‘Winchester’ film, impact of gun history

By MIKE CIDONI LENNOX

AP Entertainment Writer

LOS ANGELES — Helen Mirren says her new film “Winchester “ isn’t a horror flick, but rather a ghost story with foreign roots and a distinct American element — the psychological impact of gun deaths.

Mirren plays the real-life Sarah Winchester, a 19th-century heiress who inherited a massive fortune from her husband’s creation of the Winchester repeating rifle shortly after the Civil War. In the film, Winchester believes she is haunted by those killed by the firearm, which allowed for more rapid firing than previous rifles.

“It’s a ghost story, hopefully in the tradition, the very grand tradition, of Japanese ghost stories, ghost films,” Mirren said in a recent interview. “You know, the Japanese love ghost stories and have great belief in the power of the ancestor spirits, of the ancestors, as many cultures do.”

Part of the film was shot at Winchester’s mansion in San Jose, California, where she moved after the death of her husband in 1881. Now known as the “Winchester Mystery House,” it is a popular tourist attraction and has more than 160 rooms, 10 thousand windows, two thousand doors and forty staircases.