Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Movie #264: House on Haunted Hill

House on Haunted Hill is a 1999 horror movie and remake of the 1958 Vincent Price classic. This one stars Geoffrey Rush, Famke Janssen, Taye Diggs, Ali Larter, Bridgette Wilson, Peter Gallagher, and Chris Kattan. There are some legitimately talented people in the cast, and I have no idea what they're doing here.

The setup follows the original's plot in a lot of particulars. Stephen Price (Rush) is in an unhappy, vicious marriage with Evelyn (Janssen). Price is a scare impresario, and runs an amusement park of horrors, and in quite wealthy. Evelyn tells him she wants a spooky birthday party in the old abandoned mental hospital in which the evil Dr. Vanacutt (a criminally underused Jeffery Combs) once murdered a lot of his patients, and he shreds her list and makes his own, but twist! The house is really evil and haunted and it hacks the computer and makes its own own list, made of descendants of people who survived the massacre!


This movie plays like someone watched the original but didn't really pay a lot of attention, then jettisoned every last bit of subtlety. It's a firm R rating, complete with tits, gore, and about 2 "fucks" per minute. The original had no ghosts (or rather, no confirmed ones), this one is gleefully, overtly supernatural. The set construction is nice and there's some legit creep, but the script is like a 16-year-old's attempt to run Ravenloft. ("That's just the ghosts playing around. Just wait till someone lets out the Darkness.")

The script also doesn't make any goddamn sense. The five characters are descendants of what? That never really goes anywhere, and Larter's character isn't actually a descendant anyway. Evelyn, as in the original, is banging one of the guests (here it's Gallagher) and they try to gaslight the others into shooting her husband, but she stabs her lover to try and up the ante and then fucking beheads him. Everything is way over the top, the supernatural shit is completely unnecessary and overblown, and basically the whole movie is a mess.

Most Dark Castle movies have the sliver of a good horror movie in there somewhere. This one, eh. Skip it.

My grade: F
Rewatch value: IINSIAIFWT

Next up: The House on the Edge of the Park