r Wicked Things Horror Blog: The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer & Rose Red

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer & Rose Red

The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer is a 2003 TV mini-series that was the prequel to the film directly related mini-series, Rose Red (2002).   The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer is an adaptation of The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer: My Life at Rose Red (2001), a novel written by Ridley Pearson under the pseudonym Joyce Reardon, Ph.D., who, of course actually appears as a main character in Rose Red.  Pearson's novel was based on the script of Stephen King's Rose Red.

The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer is set at the turn of the 20th century when Rose Red mansion is constructed by John Rimbauer as a wedding gift for his submissive young wife, Ellen.  Rimbauer owned an oil company, and used a substantial amount of his financial wealth to build the mansion.  The site on which the structure was built was a Native people's burial ground.  The house appeared cursed even as it was being constructed as three construction workers were killed on the site, and a construction foreman was murdered by a co-worker.

Shortly after the Rimbauer's marriage, Ellen began keeping a detailed diary. Ellen confessed her troubles about her new marriage and the horrors of the life she began to lead in the sinister mansion.  The diary not only follows the development of a young lady into womanhood, but the construction of Rose Red.

At first impressed by her husband's extravagance, Ellen grows to be afraid of John, which begins when learning about disturbing elements of his past. She hates him, pretty much more and more as the diary progresses.  All the while, the home they share appears to be saturated with ghosts, presumably people associated with John who have mysteriously disappeared.

While honeymooning in Africa, Ellen Rimbauer fell ill as a result of an implied STD her husband gave her and made the acquaintance of Sukeena, a local tribeswoman. The two women became very close while Sukeena nursed Ellen back to health, and Sukeena accompanied the Rimbauers back to the newly completed Rose Red.

Subsequently, Ellen quickly became unhappy with her marriage to her philandering and neglectful husband.  However, the marriage did produce two children, Adam and April, one of which was born with a malformed arm.  John Rimbauer appeared to commit suicide by throwing himself from an upstairs window, however, he was actually murdered by Ellen and Sukeena.

Ellen and Sukeena continued to live in the house after John Rimbauer's death. After a spiritualist seance, Ellen came to believe that if she continued to build and expand the house, she would never die again similar to the story of the wife of the William Winchester, Sarah, the heir to the Winchester Gun Company's fortune, which I would guess is part of the inspiration for Rose Red and The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer.  William Winchester actually died of Tuberculosis in 1881.

Ellen used nearly all of her late husband's fortune to continually add to the home over the next several decades, enlarging it significantly. The mysterious disappearances continued to occur and even Ellen and Sukeena disappeared in Rose Red.  Deanna Petrie, an actress friend of Ellen Rimbauer's and Sukeena both disappeared over the next few years. Ellen Rimbauer disappeared in 1950.  The house continued to build "itself" through supernatural means.
For several years after Ellen's disappearance, only servants occupied Rose Red. Adam Rimbauer, who inherited the house, lived there for a short time with his wife. However, he abandoned Rose Red after witnessing several paranormal events.  After his death and with the family fortune spent away, his wife sold off many of the home's antique furnishings, and generated some income by permitting the fictional "Seattle Historical Society" to give tours of the house. These tours ceased in 1972, after a participant disappeared while on a tour of the mansion. Investigations for paranormal phenomena were conducted on the property in the 60's and 70's. But these ceased and the house fell into disrepair.

The Rose Red miniseries is set in the year 2001. Steven Rimbauer, the great grandson of John and Ellen Rimbauer, inherited Rose Red. He was offered a large sum of money to have the house torn down by developers to build condominiums.  However, he is intrigued by the paranormal history of the house and has decided to allow one final investigation of the mansion.

Dr. Joyce Reardon (Nancy Travis) is a professor at the fictional Seattle State University who teaches classes on psychic phenomena. Kevin Bollinger Jimmi, a reporter for the campus newspaper, skeptically questions her about a trip she will be taking to Rose Red, an ostensibly haunted and abandoned mansion in nearby Seattle. Professor Carl Miller, Joyce's departmental chair who questions the validity of Joyce's research, orders Bollinger to follow Reardon and spy on a meeting with the group of psychics she is taking to Rose Red.

A girl in her mid teens, Annie Wheaton has Autism and has limited communication skills with the rest of the group.  However, she has profoundly developed psychic abilities and is cared for by Rachel, her adoptive sister.  The group includes Victor "Vic" Kandinsky, an older man, who is a precognate with heart disease; Pam Asbury, a young woman with the ability of psychometry; Cathy Kramer, a middle-aged automatic writer; Nick Hardaway, a telepathic man with remote viewing capabilities; and Emery Waterman, a young man with the ability of post-cognition.  The group meets with Steve Rimbauer, the last living descendent of Ellen and John Rimbauer, in an auditorium at the college.

Rose Red begins with Dr. Joyce Reardon, an unorthodox university psychology professor, leading a team of psychics to Rose Red in an attempt to record data which would constitute scientific proof of paranormal phenomena. The mansion is publicly thought to be haunted, as at least 23 people have either disappeared or died there and the interior of the house appears to change or increase in size. Reardon's team unleashes the spirit of the house, leading to several deaths and the revelation of the mansion's secrets.

To purchase both Rose Red & The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer on DVD, it costs a little under $12, when shopping on Amazon.


  1. I must confess I was not a fan of Rose Red. I thought it borrowed far too heavily from other stories like The Haunting, Hell House, Poltergeist, even a little bit of Candyman.

    1. I liked The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer more than Rose Red, but if you watch The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer first, it helps you to understand Rose Red and adds something to it. It does take a bit from each, but the back story is almost better than Rose Red that you get from its prequel, which I came to find out was a fan fiction novel later adapted to a film. I liked their story even better!


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