House on Haunted Hill (1999) is a remake of the 1959 William Castle film of the same name. It was directed by William Malone(Creature, FearDotCom), and starring Geoffrey Rush doing his best James Woods impression, Famke Janssen, Taye Diggs, Ali Larter, and Jeffrey Combs. The story follows a group of people as they ascend upon an old abandoned mansion, which also served as a former insane asylum, wherein a major patient uprising/mass murder situation occurred. The guests must survive an entire night in the house, to be rewarded with one million dollars a piece. Along the way, our guests will learn whether the mansion is actually haunted, or if something more sinister is afoot.
I love the William Castle original, but I’ve always loved 1999’s House on Haunted Hill remake. It’s an effective haunted house movie, featuring mostly practical effects, a great score, and Marilyn Manson on the soundtrack. The cast is full of recognizable faces, some of which I am a fan(Ali Larter, Jeffrey Combs, Geoffrey Rush). Something that adds an extra layer to the frights is the fact that the host of the party is an amusement park owner, making his living by tricking and exciting people. It’s hard to tell what’s part of the act, and what’s truly supernatural. Don’t get me wrong, at one point the line between reality and fantasy will become crystal clear, but up until that point it could be anyone or anything.
I was worried that nostalgia could be clouding my memory of House on Haunted Hill. It was released at the end of the Nineties, I was in my early twenties, and Marilyn Manson was on the soundtrack. I have revisited movies I loved in the past before, and found ultimately that they didn’t stand the test of time. And that’s the most important thing. How well does a movie stand the test of time, and I feel like House on Haunted Hill holds up very well. Lots of movies from the Nineties just look ugly now, with terrible lighting, ugly film stock, and dated special effects. And while the little CGI in the film does look dated, it doesn’t ruin the movie, and the practical stuff holds up just fine. Overall, I had a lot of fun revisiting this little remake. It’s an entertaining watch, it has mostly great special effects, the soundtrack and score are both top notch, and most importantly, I had a lot of fun with it.
Scream Factory’s Blu-ray release of the film is excellent. It features a new 2K scan from the original film elements, presented in 1.85:1. The video clarity is crystal, and the audio – presented as a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track, is clear and effective. Extras include Interviews with Director William Malone, Composer Don Davis, and Visual Effects Supervisor Robert Skotak. Also included is Concept Art and a Storyboard Gallery, and a behind the scenes look at the visual FX. Also included are stills and a poster gallery, a vintage featurette called A Tales of Two Houses, more Visual FX footage, deleted scenes, a theatrical trailer, and TV spots. Scream Factory’s Collector’s Edition Blu-ray release of House on Haunted Hill is highly recommended. If you’re a fan of the film, or a new horror fan just looking to fill in some gaps, you could do much worse than this movie. If you would like to purchase a copy of your own, click here to visit the Shout! Factory website.
- NEW 2K Scan From The Original Film Elements
- NEW Interview With Director William Malone
- NEW Interview With Composer Don Davis
- NEW Interview With Visual Effects Supervisor Robert Skotak
- Never-Before-Seen Storyboards, Concept Art And Behind-The-Scenes Photos Courtesy Of Visual Effects Producer Paul Taglianetti
- Audio Commentary With Director William Malone
- A Tale Of Two Houses – Vintage Featurette
- Behind the Visual FX – Vintage Featurette
- Deleted Scenes
- Theatrical Trailer
- TV Spots
- Movie Stills And Poster Gallery