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House on Haunted Hill
1959, Horror, 1h 15m
What to know
Campy by modern standards but spooky and atmospheric, House on Haunted Hill is a fun, well-executed cult classic featuring a memorable performance from genre icon Vincent Price. Read critic reviews
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House on haunted hill photos.
Rich oddball Frederick Loren has a proposal for five guests at a possibly haunted mansion: show up, survive a night filled with scares and receive $10,000 each. The guest of honor is Loren's estranged wife, Annabelle, who, with her secret lover, Dr. Trent, has concocted her own scheme to scare Loren's associate, Nora Manning, into shooting the potentially crazy millionaire. However, more spooks and shocks throw a wrench into the plan.
Original Language: English
Director: William Castle
Producer: William Castle
Writer: Robb White
Release Date (Theaters): Feb 17, 1959 original
Release Date (Streaming): Jul 1, 2007
Box Office (Gross USA): $6.5K
Runtime: 1h 15m
Distributor: Allied Artists Pictures
Production Co: William Castle Productions
Cast & Crew
Dr. David Trent
Elisha Cook Jr.
Carl E. Guthrie
Roy V. Livingston
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Critic Reviews for House on Haunted Hill
Audience reviews for house on haunted hill.
A masterclass in old school b horror. Never scary, but always fun, this old dark house tale led by the master Vincent Price is a Goldman classic. Is it good? I mean, debatable. The story is actually fairly solid, the way it's told is dated as hell. But that's part of the fun. What really makes it work is Vincent Price who takes every part of it completely seriously. A film of a type, but of that type one of the best of its kind.
I was pleasantly reminded of the glory that is Vincent Price. Vincent Price is yet again type casted in a haunting tale. price's acting alone will have you on the edge of your seat and the jump scares are excellently surprising.
So silly and campy that it is likely to provoke more unintentional laughter than chills, given its complete disdain for realism, coherence and plausibility - like nobody able to hear a woman screaming that loud in the house or the ludicrous details involving the twist in the end.
A wealthy man offers $10,000 to whomever can spend one whole night in this supposedly haunted house. Why is it thought to be haunted? Seven people have previously died there, died mysteriously. And so a group shows up in a go for the gold, but William Castle, the famous schlock horror director, has more in his mind than simply that. There's plenty of drive-in creepy mood. Vincent Price is certainly ominous, and that's expected, no, but I think it's Elisha Cook Jr.'s raving paranoid naysayer that puts this mere whodunit into horror territory and on edge. See it for that. Then consider for yourself how much the value of any property is increased when there's an acid bath included in the basement.
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The Ebert Club is invites you to share this classic William Castle B-rated movie , streaming free. And please join the Club and explore an eclectic assortment of discoveries. Your subscription helps support the Newsletter, the Far-Flung Correspondents and the On-Demanders on my site. - Roger Ebert
House on Haunted Hill (1959) Directed by William Castle. Produced by William Castle. Written by Robb White. Starring Vincent Price , Carolyn Craig, Elisha Cook, Carol Ohmart, Alan Marshal and Julie Mitchum. Synopsis: House on Haunted Hill is the tale of five people invited to spend the night inside a haunted house by an eccentric millionaire, Fredrick Loren, whose throwing a "party" for his fourth wife Annabelle - with the stipulation that the power will be out and the all the doors locked at midnight; allowing no escape. Anyone who stays inside the house for the entire night, assuming they're still alive come morning, will receive $10,000 each.The five guests all arrive in separate funeral cars with a hearse leading, which he says may be empty now - but they may be in need of it later. Frederick explains the rules of the party and gives each of the guests a .45 pistol for protection. Frederick's wife tries to warn the guests that her husband is psychotic , causing them to be very suspicious of him now, especially Nora Manning who becomes convinced he's trying to kill her when she keeps seeing mysterious ghouls - including the ghost of Annabelle, who'd apparently hanged herself after being forced to attend the party....holy crap, what the hell's going on..?!
Roger Ebert was the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. In 1975, he won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.
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House on Haunted Hill
Given the irredeemable cheesiness of the original 1958 "House on Haunted Hill," the makers of the remake had nowhere to go but up. So it's not exactly a stunning surprise to find the new horror opus is a slicker and scarier piece of work.
By Joe Leydon
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Given the irredeemable cheesiness of the original 1958 “House on Haunted Hill,” a low-voltage shocker best remembered for producer William Castle’s gimmicky offscreen embellishments, the makers of the remake had nowhere to go but up. So it’s not exactly a stunning surprise to find the new horror opus is a slicker and scarier piece of work. Of course, even with a better cast and vastly more elaborate special effects, not to mention a couple of nasty new plot twists, it’s still nothing but a gussied-up B movie. Still, this “House” — which opened Halloween weekend without benefit of press screenings — should scare up some respectable B.O. returns before it begins to haunt vid stores and pay cable.
Screenwriter Dick Beebe recycles a few key plot elements from Robb White’s 1958 scenario, but greatly expands upon the guests-in-a-haunted-house premise. In this version, the suavely sardonic host — known as Frederick Loren back when he was played by Vincent Price — is Stephen Price, the multimillionaire owner-designer of frightfully exciting amusement parks. Even more than the name change, Geoffrey Rush’s slyly allusive performance comes off as a wink-wink homage to the original pic’s star.
Remake begins on a genuinely unsettling note, as the inmates of a Depression-era insane asylum launch a bloody rebellion against the sadistic staffers who have long tormented them. Apparently, Dr. Vannacutt (Jeffrey Combs) and his associates were especially fond of operating on patients without using an anesthetic. Riot sequence climaxes with the mad doctor and his nurses getting a taste of their own medicine while a home-movie camera records the horror.
In a clever segue, some of the grisly footage is aired more than six decades later on a true-crime TV series. Among the fascinated viewers: Evelyn Price (Famke Janssen), Stephen’s shamelessly decadent (and flagrantly unfaithful) trophy wife. Evelyn demands that her husband rent the still-standing Vannacutt Psychiatric Institute for the Criminally Insane — a monolithic art deco edifice atop a spooky oceanside hill — so she can throw a birthday party there. He agrees, but replaces her guest list with his own.
Stephen receives the first of several unpleasant surprises when he greets the invitees: Eddie (Taye Diggs), an ex-baseball player; Blackburn (Peter Gallagher), a soft-spoken doctor; Melissa Marr (Bridgette Wilson), a former TV anchor who’s eager for another shot at stardom; Sara (Ali Larter), a strong-willed beauty who claims to be a movie studio executive; and Pritchett (Chris Kattan), a high-strung, hard-drinking fellow who is the last living descendant of the asylum’s original owner.
Except for Pritchett, Stephen doesn’t know any of these people. (At least that’s his story, and he’s sticking to it.) Evelyn says she didn’t invite them, either. Shrugging off the unsolved mystery of why the four strangers received invitations, Stephen sticks to his original plan. He offers to pay $1 million to anyone who spends the night in the haunted house and lives to see daylight. (Talk about inflation: In the 1958 version, the payoff was $10,000.) Stephen has rigged some tricks to scare his guests, and Evelyn has a few tricks of her own, but things get out of hand when truly supernatural terrors begin.
The blood flows more freely and the body count is appreciably higher in the new “House on Haunted Hill.” Unlike the 1958 version, which turned out to be a tale of all-too-human villainy, the remake is a horror show with full-blown poltergeists and state-of-the-art effects. Purists may miss the plastic skeleton that Castle wanted exhibitors to string from the ceiling in major-market theaters during screenings of his “classic.” Everyone else will appreciate the improvements.
Visually, the pic is nothing if not eclectic: The f/x crew apparently spent a lot of time studying the darkly impressionistic artwork of George Grosz and the more nightmarish parts of “Jacob’s Ladder.” Production notes frankly acknowledge the Albert Speer influence, evident in exterior matte shots of the ex-asylum. Some of the interiors aren’t nearly as imaginative, but the rotting corpses under glass provide an appropriately eerie touch.
Dramatically, “House on Haunted Hill” is far less impressive. The cheap scares and shrewd shocks are abundant, but the muddled narrative is short on characterization and skimpy on motivation. Director William Malone lets the pace flag a bit in the final third, and the pic as a whole is too reliant on vulgarity for comic relief. On the other hand, Kattan earns some honest laughs with his boozy and cowardly wisecracking in a role originally played by Elisha Cook Jr.
Rush and Janssen set off some amusing sparks while developing a relationship that is less love-hate than hate-revile. Other performances, including singer Lisa Loeb’s cameo as a TV news reporter, are first-rate.
And to answer the obvious question: Yes, the remake of “House on Haunted Hill” is a lot more fun than the remake of “The Haunting.” But someone should stop this mini-trend before we see a new and improved version of “Hillbillies in a Haunted House.”
- Production: A Warner Bros. release of a Dark Castle Entertainment production. Produced by Robert Zemeckis, Joel Silver, Gilbert Adler. Executive producers, Dan Cracchiolo, Steve Richards. Co-producer, Terry Castle. Directed by William Malone. Screenplay, Dick Beebe, based on a story by Robb White.
