I stumbled on a wonderful movie yesterday called Paperhouse. It was strange, fantasy-dream-like, but dark, and I googled it afterwards. First, I didn’t realize it was as old as it is, it was made in 1988. Then I read that one of the two kids who starred in it never acted again, and the other committed suicide when he was 20. It was a particularly upsetting thing to hear after having just watched the ending of the movie.

The Wikipedia entry about what he was suffered from was vague. I’m guessing from this line that it was schizophrenia: “an acquired psychological illness in his late teens precluded him from continuing his acting career.” It’s just so sad.

UPDATE: I may have guessed wrong. From the Wikipedia entry for his second and last movie, Taxandria: “In the interim, Elliott Spiers, who portrayed Aimé Perel in the film, became gravely ill from the side-effects of an anti-Malaria inoculation, which caused a decline in his mental health. As a result, he was unable to complete the voice-dubbing required for his character and, consequently, the voice of Aimé Perel is that of another actor. On Saturday 15 January 1994, while a patient of the psychiatric department of the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, North London, Elliott Spiers took his own life[2]. It remains unknown whether his death was a premeditated act on his part, or a consequence of involuntary actions brought on by his mental ill-health[3].”

You have to look up to get the best architectural details. This is across the street from my temp job.


Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

View all posts by Stacy Horn →

8 thoughts on “Paperhouse

  1. Yeah, me too. It’s such a pleasure to walk around looking at them. And I always manage to see something I’ve never seen before.

  2. Even though – I know, I know, it is a totally dud touristy thing to do, I always ride the open-top double decker tour bus when I visit New York because it affords you amazing views of all the great architecture without having to worry about bumping into people as you walk along with your head in the clouds.

  3. No, it’s a wonderful thing to do and a friend’s husband is a tour guide for one of those companies!

  4. What is that building? I read your entry about Paperhouse as it’s one of my fave films and I was shocked when I heard that Elliott had died so young (you can see his grave at Find A Grave and his mom has posted some of his artwork, too). He apparently had jumped out the window of the hospital but I have wondered how a patient has access to open windows like that, esp in the psych department. Also makes you wonder about vaccines and I’ve read that some can cause mental problems. Very upsetting.

  5. That is VERY upsetting, how terrible. So so so sad. I don’t remember exactly where that building was. I think it was on Park Avenue, maybe in the 20’s? Sorry!!

  6. Someone on the IMdb said he was a nurse on the ward where Elliott was and according to him, Elliott was acting on a delusion when he killed himself. I do know that he had been upset because his illness affected those he loved. It is hard to say exactly what happened and why. I’m still trying to figure out which med it was because I recently read about that man in the military who shot a lot of people who had been on an anti malarial medication which was known to cause psychotic breaks. Why this medicine is still being given, I don’t know.

  7. I wonder if it was known at the time it was prescribed to Elliot. Horribly horribly sad, if his death could have been avoided.

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