#169 -- House on Haunted Hill (1959)

Director: William Castle
Rating: 5 / 5

I've always said this is one of my favorite movies, and it's available to me on so many outlets. I have it on two different DVD sets, and it's available on Netflix. So there's really no excuse for me waiting so long to post about it. The first thing you need to know (as if you didn't already) is that our leading man here is the one and only Vincent Price. I haven't come close to seeing all his films but I can say honestly that he's one of my favorite actors. He had a look about him, and that voice! His name-Vincent Price- rolls off the tongue and sounds so nice. He was made for horror. Or horror was made for him, either way. Plus he was an amazing actor. In everything I've seen him in, he puts all the other actors/actresses to shame. No one could hold a candle to our dear Mr. Price. I just love him! There's something about him that screams elegance and grace, but at the same time he's creepy as hell. He was just a beautiful man, and that is made very apparent here. While all other aspects of this movie could very rightfully be called silly and campy, Mr. Price's performance can be called nothing other than brilliant, as is everything else he ever did. The Plot: A millionaire, Frederick Loren, holds a birthday party for his wife, in which he invites five strangers to a so-called haunted house. He will pay them each ten thousand dollars if they can stay in the house overnight. If they all survive, they get the ten grand. If not all of them survive, the fifty thousand he was willing to shell out will be divided between the survivors. One of the men at at the party, a Mr. Pritchard, truly believes there are ghosts in the house. He knows of all the murders that have happened there over the years (one of which was his brother's), and he's sure that the ghosts are coming for each and every one of them. Nora, the pretty girl of the group, sees a ghost first. She's the only one who ever sees anything, and it slowly drives her a little bit mad. When the body of Mrs. Loren is found hanging from the ceiling, everyone (except Mr. Pritchard, of course) is positive that Frederick is to blame. They lock themselves in their bedrooms and try to stay alive until morning, so they can alert the police to Mrs. Loren's murder. Only Mrs. Loren wasn't murdered. She wasn't even dead! [Spoiler alert] The whole thing was an elaborate scheme between Mrs. Loren and her lover to kill Frederick, so that she could get his money. The things Nora was seeing was just what they called "hysteria"; the idea of the ghosts frightened her so much that her subconscious convinced her she was seeing them. It was all a part of the plan. So, where there really any ghosts? If the walls could talk, only they would be able to tell us.

I'm not really sure why, but I just love this movie. The scares are a bit silly and over the top, but honestly, what do you expect from a movie like this? Every horror movie made around this time is going to look silly to us, because we know what possibilities movies have these days. We've seen CGI and and top-notch special effects. So skeletons on strings are just downright stupid, right? I don't think so. Like I've said many times before, it's the simplicity of these movies that draws me to them. They don't need over the top gore to get their point across. All they're trying to do is give us a little spook. Ask someone that grew up in the 1950s and watched this movie as a child. They'll tell you it scared the shit out of them, I'm sure. I am a gore whore; I love seeing buckets of blood and guts everywhere. But it is nice to see, every once in a while, a movie rely on atmosphere and other things to get its scares in. House on Haunted Hill is beautiful and elegant, and Vincent Price is such a distinguished gentleman (even though he really wanted his dear wife dead), that I can't help but love it. And you should too! There was a remake of this, of course, some time in the '90s I think. I actually enjoyed the remake quite a bit too. There was a sequel to the remake called Return to House on Haunted Hill, and that one just...well, that one sucked. There's nothing quite like the original, and there will never be another movie quite like this one.

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