- Crew: Camera (Technicolor, Panavision widescreen), Rick Bota; editor, Anthony Adler; music, Don Davis; production designer, David F. Klassen; art director, Richard F. Mays; set decorator, Lauri Gaffin; costume designer, Ha Nguyen; sound (Dolby Digital/DTS/SDDS), Vince Garcia; special makeup effects, Robert Kurtzman, Gregory Nicotero, Howard Berger; assistant director, Scott Cameron; casting, Lora Kennedy. Reviewed at Cinemark Tinseltown 290 Theater, Houston, 29 Oct. 1999. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 96 MIN.
- With: Stephen Price - Geoffrey Rush Evelyn - Famke Janssen Eddie - Taye Diggs Blackburn - Peter Gallagher Pritchett - Chris Kattan Sara - Ali Larter Melissa Marr - Bridgette Wilson Schecter - Max Perlich Dr. Vannacutt - Jeffrey Combs Channel 3 Reporter - Lisa Loeb
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House on haunted hill.
1959 Directed by William Castle
Consult your doctor! Bring your seat belts!
Frederick Loren has invited five strangers to a party of a lifetime. He is offering each of them $10,000 if they can stay the night in a house. But the house is no ordinary house. This house has a reputation for murder. Frederick offers them each a gun for protection. They all arrived in a hearse and will either leave in it $10,000 richer or leave in it dead!
Vincent Price Carol Ohmart Richard Long Alan Marshal Carolyn Craig Elisha Cook Jr. Julie Mitchum Leona Anderson Howard Hoffman Skeleton
Assistant Director Asst. Director
Jack R. Berne
William Castle Robb White
Roy V. Livingston
Carl E. Guthrie
Art Direction Art Direction
Set Decoration Set Decoration
Special Effects Special Effects
Herman E. Townsley
Ralph Butler Charles Schelling
William Castle Productions Allied Artists Pictures
Releases by Date
14 jan 1959.
- Theatrical limited
09 Mar 1984
02 nov 2002, 23 oct 2009, 30 jan 2015, 06 feb 2015, 20 mar 2018, 17 feb 1959, 17 jul 1959, 18 aug 1959, 01 sep 1959, 27 oct 1959.
- East Germany 18
01 Jan 1960
09 jan 1960, 11 jan 1960, 11 may 1960, 29 apr 1963, 20 jun 2007, 17 dec 2008, 05 may 2009, 01 jan 1990, releases by country.
- Theatrical 15
- Theatrical 18
- Theatrical limited K-18 Iik!! Horror Film Festival
- Digital K-18 DVD Premiere
- Theatrical 12
- Digital DVD Premiere
- Theatrical T
- Theatrical limited M/14 Fantasporto - Festival de Cinema do Porto
- Digital 12 DVD Premiere
- Theatrical limited 12 Madrid - Subtitled Version Premiere
- Theatrical limited 12 Barcelona - Subtitled Version Premiere
- Premiere NR San Francisco, California
- Theatrical NR
- Physical NR GoodTimes Home Video #8147 [VHS] 75 minutes
75 mins More at IMDb TMDb Report this page
Review by Ian West ★★★★ 11
“ There will be food and drink and ghosts ”
Review by Karst ★★★★
just a bunch of smart people being idiots
Review by pd187 ★★★★ 19
CAST: Skeleton - By Himself
love this guy's work! www.imdb.com/name/nm2213817/
Review by SilentDawn ★★★★ 5
A funny, silly, goofy, gimmicky, playful, atmospheric, creepy, campy, wacky, and jokey classic. William Castle's House on Haunted Hill revels in the loony as it opens doors with the squeakiest of squeaks and as it flows along according to Vincent Price's devilish grin. The writing is tricky, resembling a typical haunted house tale but friskily dancing around with snappy one-liners and obvious reveals. It's just a fun film all the way through, and I always love returning to its mischievous pleasures.
It also makes a great companion piece to Clue .
Review by eely ★★★
every single one of annabelle’s outfits SLAPS
Review by Jay 👽 ★★★★ 4
Recommended by Marissa J.P .
What a groovy, goofy, gruesome time! Where have you been all my life, House on Haunted Hill , with your oddly Brutalist architecture, unexplained acid swimming pool, and ill-advised pistol coffins!
In spite of all its silliness, it has atmosphere for days, and perfectly embodies the spooky spirit of early horror cinema that you can imagine playing at long-forgotten drive-in theatres. I think I might just have to watch this every Halloween night for the rest of my life.
Recommend me a film!
Review by SilentDawn ★★★★½
With a perfect title and a perfect poster, it's incredible that House on Haunted Hill is as delightful and creative as it is, but that's just the power of William Castle. Full of twists and turns and cozy creepy atmosphere for days. And of course, Vincent Price.
Review by DreamScape40 ★★★★
This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
This reminded me of the film "CLUE"
That ending with the skeleton was classic!
Review by travis k ★★★½ 3
Vincent Price: “there will be food and drink and ghosts, and perhaps even a few murders. You’re all invited”
Me: “alexa, clear my calendar”
Review by Jordan Beaumont Anderson ★★★
One of history's most poorly planned orgies.
Review by Aaron Hendrix ★★★½ 2
Darling, the only ghoul in the house is you
Review by Ben Hibburd ☘🏀 ★★★★ 2
House on Haunted Hill is a fun macabre tale about a group of strangers staying inside a haunted house for one night in the hopes of receiving 10,000 dollars. Featuring the boundlessly entertaining Vincent Price this film is one part Tales from the Crypt, one part Cluedo and one part Scooby-Doo. And at 74 minutes in length the film is a breezy, enjoyable murder mystery wrapped inside a Gothic setting.
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The Iconic ‘House on Haunted Hill’ Mansion Just Hit the Market in California
It’s always fun to imagine living inside of an iconic horror movie house, which is why we always like to report on such locations going up for grabs. The latest, brought to our attention by Variety , is the mansion from William Castle’s original House on Haunted Hill , which was actually also featured in Blade Runner .
The 6,000 square foot house, with four bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms, is located in Los Angeles’ Los Feliz neighborhood, and it was built in 1924 by Lloyd Wright, son of Frank Lloyd Wright. The house is highly unique both inside and out, with the exterior being featured in House on Haunted Hill and the interior playing the role of Deckard’s apartment in Blade Runner .
Variety details, “ Positioned high on a .83-acre hillside parcel with cinematic views that sweep over the city, the main residence and guest quarters atop a detached garage — originally designed as a chauffeur’s apartment — together measure somewhat more than 6,000-square-feet with four bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms. The landmarked residence has been featured in dozens of films, television shows, fashion shoots and music videos including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Twin Peaks and, most famously, 1982’s Blade Runner .”
“ An exceptionally, almost dizzying long interior loggia with a mausoleum-like marble floor links multi-level interior spaces that feature the same textured blocks as the exterior along with delicately geometric leaded glass windows and hardwood floors ,” the site continues. “ The airy living room has a shimmering, mosaic-tiled fireplace and the cathedral-esque dining room offers a soaring, exposed-beam ceiling, another fireplace and a cleverly framed view of the downtown skyline through a frameless corner picture window. There’s also an intimate library, a black and white tiled vintage kitchen restored to functionality and, discretely tucked on a lower level, a games/screening room with open fireplace and curved bar .”
The mansion was severely damaged by an earthquake in 1994 but was subsequently restored, at great expense to its most recent owner. The current price tag? A staggering $23 million .
Check out a full gallery of inside and outside photos over on Variety .
Photo Credit: Hilton & Hyland
Writer in the horror community since 2008. Editor in Chief of Bloody Disgusting. Owns Eli Roth's prop corpse from Piranha 3D. Has four awesome cats. Still plays with toys.
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House on Haunted Hill
- An amusement park mogul offers a group of diverse people $1,000,000 to spend the night in a haunted house with a horrifying past.
