House on Haunted Hill
Dir: William Malone
Star: Famke Janssen, Ali Larter, Geoffrey Rush, Jeffrey Combs
Cert / Year: 18 - R / 1999
Format: DVD R2

Theme Park supremo and eccentric millionaire Steven H. Price (Geoffrey Rush) gets talked into throwing a birthday party for his wife Evelyn Famke Janssen at a newly renovated but disused mental hospital. Due to the terrible history surrounding the property which was formerly The Vanncutt Psychiatric Institute for the Criminally Insane, the former hospital is now known as the House on Haunted Hill. The House was the scene of depraved and tortuous experiments upon inmates, by the malevolent Dr Vannacutt Jeffrey Combs who during a bloody revolt by the inmates against the fiendish medical staff initiated a "lock down" (all doors and windows are sealed with solid steel shutters, and are naturally locked) and all perished in an ensuing fire.

Upon arrival at the house the ensemble of guests comprising Sara, (Ali Larter) Melissa, (Bridgette Wilson) Eddie, (Taye Diggs) and Dr. Blackburn (Peter Gallagher) are welcomed by Watson Pritchett, (Chris Kattan) the owner of the house. Price, with his flair for the theatrical offers a one million Dollar prize to anyone who "survives the night" within the house but unlike the rest of the guests Pritchett is unwilling to accept the challenge and is adamant about leaving. After the first of a series of chilling occurrences it is evident why, but far too late for all of them.

Based upon the original 1959 House on Haunted Hill by legendary director William Castle, and starring the enigmatic Vincent Price. House on Haunted Hill is not so much a remake as more an adaptation of the original, with the story being brought up to date and the inclusion of some well placed effects. Thankfully, this is nothing like the trend of new "slasher" flicks. This film relies on good old fashioned scare the pants off of you ghosts and spirits, and not on increasingly overwhelming computer graphics.

Overrall the direction is excellent, courtesy of Malone as he manages to produce a much better than average horror movie, which is very atmospheric and chilling, yet laced with dark humour. This is a film which is bound to scare the more weaker spirited amongst you. Personally I found the film a very enjoyable watch and it contains some strong performances all round. It is easy to see more than a touch of Vincent Price in the superb performance of Geoffrey Rush (Mystery Men, Quills) which is a testament to both his acting talent and the inescapable influence that Vincent Price has left upon this genre.

Bridgette Wilson acts superbly as the television presenter Melissa Marr and is always enjoyable to watch. Ali Larter (Final Destination) manages to avoid the stereotypical "scream queen" antics which you would expect from Hollywood Horror and is quite superb. Although you don't get to see a great deal of him Jeffrey Combs is well worth mentioning for a fine and typically deranged performance as the sinister Dr. Vannacutt. Famke Janssen was an excellent choice for Evelyn, the typically devious wife of Steven Price, and her performance can only be described as electrifying.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Picture 1.85:1 widescreen Good crisp image
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 Creepy and excellent
Features Superb animated menus
Audio commentary by director Willam Malone.
"A Tale of Two Houses" short documentary about the influences of the original movie upon the new one.
Deleted scenes
"Behind The Screams" - interesting information on the production.
Verdict An impressive disc for an impressive film, a worthy purchase for any horror fan.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Reviewed by Logan Link Back Top Home