adam Rimbauer is born.
- September 23rd 1909- Laura the housemaid vanishes and is never seen again.
- April 1911- April Rimbauer is born with a withered left arm, which Ellen blames on her African illness.
- May 21st 1911- Delora vanishes and is never seen again.
- 1911 or 1912- Another housemaid, Gale, vanishes and is never seen again.
- August 1914- Medium "Madame Stravinsky" (aka Cora Frye) tells Ellen that she would never die if she continued to build Rose Red.
- August 1914, one week after the seance- The Perspective Hallway is designed by Sukeena and built, becoming Ellen's first major addition. John fires his business partner, Douglas Posey in November.
- 1915- As revenge, Douglas Posey hangs himself in a suicide in front of the Rimbauer children in the downstairs parlor. Soon after April stops speaking and Adam is sent off to boarding school.
- February 17th 1917- Rose Red grows jealous of Ellen's relationship with her young daughter April Rimbauer. The child vanishes while playing in the kitchen and is never seen again. Over 50 search men raid the house without finding any clues. Not a strand of her hair or thread from her dress was found. Sukeena was babysitting April when the girl went missing. She stepped inside the Kitchen pantry for what she swore was no more than 30 seconds. When she came back out, April was gone. Since Sukeena was the last person to see her alive, she is brought into the local Police station for questioning in regards to April's mysterious disappearance.
- February 19th 1917- Sukeena convinces the authorities that she is innocent. She returns home days later, charges dismissed with a black eye, broken wrist, broken nose and three missing teeth.
- March 9th 1918- John's drinking buddy, George Meader dies from an allergic reaction to a bee sting in the Solarium.
- April 1st 1921-the Tower Folly is added on to the house with a large stain glass window representing a red rose. Ellen insists that Rose Red told her to build it for April, promising a brief reunion with her daughter who will live in the spirit realm of Rose Red.
- October 29th 1921-at midnight Ellen goes to the Tower and sees the stain glass window alter itself from a red rose to a living picture of her daughter April's face. April cries out "mamma", before the stain glass morphs back into its original image.
- 1923- John is pushed from the tower by Ellen and Sukeena who make it look like a Suicide.
- February 19th 1928- Rose grows jealous of Ellen's relationship with Sukeena. The woman vanishes in the Solarium and is never seen again.
- Noted Phenomena: Ellen orders the plants in the Solarium to be ripped out only to later find them growing back more lush and beautiful than ever. Insist she hears the house laughing at her and mocking her.
- January 15th 1946- Rose Red feels threatened by the Glamorous movie star and good friend of Ellen, Deanna Petrie. The woman vanishes in the Billiards Room during one of Ellen's yearly January 15th parties. Last seen in her favorite cocktail dress, the only thing found of Deanna is one of her fancy earrings. After her disappearance the January 15th parties are canceled for good.
- January 15th 1950- Rose Red finally claims its most desired victim. Ellen herself vanishes while in the Perspective Hallway. Last seen by maid, who wished her good evening.
- 1950s-1960s- Servants continue to live in Rose Red but eventually leave one by one out of fear. Adam Rimbauer inherits the house and resides their with his wife. He soon notices rooms change and grow on their own. He also sees the ghost of his long lost sister April frequently. After his death his widowed wife suffers financially when the Omnicron Oil is sold and opens house to tours conducted by the "Seattle Historical Society" for income.
- 1960s- Team of scientists investigate Rose red. Conclude that hauntings and screams are caused by water running through old drainage pipes. Head investigator, Max Bernstein goes missing, never to be seen again.
- Noted phenomena; a moving statue of Ellen Rimbauer in the garden. Faint screams, loud breathing, and fleeting glimpses of figures in the house are reported.
- 1972- Liza Albert vanishes after straying from her tour group and is never seen again. The only trace of her is her handbag, ripped to bloody shreads. Tours immediately stop and Adam's widowed wife moves away for good. Never to return.
- 1972-2001- House falls into a deep disrepair and remains abandoned.
- 1995-1996- House is rumored to have fallen dormant.
- May 24th 2001- Parapsychologist Dr. Joyce Reardon conducts experiment with psychics at Rose Red. Kevin Bollinger is sent by Dr. carl Miller- Joyce's department head, who hates her- to spy on them and take embarrassing photos of them investigating. Kevin visits Rose Red all alone and is lured inside by Sukeena who he doesn't realize is a ghost. He explores the house and makes his way into the Solarium where he vanishes, leaving only his camera behind.
- Noted phenomena: Phantom drafts, bright spectral lights, demonic faces in the flames of the fire place, rooms scream and hallways begin reconstructing themselves. Faint whispering is heard by numerous unknown and unseen voices. A Baby carriage filled with toys rolls on its own to Annie Wheaton, presumably from the lonely ghost of April Rimbauer who wants Annie as a playmate.