- When an eccentric millionaire offer a group of opposites $1,000,000 to spend the night in a so called "Haunted House" with a murderous past, they figure it is a quick way to get quick money and leave. All of them are sure it is some made up story just to mess with their heads a little and test their courage. But, once they stay in the house they start to think about the mistake they made in coming there when mysterious things start to happen. — Kyle <[email protected]>
- How far would you go for a million dollars? Would you spend the night in a haunted house? When twisted billionaire Stephen Price and his devilish wife, Evelyn, offer six strangers one million dollars each, there is only one rule to the game: they'll have to survive one night in a former mental institution, haunted by the ghosts of the inmates killed there, and an insane doctor who did unspeakable things... At first, everyone is having fun, thinking that the whole thing is a joke. But once the entire house automatically seals itself shut, they realize that this is no joke. — Robert Rosado <[email protected]>
- The film is set in an abandoned asylum, the Vannacutt Psychiatric Institute for the Criminally Insane, where numerous murders were committed in the 1940s and 50s. The head of the facility, Dr. Richard B. Vannacutt, performed grotesque experiments and medical procedures on the patients, killing many in the process. The hospital was closed when some of the so-called "patients" escaped, killing almost the entire staff and burning the hospital. Vannacutt had rigged the building with numerous iron gates, activated by cranks and levers, to serve as barriers to keep patients from leaving the building, should they escape; some of these were controlled by huge, clock-like timers that wouldn't open for twelve hours. During the fire, he released these gates, keeping the inmates, employees and the fire itself contained. After several unexplained deaths during reconstruction of the facility, it was dubbed "The House on Haunted Hill". Present day. Stephen Price is an eccentric amusement park mogul whom has a disintegrating marriage to Evelyn, his spoiled trophy wife. Stephen's wicked sense of humor has caused a strain between him and his wife, each of whom would gladly kill the other. Evelyn fancies spectacular parties, so Stephen leases the house from the owner, Watson Pritchett, for Evelyn's Halloween birthday bash. Evelyn gives Stephen a guest list two pages long; he shreds it to spite her and then creates one of his own. The five people who show up for the party: model Jennifer Jenzen (aka: Sara Wolfe), Eddie Baker, Melissa Margaret Marr, Dr. Donald Blackburn and Pritchett himself, aren't the ones that he invited. Neither Evelyn nor Stephen know who they are. Despite this, Price continues the party's theme, offering a million dollars to anyone who stays in the house and survives until morning, with any person not making it having his money added to the pot. Shortly after arriving, the security gates are tripped, locking everyone inside and forcing them to remain there until the gates unlock in the morning. Price scolds Carl Schecter--a company employee, who has developed a series of harmless traps to scare the guestsfor not letting him know he planned to pull a stunt like that. Schecter said it wasn't him who did it. Price is then convinced his wife did it somehow. Shortly after, Melissa is killed by one of the ghosts when she wanders off into the basement of the house. It's revealed that the spirits themselves created the guest list specifically to include the descendants of five members of Vannacutt's staff who didn't die in the long-ago fire. Also, it is revealed that Evelyn and Blackburn are in working together to bring down Stephen. Evelyn then kills Blackburn and uses his body to frame Stephen. After a deranged Stephen attempts to kill Evelyn for orchestrating his murder plot, the two accidentally unleash the Darkness of the house when he throws her through an ancient and decayed door. The Darkness is a dark, shape-shifting creature composed of all the spirits in the house, led by Dr. Vannacutt; this force comes after and tries to kill all the remaining guests. It starts by assimilating Evelyn into itself, killing her while Price watches in horror. The Darkness reveals how the evil souls that comprise it want to feed on all those "who are responsible". Upstairs, Pritchett, Eddie and Sara are trying to open one of the iron gates on the windows when they hear Price's screams from down the hall. Pritchett investigates, while the Darkness catches up with Price on the other side of the door; he jumps out of the way at the exact same moment when Pritchett opens the door and the Darkness kills him and flows away. Price runs through the hall while Sara and Eddie follow, trying to figure out how he's alive when Sara supposedly shot him (answer: a bullet-proof vest). Price tells them that what Pritchett's been saying all along is true: the house is alive and killed everyone. He figures that the only way to get out is to go to the attic and try and escape through there. Price runs ahead of them to activate them while Sara and Eddie stay behind. The Darkness seeps through the house and tries to kill them. As they are running up the stairs to the attic Sara trips, and the Darkness uses Melissa's form to try to lure her to it. Price by then has activated a pulley that reveals an opening in the window of the attic. Eddie and Sara get there, while the Darkness seeps up the cracks of the wooden floor, and Sara lingers while Eddie goes to the opening. Eddie looks back from the window to find that the Darkness had arrived and is attempting to sever the rope that keeps the iron gate open. While Eddie rushes back to get Sara, the Darkness tries to kill her but instead kills Price, who had sacrificed his life to get Sara out of the way. Sara escapes just as the iron gate comes crashing down, trapping Eddie with the Darkness. The Darkness then confronts Eddie and brings up charges against his ancestor's actions. Eddie then screams that he was actually adopted. At the sound of this, Pritchett's ghost appears and frees Eddie by pulling the rope needed to open the iron gate, at which Sara pulls Eddie through as the Darkness is about to kill him. After he is pulled through, the gate shuts, Pritchett's ghost disappears and the Darkness disappears into nothingness. As Sara and Eddie sit in exhaustion over the night's events, they notice that an envelope has been pushed through the gate, containing five checks for $1 million each. They smile and enjoy the rays of the sun. It ends with Sara asking, "One more thing, how do we get down from here?" as they are several hundred feet above the ground and there's no exit.
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House on Haunted Hill (1959 film)
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House on Haunted Hill is a 1959 American B movie horror film from Allied Artists. It was directed by William Castle, written by Robb White, and starring Vincent Price as eccentric millionaire Fredrick Loren. He and his fourth wife, Annabelle, have invited five people to the house for a "Haunted House" party. Whoever stays in the house for one night will earn $10,000 each. As the night progresses, all the guests are trapped inside the house with ghosts, murderers, and other terrors.
Exterior shots of the house were filmed at the historic Ennis House in Los Feliz, California.
House on Haunted Hill is the tale of five people invited to stay the night in a supposedly haunted house by an eccentric millionaire, Frederick Loren ( Vincent Price ), who is throwing the "party" for his fourth wife, Annabelle ( Carole Ohmart ), with the stipulation that the power will be out and all doors will be locked at midnight, allowing no accessible escape. Anyone who stays in the house for the entire night, given that they are still alive, will each receive $10,000.
The five guests all arrive in separate funeral cars with a hearse leading, which he explains may be empty now, but they may be in need of it later. He explains the rules of the party and gives each of the guests a .45 caliber pistol for protection. Loren's wife tries to warn the guests that her husband is psychotic, causing them to be very suspicious of him, especially Nora Manning ( Carolyn Craig ), who becomes convinced that he's trying to kill her when she keeps seeing mysterious ghouls, including the ghost of Annabelle, who had hanged herself after being forced to attend the party.
Almost as frightened as Nora is Watson Pritchard ( Elisha Cook ), the house's owner and another of the party's guests. He is fully convinced that the house is genuinely haunted by the ghosts of those killed there in the past, and that those ghosts have the power to "come for" and kill anyone in the house that they wish.
Eventually it is revealed that Annabelle faked her death in league with one of the guests, Dr. Trent ( Alan Marshal ). The two have been attempting to frighten Nora so badly that she will be spooked into shooting Frederick. Indeed, after being driven into a fit of hysteria by the repeated frights she has experienced during the evening, Nora does fire upon Frederick, assuming he is going to kill her. After she flees the room, Dr. Trent slips in and tries to get rid of Frederick's body by pushing it into a vat of acid, but the lights go out and the sounds of a struggle are heard.
After hearing the sound of the gunshot, Annabelle enters to confirm that her plan to kill her husband has come to fruition. Suddenly, a skeleton emerges from the acid accompanied by Frederick's voice. The specter approaches Annabelle as she recoils in terror. In this panic, the screaming Annabelle accidentally backs into the acid herself. The real Frederick walks out of the shadows, holding the contraption that he was using to control the skeleton. In his triumph, he watches Annabelle disintegrate.
Nora tells the other guests that she's shot Loren in the wine cellar, and they all rush down there. When they arrive, they see that he's actually alive, and he tells Nora that the gun she had fired at him had been loaded only with blanks. He then explains to guests that his wife and Dr. Trent had been trying to kill him and that they each have met their end in the vat of acid. He says solemnly that he is "ready for justice to decide" his guilt or innocence.
Just when everyone thinks the trauma is finally over Watson Pritchard looks into the acid and asserts that Annabelle and Dr. Trent have now joined the ranks of house's ghosts. Then, with a terrified expression on his face, he announces that the ghosts are now coming for him, "and then they'll come for you ."
- Vincent Price as Frederick Loren
- Carolyn Craig as Nora Manning
- Richard Long as Lance Schroeder
- Elisha Cook as Watson Pritchard
- Carol Ohmart as Annabelle Loren
- Alan Marshal as Dr. David Trent
- Julie Mitchum as Ruth Bridgers
- Leona Anderson as Mrs. Slydes
- Howard Hoffman as Jonas Slydes
- It should be noted that despite the title, no supernatural events ever appears in the film. This was changed in the remake which featured ghosts.
- 1 Vannacutt Psychiatric Institute for the Criminally Insane
- 2 Steven H. Price
- 3 Lance Schroeder
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Halloween 2019: How HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1959) Paved the Way for the Next 60 Years of Genre Storytelling
[This Halloween season, we're paying tribute to classic horror cinema by celebrating films released before 1970! Check back on Daily Dead this month for more retrospectives on classic horror films, and visit our online hub to catch up on all of our Halloween 2019 special features!]
“Only the ghosts in this house are glad we’re here.” While William Castle didn’t invent the “strangers meeting in a singular location under sinister circumstances” motif that was at the heart of House on Haunted Hill back in 1959 (Agatha Christie brought that into the fold decades prior with her iconic mystery novels, and her storytelling influence is undoubtedly felt here), it was Castle’s late ’50s shocker that repopularized it amongst movie fans in America, with the help of his “Emergo” gimmicks, and building on the grand success of Macabre just a year prior.
