09 April 2008

The original House On Haunted Hill (1959) Movie Review

“Vincent Price was the kind of actor who could make a golf game seem foreboding.” Merlyn Trey Hunter

Poster for House on Haunted Hill, a Vincent Price film


A 1959 black and white horror film that is still more scary than any politically correct, demographically represented teenie bopper Paris Hilton-starring Hollywood remakes of latter years. Honestly, the House of Wax teen movie remake should rather be called House of P.C. Cheap Plastic.

The pace of the film is odd. Other than that, it is a good film.


  • Fredrick Loren (Vincent Price) is a sinister playboy who hosts an amusing party shindig at his haunted mansion.

  • Each guest gets a tiny coffin with a loaded handgun in it and as much single malt scotch as they can carry. The survivors get $10 000. No, I did not put my pinkie in my mouth when I typed that.

  • Of course, it's not as smooth as surviving the night in a haunted mansion with a bunch of AA (armed alcoholics) members and an imposing acid bath in the fine wine cellar. Fredrick's wife, Annabelle (Carol Ohmart, who looks very fetching in this movie) and her lover, Lance (Richard Long) steer clear of the single malt whiskey, indicating that they intend to keep their shooting straight. The plot thickens.

  • Fortunately, there are no such things as ghosts. Or are there? What goes bump in the night? Is it just Britney Spears spending one night in Paris Hilton, filming the ordeal to put her career back on track?

    We are talking about the girl who snogged Madonna. It's not a case of don't put that in your mouth, you don't know where it's been. It's more a case of don't put that in your mouth, you know EXACTLY where it's been!

    And Paris is the opposite of a Hilton Hotel. You know there are reservations at a Hilton Hotel.

  • Rest assured. The plot of House on Haunted Hill is sinister, but not that sinister.

Paris one night in a morgue or at the art gallery
The Paris Hilton Autopsy, by artist Daniel Edwards. Read more about this work of social commentary at Art Fag City or at the Capla Kesting Fine Art Gallery site.

"There's something about disemboweling a homunculus of Hilton that screams 'fine art'." - Wired Magazine

"A bizarre art campaign to warn against the dangers of drunk driving." - The New Zealand Herald


  • House on Haunted Hill starts off with screaming multiple orgasms. OK, so perhaps it's an agonising scream. I'm a guy, I can't tell the difference, but the scream seems like a good start. Then there are a couple of floating heads introducing the film. You just know you are in good company.

  • After that, the film gets a bit boring. It takes a while before the tension builds, but there are a few frightening moments that they somehow manage to concoct with one of the most fake ghosts caught on video.

  • One of the great Vincent Price movies, House of Haunted Hill is directed and produced by William Castle. Castle had the habit of marketing his films with spy gadgets. For this film, some cinemas were fitted with an elaborate pulley system which dragged a skeleton across the ceiling at opportune times.

  • Vincent Price sports a stylish handlebar moustache in this film. That's almost as cool as a popped collar. That's not the same kind of cool as a Nile album. It's also not quite as cool as Shock.

  • The famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed the house on haunted hill. This estate, known as the Ennis House, is built in the Mayan revival style. Wright believed in organic architecture. This means he believed a new building should blend in with its environment instead of visually fighting with its surroundings. He did not grow houses using hydroponic farming techniques. The Ennis House is an impressive erection. Almost as impressive as my monster cock.

  • This film is in public domain, which means you can watch House on Haunted Hill or download it for free from the Internet archive.

  • How do you feel about the recent Vincent Price remake craze? I am legend, House of Wax, House on Haunted Hill... I still prefer the original Vincent Price films. Watching remakes is about as much fun as reading tips for a flat stomach or going through detoxification. Speak your mind - leave me a comment!

William Castle



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Trista said...

I will always watch the remakes, because I am always hungry for new horror. But I never enjoy them the way I enjoy the originals.

Nice site! Glad I stumbled by.

machinehuman said...

Only 2 skulls and a half? It's a classic, sure not one of the best among the ones in the genre, but do deserve at least a half skull more.

Me-Me King said...

Vincent Price has always been a favorite of mine...House of Wax. I'll definitely look for this one.

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