Tuesday, October 31, 2017


I can never get enough of the disembodied narrative heads of Cook and Price at the beginning or Price and Ohmart antagonizing each other. Cook, Jr. and his ghosts and Carolyn Craig going overwrought with her hysterics are just too much fun. And Price's sly characterization, not to mention, the ridiculous twist involving Ohmart always bring me back. Castle is one of my heroes and few have at least four or so films I could watch over and over. And little caskets for guns. Can't forget those.

IMDb review from November, 2007.


You ought to know the plot like the back of your hand, but just in case..

Wealthy(..and multiple-married, with three wives dying under mysterious circumstances)Frederick Loren(Vincent Price), thanks to his wife's wishes(..sort of), offers five specific chosen guests an opportunity to collect $10,000 if they are able to survive the night in supposedly haunted house owned by alcoholic Watson Pritchard(Elisha Cook, Jr)who claims that lives were taken by ghosts always passing warnings to them. We see in their quietly sinister conversations that Frederick and fourth wife Annabelle(Carol Ohmart, quite alluring)that the marriage is failing as the idea of murder-for-profit is continually mentioned. Frederick uses oozes biting sarcasm subtly, but expresses his point that she will participate in his little game whether Annabelle wishes to or not. The film often consists of typist Nora(Carolyn Craig most of the time screaming or in a state of hysterics)running from various threatening elements within the rooms, jet pilot Lance(Richard Long, a veteran of the classic sci-fi horror show The Twilight Zone)doubting Nora's claims of spooky goings on(like a woman "floating across the floor" or finding a severed head in a case), Watson in a frozen state of fear foretelling great horrors that lie in wait for them, Dr. David Trent(Alan Marshal)often trying to play the voice of reason during difficult situations, and Ruth(Julie Mitchum)as a common victim of blood spattering on her hands from the ceiling. When Annabelle is found hung from a rope dead(supposedly, from what Trent proclaims), it's obvious that Frederick becomes the likely suspect. He always appears to be the kind of person who would stage such an event(he does mention his fear of being killed by Annabelle one way or another siting a past incident where she possibly poisoned his food)because we see a glee when discussing surviving the night in the house, his little coffins with loaded guns, and the idea that murders could very well happen. Frederick's smiles always seem to express malicious intent. In other words, he doesn't seem trustworthy in the slightest. You couple Annabelle's murder with a possibility of the supernatural within the house they're staying, anything could happen. But, as in many a William Castle film, there's always twist to the proceedings and appearances can be deceiving.

Perhaps THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL doesn't contain the blood curdling terror Castle intended, but I still think it a lot of fun. Certainly the whole business with the skeleton and acid pit at the end is ridiculous concerning a scheme that seems like the perfect crime gone down the tubes, but the film never claims to be anything more than an entertaining movie the way Castle was able to produce for the public time and again. Even if Castle is not given his proper due as a fine filmmaker, his movies live on and continue to thrive regardless of those who consider him nothing but a PT BARNUM of the cinema of the 60's. I thought the interplay between Price and Ohmart was the juiciest part of the film. One problem that did bother me..I wanted some extra development for the creepy housekeepers, the Slydes(Leona Anderson is the wife who floats across floors and resembles an old witch, while Jonas, portrayed by Howard Hoffman, continues frightening Nora).

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