Castle put out a lot of memorable horror jaunts during his career, and even 60 years since House on Haunted Hill first thrilled audiences with its supernaturally charged mystery, its influence looms over the realm of genre storytelling and is still being felt today. Like many of Castle’s genre efforts, it delivered up immersive thrills and chills, and House became yet another major turning point in Castle’s career as well, cementing his legacy as the true king of B-Movies and an independent film producer outside of the Hollywood system.
If you’ve somehow never seen House on Haunted Hill , or its 1999 remake, which shares many of the original’s plot points, the setup is straightforward: a playboy millionaire named Frederick Loren (the legendary Vincent Price) is throwing a haunted house party in honor of his wife, Annabelle (Carol Ohmart), and invites five strangers to stay with them in the property overnight, promising to award them each $10,000 if they can make it until the morning. The guests who take Mr. Loren up on his unconventional offer include test pilot Lance Schroeder (Richard Long), noted columnist Ruth Bridges (Julie Mitchum), psychiatrist Dr. David Trent (Alan Marshal), Nora Manning (Carolyn Craig), who works for one of Frederick’s companies, and Watson Pritchard (Elisha Cook), the man who owns the titular home at the center of the House on Haunted Hill .
As the night unfolds, a series of strange occurrences begin to plague the party guests, as doors mysterious close, a chandelier falls, an organ somehow plays itself, and it's evident that those stuck inside the home are in mortal danger—but from who, or what, exactly remains to be seen.
While it’s been heralded for decades now as a tale of supernatural horror, what’s interesting to me is that technically, that categorization is up for debate, once the full game that is afoot in House is revealed, where it’s not ghosts that are terrorizing the partygoers, it’s actually Annabelle and her secret lover, Dr. Trent, behind the eerie events that take place. As it turns out, the pair have put together this elaborate ruse to drive the unsuspecting Nora to the brink of insanity, so much so that she would shoot Mr. Loren in her state of frenzy, allowing his wife to run off with her new suitor, with no one being the wiser.
And while there are some seemingly supernatural forces at play in House on Haunted Hill , we technically don’t really see any actual ghosts, making the house’s phantasmal status up for debate. Some may feel differently, but that is one of the aspects that I absolutely love about the film, because in many ways, I feel like it would eventually go on to influence horror movies like April Fool's Day , where you think there’s a serial killer on the loose, but in reality, it’s all an elaborate setup for a college co-ed to try out her plan to create a murder mystery bed and breakfast. Some may feel differently, but I’m always up for a directorial bait-and-switch, if it serves the story properly, which it very much does in House on Haunted Hill .
To Watson Pritchard, though, he’s convinced that there’s an otherworldly presence (or seven) haunting his abode, and it’s his mania that fuels the paranoia rippling below the surface of Robb White’s script for House on Haunted Hill , which is probably a big reason why it’s a film that continues be a favorite amongst old-school horror fans. In fact, I’ve seen House probably more than 40 times, and I still get a chuckle out of watching a manipulated skeleton rise from an acid-filled pit to terrorize Annabelle, and then after she meets her grisly fate, we watch as Frederick emerges wearing a contraption of levers and pulleys, allowing audiences to see that he knew exactly what his scheming wife and her paramour were up to all along, and was playing a much different (and more effective) game in the long run.
Also, just a side note, but I love that Elisha Cook, who portrays Pritchard here, would go on to play Weasel Phillips in Tobe Hooper’s Salem’s Lot miniseries, which is another story where a house with reputation for being evil to its core is a driving force in the narrative. Those are the little through lines in genre filmmaking that never fail to make me smile.
But, despite the fact that the film is now 60 years old, there’s still a timeliness to House on Haunted Hill ’s story, where people are driven by their need for money, so much so that they are willing to put themselves, or others, in harm’s way so that they can score a big payday. In fact, characters being motivated by their own economic circumstances is a theme that probably resonates more so in the present than ever before, which is why we’ve seen films like Would You Rather? , Creep , Escape Room , and 13 Sins being released throughout the last decade, clearly a response to how our own fiscal concerns can provide the fuel for our own nightmares.
For me, one of the films that I think House on Haunted Hill inspired in a myriad of ways is Jonathan Lynn’s Clue , which may have been based on the popular board game, but there’s enough connective tissue between both films where it wouldn’t be completely unfounded to say that many of Clue ’s set pieces and thematic elements owe a great deal to what Castle created with House back in 1959. Between bringing together a group of strangers at the behest of an unusual host, the lavish locale the guests cannot escape from, and a plot driven by murderous deeds, Clue definitely owes a lot to House on Haunted Hill , albeit I believe that Lynn took everything even further to greater success (I’ve always thought House on Haunted Hill’s abrupt ending is a bit underwhelming in comparison to all that precedes it).
That being said, House on Haunted Hill is still arguably one of the most influential and entertaining horror movies of its time, and clocking in at a breezy 74 minutes, it makes for the perfect cinematic aperitif to enjoy during the Halloween season. Plus, who can resist a movie where Vincent Price hands out party favors in coffin-shaped boxes? Not me.
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Heather A. Wixson was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, until she followed her dreams and moved to Los Angeles in 2009. A 14-year veteran in the world of horror entertainment journalism, Wixson fell in love with genre films at a very early age, and has spent more than a decade as a writer and supporter of preserving the history of horror and science fiction cinema. Throughout her career, Wixson has contributed to several notable websites, including Fangoria, Dread Central, Terror Tube, and FEARnet, and she currently serves as the Managing Editor for Daily Dead, which has been her home since 2013. She's also written for both Fangoria Magazine & ReMind Magazine, and her latest book project, Monsters, Makeup & Effects: Volume One will be released on October 20, 2021.
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Classic Review: House on Haunted Hill (1959)
May 24, 2016 Mike Annerino Retro Review
William Castle is a classic horror director, but he’s not exactly Alfred Hitchcock. Whereas Hitchcock took films that could so easily fall flat and made them astoundingly brilliant, Castle was more of a mainstream gimmicky kind of director. This isn’t an insult, the man has done great stuff, some of it was just kind of stupid. His film The Tingler is a perfect example of this, although in that particular situation his gimmick got in the way of his storytelling big time. His films like The Old Dark House , 13 Ghosts and Mr. Sardonicus are sillier films, but they’re still as entertaining as they were five decades ago. They’re popcorn horror films and more often then not Castle made them work. Does his 1959 haunted house film House on Haunted Hill also remain as entertaining? Well, let me put it this way, there’s a reason people still love this film 57 years later.
House on Haunted Hill follows Frederick Loren (Vincent Price) a millionaire in the middle of his fourth marriage, though it may not be the happiest one. Loren holds a party, but not a normal party, at this particular party he invites five strangers to spend a night with him and his wife at a supposedly haunted mansion. What do the party-goers get if they stay all night? Ten thousand dollars from Mr. Loren himself.
Although we may get the typical 50’s horror movie acting, with either very wooden delivery or over the top delivery, there’s some great character stuff here. As far as acting goes, Vincent Price is obviously your strongest player here, but luckily he really is enough to carry it. But even when he’s not onscreen, a lot of the characters themselves–although the acting may not be there–are far more interesting than I expected. This isn’t to say that all of the characters are interesting (I’ll get into that later) but the characters who are interesting here add a lot of intrigue to this story. The characters may not have dimension, but they do have hidden layers. You think you know everyone’s motivations, but you don’t really know. Characters like Frederick, Annabelle and Lance are all very interesting characters that make for a compelling mystery.
Another strong aspect to this film is the atmosphere. I love the atmosphere that this film creates because it’s prime 1950’s haunted house atmosphere. The movie isn’t exactly a whodunnit story, but for some reason it had that feel to me, which made it a lot of fun. There are a lot of back stabbings and twists, making for a classic mystery story. Is it cheesy and gimmicky like I mentioned? Sure, I’ll get more into that later–but it definitely is that. That being said, it makes for a very entertaining film. Something that’s aimed at mainstream audiences isn’t always necessarily bad. Can you always tell that it’s aimed to please a certain audience? Sure, but it works sometimes. This is one of those examples.
Something else that director William Castle is great at is imagery. Whether it be a genuinely creepy moment or just an effective dramatic shot, Castle proves with this film that he has an eye for effective photography. This movie is pretty cheesy in its horror imagery, but that’s mainly the third act. In fact, I think the first two-thirds have some pretty creepy moments. Moments like a woman dressed in black jumping out at someone is creepy, and even simple moments like a dead body hung from the ceiling, but instead of seeing the full body we only see the dangling legs. Stuff like that is really effective and memorable. Not just scares, but even basic moments like Vincent Price putting a gun in a coffin or the classic 50’s “dramatic glance”, or even someone just standing in a hallway for just the right amount of time to make it unsettling.
I like this movie, I think it’s aged very well, but there are some glaring issues here. A few paragraphs above, I mentioned some of the characters that I really liked, characters who had layers, but every single other character in this movie is a complete waste of space. I’ll be honest, sometimes they would cut to a character and I’d say “Fuck, I forgot they were even in this”. Some of these characters are annoyingly flat, most noticeably Watson (Elisha Cook) who is set up as someone who has a kind of history with the house, but they don’t do a fucking thing with that character. That character is so glaringly mishandled because they keep having him walk up to characters and babble senselessly, but that just goes nowhere. He’s not even a red herring, he has mild set up and then nothing.
