House On Haunted Hill
(PG, 1:14:58, Released 1959)
|Genres:||Drama, Horror, Classics|
|Release Date:||Feb 17, 1959|
|DVD Release Date:||Oct 26, 1999|
|Starring:||Vincent Price, Carol Ohmart, Richard Long, Alan Marshal, Carolyn Craig, Elisha Cook Jr., Julie Mitchum, Leona Anderson, Howard Hoffman|
|Directed by:||William Castle, William Malone|
|Synopsis:||A perennial favorite of the "Shock Theatre" TV circuit, House on Haunted Hill stars Vincent Price as sinister gent (you're surprised?) Frederick Loren, who resides in a sinister mansion on a sinister hill, where seven murders have occurred. He makes a proposal to several strangers, offtering $10,000 to anyone who can last the entire night. Loren festively gives each of his guests a tiny coffin containing a loaded handgun, designed to protect them from the spooks that emerge in the house over the course of the night. The picture hinges on its surprise ending, which packs in several by-now-familiar twists. When originally released to theaters, House on Haunted Hill was accompanied by one of those gimmicks so beloved of producer/director William Castle: the gimmick was "Emergo," and it involved a prop skeleton that "emerged" from the side of the screen at a crucial moment to frighten the audience. Like most of Castle's best films, House didn't really need the gimmick, but its presence added to the fun -- especially when second- and third-time viewers responded to "Emergo" by bombarding the skeleton with popcorn and empty soda bottles. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi|
|Full movie details|
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Other Top Reviews
May 26, 2012
The film gets way too convoluted for it's own good at the end, but it remains a rather timeless campy horror flick. The cast gives generally serviceable performances but Vincent Price inevitably steals the show.
fb1664868775October 27, 2011
A perfect piece of midnight movie madness. This campy horror flick lead by a sinister Vincent Price won't fail to entertain.
fb729949618October 2, 2011
To this day, this film still has what it takes to keep you on edge. Classic.
August 4, 2011
Watson Pritchard: There's been a murder almost everyplace in this house!†
"See it with somebody with warm hands"
If I remember correctly, House on Haunted Hill was the first "horror" movie I ever saw when I was probably six. Even then this movie didn't scare me. The movie is hilarious in that it was once considered scary. Despite not being scary, it's still a really cool movie. It has a very simple premise. A rich man invites strangers to a haunted house with the promise of $10,000 if they make it through the night.†
What really makes this movie is Vincent Price. Him and Carol Ohmart were in fact the only ones to give good performances in the film. Everyone else was laughable. But the exchanges between Vincent and Carol are awesome. They play an unhappy married couple who in fact hate each other. They both want the other dead, in fact.
The movie has a crazy amount of gimmicks that were popular among the horror films of the time. None of them really stand out anymore as crazy or "shocking."†
When it comes down to it this and the original are pretty much the same, in that, they are only worth watching for a cool lead performance. In the remake, Geoffrey Rush gives a very Vincent Price performance. He even sports the mustache. I will say that House on Haunted Hill does boast an extremely cool beginning and a pretty cool ending. The middle gets a little slow, but the runtime helps a lot.
November 17, 2010
Castle sure knows how to make super cheesy horror movies, and this is one of them. The movie has some good actors like Price, who just look like they're having fun with the movie, and the movie is fun, but the ending is disappointing. Overall, pretty good, though.
July 6, 2009
Years ago I bought a collection of old horror dvd's for a couple of dollars from Best Buy. I've watch only one or two out of 50, but the other night I decided to watch House on Haunted Hill. Of course I've seen the more recent version, but surprisingly, this one frightened me much more. It was quite entertaining and although the special effects weren't as good, it had a different kind of scary. Definitely worth a watch if you're into horror movies like me.
September 25, 2008
A very dated movie, but still fun and scary.
January 24, 2008
An impressive-looking and casted late-50's horror flick. It's got a great murder mystery and is filled with devious atmosphere. Some of the characters are over-the-top, but Vincent Price is superb as the wicked haunted house host. There are some nice pay-offs, but it seems to end too quickly. See the richly detailed colorized version if you can get your hands on it.
