Saturday, August 30, 2014

House on Haunted Hill - 1959

Synopsis From Back Cover:

Eccentric millionaire Frederick Loren (Vincent Price) invites five seemingly random strangers to a macabre party in a legendary haunted mansion hosted by his wife, Annabelle (Carol Ohmart).  The guests will receive $10,000 if they agree to spend a night in the house - and survive!  The party-goers, armed with handguns that are presented as party favors, are forced to deal with decapitated heads in a suitcase, a vat of sulfuric acid in the basement and the discovery of Annabelle hanging from the rafters with a noose around her neck. 

I don't even know how many ways I can say, I love this movie.  It's one of my favorite Vincent Price movies, after The Bat and The Abominable Dr. Phibes.  As a matter of fact, Vincent Price is the only actor whose characters appear in my Favorite Fictional Character posts, twice.  Both Dr. Phibes and Frederick Loren have made appearances over the years, and I already have a few others in mine for later posts.  And yes this version, is way better than the 1999 remake.  Even Taye Diggs, who I'm in love with, couldn't save that movie for me.

The concept is pretty simple, and since it's in the synopsis, I won't repeat it here.  What I find fascinating about this movie, are the relationships between the characters.  It's pretty obvious from the get go that Frederick and Annabelle are not living in matrimonial bliss.  Stating that they despise each other, is probably understating it.  The disgust that they feel for one another, oozes out of every word they say, or look they give.  If they could get away with killing each other, which from the looks of things, has already been attempted once or twice, they would in a heart beat.

So it's into that environment that the five guests find themselves in.  One of them, Watson Pritchard (Elisha Cook) is familiar with the home.  His brother was brutally murdered in the home, along with his wife.  It's only with the promise of a hefty paycheck, that he is willing to step foot in the house.  Nora Manning (Carolyn Craig) seems to have been randomly picked out of the secretarial pool.  Lance Schroeder (Richard Long) is a test pilot, and in debt up to his ears.  Dr. David Trent (Alan Marshal) is studying hysteria, and seems to have a preexisting relationship with someone else in the house.  And the last guest, Ruth Bridgers (Julie Mitchum) is a columnist, who just happens to have a slight gambling problem.  The one thing they have in common, they all need the money.

It doesn't take long before one of the guests is just about scared out of their mind, and is just about capable of anything.  Come to find out, someone in the house is trying to commit murder, using the the hysterical mind of another.  Tables are turned, people are killed, and someone is going to get away with a murder or two. You will just have to watch the movie in order to know who dies and who killed them.  Of course, it could be the ghosts after all.


Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Ryan, I recall seeing Vincent Price in a movie or two but not this one. The plot sounds familiar, like it has been done before either in a book or another film. And that poster is terrific too.

bermudaonion said...

Nope, that's not for me. I can't even watch old scary movies and they weren't that graphic.

neer said...

It is strange that soon after reviewing a movie of Price (The Web) I should be reading this. Now I really want to watch this. Thanks for the review.

Lisa said...

When I was in my babysitting years, before cable tv (gasp!), every Saturday night there was a Creature Feature movie. I braved out a lot of scary shows, including most of Price's. but I don't think I ever saw this one.

Katherine P said...

I found this on Netflix while I was looking for the older non-Catherine Zeta-Jones version of The Haunting of Hill House. I thought it looked interesting but haven't been particularly motivated to watch it. It sounds great!! I'll definitely have to move this higher up the list. In fact I'm kind of in a scary movie mood tonight! Thanks for sharing!