Monday, 15 October 2012

31 Days Of Horror - Day 15: House On Haunted Hill (1959)

Eccentric millionaire Fredrick Loren and his 4th wife, Annabelle, have invited 5 people to the house on Haunted Hill for a "haunted House" party. Whoever will stay in the house for one night will earn ten thousand dollars each. As the night progresses, all the guests are trapped inside the house with ghosts, murderers, and other terrors.

William Castle was the king of the b-movies in his time, he was also known for using gimmicks in theatres and was a genius at promoting. That's all fine for the theatre in 1959, but what about in your home in 2012?

Well "House On Haunted Hill" is considered a Horror classic in many circles, the concept of 'classic' gets thrown around to easily these days so sometimes it's hard to trust the label but believe me this is a true classic, William Castle had a great way of making a low budget production still seem beautiful yet eerie, a concept I miss in a-lot of modern Horror films.

The film actually did so well profit wise that it caught the attention of legendary director Alfred Hitchcock, this then led him to create his own low-budget horror film .... "Psycho", now that's what I call inspiration. I'm sure Castle, who was himself a Hitchcock fan would have been delighted at the news.

The film is mainly still relevant due to it's big star, Vincent Price, who still to this day has a gigantic fan base. His performance of the character 'Fredrick Loren' is one of my favourites, he always had this magic way of portraying his characters that you can get mesmerised by his presence on screen. He was a true legend and for good reason, he is one the greatest actors ever in the Horror genre.

The popular theme music originally had haunting lyrics by Richard Kayne, but only the orchestral version was used in the final film. For the record, the lyrics went as follows: "There's a house on Haunted Hill / Where everything's lonely and still / Lonely and still / And the ghost of a sigh / When we whispered good-bye / Lingers on / And each night gives a heart broken cry / There's a house on Haunted Hill / Where love walked there's a strange silent chill / Strange silent chill / There are mem'ries that yearn / For our hearts to return / And a promise we failed to fulfill / But we'll never go back / No, we'll never go back / To the house on Haunted Hill!"

So my answer to the question "How does the film hold up in 2012?",well I can say that any fan of classic Horror will love this, if you don't like the oldies then stay away (but you are missing out!). I do suggest you watch the black and white version, the colour version just doesn't have the same atmosphere.

If you want to see the "House On Haunted Hill" trailer then just click on the video below:

Miscellaneous facts about the film:

The Ennis Brown House in Los Angeles, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and built in 1924, and now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was used for the exterior shots of the haunted house during the film's opening sequence.

William Castle had related the story of meeting Vincent Price on a day when Price had learned that he had been passed over for a part. Over coffee, Castle described the premise of this picture. Price liked the idea and it led to a two-picture collaboration, this and The Tingler.

A remake was made in 1999.

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