Hello to all those faithfully reading and hopefully enjoying this effort to make even the worst horror movie more watcha... aw, screw that - I'm not that good. If a movie makes you cringe because yet another batch of unlikable teens that are pushing 30 are inching toward their deaths, having a party no one does anywhere ever, a paranormal movie is boring you to tears with unending pans of empty rooms, or thanks to CGI technology when people finally bite it, their blood squirts everywhere except on the victim, the ground, the people next to them... you're in good company and this is the right place for you.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

I COULD SWEAR I ALREADY DID THESE BUT I CAN'T FIND THE DAMNED THINGS SO HERE'S THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY - ALL THREE 'HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL' MOVIES...






House On Haunted Hill (1959)
House On Haunted Hill (1999)
Return To House On Haunted Hill (2007)

Wow, I must really have lost my mind because I swear I looked everywhere for my review of these movies and could not find them. AT ALL. I looked everywhere. It started when I got interested in an article about the type of gun the original movie used, and the way people in the movie took them and just waved them around everywhere like they were just, well, props. Plus there was a story problem with the remake I wanted to make sure I pointed out.


The original of course was the best, although very dated (duh, 1959). People have often gotten it confused with the Haunting of Hill House, a novel by Shirley Jackson, written in 1959. I have read more than a couple of people complaining that the movie "wasn't even close to the book". Well, duh. Can't really blame 'em though - when it comes to titles, that era seemed rife with similarities - House On Haunted Hill, The Haunting (based on Jackson's novel), The Haunting of Hell House (based on Richard Matheson's classic Hell House) - my conclusion is that their confusion was inevitable. So.



House On Haunted Hill (1959): One of William Castle's creations (Acclaimed The Super-Shocker Of The Century!) this spook fest was also chock full of stars - most notably Vincent Price as the cuckolded husband of a cold beauty. We've got Richard Long and Elisha Cook and several charactor actors with very long resume's.


In this version the story is superior, although the main dialogue of the women seems to be annoying, piercing screams. Just watch it for five minutes - you'll need to turn the volume down, guaranteed. However, it is still a blast to see Vincent overact, the cheap (but effective) special effects, and the schlocky horror story of a scheming woman getting what's coming to her.



Why did I even start looking? I happened to run across this sweet looking gun, a Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammer. I wasn't looking FOR guns, just happened to see an article about the original movie and it showed this gun (and how actors in the movie would wave the damned things around in people's faces or swing it all over to emphasize words, fingers always on the trigger) and that got me looking for my movie review... these 'toys' that Vincent passes out to his guests now range anywhere from roughly $700 (if you want a piece of junk) to $2,500.00 and up...



House On Haunted Hill (1999): This remake was panned horribly by critics and yeah, I've got some major problems with it, but it hasn't prevented me from enjoying some of the silly little moments and it is in regular rotation in my movie watching list. But shit somebody dropped the ball (many, many times) while making this movie...

There are so many continuity, logic, factual, and (enter your preference here) errors that it's laughable. There are boom mics visible in a couple of scenes, Chris Kattan empties an already empty scotch bottle (twice), and the guns...



For this movie they used as 'party favors' the SIG-Sauer P228. As soon as one is picked up, it is noted that the magazines have been 'welded shut'. Hmm... would YOU want to put that kind of heat next to live ammo? The purpose was, of course, so that no one would know if they were really loaded with live ammo or blanks. Pfft... eject one, dummy, and you'll know.


From the silly beginning of the 'rollercoaster of the future' starting '20 stories at the top' (today's tallest in America is the Kingda Ka coaster at Six Flags in Jackson, NJ which starts at a staggering 45 stories) with a cameo of Lisa Loeb (singer and wife of Dweezil Zappa) and James Marsters (Buffy's 'Spike'), to the house (which in this version is actually an abandoned mental asylum of course) being the one who 'invites' the guests to the birthday party, this is pretty corny at best.



Geoffrey Rush, whose character was named Stephen Price as an homage to Vincent Price (although it is spelled as 'Steven' on the bank drafts and poster), actually tried to make his look to resemble Ed Wood but instead the combination of his look plus the mustache gave him an eerie resemblance to Vincent as well.



