It’s a big week for one of New Orleans’ most notorious serial killers—which seems appropriate, given that Thursday is Halloween. A Bywater home owned by Delphine Blanque LaLaurie before she moved to the French Quarter recently hit the market. And today, creators of box office smash The Conjuring announced that the hulking Vieux Carre property where LaLaurie tortured and murdered enslaved people will be the subject of their next horror franchise.
“We love writing films in which we get to tell true stories—incorporating moments that people can look up and discover did in fact happen. With the LaLaurie House we get to do exactly that,” said Chad and Carey Hayes in a press release. “There is a wealth of documentation of a very dark and frightening past of true events. Not to mention that after spending some time there, what we personally experienced was truly unnerving.”
The LaLaurie mansion is a three-story masonry structure that sits at the intersection of Governor Nicholls and Royal streets, where every ghost tour guide makes a stop. There in front of Verti Mart, a po-boy shop that sits catty-corner to the former house of horrors, they detail the gruesome story of sadistic slaveowner LaLaurie. Her position in society was rivaled only by her cruelty, which asserted itself when she chased a 12-year-old enslaved girl, Lia, onto her roof with a whip. The girl leapt to her death. On April 10, 1834, firefighters responded to a kitchen blaze started by an enslaved woman who was chained to the stove. She had set the fire as a suicide attempt.
Firefighters searched the house, and in the hidden upstairs chamber, they discovered “seven slaves, more or less horribly mutilated ... suspended by the neck, with their limbs apparently stretched and torn from one extremity to the other,” according to reporting by The New Orleans Bee on April 11, 1834.
An angry mob looted the LaLaurie mansion, and the Delphine fled—exactly where, nobody knows. Since then, the tragic, gruesome story has risen to prominence in the local and national imagination. LaLaurie was played by Kathy Bates in American Horror Story: Coven, and Nicolas Cage owned the LaLaurie mansion briefly before losing it to foreclosure in 2009. “I bought it in 2007, figuring it would be a good place in which to write the great American horror novel,” Cage told Vanity Fair in 2014. “I didn’t get too far with the novel.”
Like Cage, the Hayes brothers are considering writing the first draft of their screenplay inside the house. It is currently owned by Michael Whalen, a collaborator with LA-based film and TV firm Faster Horse. Faster Horse and the Hayes brothers are partners on the project.
”Building a horror franchise starts with the IP, and for us to be able to tap the LaLaurie Mansion, and its twisted history, is a major coup for Faster Horse,” said executive producer Dylan Bond in a press release.
Principal photography starts in 2020 and will incorporate the LaLaurie Mansion.