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House On Haunted Hill (1999)
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Review Date: October 30, 1999
Director: William Malone
Writer: Dick Beebe
Producers: Joel Silver, Robert Zemeckis
Actors:
Geoffrey Rush as Steven Price
Famke Janssen as Evelyn Price
Taye Diggs as Eddie Baker
Plot:
Five people get invited to spend a nite at a "haunted" house by a reputed master of terror and his weirdo wife. He offers them each the purse of $1,000,000 if they are able to last the night, without being killed. It's not long before everyone begins to feel the real horror oozing out of the house itself. Terror ensues.
Critique:
I had a blast at this movie! It was pure, unadulterated fun set perfectly on the weekend of ghouls and goblins. It's funny because due to the lack of press screenings by the studio, I was convinced that soon after the film's slick opening credit sequence, the other shoe would eventually fall off. So I waited and waited and waited, but never a shoe did fall. The film began on a campy B-movie feel and kept going strong with enough blood, gore, creepiness and thrills to give me a haunted woodie. The soundtrack also drew another one of my thumbs up, as well as the main over-the-top performance from the Vincent Price-esque Geoffrey Rush. And unlike THE HAUNTING, this film didn't waste any time to get going, and resorted to very few CGI special effects, and even then, only in the last twenty minutes or so. I'll admit that the special effects and the ending were this film's weakest links, but all in all, it kept me interested, creeped out, full of energy and believe it or not, guessing...the whole time!

Were most of the characters in this movie based in stock wood? Did they put themselves in unbelievably stupid situations like in most other horror flicks? Sure, but it didn't matter since these type of movies aren't about character development, they're about thrills, blood, murders and overall creepiness, and stab me in the back if that ain't what this film delivered. I also enjoyed all of the film's grungy sounds, whispers and screams which seemed to be resonating throughout the movie and the unique style delivered by director William Malone. The one thing which I did find amiss was the humor aspect which seemed to have been forgotten in the script, but then again, maybe that's what kept me more "into" the movie (Granted, Chris Kattan did have some pretty funny lines). No pop references galore and no teeny-bopper girls bouncing around in their tight tanktops (although there's something to be said about them as well:). It's a straight scary movie done in a campy way with plenty of energy and a handful of twists and turns. See this movie if you're in the mood to be taken through a fun haunted house at an amusement park without the long waits in line. Skip this movie if you want a deeper terror a la SHINING and expect to be blown away by its precise narrative. It's easy, it's loud, it's fun, it's gory, it's junk food for the scary bastard in all of us, and I'll be damned if it ain't my guiltiest pleasure of the year! It's cheesolicious!
(c) 2015 Berge Garabedian
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