The story is really, really stupid but I still love it. We've got a great cast - Famke Janssen, who I'll watch in just about anything,  Taye Diggs, Peter Gallagher, Chris Kattan who was more hilarious trying NOT to be hilarious, Ali Larter (Final Destination, Resident Evil) as the strong female lead who did NOT scream thank you very much, and of course our main baddie, whacko doctor (because every insane asylum has one) Jeffrey Combs as Dr. Richard Benjamin Vannacutt.



The stakes go up thanks to inflation - where the guests were to receive $10,000 in the original version, this time they are offered $1,000,000 - if they live of course. Since they were really pushing paranormal stuff, this time the house is in control, somehow putting the idea of a party at the house in Evelyn's (Famke Janssen) head, having Price (Geoffrey Rush) agree to it, and have him make the invitations on the computer so the house could erase the list and make its own guest list and get the people it wanted.


This was about revenge. In the 30's, Vannacutt (Jeffrey Combs) was busy ripping people open. When they rebelled, setting the place on fire, he tripped a mechanism that sent the whole place into lockdown, with only five people escaping. The house wants those five - well, their descendants anyway. Duh. The fact that one is a phony and another was adopted doesn't seem to matter...



The 'party' starts with Marilyn Manson butchering a song by the Eurythmics as the guests go to their doom. Yes there are major tactical and logical problems with this story. See, Mr. and Mrs. Price, plus the three guests were picked by a computer to be there. But Blackburn (Peter Gallagher) was not. How did he get an invitation? The wife didn't choose or see the invites, and neither did Price. Duh.


Also a major point that bugged me - the strong female character Sara (Ali Larter) was passing herself off as Ms. Jenzen, one of the descendents. She told one person about it, and he wasn't even around to hear it, yet for the rest of the movie, everyone knew her by her real name. So either they cut out a whole scene, or they were just being lazy.

The freakouts are obvious, the special effects aren't bad, and there's enough gore for a '99 horror film. Again, despite everything, I love this movie. But...




Return To House On Haunted Hill (2007): This straight-to-video abortion is just awful. But I watch it anyway. Despite eight years in between movies, Jeffrey Combs returns as Dr. Vannacutt, and looks exactly the same. The only other names I recognized were Erik Palladino (Dead And Breakfast, 666 Park Avenue) and Andrew Lee Potts (lots and lots of stuff). So. There were several different types of guns and I wasn't particularly interested, sorry.




Even for CGI this is... just sooo awful...
Sara (because she didn't want to come back in another movie) has killed herself so her sister tries to find out why. Why bother when she never paid attention to her anyway, who cares? Sara, despite having millions (she and Eddie got all the money when they survived the first movie), lived in squalor, becoming obsessed with the asylum and the over-used mythology of Baphomet and has somehow gotten hold of Vannacutt's journal to try to 'find the evil' in the house. Umm, again, why? She's out and never has to go back, right?



But they wanted a movie so they slapped some bits from here and junk from there and pretended they were using the same 'house' (which, to be fair, didn't exist anyway). It had been assumed that Mr. Price had thrown a party, then massacred the guests - a hard story to prove since there were no bodies but...


To try to make it interesting (yawwwwn) they have two groups - one who wants the statue of Baphomet for a museum who are, uh, I can't even say good people - they just weren't as evil as the other group who wants the statue to sell, I guess. Sara's sister Ariel is roped into the search which shows more of the 'house' than the previous movie (not impressive in the least). 


To 'explain' things and keep the movie going, a former patient's spirit keeps showing Ariel the icky stuff that happened and how to stop it. Goodie. She's also there to get revenge for her sister Sara who was actually killed by Desmond (Erik Palladino).



Even getting to see Jeffrey Combs in this drek isn't enough to really hold your interest. They up the violence and gore of course, but the story and ending are so dumb that if this thing had a lot of errors, I couldn't pay close enough attention to tell you what they were. And I've seen this thing over a dozen times. Just the masochist in me, I guess.



AAAUUUGGGHHH! I just finished my review and was sorting through the pictures and guess what I found? You got it - I KNEW I'd done this before. Oh well, the original is dated 6/19/12 (since I can't even remember what I had for breakfast yesterday I'm not too surprised I couldn't remember) but I did notice it's pretty bare so if you wanna, check it out but you really don't have to...