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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

October 30- House on Haunted Hill (1959)

Today, we have a classic film by director William Castle. Castle was known for creating low-budget, yet fun and entertaining horror movies. He'd often use actors in the movie theaters and a swinging skeleton to enhance the "scare" factor for the rest of the audience. This made these movies a unique cinematic experience.
Vincent Price makes any movie better.

Frederick and Annabelle Loren

Considered one of Castle's best films, House on Haunted Hill stars Vincent Price as millionaire Frederick Loren, who propositions 5 individuals to attempt to stay the night in an allegedly haunted house. Anyone who manages to stay the whole night would receive $10,000 each. These 5 people arrive by hearse to the house, and it's explained that they might need those later. After the whole rundown of the rules, Annabelle Loren, Frederick's wife (played by Carol Ohmart) tells all the guests that her husband is psychotic. None of them listen, and they decide to attempt the challenge. The result is a series of crazy events that, while I'm not going to divulge any plot points, include murder, ghosts, vats of acid, disembodied voices, and skeletons.

One of the many scares in this movie

Overall, I have a lot of good things to say about this film. Besides Vincent Price, who plays the "eccentric millionaire gone crazy" perfectly, another standout performance was given by Elisha Cook, who played the owner of the house Watson Pritchard. Cook did a fantastic job at portraying just how paranoid Pritchard was about the house being haunted and about the murders that occurred there. At one point, Pritchard even announces that the ghosts of the house are coming to get him. Turning to the audience, he then says, "and they'll get you, too." Simple things like that in an old classic movie really get to me and make enjoy the movie all the more. The special effects in the film, while cheesy, are done well and create an effective response in the viewer.

Elisha Cook as Watson Pritchard

This film would have been great to see in theaters, with all the gimmicks that William Castle did to make them more enjoyable. Even without those gimmicks, though, this film is still a great one to watch. If you ever have a chance, it's a great classic. It even inspired Alfred Hitchcock to use the low-budget approach to making Psycho, arguably one of his best films. If Alfred Hitchcock was inspired by it, that's a good enough reason to watch it.

The brilliant William Castle

I give this film 4.5 floating skeletons out of 5.

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