10/14/15 – OCTOBER HORROR MOVIE RECOMMENDATION #14 – House on Haunted Hill (1959).

House on Haunted Hill

I’ve been focusing on a lot of current movies lately so I figured I’d go back to one of the true classics. And I mean classic. This House on Haunted Hill is one of my absolute favorite Vincent Price movies (to be fair, I have a lot of them). And while he was amazing in every movie he was in, there are some character moments in this one where he’s fighting with his wife (which he truly despises), that is pure Price magic. There’s a weird diabolical aspect to him, but at the same time, you kind of understand why he’s acting like he is. It’s kind of fantastic. The premise is one that almost sounds cliché now, but it still works. Five strangers are invited to a house that is supposedly haunted for a mysterious “party.” If they stay the night, they will each be awarded $10,000, which, remember this is 1959, that is a LOT of money. Vincent Price plays the extremely wealthy man hosting this party, supposedly at the request of his wife. But she seems to not be completely in on the idea, especially the choosing of the guests. Or is she? See, that’s most of the fun of this movie. You don’t really know anyone’s actual motives. Is it really Price setting this all up? Or is it like he says, at the request of his wife? Why were certain people chosen? Why did these certain people agree to come? Is the house really haunted? Or is it all hysteria, like the doctor says. It’s just so much 50’s fun. It’s very much styled after Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians, in which it is really more of a mystery than a horror (by today’s standards at least.) But like I always say about watching older movies – you have to watch them in the mindset of the time period. In 1959 this movie was TERRIFYING. The tagline advertised 13 of the scariest terrors seen on screen. And what’s great is that some of them still make you jump today! It’s really full of amazing twisted nuances, from the guests arriving in the hearses (in case they have to be carried out in them), to the coffin “gifts” containing something else that ups the ante, down to the two severed heads that are supposedly “lost” in the house. Hmm, I wonder if they turn up… Anyway, it’s a William Castle masterpiece that is brisk (at 75 minutes), entertaining, twisty-turny, has a great ending, and mostly… Vincent. If you love older horror flicks, House on Haunted Hill is required viewing.

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