PLOT: A nutty millionaire named Price (obvious homage to Vincent Price, the star of the original) loves to scare people shitless. So he schemes up a party where offers a perfectly diverse group of folks a million bucks...if they can survive the night in a supposed haunted abandoned insane asylum (aren't they all haunted?). Sounds easy enough, but then again, it wouldn’t be a horror movie if people didn’t die. It’s all fun and games until the asylum decides to seal itself and people start to get dead in mysterious ways. Is it real? Or is it one of Price's games?
REVIEW: I’ve always enjoyed a good haunted house movie, and they seemed like they were all the rage back in the late 1990’s until they wore out their welcome with audiences. Eventually they’ll come back as we seem to be stuck in the ghost story era still. Anyway, House on Haunted Hill is yet another remake, this time of the 1959 Vincent Price classic, and this version is all about bad lighting, cheap sets, generic characters, bloody violence, and Lisa Loeb (why is she in here?) .
There's a lot of quality actors here, but its Geoffrey Rush's show as dude really channels is inner Price here. Supposely, Rush wanted to mirror director John Waters, but he looks, acts, and even sounds like the late, great horror master. The real shame is that he's not in the film more. He's a rich asshole who loves to pull elaborate tricks on people in order to scare until poop finds its way out of their inner systems. That's interesting character trait and pretty f*cked up. He and his wife, the always gorgeous Famke Janssen, play a consistent game of who-will-kill-who-first, which also helps to elevate the film beyond complete cliche status.
However, when we switch to the other characters (including female eye candy hero Taye Diggs), my interest dropped because I didn't give a damn. They're all too cliched to care about them (they even have perfectly generic job descriptions), but we go for the ride regardless because we only keep watching to see them die. Hell, even though Chris Kattan annoys me to no end, I would have liked more time with his character to understand why the hell he kept an abandoned insane asylum. At least that'd be interesting. Oh, and then there's the horrific effects during the third act. I won't spoil anything, but Holy Jesus, it's bad.
Overall, there's some good scares in here with the twitchy ghosts and the good doctor Jeffrey Combs doing the Lord's work, but somehow I remembered this being a hell of a lot better a decade ago.
BEST TNA SCENE: A little light in this department, yet director William Malone still managed to work in a few boobs...none in a sexy kinda manner (though some nice underwater action).
BEST GORE BIT: Lots of quality gore, but the most painful moment happens in the first five minutes or so when (in a flashback) one of the poor staff workers gets about three perfectly sharp pencils stuck through his neck. Ouch, man!
HALLOWEEN DRINKING GAME: Let's make it easy: Take a drink each time you want Chris Kattan to hurry up and die (in the movie).