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March 12, 2012

The Mike's Top 50 Horror Films Countdown: #48 - House on Haunted Hill

Previously on the Countdown: Number 50 - Happy Birthday to Me  Number 49 - Prince of Darkness

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.

3 comments:

Justine's Halloween said...

That's funny, I never considered whether it was the hill that was haunted! The "haunted hill" is right in the title too...

I'm guessing that this is my favorite Vincent Price film, because I've watched it again and again. He makes me laugh so much in this one, especially in the scenes with the woman who plays his wife. Not to mention the house's caretakers. :) It's all so over the top!

Michele (TheGirlWhoLovesHorror) said...

I agree, Mike. I don't really see this movie as dated at all. When I saw it just a few years ago, I was having so much fun with it and the fact that it was fifty years old didn't bother me in the least. It's just a good time all around with fun gags and of course, the wonderful Mr. Price.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

"House on Haunted Hill" has arguably the greatest re-watchability factor of any film in the entire history of cinema.