The 1996 movie Matilda, based on the Roald Dahl children’s book about a gifted girl born into a family that doesn’t love her, can be a disturbing to watch at times.
Like when her parents, played by Danny Devito and Rhea Perlman, leave their newborn in the back of the station wagon, or when the evil Principal Trunchbull throws a sweet little student out of the playground by her pigtails.
But what keeps it from playing like a horror movie are the sets.
We’ve got Miss Honey’s sweet cottage that becomes a safe haven for Matilda. Miss Trunchbull’s big old house gets fixed up by the end and becomes beautiful again.
And even Matilda’s family home, which is over-the-top tacky, is colorful, retro fun. Let’s take a look back at them!
The Sets from the Movie “Matilda”
The Wormwood Family’s House
Matilda’s family (shady car salesman Mr. Wormwood, daily BINGO player Mrs. Wormwood, and her bullying big brother Mikey) live in this colorful, retro-style ranch.
The Production Designer for this film was Bill Brzeski.
They did an amazing job creating houses that were like characters in the movie, and that reinforced our ideas about the people who lived in them.
Matilda was left to fend for herself from the day they brought her home from the hospital.
I had to get a close-up of this orange flowered wallpaper in the kitchen because I grew up with something similar in mine. Brings back memories!
Gotta love these giant lamps in the living room.
The set decorators must have had a blast putting together the Wormwood sets!
The Wormwoods chide their daughter for reading books
instead of watching TV with the rest of the family.
Miss Honey’s Cottage
My favorite set in the movie had to be Miss Honey’s cottage.
Matilda’s teacher is the first adult who recognizes that she’s special.
She tells Matilda that she had a difficult childhood, too, but she’s happy now.
After she grew up and left home (and her evil step-aunt), she got her own little house with its own little garden.
Who wouldn’t be happy here?
If only we had gotten to see more of it!
This little scene where they have tea in the kitchen is our only peek inside.
The story of Matilda has a definite fairytale quality to it, so this cottage fits right in.
The Trunchbull’s House
Miss Honey’s horrible Aunt Trunchbull runs the Crunchem Hall grade school.
The actress who played her is Pam Ferris, who you may recognize from Harry Potter.
There are some similarities between Matilda and Harry Potter, if you think about it.
The Wormwoods are basically an American version of the Dursleys, the nasty Muggle family Harry had to live with.
Soon after they discovered their powers, Matilda and Harry are sent off to school where they are recognized for being special.
And they both do the whole fighting-against-evil thing, too.
“The Trunchbull,” as they call her, took over her brother’s house after his death.
The grand old house is looking pretty sad under her care.
Miss Honey and Matilda sneak into the house when she’s gone to retrieve some of her things, like a treasured doll named Liccy (which was the name of Roald Dahl’s wife).
Ferris also appeared on one of my favorite British sitcoms, Gavin & Stacey.
Mara Wilson, who played Matilda, sadly lost her own mother to breast cancer during the filming of the movie.
She bravely finished out her shooting schedule anyway, and the film was dedicated to Suzie Wilson in the credits.
Mr. Wormwood sold Trunchbull a clunker: this 1970 Buick Electra 225 sedan.
After Miss Honey returns to the house, it comes to life again:
She and Matilda have tea on the front porch.
Danny Devito directed and narrated the film.
The Wormwoods sign the adoption papers giving custody to Miss Honey without a second thought.
Her father’s painting has been restored over the mantel now:
And Matilda gets to sleep in Miss Honey’s old bedroom:
If the house looks familiar, it may be because it has appeared in other movies.
According to Wikipedia, it’s called “Crank House:”
Crank House, also known as Fair Oaks Ranch, is an 1882 Victorian style residence in Altadena, Los Angeles County, California.
The house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997 for its association with the early settlement of Altadena.
The house has notably featured in films such as Matilda (Trunchbull’s House), Hocus Pocus (Allison’s house interior shots), Scream 2 (Omega Beta Zeta Sorority House) and Catch Me If You Can (Roger Strong’s House).
It’s located at 2186 East Crary Street in Altadena, and according to public records
has 7 bedrooms, 4 baths, and nearly 6,500 square feet.
Visit I Am Not a Stalker to learn more about it.
Visit my Houses Onscreen page to see the other movies I’ve featured, listed A-Z.