Even for it’s time, this movie is silly. Like, it’s duuuuuumb . I didn’t mind it, because I find the movie fun, but the third act specifically is so much dumber than the first two-thirds. Some of the horror elements go to random places and although I like almost all of the twists in this, I’ll admit that some of those aspects don’t make sense. This movie may be almost six decades old, but I’ll refrain from spoilers. But there’s one particular twist that was one of those twists that made me go “But if this was this….then why did this happen? and so they….did that to get to this ?”. Those are the aspects that are certainly aimed to shock the mainstream audiences that it was intended for in 1959, with no logic considered. They’re still fun twists, but they are very dumb. Even the scares get dumber, like a scene with a dancing skeleton and a scene with a random monster hand.
Sure, does this have its flaws? Absolutely. The third act goes to some silly places and a main chunk of the cast of characters are completely mishandled, but the fact that this movie is 57 years old and it was even slightly effective is pretty astounding to me. There’s camera work that’s still impressive and gorgeous today, scares and imagery that still creeped me out and had me on the edge of my seat, and the characters that do work, work really well. Plus, who doesn’t love a little Vincent Price every now and then? There’s a reason that this film is hailed as one of the great classic haunted house movies, because it is one of the great classic haunted house movies. This is the epitome of the 50’s era spook house film, and it’s just as fun now as it was back then, flaws and all.
- Classic Review
- House on Haunted Hill
- Vincent Price
- William Castle
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House On Haunted Hill True Story
House on Haunted Hill: Unveiling the Haunting True Story
The House on Haunted Hill has long been regarded as a classic horror film, captivating audiences with its chilling storyline and spine-tingling scares. But did you know that behind the fictional tale lies a true story that is equally as eerie? In this article, we will delve into the origins of House on Haunted Hill and uncover seven unique facts surrounding its creation. Furthermore, we will address 12 frequently asked questions about the movie, and provide insights from experts in the fields of cinema and literature. Lastly, we will conclude with some intriguing final thoughts.
Unveiling the True Story:
1. Inspiration from Real-Life Hauntings:
The House on Haunted Hill draws inspiration from various real-life haunted locations, including the infamous Winchester Mystery House in California. This sprawling mansion, built by Sarah Winchester, is said to be haunted by the spirits of those killed by Winchester rifles. The film also takes inspiration from the purported hauntings at the Eastern State Penitentiary in Pennsylvania.
2. The Original Owner’s Mysterious Death:
The real house that the film was based on, located in Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles, belonged to Dr. Harold Perelson. In 1959, Dr. Perelson murdered his wife before committing suicide in the house. This tragic incident served as the foundation for the film’s haunting narrative.
3. The Film’s Iconic Setting:
The eerie house depicted in the movie is not the actual Los Feliz mansion, but a combination of different filming locations and sets. The production team meticulously recreated the haunted atmosphere to enhance the overall chilling experience for viewers.
4. The Influence of Vincent Price:
Renowned actor Vincent Price was cast as the film’s lead, Frederick Loren. Price’s portrayal of Loren added an extra layer of sophistication and intrigue to the character, making him the perfect fit for the role. His performance in House on Haunted Hill has since become one of his most memorable.
5. The Emergence of William Castle:
House on Haunted Hill marked the emergence of director William Castle as a master of suspense. Castle’s innovative marketing techniques, such as the use of a “Fright Break” during the film, where viewers had the option to leave and receive a refund, added an interactive element to the movie-watching experience.
6. The Success and Legacy:
Upon its release in 1959, House on Haunted Hill was a commercial success, solidifying its place in horror movie history. The film’s popularity led to remakes in 1999 and 2007, further cementing its status as a cult classic that continues to captivate audiences to this day.
7. The Influence on the Horror Genre:
House on Haunted Hill played a significant role in shaping the horror genre, paving the way for future haunted house films. Its combination of suspense, supernatural elements, and psychological twists set a precedent for the genre’s future endeavors.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. Is House on Haunted Hill based on a true story?
While the film draws inspiration from real-life haunted locations, the specific events depicted in House on Haunted Hill are fictional. However, the Los Feliz murder-suicide that occurred in a similar house served as the inspiration for the movie’s narrative.
2. Who directed House on Haunted Hill?
House on Haunted Hill was directed by William Castle, a prominent figure in the horror genre known for his innovative marketing techniques and suspenseful storytelling.
3. Did the actual Los Feliz house have paranormal activity?
There have been reports of paranormal activity in the Los Feliz house, but these claims are unverified. The house remains a subject of fascination among ghost hunters and enthusiasts.
4. What were the marketing tactics used for House on Haunted Hill?
William Castle employed various marketing tactics to enhance the film’s experience, including the “Fright Break” mentioned earlier, as well as providing audience members with a cardboard skeleton called “Emergo” that would fly over the audience during certain scenes.
5. Who played the lead role in House on Haunted Hill?
The lead role of Frederick Loren was portrayed by iconic actor Vincent Price, whose performance added a touch of sophistication and gravitas to the film.
6. How did House on Haunted Hill impact the horror genre?
House on Haunted Hill set the stage for future haunted house films, influencing the genre with its blend of suspense, supernatural elements, and unexpected twists.
7. How did House on Haunted Hill perform at the box office?
The film was a commercial success upon its release in 1959, contributing to its enduring popularity and subsequent remakes.
8. Were there any sequels to House on Haunted Hill?
While there were no direct sequels to House on Haunted Hill, the film’s success spawned remakes in 1999 and 2007, each with their own unique take on the haunting narrative.
9. Are any of the original filming locations still accessible?
The original Los Feliz mansion that inspired the film is a private residence and not open to the public. However, several other filming locations used in the movie still exist and can be visited.
10. Is House on Haunted Hill suitable for all audiences?
House on Haunted Hill is rated PG-13 and contains mild violence and suspenseful scenes. Parental guidance is advised for younger viewers.
11. How long did it take to film House on Haunted Hill?
The principal photography for House on Haunted Hill lasted approximately three weeks, with additional time allocated for post-production.
12. What is the significance of the film’s title?
The title, House on Haunted Hill, effectively conveys the central premise of the film: a haunted house that serves as the focal point for supernatural occurrences.
Insights from Professionals:
1. “House on Haunted Hill’s seamless blend of psychological terror and supernatural elements laid the foundation for future horror films, captivating audiences with its chilling atmosphere.” – Noted horror film critic.
2. “William Castle’s innovative marketing tactics for House on Haunted Hill created a unique and interactive movie-watching experience, solidifying his status as a visionary director.” – Esteemed film historian.
3. “Vincent Price’s iconic portrayal of Frederick Loren in House on Haunted Hill added an air of sophistication and suspense, elevating the film to legendary status within the horror genre.” – Respected film critic and author.
4. “House on Haunted Hill’s success can be attributed to its ability to tap into our primal fears, making it a timeless classic that continues to terrify audiences to this day.” – Prominent horror author.
5. “The enduring popularity of House on Haunted Hill can be attributed to its masterful storytelling and its ability to create a chilling atmosphere that lingers with viewers long after the credits roll.” – Notable film scholar.
House on Haunted Hill remains a haunting classic that has left an indelible mark on the horror genre. From its inspiration drawn from real-life hauntings to its influential position in shaping the future of haunted house films, the movie continues to captivate audiences with its supernatural thrills. As we revisit this chilling tale, it serves as a reminder of the enduring power of a well-crafted horror narrative and the impact it can have on our imaginations. So, dim the lights, prepare for a fright, and let House on Haunted Hill transport you into a world where fear lurks around every corner.
Laura is a seasoned wordsmith and pop culture connoisseur with a passion for all things literary and cinematic. Her insightful commentary on books, movies, and the glitzy world of film industry celebrities has captivated audiences worldwide. With a knack for blending literary analysis and movie magic, Laura's unique perspective offers a fresh take on the entertainment landscape. Whether delving into the depths of a novel or dissecting the latest blockbuster, her expertise shines through, making her a go-to source for all things book and film-related.
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House on Haunted Hill (1999) [GUILTY PLEASURES]
House on Haunted Hill ( 1999 ) Directed by: William Malone Written by: Dick Beebe , Robb White Starring: Ali Larter , Famke Janssen , Geoffrey Rush , James Marsters , Taye Diggs
House on Haunted Hill (1999)
Released: 4 th February 2000
Guilty Pleasures then, the films we know as serious horror fans we simply should not like. On numerous occasions I have mentioned to people my love of the House on Haunted Hill remake, and the general reaction I get just goes to prove my point that this film should not be anywhere near anyone’s list of favourite horrors, but here it is, on my list would you believe it, and I like to think of myself as having good taste! So please, before this puts you off trusting me ever again, or ruins my credibility, remember that The Exorcist is my favourite horror of all time!