July 23, 2007
I caught this on TV a few years ago. Unfortunately the "scares" in this are more likely to make you laugh. Vincent Price does give a great performance though.
November 23, 2010
The audience is kept on edge early on with Vincent Price and Carol Ohmart as Frederick and Annabelle Loren both acting suspiciously. Pretty ridiculous the way people go wandering around the "haunted" house alone when they agree that is not smart. Strange that this house has a vat of acid in the floor of the basement as well. I liked the effect of Annabelle's ghost appearing to the other young woman at her window. And the effect of the skeleton walking around was enjoyable. The convoluted plot left me unimpressed overall and wondering about the point of it all.
October 22, 2012
Vincent Price has one of those iconic voices and personalities that come along just once in a lifetime. His films were almost always on the B-side but his overtly melodramatic performances topped off with globs of camp make them both fun and at times gothicly atmospheric. With House on Haunted Hill Price delivers an iconic performance that is arguably the most memorable of his career. The film itself, smartly, utilizes Price as much as possible and also contains a fairly decent plot involving twists, deceptions and revenge. If you enjoy fun campy Horror flicks than House on Haunted Hill is a virtual diamond in the rough.
October 21, 2011
I had no idea that the concepts of Camp had originated from so far back in cinematic time, but "House on Haunted Hill" proves, furthermore, that such things existed even way back in the good old 50's. It was directed by William Castle; who got his reputation for making cheesy but entertaining and well-executed camp classics such as this. He also had an eye for the atmospheric, the genuinely creepy, and the morbidly humorous; which I kind of admire. Plenty of filmmakers, even today, are reminiscent of people such as Castle; but none come quite close to mastering the artistry that is being able to craft pure fun. Castle was the kind of guy who understood that people need fun in their lives; be it through cinema, life experiences, or whatever else existence itself has in store for us all. And if fun itself is a high art, then "House on Haunted Hill" is a masterpiece, a true classic, and something to remember for years to come. It's a film so joyously over-the-top and ghoulish that I might revisit it a few times just to have the experience all over again, since it becomes apparent, over time, that it's less of a film and more of a visit to that titular house, which as the title suggest, is indeed on a hill; but about it being haunted, who knows?
What's not to like? Here's a film with an intriguing premise, some crazy and hilarious new gimmicks (which were short-lived, but at least the film invented...SOMETHING), and a leading role played by the legendary (and personal favorite) Vincent Price. It was already an appealing and seemingly worthwhile package, but this film actually surprised me in how good it was. I believe there is a side of cinema that is existent just to entertain ("Demons"), and then there's the significantly more...popular side, which most good films rest on. "House on Haunted Hill" deserves its reputation as a classic in horror cinema because it entertains through an intelligent, understanding approach to its subjects as well as the performances of its stars. I was quite charmed.
Five people are chosen at random and invited to stay overnight at a rich man's (Price) mansion. They arrive on time and expect the unexpected, as they have been told that the house is haunted by ghosts of the deceased. What the home-owner does not tell his guests is the fact that he shall lock the doors at midnight; and to get the large sum of money that each person has been promised (as they most certainly have), they must all survive through the madness and mayhem that is about to ensue. A few of the attendees start seeing ghosts; and one tells ghastly stories of the home's haunted history. This begins the night that we are about to witness; a night to remember, a night difficult to forget. All-in-all, it's also a pleasant and appropriately ghastly one; filled with surprises, scares, and plenty of unexpected laughs.
Of course, a good number of those laughs come from Price himself; a funny, charming, unique man of the genre. He brings often times snappy, humorous, and brilliant dialogue into a film that normally wouldn't have any of such a thing. That aside, "House on Haunted Hill" remains a standard, appropriately clichťd, but old-fashioned haunted house movie; and it's perfectly fine as it is.
