House on Haunted Hill (1999)

Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Geoffrey Rush, Famke Janssen, Taye Diggs, Peter Gallagher
A millionaire offers a group of diverse people $1,000,000 to spend the night in a haunted house with a horrifying past.
Unsophisticated and unoriginal film fails to produce scares.
  • Warner Home Video Company:
  • R Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 29 Oct 1999 Released:
  • 18 Apr 2000 DVD Release:
  • N/A Box office:

All subtitles:



Trailer:

Who Wants to be a Millionaire?5/10

Asylums. Crazy people. Insanity. Mental therapy, mental hospitals, mental patients have been used time and time again in horror fiction and horror films. Why? I'm not sure; maybe, it is the normality of being like those that are insane which brings a more genuine horror to us. Whatever it is, House on Haunted Hill certainly uses all the mental derangement cliches to full effect. I could easily pan this film by saying(and rightly so) that its predecessor, the original House on Haunted Hill directed by William Castle, is a far superior film. That Castle's film was filled with better acting, better timing, and easily a better script. But I liked this film, which is not really a remake entirely. It has many elements that are not in the first film; most of them centering around the mental aspect aforementioned. The house in this film was once an asylum where people...thousands perhaps..were brutally butchered in the name of mental good health. The house is scary. Empty corridors, large, vast rooms, incredible special effects all add to the frightening aspects of the film. The biggest problem with the film is that much of it just doesn't add up in terms of making sense of the plot. The film fortunately is more special effects driven than plot driven, and at least is able to deliver the goods in that arena. The acting is pretty good with all the leads really doing quite a good job. Geoffrey Rush gives his best Vincent Price impression(pencil-thin mustache and all) delivering lines with bravura gusto. The other exceptional standout is Chris Kattan as Watson Pritchard. Kattan is just wonderful in the role showcasing his obvious talent. As far as great horror films go...this film is adequate, yet very thrilling, exciting, and entertaining. If you are like me and love the old one...just look at this film as a totally different entity. It is. One thing is for sure...it is one heck of a rollercoaster ride!
Not bad at all for a remake (and maybe better than the original)9/10

I've seen some of the comments on the film here, and would beg to differ with many. I found the film to be entertaining (wouldn't William Castle have wanted that?) and that it actually paid homage to the original in so many ways (how many remakes ever do that? Generally they add a flavor-of-the-month star, a bunch of irrelevant plot changes and a soundtrack from a has-been band or one that should never have been). As a bonus, a supernatural element was brought to this film that wasn't there in the original version. I've seen a lot of complaining about the ending, but hey, life sometimes sucks and I could certainly see something like that happening to me. To tell the truth, I'd have to say that this remake was better than the first version. And this is from a stone-cold believer that Karloff was the best Frankenstein monster and Lugosi the best Dracula. Tongue in cheek this movie is -- James Whale would have loved it.
Despite a weak ending this is a surprisingly creepy Hollywood horror5/10

Rich but eccentric millionaire Steven Price is looking for the ultimate scares. He invites a group of people to spend the night in the former Vannacutt Psychiatric Institute for the Criminally Insane – where the inmates revolved in a orgy of violence against the cruel regime of Dr Vannacutt. The one who does spend the night will get $1million dollars. However it soon becomes evident that not all the scares are set up by Price himself.

This remake of the old 1958 movie sees the plot expanded and made a lot more creepy and enjoyable. In fact the end point of the original is only the halfway mark of this one. The plot may not be imaginative but the delivery is very good for this type of film. I'm not a big fan of horror or this type of Hollywood slasher movie as I find them too obvious and not scary. However here the gore is well used and the general creepy mood wins the film. The movement of the deceased Dr Vannacutt is very creepy and is much better than some of the gore.

Sadly the final 20 minutes feels it needs to reveal a bigger evil and the secrets of the house are brought to life in boom of CGI beasties. At this point it reverts to form and because just another Hollywood creature feature and it is a bit of a let down. However up to this point it works very well and it's real creepy.

The cast are all pretty good and do `camp' when necessary but don't take away from the terror that's coming later. Rush plays nicely to the camp in his homage to Price's role in the original. Jensen, Diggs, Gallagher and Kattan all do well and the cast do better than the scream queens that usual inhabit these films.

Overall the film starts like any other Hollywood horror but the clever direction, creepy music and imaginative visuals of Dr Vannacutt all create a creepy feel to the film that is better than the gore that also comes. The final section slides back into standard fare with the old CGI evil coming to get us – but up till then it's surprisingly good stuff.
A Terrifying movie, with no ending7/10

For once, a movie even scarier and more horrifying than the trailers for it. BUT......

The whole was not equal to the sum of its parts. Geoffrey Rush (what's HE doing in this movie?!) as Steven Price is actually a very interesting character, which can be attributed to either the effort the script takes to set him up, and/or the brilliance of the Oscar-winning actor in the role. Price's wife, Evelyn, gets similar treatment, but it is here the screenwriter(s?) get lazy.

The strangers in the house DO get a minimal amount of character set-up, i.e. who they are, what they do... but this information is never touched on again. One would HOPE that all ths information is being displayed for some higher purpose-- the background of these five strangers, the cat-and-mouse game played by Mr. & Mrs. Price, and Mr. Price's fascination with fear that is set up so intensely in the movie's opening minutes.

But alas, none of this GOES anywhere. It is all completely independent from the agenda of the House when I felt like it should all tie together, somehow. There are three forces at work here-- the ghosts who haunt the house, the humans who are trapped in it, and the Darkness that lives beneath it. These are all separate entities, we find, but for what purpose? This movie could have gone on another ten minutes, some loose ends could have been tied up, and I could have given it a much higher score.

Instead, what was truly an INTENSE build-up, sputters out at the very end of the movie. It didn't even feel like an end, it just felt like the movie stopped, and we're left without an explanation to what happens to the survivors-- including the most interesting character in the movie, the House itself.

7 out of 10. Fun to watch, truly terrifying, but incomplete.
NOT A BAD REMAKE8/10

This is not a bad remake. It is "R" rated, so parents beware, this is NOT the Price classic of 1958. Within the first scene there is gore (surgery on a wide awake man), violence (the inmates of the asylum break loose and attack the staff), and nudity (uniforms ripped open on the women). This is crucial to the plot (Hill House is not the same murder house from the original, it's a former asylum for the criminally insane where torture and experimentations are done on the inmates). A fire breaks out and all but five die.

Jump to present day. Multimillionaire Steven Price (is the name a nod to Vincent?) played by Geoffrey Rush, doing his best sideshow barker impersonation/Williams Castle impersonation, and wife (Famke Janssen) are having a party, in the restored former asylum. The guest's trip to the house is still via several hearse and from this point much of the original plot is maintained.

The part that bothered me about the arrival scene at the house, was the inappropriate song. It set the wrong mood, and I worried about what was going to be next. Thankfully, the rest of the score (except the end title) was strictly orchestral, and sent a nice dark mood to try to help to scare you. Applause to Don Davis.

House does rely rather heavily on special effects as do all the current re-makes. Is it really better or worse for it? I think it adds, and they didn't just redo the same show. It's spooky and a good Halloween movie, and a dark theater is excellent for it's effect. I am sorry, but there was nothing that I found really scary or horrifying. Of course, I haven't really been scared by a movie since I saw the Wolf Man (1941), with Lon Chaney jr, in 1958.