On July 18, a 3-D horror film called Jingcheng No. 81 (The House That Never Dies in English) appeared in Chinese theaters. The film broke the opening day box office record for a Chinese-language horror film and is already the highest grossing Chinese horror film of all time.
Interestingly enough, the story behind the record-shattering film is based on a real haunted mansion right here in Beijing.
The history of the mansion goes as far back as 1910. According to legend, in 1949, when the Communists took control of the country, a Kuomintang official abandoned his mistress in Beijing as he escaped the capital. Distraught, the mistress hanged herself in their French Baroque-style mansion, located at Chaonei No. 81.
Some say that the ghost of the woman continues to haunt the residence. Today, the mansion sits abandoned and rundown. Litter is strewn across the grounds and fresh graffiti plasters the walls.
The release of Jingcheng No. 81, however, spurred a sudden interest in the forgotten mansion. According to The New York Times:
“I never thought my job would be like this,” said Xu Wen, the groundskeeper of Chaonei No. 81. Mr. Xu, who has worked at the property since 2011, estimated that the number of visitors since last week had been upward of 500 per day, far more than in the past.
Li Yongjie, who grew up in the neighbourhood, told the Times in 2013, “Even in the 1970s, people thought the house was haunted. As children, we would play hide-and-seek in the house, but we didn’t dare come in by ourselves.”
The truth of Chaonei No.81 may never be uncovered. Perhaps because of that, the eerie tales surrounding the mansion will only serve to spread people’s fascination with it.
For more pictures of the mansion, check out these photos from Flickr.