I believe that sophistication and a deeper "meaning" would have ruined my movie-watching experience all-together. Sometimes, I complain when a horror movie lacks depth; and sometimes I'm fine with a focus for visual images and atmosphere. This film has such a focus; and it's admirable from beginning-to-end. Most of the audience will probably enjoy it; and die-hard genre fans might even love it. "House on Haunted Hill" has a seductive, uncanny, unfailing ability to capture our hearts through moments of humor and ghastly going-ons. One of my favorite scenes is the finale; where Price reveals both sides of the con. It's a pure B-movie conclusion; and I adored it.
The fact that it's a haunted house movie, and a good one at that, should tell you all you need to know about Castle's flick when going in. I'd say it's for most people; a very enjoyable, well-acted, and appropriately cheesy film that accomplishes just about all that it intends to, but alas, there is some seriously impressive work here; which elevates it to a personal genre favorite from just another solid haunted house film. "House on Haunted Hill" is delightfully diabolical and ghoulishly good; so gimmicky, so corny, yet so addicting. It's nice, once in a while, to have a horror movie that has its arms open; ready to be loved. Price is a presence that allows such a thing; and what his charm alone makes him a screen legend. There was nobody quite like him, and on his better days, he was able to take good films and make them great. Here's an excellent example of what I call the "Price Transformation". Now onwards to see more of these films. I have been intrigued.
fb208103125December 28, 2011
"House On Haunted Hill" is a legendary horror film that is considered more a fun and campy horror flick that is more fun and atmospheric then genuinely scary. While I completely agree with the above, I found the film a little slow but ultimately very fun viewing. Vincent Price plays the sinister Mr. Loren (He always plays these kind of roles brilliantly) and the scenes with him and Carol Ohmart as Mrs. Loren are wonderful together. The rest of the characters are just doing the rounds and some of the screams and lack of survival skills of the characters are laughably bad. This is definitely one of the best of the Classic Horrors and is fun to watch all these years later. Watch it at night time to suit the mood. The lack of color really adds to the films suspense and atmosphere and makes it a delight to watch. As a side note, when the film was originally shown theatrically the Director William Castle employeed the use of a glowing skeleton to pop out and float over the audience as the skeleton pops out during the movie. After a while it was stopped due to children who viewed the film two or three times or found out from their buddies waited and then fired slingshots at the floating skeleton.
fb100000185301014April 7, 2012
Castle is the master of horror, I love the clever use of props in this film, very frightening. The camera shots were great and I love the script. A must see horror film classic
June 8, 2011
"The House on Haunted Hill" is a cheesy and corny movie but it is very entertaining and you will get a few good laughs here and there and some scenes are frightening. Characters are fun and nice but a bit overacted.
The film itself is slightly overrated, but still an enjoyable little cult item.
June 17, 2010
Gotta admit, I preferred the remake. Perhaps it was due to the budget and age but this film just seemed so very amateur. It was a nice idea and Price was fabulous. Yet it's scenes like the acid pit where - not only is there an acid pit in the house (?), but she slooowlly walks back towards it. And hell knows how she didn't see the strings on that skeleton. Aside from the silly CGI, the remake is superior. Shame.
September 13, 2009
This is much better than the remake. Obviously the effects and such are nothing compared to what they can do today, but that's what makes it good. It's creepy and sinister. Enjoyable!
August 26, 2009
Ah, the house of horrors ride in carnivals and amusement parks. Sit in the cart, lean back, and the ride commences. It progresses slowly at first, with atmospheric sounds and the cover of darkness, followed by subsequent stops: some intended to make you jump, some intended to make you laugh, most intended to make you do both. At the end of the ride, you'll come out happy, your girlfriend in your arm, a goofy smile across both of your faces. Sure the cart itself is rickety and well worn, some of the drapes are falling, some of the gears exposed. It's a ride that has ben taken by thousands and thousands and thousands of others before you. That's part of the fun though, isn't it? It's part of the experience.
William Castle, known as theking of the gimmic and shlockmeister extraordinarie, was also a very underrated director. He made films like amusement park rides. His films were innocent, naive even, and sought to, above all else, make the audience have a good time, for viewers to walk out of the screening with a big, goofy smile on their faces. They were events, not films, but they were so good natured that they managed to tap into the innocence of the previous decade while ignoring the burgeoning cynicism of their current ones.
