The House on Haunted Hill (1999) (1999)
Director: William Malone
Geoffrey Rush/Steven B. Price
Ali Carter/Sara Wolfe
Five total strangers are invited to Evelyn’s (Janssen) birthday bash by her husband, theme park extraordinaire Steven B. Price (Rush). The location: An abandoned asylum now owned by Watson (Kattan). The promise: Stay and survive the night you get a million dollars. The catch: The asylum has a shady history and is supposedly haunted by pissed off ghosts. Let the party begin!
Scary, stylish and at times downright creepy film. It takes the basic ideas of the original and muscles 'em up big time. In the original we’re not sure ghosts are even involved, in this one there’s no doubt that spirits are causing havoc. They play on the "is it Price or the house" thing a bit, but let it all drop pretty fast to make way for the ghouls. The movie is filled with nightmarish images: spooky doctors, crazy hallucinations, head shaking phantoms (shades of Jacob’s Ladder) and violence galore. Yes the computer effect climax takes away from the primal tone the movie sets up for the first hour and fifteen minutes, yes some of the characters are underdeveloped, yes we don’t see enough of Bridgette Wilson and yes the last frame is ambiguous. But on a whole this is a very satisfying film. Eerie scenes, peeved spirits, funny bantering between Rush and Janssen and an hilarious Chris Kattan. What else can you want from life? Lets enter the house and collect our checks.
There’s a lot of ketchup on the menu: A scooped out skull, pencils in some guy’s neck, scalpel attacks…it will satisfy any gorehounds appetite.
Geoffrey Rush (Price) hams it up and has a blast with his part. He’s funny and his lines are filled with dry wit. Famke Janssen (Evelyn) plays the super bitch perfectly, together they make one bitter couple.
Taye Diggs' (Eddie) biceps do a great job. Ali Carter (Sara) knows how to scream, run and look frightened. Chris Kattan (Watson) improves the Watson part from the original and makes it his own. His delivery is awesome and he had me pissing my pants. Bridgette Wilson (Melissa) looks great but is hardly in the film. Peter Gallagher (Donald) lets his glasses do all the thespian work.
T & A
Breasts of nurses getting raped…the nudity is not fun and your crotch won't move. Trust me…
Malone loves style. Crazy lighting, groovy shots and I adored the one spirit point of view shot (don't blink). The flashback sequences are very unnerving and the scene in that image chamber is one acid inspired trip. Don't smoke up before this flick, you’ll be hiding under your bed within minutes.
A very kool use of "Marilyn Manson’s" "Sweet Dreams" and a chilling score.
It doesn’t embarrass the original and stands on it’s own. The "opening credits" is creepier than the whole "Haunting" remake. Watching this movie has the same feel as going through a haunted house at a theme park. You never know what might pop up. Sometimes you do feel that it was put together quickly and some of the situations could have been explored more but it’s been a while since I’ve seen a decent haunted house flick and this one with all it’s flaws is still an entertaining ride. Now stop stabbing that poor guy and run to the video store!
One hit wonder singer "Lisa Loebb" has a small part as a journalist.
Jeffrey Combs (of Re-Animator fame) plays the creepy doctor, Richard Vannacutt.
Geoffrey Rush character’s name is Price after Vincent Price who played the same part in the original.
Stay tuned after the end credits for a little surprise.
The movie had lots of scenes cut out by the studio, here are a few:
-Early scene between Ali Carter and Debi Mazar (playing her boss) totally cut out.
-Scene where the ghosts enter the bodies of the dead and revive them! Zombie fun! The studio felt it looked too much like "Thriller" and cut it out.
-A painting on the wall coming to life and attacking Bridgette Wilson (we see it in the trailer).
-A different ending that has Debi Mazar inheriting the house, accompanied by a real estate agent (played by Jeffrey Combs) she enters the house and lets out a scream.