House on Haunted Hill (1959/1999)


D: William Castle

Allied Artists (William Castle & Robb White)

US 🇺🇸 1959

75 mins


W: Robb White

DP: Carl E. Guthrie

Ed: Roy V. Livingstone

Mus: Richard Kayne, Richard Loring & Von Dexter

Vincent Price (Frederick Loren), Carol Ohmart (Annabelle Loren), Richard Long (Lance Schroeder), Alan Marshal (Dr. David Trent), Carolyn Craig (Nora Manning)

The original 1959 version of House On Haunted Hill was a campy horror movie with the added gimmick of having cinema auditoriums decked out with props, that would swoop down or emerge at certain points during the movie. William Castle frequently built his productions around these types of gimmicks, which would have been fun to witness in at a movie theatre, but unfortunately this doesn't carry over to smaller screens.

The story itself is pretty standard stuff; an eccentric millionaire invites guests to spend the evening in his haunted house to earn $10,000, though this is all a ruse to a much more sinister plot.

The film was remade in 1999 without the necessity for gimmicks and overall works better as a standalone film. I still think the original should be appreciated for what Castle tried to bring to the screen, but unfortunately the movement of media & entertainment to the home has dated the concept quite badly.


Vincent Price in House On Haunted Hill
Vincent Price in House On Haunted Hill

Evil loves to party
Evil loves to party
D: William Malone
Warner Bros./Dark Castle (Robert Zemeckis, Joel Silver & Gilbert Adler)
US 1999
96 mins


W: Dick Beebe [based on a screenplay by Robb White]
DP: Rick Bota
Ed: Anthony Adler
Mus: Don Davis
PD: David F. Klassen

Geoffrey Rush (Steven Price), Famke Janssen (Evelyn Stockard-Price), Taye Diggs (Eddie Baker), Peter Gallagher (Donald Blackburn), Chris Kattan (Watson Pritchett), Ali Larter (Sara Wolfe)

*Review may contain spoilers*
The late 1990's and early 2000's saw Robert Zemeckis turning producer to a handful of 1950's horror remakes, especially the works of William Castle, who utilised cheapjack gimmicks such as "ghost viewing 3D glasses" and dummy skeletons swooping from the ceilings of cinema auditoriums to keep the punters rolling in.
This remake uses no such gimmicks and is a rather standard haunted house movie with a group of strangers invited by eccentric millionaire Geoffrey Rush (who does a rather excellent Vincent Price impression).
The film is quite pointless, silly, and more unintentionally hilarious than it is creepy, but on the same token, it's very easily enjoyable, although the ending is nothing short of embarrassing, especially with Taye Diggs' final line of dialogue ("No... I was adopted!"). Cringeworthy.

Geoffrey Rush in House on Haunted Hill
Geoffrey Rush in House on Haunted Hill