House on Haunted Hill
(1959, Dir. by William Castle.)
Why It's Here:
Horror has rarely been as fun as it is when William Castle's pulling the viewer's strings. And when you combine his behind-the-scenes showmanship with the star power of the great Vincent Price, you get what I like to call a magical conjunction. With a great setting and plenty of effective gags, House on Haunted Hill becomes a must see for anyone interested in classic B-Movie horror.
The Moment That Changes Everything:
When Price lays out the stakes for the evening in the haunted house on the haunted hill (Although, didn't you ever wonder if the house was actually innocent and just got a bad reputation because the hill was haunted? I did.), he sells the rest of the film easily. When Vincent Price tells you horror is coming, you believe it unequivocally.
It Makes a Great Double Feature With:
Something else by Castle makes sense - perhaps his original 13 Ghosts is the best fit - as does another Price classic like House of Wax. But I've always liked the pairing of Castle's film with one of my favorite Price films, Last Man on Earth. The two films have drastically different tones, but both show off Price at his scene-stealing best.
What It Means To Me:
It's really not the best movie in any way, but House on Haunted Hill is one of those movies that I just want to throw in a time capsule and preserve forever. I wasn't fortunate enough to be around for the days of Castle films, but I can still feel the fantastic sense of ridiculous fun that pours from the work of crowd pleasers like him and Price. Some would argue that the 50+ year old film is dated, but I really think this is an ageless treat for anyone who enjoys a dose of the macabre.