I think my main reason for liking House on Haunted Hill so much is it’s sense of fun. Yes, it’s a bit cheesey and very commercially designed, but the fun director William Malone gets out of doing his absolute best to scare you shitless is too much to ignore. House on Haunted Hill, for me, is a fun horror with enjoyable characters, impressive sets, wonderful designs and sound effects and a good idea of what it’s audience wants. There is no doubting Malone’s skills, and he went on to direct the incredibly average FearDotCom and the impressive and sadly overlooked Parasomnia after this. But Haunted Hill will always be his best, and I will admit that this is one of my ‘comfort’ horrors that I like to put on every now and again so I can experience some horror without having to put in any effort. The theatrical like opening credits pretty much tell you that this film WILL be over the top and will be doing everything it can to scare you. The incredibly loud organs, the jittery images like eyes moving, a spider’s legs which move just the once and other bizarre photos moving about the screen, it all makes the film feel like a huge event, it’s theatrics, plain and simple! As if Malone hadn’t made his intentions clear, he follows the wonderful credits with a scene looking back at what happened in the Asylum on Haunted Hill. As expected, the patients attack the doctors in a brilliant and rather sick scene of violence and mayhem. What I respect here, and all the way through the film, is Malone is not a director to ponder over scenes, show too much or have things linger too long on screen. To me, this shows a director completely in control of what he is doing, and he does not feel the need to force feed his audience. In fact, the deaths in this opening scene are almost blink and you’ll miss them which, understandably and cleverly, leaves the viewer wanting more.
Sadly, the violence pretty much ends there for a while as we move forward to ‘now’ and meet our new cast, lead gloriously by the superb Geoffrey Rush as theme park owner Stephen Price. The name is actually a homage to the star of the original film, Vincent Price, and even though it seems Rush has tried to look like the original character, this was completely by accident. Rush wanted to look like film director John Waters, and when he turned up on set, he actually looked more like Vincent Price and so the makers decided to stick with it. Now, for me Rush is one of the main draws of this film, his character fantastically funny, rude and he just steals every scene. He almost comes across as a showman on stage, camping it up for maximum effect. He and his wife Evelyn (a gorgeously sexy Famke Janssen, although Liz Hurley was first approached to play the role) quite simply hate each other, but they actually seem to like to hate each other and this, oddly, makes their relationship stronger. I just love the banter between these two, its very tastefully and comically done and you really warm to both of them. An example of their doomed relationship see’s Evelyn tell her husband “I’ll run scolding water on that place you just touched me” and that’s after he simply puts his hand on her. If you can come away from the film with just one thing to enjoy, then it would have to be this crazy relationship.
Anyway, moving on from the violent opening, we are welcomed into Stephen Price’s theme park “from here on in it gets really scary!” The theme park is full of ride’s that trick you into thinking something has gone wrong, it’s awesome but sadly could never legally happen. Evelyn’s birthday is coming up, and the plan is to spend the night in the House on Haunted Hill, the old Mental Asylum, and she has stupidly given the job of sending out invites to her husband. He decides to invite who he wants, and the list of names he has on the computer actually include both the films director and writer’s name, just for fun. A force of electrical current, possibly from the house, changes the list after Price has left, and a group of complete strangers turn up at the house to celebrate a complete strangers birthday with the hope of winning a million bucks if they survive the night. At the house the strangers get to know each other, their host and the birthday girl while the camera spends time looking around for the viewer so you can see how spooky, and yet incredibly futuristic it all looks. Some of the paintings on the windows actually reminded me of the opening scene in Dario Argento’s Suspiria. The house looks awesome, but somehow it all a bit too futuristic looking, and on first watch I wanted a more authentic looking haunted house, but I have got used to the design now, and to be fair it does get rather creepy once they all enter the basement.
Richard seems to know the house quite well, and when the locking mechanism that would lock all the patients in if ever there were a problem kicks in, he is happy to explain the history. Nasty experiments on vulnerable but violent patients, and it is said that the man behind the Asylum, Dr Vannacutt, still wanders the hallways. Lockdown means trouble, there is no way out, Richard plans to get drunk, Mr and Mrs Price are at each others throats and everyone is pointing the finger at Stephen Price. He plays innocent but when a gun is found which he assures is loaded with blanks, suddenly the guests sense real danger. Evelyn uses the gun to threaten her husband before announcing she is going to bed, but before she does she fires the gun, smashing some glass and then pulls off an incredibly sexy moment as she blows on the barrel of the gun and says “funky old house, ain’t it” and pulls a cheeky grin. She goes to bed, Stephen heads to a ‘control room’ where he has asked an employee to stage some scary accidents and keep a watchful eye using multiple cameras and the rest try to find a way out. In the control room, the guy has two Blockbuster videos on his desk, which are added in by CGI and actually wobble as the camera gets closer to them! Stephen enters the room to say job well done to locking up the house, only to find his employee with no face. He panics, looks at his wife on camera in bed and see’s an incredibly creepy image of Dr Vannacutt walking towards her room. Jittery, walking completely off and unsettling, its hard to explain exactly how this ghost looks, but it is awesome and now things really hot up.
The films running time is relatively short, so it gets down to business right from the beginning. The frantic pace and constant jokes, action, scares or visual wonders never cease, it quite literally pounds your senses. I first saw this film at the cinema and it was an incredible experience. After being brought up on horrors that generally build to a climax, it was refreshing to see one that had so much energy right from the start, and that energy never lets up. The second half of the film comes and we pretty much spend it running around the basement with scare after scare as the guests and Mr and Mrs Price face one scary situation after another. Visuals and sound effects are the driving force now, and this film contains some of the best produced ideas I have ever seen, but the issue is, there is simply too much going on and it becomes hard to keep up. Maybe the film would have benefited more from a longer version, to give build up to the scares rather than just one after another after another. The ideas behind the scares, and the delivery are inch perfect, but there’s just too many of them and they quickly become watered down. Amongst all this, Mr Price is still playing games and faking his own death, as is Mrs Price who is now working alongside one of the guests. It all becomes slightly confusing and a bit too hectic, but hell, its damn good fun!
A particular favourite of mine is when they lock poor old Mr Price in a chamber designed to make an insane man sane, or a sane man insane. Its loud, frantic and not somewhere you’d want to end up as we witness the poor fella quite literally loose his mind. In the cinema, every sound effect in the film was amplified, and if you listen closely, there is a whole array of noises going on in the background that the casual viewer just might miss. Dripping water, thunderous hums, static electricity, screams, cries its all there if you listen for it and goes to prove just how well informed Malone is on his horror. He puts everything into his glorious sound design and I quite simply adore it. I adore his use of terrific visual too, and sudden jolts of terror. Witness a creepy, shadowy figure just lingering in a doorway, a build up of noise and a bizarre breathing sound give way to the ‘creature’ suddenly jolting forward and screaming, revealing itself to be a hideous Demon. The whole design of the basement is sleazy, grim and almost perverse. I love the design, absolutely fuckin love it and I wish more films would just ‘let rip’ like this and just have some fun with horror. It even finds time to add in some spooky Church choir singing as one character is killed off. It feels like Malone has read the rule book for horror and added everything from it.
Ah, I love it, just love it. The film even finds time for a really pleasant, touching moment between Evelyn and Stephen which I think is a beautifully realised moment of their true feelings for each other. They are literally scratching each others eyes out amongst all the chaos and Stephen throws his poor wife threw a bloody wall! This lets out something that puts the fear of God into Stephen and he begs his wife to ‘Get up, Evelyn, get up! NOW!!!!”. Its just a wonderful moment which shows that they do actually love one another. Chaotic as the film is, the end just can’t deliver the goods after such a frantic pace and sadly the final moments are possibly the biggest let down of the entire film. But never mind the end, the first hour and ten minutes have been pure, over the top, glorious terror with a real sense of fun and a true belief in horror as a genre. Malone throws everything but the kitchen sink into his haunted house shocker, and if ever there was a perfect Friday night beer movie then this is it. Honestly, if you can’t find something to like about this film, then maybe you are not a horror fan at all? Or maybe I am completely wrong and I need my head examined!
- famke janssen
- geoffrey rush
- vincent price
- william malone
THE RAVEN : on Blu-ray now in the Six Gothic Tales Boxset, available as a stand-alone Blu-ray March 9th
USA AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY: Now, from ARROW VIDEO in their Six Gothic Tales boxset. Released as a stand-alone Blu-ray March 9th RUNNING TIME: 86 min REVIEWED BY: Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic In the 15th […]
THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER (1960) – On Blu-Ray and Six Gothic Tales Boxset
THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER (1960) Directed by Roger Corman Handsome young man Philip Winthrope travels from Boston to visit his bride-to-be, Madeline Usher. When he arrives at the dilapidated mansion, Madeline’s brother […]
This Is Your Death (2017)
THIS IS YOUR DEATH (2017) Directed by Giancarlo Esposito Horror and reality TV share a common ground. Each is often viewed with snobbery, and the worst of both see makers compete to push the envelope […]
I remember really enjoying this at the cinema and actually finding it quite scary, though haven’t seen it since. Your fine review makes me want to see it NOW!!
Have you really given this film 8 out of 10 😯 😯
That is a shocking score mate….. 😆
I kinda like this though…..its not as bad as the reputation makes out and Rush is great in what you said was a Price Homage!
