House on Haunted Hill – Misunderstood
I’m not sure why there are certain films that take hold of me, especially universally panned films, that have such a lasting impression on me. I guess I’m the inverted horror movie hipster. While people will always hold Dario Argento and any type of obscure Hungarian and Spanish horror director in high regard, I love schlock and appreciate horror that is not only all that good, but just plan bad. This brings me to the remake of the William Castle classic “House on Haunted Hill.” This 1999 remake is the first film from the Dark Castle brand, that was started by super star producers Joel Silver and director Robert Zemekis, who you might also remember had a huge hand in the creation of the “Tales from the Crypt” TV series.
“House” follows a similar story to it’s predecessor, however it includes the backstory of the titular “House on Haunted Hill” which was an insane asylum that housed a maniacal doctor who performed heinous experiments on the inmates until there was a revolt and everyone was murdered and the asylum burnt down.
Years later, eccentric theme park owner, Steven Price, wants to throw a party for his wife at the “House” that includes several of her friends, but by some work of evil, the invitations are changed and all new guests are invited, most of whom are connected by some wicked twist of fate.
There are a few things I like about this film, actually, I think the good certainly outweighs the bad for me. First, it’s funny to me that the roller coaster they use for Price’s newest creation, is actually the “Incredible Hulk” roller coaster at Islands of Adventure in Florida, a roller coaster I know all too well. I also love all the subtle nods to the Castle original, and the over-the-top performances, especially from Geoffery Wright who sells it so well as Steven Price. Lastly, the monster effects are awesome, and remind me a lot of the monsters in “Silent Hill,” but what could you expect from Greg Nicotero.
Sure, when you get down to it, this is a genre film, and it has flaws, but that doesn’t make it bad. For a genre fan, and a relative poopoo’er on remakes, this one holds up and is super entertaining.
You have been invited…..to check out these other gems from 1999:
The Blair Witch Project
Deep Blue Sea
End of Days
Stir of Echoes