The House on Haunted Hill does not make a lick of sense, nor is it meant to. Plotholes you say? But there's no real plot to begin with! The movie is, in essence a very atmospheric carnival show: a series of tingling stops loosely strung together around a flimsy plot. It's fun, it's funny, it's atmospheric and sometimes even creepy. The story is merely the means to an end: complete entertainment.
Vincent Price is in top form as the charming, slimy, sarcastic millionaire. Everyone else is serviceable at worst, effective at best. Castle's direction does what it sets out to do, and does it well. He may have been as gimmicky, shlocky or trashy as people accused him of being, as if those are negative attributes, but a hack he was not.
the film is incredibly enjoyable as much more than a piece of notalgia (even for those of us who were born not long before Vincent Price died) if one is willing to go to the film, rather than waiting for it to come. Few films are as joyous, intoxicating and just plain FUN as this.
May 6, 2008
I like Vincent Price a lot in this but everything else is just okay.
August 10, 2007
I always liked this as a kid. Very mild by today's standard. Vincent Price was the man.
March 4, 2013
Vincent Price is awesome. Considering when this was made I can look past some of the cheese in it. I like this version better than the remake.
January 31, 2013
A Vincent Price classic. While not completely terrifying, Price is the host and there is a decent level of cheap creepiness. Good 50's fun.
cajiggleOctober 14, 2012
Good old Vincent Price horror film. There are some genuine scares in the film in an otherwise lackluster plot.
August 27, 2012
Finally got around to giving this horror classic a look, and while bits are dated, the crazy old lady who turns up at the most inopportune moments is still unsettling as all hell, so kudos to William Castle for all that, even all these years later.
Definitely worth a look. Rental?
August 20, 2012
B-flick or not, House on Haunted Hill is one of the greatest horror movies of all time. It's also one of Vincent Price's finest moments. It‚(TM)s one more piece that shows the importance of classic movies. Rather than being over worn by unnecessary violence, special effects and sex, this black and white classic relies on storytelling and acting to grab and hold the audience‚(TM)s attention. The storytelling itself is perhaps the most interesting factor in House on Haunted Hill. Being that this story is an ensemble piece, one would automatically think that it will have its share of problems, story-wise. But somehow the planets aligned just right for writer Robb White.
The mood is expertly set from the story‚(TM)s opening moments, with both Frederick Loren (Vincent Price) and Watson Pritchard (Elisha Cook, Jr.) setting the stage. Pritchard is up first, telling audiences the ghost story centered on the mansion to which Loren has invited his guests, Pritchard included. Loren makes the story even creepier with his delivery, explaining why each one of the guests has been invited to stay in the house. Price‚(TM)s delivery as Loren will send chills up any first time viewer‚(TM)s spine. Of course, the reality of why everyone has been invited is revealed at the end, making the ghost story a little less scary. It‚(TM)s only a little less scary because the door is left wide open for audiences to wonder about the house, even as the credits roll. Could it be that the house really is haunted? That‚(TM)s up to the audiences.
Writing is at the base of every good (and bad) movie ever written. That writing doesn‚(TM)t just include dialogue. It also includes little nuances such as lighting, acting, etc. Those nuances were captured equally well through the direction of William Castle and William Malone. The entire cast‚(TM)s acting kept the scare factor on the high end throughout the movie. The entire cast plays off of Pritchard and Loren perfectly, some of them believing Pritchard‚(TM)s story. Some not so sure. The mixed reactions serve to make the story that much more believable. Their reactions to things such as the organ playing and the lights going on and off make it all the better. And best of all is the screams of Nora Manning (Carolyn Craig). At first her screams are believable. But the more she does it, the funnier it gets. And it‚(TM)s not the only comedy to the story, either. Audiences will have to find out for themselves what other silliness is in store. What the inclusion of all this funny business means is that while the movie has a good scare level, it has enough comedy to keep it from being too scary at the same time.
House on Haunted Hill has even more that could be discussed among any classic film buff or even a film studies class. Keeping in mind that it has so much going for it, it goes without saying that B-flick or not, it‚(TM)s still a great horror flick that everyone should see at least once in their lives.