- May 24th-May 25th 2001- The teammates of Joyce encounter ghost. Later that night Pam Asbury, a psychometric, is lured to the garden by a ghost in disguise and at the foggy pond she presumably is drowned by the evil spirits of Rose Red. Emery Waterman, a post-cognate is visited in bed by the corpse like ghost of Deanna the missing movie star who attempts to seduce him but is unsuccessful. Cathy Kramer, a automatic writer sees something moving under the rug of one of the rooms she is sleeping in. It movies up the side of her bed and up her covers, but vanishes when finally reaching her. Rachael and Annie wheaton are visited by the ghost of April Rimbauer who attempts to lure Annie, a fifteen year old autistic, telekinetic telepath into the bedroom closet by singng to her while Rachael is asleep. When Rachael is awakened by the singing April retreats back into the closet unable to kill Annie.
- May 25th 2001- The plants in the solarium began to blossom again indicating that the house is feeding off of the energy of its guests. Even jazz music playing out of a blossomed lilly flower can be clearly heard. Victor Kandinsky, precognitive, is lured by the ghost of Pam who is now under the control of Rose Red who uses her as a pawn. Victor is taken to the cold and gloomy garden pond. Suddenly he sees Pam's decomposing body floating in the water and attempts to pull her out. When he reaches Pam, she vanishes and Victor is left only clutching her night dress. Victor then witnesses a statue of Ellen move and he becomes so frightened he dies of a heart attack before being able to get back inside the house. Rose Red finally closes up and locks the remaining guests inside, tapping into the powers of telekinetic, telepathic, and psychokinetic energy. Joyce and her teammates are unable to leave and realize that Pam and Victor are mysteriously missing. Patricia Waterman comes to the house to pick up her son, Emery. But when she arrives she is knocked unconscious by the bloated corpse of Bollinger who drags her unconscious body away into the plants. When Carl Miller also comes to Rose Red after hearing about Bollinger missing he is tricked by the ghost of Sukeena who leads him into the overgrown gardens. As a result he becomes completely lost and disoriented by his surroundings and the spirits of Rose Red cause him to go insane as he wanders the property aimlessly and is soon killed by Bollinger. Meanwhile, Emery hears his mother's screams and he attempts to follow them to find her, unsure if it truly is his mother or Rose Red tricking him. Emery encounters the rotting corpse of Victor and Pam when he becomes lost on Rose Red's property. Later he makes a break for it but is confronted by the ghost of Deanna and Pam who try to persuade him to stay and live at Rose Red forever, promising him a better life. When he rejects the offer Rose Red bites off Emery's fingers as they are painfully severed after the front door, which represents Rose Red's many mouths mercilessly closes on his hand. The spirits of Rose Red then make Bollinger's death look like a Suicide by hanging his body in the mirrored libary. Later that evening Cathy goes to get iced tea in the kitchen and is attacked by Patricia who apparently had been lead into the house and driven insane. Cathy is rescued by Nick Hardaway, a telepathic and remote viewer. They tie Patricia up and leave her in kitchen until they can decide what to do with her. When Patricia is left alone, she is confronted by the rotting corpse of Sukeena who pulls her into the darkness and takes her into the kitchen pantry where she vanishes. Meanwhile, the ghost of Ellen Rimbauer spies on Nick and Cathy who wander the house but are chased by mysterious phantoms in the hallways of Rose Red and get separated. Nick is immediately killed but Cathy, once on her own becomes lost winthin the changing walls of Rose Red's labyrinth, which makes it difficult for her to find her way back to her teammates. When she encounters the ghost of Ellen Rimbauer, Ellen threatens Cathy to help Rose Red or die. Frightened, Cathy quickly runs away only to enter the mirrored library. There she discovers Bollinger's hanging corpse and she screams in terror. Rose Red nearly eats Cathy and consumes her when the mirrored floor in the library becomes a pool of reflective liquid. Cathy nearly sinks into it like water but escapes the room in time. Soon Cathy eventually ends up in the attic tower of Rose Red where she is overcome with the sudden urge to write. She uncovers that John's legendary Suicide was actually a Homicide by the hands of his wife Ellen with the help of Sukeena. Ellen was angry at John for his never-ending affairs and unfaithful ways and after his death it is hinted that she and Sukeena became secret lovers. This explains why the house ate Sukeena as a jealous Rose Red saw her as a threat. Soon after learning this, Cathy is nearly murdered by the now full grown decomposing corpse of April Rimbauer who is dressed up to look like her mother, Ellen Rimbauer. As she sneaks up behind Cathy in an attempt to push Cathy out the stain glass window just as her mother did to her father, Steve and Rachel find and save Cathy in time. Their presence seemingly stops the house from acting and the corpse falls lifeless to the floor before it can attack. A bright light exits April's mouth and her dead body vanishes. The three conclude that the spirits of Rose Red possessed the carcasse of April who must have been living out her life in a state of limbo with the rest of the long-missing victims the house claimed, somewhere in the part of the house that ordinary, average people can't see or find. This verifies that once a person is eaten and consumed by the house, they are then used as mere pawns to help the house in doing its dirty work and partake in its evil schemes. Before any more lives are taken, Cathy and Annie join forces to try and open the house together for they can leave. The windows violently shatter and the doors are flung open and they briefly defeat the house and weaken its evil power from holding them as prisoners. On their way out Emery is attacked by his dead mother who jumps out of a looking glass and attempts to pull him into the spirit realm to eat him, but luckily he fights her off and escapes with the others. Steve Rimbauer, the last Rimbauer alive, is then confronted by the rotting corpse of his great grandmother Ellen Rimbauer who offers him a hammer to past down her legacy to keep building Rose Red. Steve summons the courage to not accept the tool which infuriates Ellen. Annie then uses her telekinesis to rebuke Ellen and cast her spirit away when she tries to kill them. Once outside, Annie uses her powers to destroy the bad house by causing a shower of boulders from the atmosphere to fall on the property. Annie, Rachel, Steve, Emery, and Cathy successfully escape. But Joyce refuses to leave and abandon her equipment. As so, she is killed by the ghosts of Rose Red who walk right out of the walls around her and close in on her to seal her doom, welcoming her home.