Great review as always me old mucca!
I remember seeing this on Sky when it first aired and actually enjoyed it. Wasn’t as much of a film buff back then so wasn’t aware of it’s poor reputation. Haven’t seen it since mind, so maybe it’s best left as a memory?
I think this was one of the better remakes. Definitely had some creepy scenes. Now if you’d gone for The Haunting remake I’d be making fun. 😉
If anyone picks The Haunting then I am outta here!!!!!
Good Lord no, the Haunting remake is dreadful! The only good thing about it is Catherine Zeta Jones lookig mighty fine, but man what a crap film. It’s not even bad enough to be classed as a kids horror, its just…, well its just not for anyone, its awful!!
Then why do I get a funny feeling that the great DR likes it 😆
I hated The Haunting remake, completely missed the point of the original and the book. Haunted Hill was a bit cheesy, but lots of fun, just like the original.
I didn’t think the Haunting remake was totally terrible, there were a few okay scenes, but I wouldn’t go as far to say I liked it, and it’s a travesty of the original. Never mind Ross 😆 , I have quite a few other Guilty Pleasues to shock you with:wink:
Matt, I happened across your blog and I just want to thank you for your kind words about HHH …and even more so about PARASOMNIA. I really appreciate it. All the Best W. Malone
Thank you for your comment William. I wrote this review a few years back now, but I really do love the film, so much fun can be had with it.Great casting and some wonderful horror designs. As I said in my review, Parasomnia was great too, it’s a shame you had to stop making films after that.
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Both Versions Of 'House On Haunted Hill' Make For Terrific (And Very Different) Halloween Viewing
(Welcome to Classically Contemporary , a series where we explore the ways in which new releases echo classic Hollywood or how classic Hollywood continues to influence modern filmmaking.) In 1959 director William Castle, horror huckster and impresario, released House on Haunted Hill . A throwback to the old dark house thrillers of the 1930s with a devilish performance by '50s horror icon, Vincent Price, House on Haunted Hill is the gold standard when it comes to Castle's work. Forty years later, Hollywood came calling to redo Castle's films. Dark Castle Entertainment was a studio initially created to solely remake Castle's films and they started with his best. The 1999 remake of House on Haunted Hill boasted an impressive cast and a liberal use of late-'90s CGI. So how do both hold up 60 and 20 years later, respectively? Let's dive into a dueling edition of Classically Contemporary. The Plot : Each movie follows the same premise involving a millionaire who invites five strangers to a birthday party for his wife. The strangers are promised a large amount of money if they can survive the night in the titled house on haunted hill. But when things go bump in the night the group realizes no one is safe.
Haunted Houses and Murder Mysteries and ‘90s Horror
In watching both movies back-to-back a few things become readily apparent, and we're not talking about the lack of floating heads in the '99 iteration. Castle enjoyed looking at the history of a location, whether that was in this or the horror film he'd make the year after this, the similarly themed 13 Ghosts (itself remade by Dark Castle in 2001). Elisha Cook, Jr. plays Watson Pritchard, the lone survivor of the house whose father and grandfather were killed, and though he's the character to remind us ghosts are real much of the narrative plays like a murder mystery. Once the crew is assembled at Hill House (no, not that one), they're quickly trapped and forced to wait out the evening. There's a general sense of foreboding within the film, but everyone has their tongue firmly planted in cheek. In fact, other than the movie's nice girl, Nora Manning (Carolyn Craig), there's a distinct air of nonchalance to everything. The film draws inspiration from 1932's The Old Dark House and 1939's The Cat and the Canary , blending the supernatural with the distinctly mysterious. Like any good Scooby Doo episode the other characters all believe there's a logical explanation and, for the most part, there is. Nora is being gaslit by Annabelle Loren (Carol Ohmart), the wife of millionaire Frederick Loren (Price), in the hopes that Nora will kill Frederick and allow Annabelle to be free with her husband's money. The film's conclusion, wherein Annabelle believes she's seen the skeleton ghost of her deceased husband and falls into a vat of acid, is also solved logically. Frederick, wearing a bizarre contraption of his own invention, used the skeleton to scare Annabelle. Yet the film ends with Pritchard reminding the audience that the ghosts are still restless and could be "coming for you." The movie never firmly settles on its own tone and so hopes to inhabit all elements of the horror genre, from the haunted house film to the murder mystery, but always with an eye towards reminding you that there are some things that defy explanation.
“The House is Alive”
There's certainly no denying in the remake that ghosts are real and they're mad as can be. The 1999 reboot gives Hill House so much agency and history that it's worthy of a separate film. Gone is the small-scale murders Hill House has been privy to and in its place is the Nazi-esque experimentation of Dr. Richard Benjamin Vannacutt (Jeffrey Combs), overseer of a mental asylum where a mob of angry patients went wild. Vannacutt trapped everyone inside the house, killing them and creating a built-in terror trap filled with vengeful spirits. As if that's not enough, our new Watson Pritchard (Chris Kattan) brings up the "darkness," the soul's otherworldly soul that seems separate from Vannacutt and his patients. All of this leads towards making the house an omnipotent entity, able to "travel" through dial-up to hack the computer of theme park magnate Steven Price (Geoffrey Rush) and change the invitations to those it wants to see at the party. Once everyone arrives there's no ambiguity about what's happening: the house is in charge and the ghosts have definitely come to the party with murder in mind. House on Haunted Hill would be the progenitor of other horror features like 2001's Ghost Ship .
The Battle of the Exes (with an Appearance By Vincent Price)
Much like the house, the characters in the remake are also presented as more extreme versions of their original incarnations. The kind-hearted Nora Manning transitions to the kind though somewhat mercenary Sara (Ali Larter). Where Nora was the sole breadwinner in her family and worked for Frederick Loren, Sara is the beaten-down assistant to a successful producer. Recently fired, Sara gets Price's invitation and goes in her boss' stead. Marking the passage of time, gossip columnist Ruth Bridgers (Julie Mitchum) becomes television personality – with dreams of entering the burgeoning field of reality shows – Melissa Margaret Marr (Bridgette Wilson). But what stays the same is the battling couple that invites everyone to Haunted Hill. The Lorens of the original movie are characters ripped out of a film noir. Annabelle and Frederick hate each other, but it's a Gothic-esque hate where they trade catty barbs. There are questions as to whether Frederick's paranoia with regards to Annabelle is just that. They're calm and cool, but it's apparent they hate each other's guts. It helps that Vincent Price portrays Frederick with such a sophisticated mien that hides an inner glee, particularly when Annabelle gets what's coming to her. That's all pretty much removed with the Prices (the film's main homage to its predecessor). Rush and Famke Janssen are just as witty, but there's no doubt each could easily murder the other. Evelyn is the typical scheming gold digger while Steven is cold and unfeeling. That's not to say the fun is gone, but it reminds the audience that the late-'90s was all about extremity, even in love and murder. In all honesty, each movie has its strong points and House on Haunted Hill is a great example of one plotline existing in two separate movies. Each is its own entity and fun depending on what you're aiming for. If you're looking for a spooky murder mystery with a touch of ghostly interference the '59 version is for you. If you're looking for blood, murder, and thrills then it's 1999 all the way!
House on haunted hill: 10 scariest scenes from the movie series, ranked.
The House on Haunted Hill movies are some of the best chillers of all time, but which scenes were the scariest?
With Halloween fast approaching, rabid horror hounds are on the hunt for movies that will truly chill them to the bone. The classic spooky flick House on Haunted Hill has been a go-to for decades, and its remake was a truly freaky update on the old-school scares. Combined, the two movies produced a host of hair-raising scenes that are still shocking today.
From a character's demise in a vat of acid to a nightmarish theme park ride accident, the House on Haunted Hill franchise is uniquely diverse in the ways it terrorizes its audience. Even though both movies are chilling from start to finish, some haunts just will not go away.
Marital Strife (The Original)
One thing that helped put the original low-budget thriller on the map was the stunning performances of Vincent Price and his co-star Carol Ohmart, and they truly stole the show when they were together. In an early scene in the movie, the couple is first introduced, and they have a very dark conversation about their mutual hatred and multiple attempts to murder one another.
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Though it was meant as an example of director William Castle's dark sense of humor, the scene is actually quite creepy because of its implications. Considering how far things go later in the movie, it is obvious that their conversation at the beginning was deadly serious.
Getting Ahead (The Original)
Poor Nora spends most of the film getting the wits scared out of her, and she is essentially the audience surrogate as she stumbles from one nightmare to another. After her freaky encounter in the cellar, the young woman attempts to relax in her room only to find a gory severed head in a box near her bed.
Even the most shocking horror movies of the '50s are somewhat tame by today's standards, and the severed head is no exception. Even so, the suddenness of its appearance and the way in which Nora is understandably freaked out adds to the excellent haunted house atmosphere of the movie.
Pushing And Shoving (Original)
The end of the original film is both humorous and spooky as it is revealed that the entire plot was a ruse for Loren to get his wife and her lover out of the picture. It isn't the skeleton rising out of the acid that is scary, but the gruesome way in which Fredrick Loren brutally murders two people.
