Join us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter
Review Updates
Home
Home

House On Haunted Hill (1959)

DVD Cover (Warner Brother)
Genres:
Ensemble Film, Gothic Film, Haunted House Film, Horror
Directors:
William Castle William Castle
Rosemary Horvath Rosemary Horvath
Starring:
Vincent Price Vincent Price
Carol Ohmart Carol Ohmart
Richard Long Richard Long
Alan Marshal Alan Marshal
Carolyn Craig Carolyn Craig

7.2 / 10 - Overall Rating

* * * * *
Sign up to rate this movie.
Add to Collection
Sign up to add this to your collection
Add to Favorites
Sign up to add this to your favorites
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! --TMDb
Movie Stills - View all?
Stills Stills Stills Stills
Avatar
Review by Chad
Added: July 05, 2007
There are some movies that simply shouldn't be remade, especially if the filmmakers of said remake decide to toss out all of the elements that made the original so memorable in the first place. House on Haunted Hill is one such film, and watching it again today for the first time in years has brought back a flood of memories of being a young kid, catching this on some late night movie marathon, and being immensely creeped out by some of the scenes found within. There's a reason that one of these scenes ranked #37 on Bravo's "100 Scariest Movie Moments" presentation, but that's certainly not to say that that was the only bright spot of the film.

The storyline for this one revolves around the Loren couple - Frederick (Vincent Price) and Annabelle (Carol Ohmart) - and the haunted house in which they're hosting a party for five strangers. Why were these strangers invited to come party with this eccentric millionaire and his trophy wife? That's a question that will be answered later in the film, but the more important question is, why did they accept the invitation if they don't even know the guy? Well, that's a simple one: Frederick claims that the house is haunted, and he's agreed to pay ten thousand dollars to anyone who will stay in there overnight with him and his wife. The guests - Nora (Carolyn Craig), Lance (Richard Long), Watson (Elisha Cook Jr.), Dr. Trent (Alan Marshal), and Ruth (Julie Mitchum) - take him up on the offer with dollar signs in their eyes, but when strange things start happening, they start to reconsider their decisions.

If you've seen the remake, you already know some of the details. You know about the house being haunted and you know about the cash reward for staying there, and you also... well, that's really about it. Yes, the remake changed a lot of things in regards to the storyline, and although I can sort of see why (today's audiences probably wouldn't go for the twists and scares found in the original version), it's mind-boggling to me as to why they didn't simply slap a new title on the remake and let it stand on its own.

One thing that I particularly enjoyed about this original version was the way that they never came right out and said whether or not the house was actually haunted. You see, we soon learn that some of the people in the house have ulterior motives for being there that have nothing to do with ghosts or money, and this leads to some of the people playing tricks on one another in an attempt to scare them out of their wits. Therefore, some of the scares are easily explained away and actually revealed to the audience - yes, this trick was pulled by so-and-so in an attempt to frighten so-and-so for whatever reason. However, there are also scenes which can not be explained away quite so simply, a fact which leads to the audience having to decide for themselves whether or not there's actually something to this whole haunted house bit. This is one of the things that I believe probably wouldn't go over very well in today's market (as evidenced by the stark contrast of how this angle was handled in the remake), but here, it's done perfectly and is much more effective thanks to the ambiguity involved.

I enjoy older films almost as much as I enjoy modern films due to the way that most of the better titles favored substance over style (necessary due to budget and effects limitations of the time) as well as the fact that you actually had to have talent to star in a movie back then instead of simply having a pretty face or be willing to flash a little skin. However, even when it comes to most of the classic titles, I've come to accept the fact that most of them simply aren't very scary or horrifying. Sure, there are the obvious exceptions to this statement, but the vast majority of them simply don't do much for me in that regard thanks to the stricter censors of the era and the way that it didn't take nearly as much to get a reaction out of those audiences. House on Haunted Hill is not one of those films. Sure, it may not have you sitting on the edge of your seat from start to finish, but there are some damned effective and chilling scenes to be found here.

I highly enjoyed this film, and it's also a a highly recommended classic. It's long since fallen into the public domain (meaning, you can pick it up on DVD for about a quarter or legally download it for free), but don't think for a moment that that is an accurate representation of the quality. Both William Castle and Vincent Price were on top of their games here, and the result is a true horror classic. 9/10.
Recommended Movies
The Haunting 13 Ghosts Rest Stop Thirteen Ghosts Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark
Winchester The Haunting Horror Of Dracula Night Of The Demons The Amityville Horror
The Entity Poltergeist II: The Other Side The Shining Poltergeist The Phantom Of The Opera
bluemeanie #1: bluemeanie - added 07/06/2007, 12:27 PM
I don't disagree with your review. The original "House On Haunted Hill" was wonderful, and I typically refer to it as one of the 5 seminal horror films in the history of the genre. However, I loved the remake also -- the only decent thing Dark Castle has ever done. I like them both for different reasons (though the ending of the remake was pretty lame). The original, however, features at least 3 truly original and truly frightening sequences that were only enhanced by the experience at the cineplex, with the 3-D and such. I want to see a re-release of this film, in 3-D one Halloween. It deserves it. 10/10.
Chad #2: Chad - added 07/06/2007, 10:27 PM
Are you sure that there was a 3D version of this film? I know about the Emergo gimmick, but I hadn't heard of an actual 3D version and I can't find any info about it online.
Ginose #3: Ginose - added 07/07/2007, 07:58 PM
Dark Castle... eh... I really haven't enjoyed a SINGLE thing about a one of their remakes. Anyhow: This movie is one of the cornerstones of horror cinema as we know it. Causing more inspiration than almost any other film in the history of the genre it spawned some of the most incredible gimmicks used in a movie theatre and had some of the most incredible performances (i.e., even the bit parts went together and worked more towards building the charecters of the leads.). Not to mention the complex plot that unfolded (I mean, at first it seems really cut-and-dry, but as it goes on...) and the... decentlly... unsettling ending. This is probablly the greatest of its time. 10/10
Tristan #4: Tristan - added 10/25/2009, 03:10 PM
Horror classic, no doubt about it. I can enjoy it just as much now as the first time I watched it.

9/10
Sign up to add your comment. Sign up to add your comment.
Layout, reviews and code © 2000-2019 | Privacy Policy