- Noted phenomena: Psychic powers of Cathy, automatically writing and Annie destroying the home, dessicated corpse-like ghosts of those who vanished in the house terrorizing the group. Joyce refuses to leave with the rest of the survivors and becomes trapped. She is then killed by the ghost of Rose Red and her soul becomes trapped there just like all the others.
- September 2001- Ellen Rimbauer's Diary is published to the public. The House is due to be demolished. The survivors pay their respects to the dead, and leave to all start a new life.
- 2002- Tech-Star Condominiums are built on the former site of Rose Red. It is unkown if the Condominiums will be cursed by evil spirits or not.
In 2000, two years before the miniseries aired, the producers contracted with author Ridley Pearson to write a tie-in novel, The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer: My Life at Rose Red, under the pseudonym "Dr. Joyce Reardon" (one of the main characters of the miniseries). The novel presented itself as nonfiction, and claimed to be the actual diary of Ellen Rimbauer (wife of the builder of Rose Red). The work was originally intended to be an architectural book featuring photos and drawings of the fictional Rose Red house with the supernatural elements subtly woven into the text and photos, but Pearson (building on several references to a diary in King's script) wrote it as Ellen Rimbauer's diary instead. King came up with the idea of presenting the novel as real by having "Dr. Joyce Reardon" edit the "diary". King also inserted a reference into the book's forward that a "best-selling author had found the journal in Maine", so that fans would be misled into concluding that King had written the work. The ruse worked. Fans and the press speculated for some time that Stephen King or his wife Tabitha King had written the book until Pearson was revealed to be the novel's author. Intended to be a promotional item rather than a stand-alone work, its popularity spawned a 2003 prequel television miniseries to Rose Red, titled The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer. The novel tie-in idea was repeated on Stephen King's next project, the miniseries Kingdom Hospital. Richard Dooling, King's collaborator on Kingdom Hospital and writer of several episodes in the miniseries, published a fictional diary, The Journals of Eleanor Druse, in 2004. Eleanor Druse is a key character in Kingdom Hospital, much as Dr. Joyce Readon and Ellen Rimbauer are key characters in Rose Red.
A fictional Web site for "Beaumont University" (where Dr. Joyce Reardon, one of the main characters in the miniseries, taught parapsychology) was established. The site (still active as of May 2009) provided information on the history of Rose Red, background on the Rimbauer family, and limited information on various disappearances at the mansion. (http://www.beaumontuniversity.net)
The marketing campaign was considered highly successful. Many readers came to believe that The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer was real. The fake Beaumont University site was bombarded with emails from fans who were convinced that Dr. Joyce Reardon, Beaumont University, and Rose Red were real.
The miniseries originally aired on the ABC broadcast television network in the United States on three nights, from January 27-29, 2001. It was directed by Craig R. Baxley.
A DVD running 4 hours and 14 minutes was released in 2007.
Links to other King novels
The character of Annie Wheaton is similar to another Stephen King character, Carrie White—the main character from Stephen King's first published novel, Carrie. As a young girl, Carrie White telekinetically dropped stones on her house, and Annie does the same thing at both the beginning and end of Rose Red.
The story has connections to at least four other King books as well. In both The Shining and Rose Red, young people with telepathic/empathic abilities are wanted by a haunted building for its own uses. Rose Red is referred to in King's Black House as one of the places where "slippage" occurs. King's short story "The Langoliers" (which appeared in his collection of four novellas, Four Past Midnight) features a mysterious British citizen named Nick H who is often assumed to be the character Nick Hardaway from Rose Red "Beaumont University," the college of at which Dr. Joyce Reardon is a faculty member, shares its name with Thad Beaumont, the protagonist from King's novel The Dark Half. The Beaumont name is common in King's works, as one of his favorite authors is speculative fiction author Charles Beaumont.