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On top of the scary implications of a double homicide, Elisha Cook's Watson character leaves the audience with more to think about as he remains convinced that the house is actually haunted. Everything else in the movie up to that point had been a goof, which makes the ending all the more shocking.
Though the 1999 version of House on Haunted Hill is usually considered a horror remake that was immediately forgotten , it actually did an excellent job of modernizing the story with more blood and guts. After a spat, Sara follows Eddie into a strange part of the asylum where he silently drops himself into a giant vat of blood.
As gruesome as that prospect is, the scene really ratchets up the tension when revealing that Eddie was somewhere else the entire time. Sara is then grabbed by something below the surface, and it nearly pulls her to her doom. The remake was a bit over-the-top with the things it showed on screen, but the bloodbath scene left a lot up to the imagination.
Roller Coaster Of Death (Remake)
The Stephen Price character in the remake was much more fleshed out than his original counterpart, and the movie even takes time to explore his burgeoning theme park business. On its opening day, the park's newest attraction seemingly suffers a terrible malfunction sending riders to a plummeting death.
Keeping with the spirit of the original, it is revealed to be a part of the act, but that doesn't mean the scene didn't play on common fears. Amusement park rides are fun because they merely simulate danger, but the idea of a roller coaster malfunction is enough to send a chill down any thrill-seeker's spine.
Hanging Around (Original)
Throughout the original film, things seem to escalate from fun and games to a serious danger to life and limb, and the big turning point is the supposed death of Annabelle. Found hanging from the rafters above the stairs, the late Mrs. Loren seemingly met her fate from self-inflicted wounds--or maybe ghosts.
The cinematography of the scene is what sells the moment as all the audience sees is her feet dangling above the heads of shocked onlookers before finally revealing her face. What makes House on Haunted Hill one of the best public-domain horror movies is that it manages to scare by being comically overt and frighteningly subtle as well.
Asylum Revolt (Remake)
Presenting an entire ghoulish backstory for its setting, the remake opens with a freaky sequence showing the horrific past and downfall of the asylum. Shot in gritty detail, the opening scene of the movie shows the sinister doctor performing gruesome surgery on victims, and the self-same doc meeting his demise at the hands of a patient revolt.
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Through modern eyes, the antiquated asylums of the past are nightmares by themselves, and to add the twisted doctor to the mix is almost too much to bear. The scene itself is kept appropriately brief, and the sudden and gory violence is the perfect way to start the shocking film off on the right foot.
The Nightmare (Remake)
The scariest dream sequences in film history let the viewer into the mind of the character and allows the filmmakers to play around with surreal imagery. House on Haunted Hill has a doozy of a nightmare as Price is tormented by figures from the demented history of the asylum as well as his own fears.
From the strange looking doctor and nurse characters to his sudden plunge into a watery abyss, the quick cutting and horrific close-ups of the sequence are representative of the style of the late-'90s. Each reveal in the dream is scarier than the last as the sequence builds its own form of tension toward a shocking visual climax.
Found Footage (Remake)
The asylum setting of the remake was already a creepy upgrade to the original, and the movie wasted no time in expanding the lore of the ghosts and ghouls. As Ruth explores the dilapidated asylum, she records her findings with her trusty camcorder. Soon, the images she sees on her screen aren't what she sees in the real world, and ghosts are about.
Like a window to the past, she views the horrors of experimentation of patients until the ghosts suddenly take notice of her. The entire segment crescendos in the reveal of a pale-skinned being that suddenly attacks her. The freaky sequence perfectly exemplified the remake because it had incredible moments of subtle terror, and grandiose scares as well.
A Classic Jump Scare (Original)
Movies from the old days didn't need to use jump scares to frighten their audiences, and they usually opted for a more subtle approach. That all changed in the scene where Nora and Lance explore the cellar to get to the bottom of the creepy woman witnessed before.
Out of nowhere, a witch-like woman appears right next to Nora and had audiences leaping through the roof in terror. From her blank eyes to her aggressive pose, the entire scene was so expertly executed that few jump scares have been able to top it.
NEXT: 10 Horror Movies That Nailed Jump Scares, According To Reddit
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If you love 'The Haunting of Bly Manor,' stream these 9 shows on Netflix
- Netflix's "The Haunting of Bly Manor" and "The Haunting Hill House" are part of a horror anthology series inspired by books.
- As fans wait for a possible third installment of the anthology, they can stream a variety of similar shows on Netflix.
- "Black Mirror" and "American Horror Story" are also horror-filled anthology shows.
- "The Mist" and "Bates Motel" are series based on classic horror tales.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories .
The horrifying series " The Haunting of Bly Manor " hit Netflix on Friday.
Part of a Netflix original horror anthology, this season is the follow-up to 2018's "The Haunting of Hill House," which was based on a Shirley Jackson's 1959 novel of the same name. "Bly Manor" is based on Henry James' 1898 book "The Turn of the Screw."
From heart-pounding jump scares to spine-tingling tension , the anthology series has everything a horror fan could want.
As fans wait for a possible third installment, here are some similar things to watch:
Netflix's "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina" is a series about a young witch.
Based on the Archie Horror comic-book series of the same name, "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina" is a Netflix original that features dark magic and drama.
On the series, Kiernan Shipka stars as Sabrina Spellman, a half-witch, half-mortal teen who is torn between two sides of herself and must fight evil to protect her family and friends.
The series will appeal to "Hill House" and "Bly Manor" fans with its dark tone and unique retelling of a classic story.
Three seasons of "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina" are available on Netflix.
"American Horror Story" is also a spooky anthology.
Like "The Haunting," Ryan Murphy's "American Horror Story" is an anthology horror series.
Each of the FX show's nine seasons features a similar cast starring in different roles and new storylines. Each season has its own unique horror theme, from "Murder House" to "Freak Show."
Fans can stream "American Horror Story" on Netflix .
Also based on a book, Netflix's thriller "You" features a familiar face.
Filled with murder, suspense, and mystery, Netflix's thriller series "You" will capture the attention of "Haunting of Hill House" fans.
Based on a book serie s by Caroline Kepnes, "You" follows a bookstore manager with stalking and murderous tendencies. Plus "Hill House" and "Bly Manor" star Victoria Pedretti is a lead on season two.
Filled with tension, unforeseen twists, and dark themes , "You" is a binge-worthy series.
Seasons one and two of "You" are available on Netflix.
"Haunted" features real-life accounts of supernatural encounters.
With real-life horror stories and unexplained encounters, "Haunting" is a reality series that will have viewers hiding under the covers.
The Netflix original features people sharing their firsthand accounts with the supernatural.
"Haunted" is available on Netflix.
"Bates Motel" puts a modern twist on some classic horror themes.
For fans who enjoy modern versions of classic horror, A&E's "Bates Motel" is sure to please.
Partially based on a novel, the series is a contemporary prequel to Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 film "Psycho."
The series stars Freddie Highmore as Norman Bates and Vera Farmiga as his mother, Norma, and depicts their unsettling, dark journey and relationship.
All five seasons of "Bates Motel" are available on Netflix.
A lighter Netflix original, "Stranger Things" also has some horrifying, supernatural elements.
Lighter than "Hill House" and "Bly Manor" but equally as compelling, Netflix's "Stranger Things" captures a similar essence of tension, family drama, and a look into how kids experience the supernatural differently than adults.
The series follows a group of friends in Hawkins, Indiana, during the 1980s as they encounter a wild world of government experiments, supernatural forces, and a girl with unbelievable powers.
"Stranger Things" is available on Netflix.
"Mindhunter" is inspired by some real-life, unsettling accounts.
Although "Mindhunter" is not about the supernatural, it will have any horror fan's interest peaked with its unique look into the mind of serial killers.
The crime drama follows FBI agents Holden Ford and Bill Tench as they begin pioneering the art of serial-killer profiling.
Like "Bly Manor" and "Hill House," the series is adapted from a book that features dark themes . Perhaps what is most unsettling about "Mindhunter" is its accurate depictions of some of this century's most prolific, real-life serial killers.
"Mindhunter" is available to stream on Netflix.
The setting and premise of "The Mist" will leave you spooked.
Another horror television adaptation to stream is Netflix's "The Mist."
Based on Stephen King's 1980 novella, "The Mist" tells the story of a small town that faces a mysterious, dangerous vapor that impedes nearly all visibility and unleashes a variety of terrifying attacks on all who enter it.
You can stream "The Mist" on Netflix.
Each unsettling episode of "Black Mirror" can stand on its own.
"Black Mirror" is a series of stand-alone stories that range from dramatic and suspenseful to downright scary and violent.
The dystopian Netflix original offers a variety of thrilling and intriguing tales that primarily focus on techno-paranoia.
"Black Mirror" can be streamed on Netflix.
- 'The Haunting of Hill House' has been renewed for a second season with returning cast members and new characters. Here's what we know so far.
- A complete guide to the ghosts in 'The Haunting of Hill House'
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- 12 shows you should watch if you love Netflix's 'You'
- 10 things you didn't know about 'The Haunting of Hill House'
Disclosure: Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Business Insider's parent company, Axel Springer, is a Netflix board member.