Monday, October 14, 2013

Halloween 2013: Horror in Time: "House on Haunted Hill (1959)"

"And they'll come for you too."

The Flying Skeleton Movie

      House on Haunted Hill is a 1959 film that used the Emergo gimmick in theaters. It was directed by William Castle (The Tingler) and written by Robb White (13 Ghosts). It follows millionaire Frederick Loren (Vincent Price) and his wife Annabelle (Carol Ohmart) who invite 5 guest up to a haunted house. There's air force pilot Lance (Richard Long), psychologist David (Alan Marshal), employee Nora (Carolyn Craig), owner Watson (Elisha Cook Jr.) and journalist Ruth (Julie Mitchum). If they can all stay in the house for one night, they each get $10,000 dollars. Let the hauntings begin!

Or the wacky sitcom hijinks?
The Price You Pay

      House on Haunted Hill presents me with the nightmare problem of a film critic. After watching the film, I honestly have no real insight, thoughts or opinions on the film itself. House on Haunted Hill is a fun, entertaining classic horror movie that's perfect to watch on Halloween and that's pretty much it for me. The most notable thing about this movie was that it's atmosphere is perfect for a Halloween movie. Serious, put this on during a Halloween party and you're set. But, other than that, I just don't have a lot to say. Now, again that's not a bad thing. I liked this movie perfectly fine and would gladly recommend it, but it barely left any impression on me, especially for a film dubbed by many as a classic. It does have Vincent Price, which is always a plus, and the rest of the cast is good. So, then, why don't I care about this movie more?

Halloween Special

      What I'm about to say might sound harsh toward the film, but it really isn't. House on Haunted Hill reminded me most of the Halloween and Christmas specials I watched when I was a kid. Which, again, is not a bad thing. It perfectly fits the holiday and is one that must be watched every year. This movie really does get you into the Halloween spirits. But, it also isn't one I would particularly want to watch at any other time during the year. It's also got a great history. Back when it was in theaters, they rigged a pulley system, so that when the Skeleton appeared on screen, a fake skeleton would fly over the audience. And they had to stop because kids kept shooting the skeleton with slingshots. That's awesome! Why aren't we holding screenings of this film while we do that?

That actually looks creepy.
The Verdict

      I know it's a short review, but that's all I really have to say. Look, House on Haunted Hill is a fun horror movie with a good cast and story that has a great atmosphere. It's perfect for watching on Halloween and will be one you'll want to rewatch every year. However, there's no real reason to watching any other time of year. House on Haunted Hill (1959) gets 4 and a half stars out of 6.

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