Original Vs. Remake: House on Haunted Hill

The feedback was fantastic in regard to our last Original Vs. Remake which had Romero's Night of the Living Dead edging out the 1990 redo by Tom Savini. The remake actually received a lot of love and rightfully so. It's a faithful retelling that adds some new ideas while still paying homage to the original. I still say it's tough to beat the ground-breaking work laid out by Mr. Romero's classic.

We have a fun party laid out for today's O vs. R and you are all invited! There's no cash prize for making it through this entire article, but hopefully your horror-loving soul will be all the richer for it. I've been waiting a little while to do this one and I'm glad that the time has finally come. So, pour yourself a cold one and prepare to party with some ghosts up at the House on Haunted Hill!

Super rich Frederick Loren offers five people 10 G's if they can spend the entire night with him and his wife inside a supposed haunted house. Once the group is all together and the doors are locked, a number of strange and spooky occurances begin to happen. As the guests begin to unravel, the question remains whether they will be able to live through the night.
Much like the original, a rich man invites guests to a special birthday party for his wife at a huge haunted former asylum and offers them cash money if they are able to last through the night. Once the windows and doors are locked, deadly, ghostly highjinks ensue.
Special Effects
Look, this film came out in 1959, so that somewhat handicaps its role in this category. However despite the film's age, the practical effects utilized are actaully quite astounding and really help the scare factor. You'd be surprised how creepy the simple shot of an old lady with whitened eyes gliding across the floor could be. We also get a grotesque severed head in a box that packs a pretty nice wallop.
Thankfully, the remake fully embraced an R rating and delivered a ton of deliciously icky effects. There are bloody stabbings and some grotesque medical procedures. Plus, a wonderfully gorged out face bit and a pretty realistic looking severed head. The ghostly apparitions floating and darting all about are also nicely rendered.
The original House has the master himself, Vincent Price, in the starring role and as per usual, he is just fantastic. Plus, I can safely say that he is perfectly backed up by everyone else in the cast. Special attention must be paid to Carol Ohmart as Price's sultry, scheming wife and Carolyn Craig as an extra frightened guest. Elisha Cook Jr. also lends a bit of the macabre as the owner of the house.
We definitely hit the jackpot in quality actors when it comes to this cast! First off, we get Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush who matches Price's abilities in the starring role. He's awesome. Also, the laundry list of top tier performances unspools with the gorgeous Famke Janssen and Ali Larter, the suave Taye Diggs and Peter Gallagher, the hilarious Chris Kattan, and even genre legend Jeffrey Combs!
The original House perfectly masters the less-is-more approach and delivers some surprisingly intense scares along the way. Again, that creepy old woman merely popping up unexpectedly could make you jump out of your seat. The film also boasts a wonderfully spooky music score that gladly introduces chills up your spine.
Thanks to some fast editing and a couple of nasty bursts of carnage, the intensity level is pretty darn high with the remake. All the instances involving the medical staff at the sanitarium add up to some shocking shit. And once the house really starts to show its true self, it makes for some nice, heart-pounding action!
Hot Chicks
This film may be from 1959, but that does not change the fact of how hot, yes HOT Carol Ohmart is in it! With her blonde hair, uniquely sexy face and voluptuous body, she is a superbly surprising feast for the eyes! She is backed up in the beauty department by Carolyn Craig who also offers a sweet, innocent allure of her own!
Yes, the women in the House remake are downright gorgeous. Let's start out with the captivating Miss Famke Janssen who may have been at the pinnacle of her hotness. Then we have two super sexy blondes in the forms of Ali Larter and Bridgette Wilson who both offer beauty to die for!
There's a reason why William Castle was such a successful horror filmmaker back in the day. It's because the man knew how to scare with the simplest of set ups! Even in black and white, House on Haunted Hill still brings the screams through a deft use of lighting and sound effects. Castle also conjurs solid, believable performances from his players for a horror film that is able to entertain through the ages.
I think William Malone did a pretty admirable job updating the classic for today's horror audience. He generates scares through his fast cuts and refusal to compromise on the hardcore gore stuff. His cast is pretty fantastic and the characters work well off each other. Best of all, there is a clear respect for the original that shines through Malone's direction which, shockingly enough, is sometimes hard to come by in today's horror.
Oh man! I was not expecting a tie upon first starting out on this battle! However, now that it's over and after sitting through both flicks again, I do kind of feel that it is the correct result. Both films may be different because of their era of birth, but that does not change the fact that they both deliver in their own horrific ways! What say you? Do you think this entire bout was some elaborate scheme set up by Mr. Price? Fire them bullets below and let us know! And if you have any flicks you'd like to see in this column, give me a shout at [email protected].



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