THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL

The House Is Alive with the Sounds of Screaming

Content -4
Quality
None Light Moderate Heavy
Language        
Violence        
Sex        
Nudity        

Release Date: October 01, 1999

Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Famke Janssen, Taye Diggs, Ali Larter, Bridgette Wilson, Peter Gallagher, & Chris Kattan

Genre: Horror

Audience: Older teenagers & adults

Rating: R

Runtime: 115 minutes

Address Comments To:

Barry A. Meyer, CEO
Warner Brothers Pictures, Inc.
Warner Bros. Film Distribution Corp.
4000 Warner Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91522-0001
(818) 954-6000

Content:

(OOO, Pa, B, LLL, VVV, NN, AA, D, M) Occult worldview with pagan & some mild moral elements; 29 obscenities & 12 profanities; extensive violence including fist fighting, shooting, electrocution, images of corpses, images of severed heads, knifings, a house self-destructs, attempted drowning, surgery without anesthesia implying pain on patient, man cuts hand on glass, man stabbed in neck with pencils, and ghost chases & kills people; no sex but some mild sexual references & man kisses implied dead woman; brief full female nudity (no genitalia), not in a sexual context; alcohol use & drunken character; smoking; and, lying & lots of scary images.


Summary:

THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL remakes the 1959 Vincent Price horror classic of the same name. Although more complex with, naturally, better special effects, it adds a major, unnecessary, occult plot device of a building possessed by souls of its former inhabitants. More spooky and suspenseful than this summer’s THE HAUNTING, with some bizarre photography, it ultimately doesn’t match up to the campy fun of the original.


Review:

THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL
Quality: * * Acceptability: -4
RATING: R
RELEASE: October 1999
TIME: 115 minutes
STARRING: Geoffrey Rush, Famke Janssen, Taye Diggs, Ali Larter, Bridgette Wilson, Peter Gallagher, & Chris Kattan
DIRECTOR: William Malone
PRODUCERS: Robert Zemeckis, Joel Silver & Gilbert Adler
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Dan Craccholo & Steve Richards
WRITER: Dick Beebe
BASED UPON A STORY BY: Robb White
DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Bros.
GENRE: Horror
CONTENT: (OOO, Pa, B, LLL, VVV, NN, AA, D, M) Occult worldview with pagan & some mild moral elements; 29 obscenities & 12 profanities; extensive violence including fist fighting, shooting, electrocution, images of corpses, images of severed heads, knifings, a house self-destructs, attempted drowning, surgery without anesthesia implying pain on patient, man cuts hand on glass, man stabbed in neck with pencils, and ghost chases & kills people; no sex but some mild sexual references & man kisses implied dead woman; brief full female nudity (no genitalia), not in a sexual context; alcohol use & drunken character; smoking; and, lying & lots of scary images.
INTENDED AUDIENCE: Older teenagers & adults
REVIEWER: Matthew P. Kinne
REVIEW: This summer’s THE HAUNTING unsuccessfully remade the acclaimed 1963 ghost movie based on Shirley Jackson’s novel THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE. Now THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL remakes the 1959 Vincent Price horror classic of the same name with only marginally better results. The new movie is more complex with better special effects, but it adds a major, unnecessary, occult plot device of a building possessed by the souls of its former inhabitants.
SHINE star Geoffrey Rush plays Steven Price (named after Vincent Price who acted in the original). Price is not the building owner, but rather an amusement park designer who enjoys creating rides that not only give thrills but suggest impending doom on the participants. Price is able to obtain an abandoned insane asylum called Vannacutt Psychiatric Institute. The Institute had a bloody massacre within its walls in 1939. The murderous mayhem was led by the evil Dr. Vannacutt. At the abandoned asylum, Price stages a birthday party for his bickersome wife, Evelyn (Famke Janssen). Although Price had sent out many invitations to known people, five strangers answer a call from an unknown host to spend the night in the house in exchange for $1 million. Watson Pritchett (Chris Kattan) is the grandson of the builder. Also included are a former professional baseball player named Eddie (Taye Diggs of THE BEST MAN) and Sara (Ali Larter), a personal assistant to a CEO. It is later discovered that all the strangers are descendants of the Institute’s original staff.
With everyone gathered in the main room, massive metal shields close down over all the doors and windows. Nobody can escape. Anxious to leave, the inquisitive people make their way to the basement in search of a master control room to retract the shields. The guests get separated, screams are uttered, blood is found, and a few end up missing. When Mrs. Price is found presumably dead, the remaining guests get itchy trigger fingers to kill Mr. Price. Yet, secrets are unearthed as to who is killing whom, those thought once dead return alive, and the house manifests a mean-spirited spirit which stalks the living too.
While remaining essentially true to the original story, this movie delves into occult territory rather than merely telling a mad revenge story. The combined spirits of the asylum’s formerly deceased inhabitants return to haunt the party goers. Slight plot points unfold illogically regarding this spirit and what it can do and who it can haunt. Like the original, the set up is more intriguing than the delivery.
In the end, THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL turns into merely loud, special effects-filled hooey, proving once again that suspense and the power of suggestion are often more frightful than ghouls and gore. A few scenes seem like they were cut and pasted from the spooky theatrics of hardcore heavy metal music videos (a boring concept if ever there was one!). Furthermore, despite limitations of budget and the time period from which they were created, the special effects of the original provides a campy fun that this one just doesn’t possess.
Although more spooky and suspenseful than THE HAUNTING, with some bizarre photography, this movie looks like a tough movie to sell beyond its highly successful first week. Yet, it is the occult element in this movie which ultimately is its most objectionable element. The Bible commands the people of God to avoid any contact whatsoever with ghosts. If THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL had stayed with tricks and games, like the original or like last year’s THE GAME with Michael Douglas, the psychological terror would have been better defined and more acute. Remakes are not always unwarranted. They don’t have to be worse than the original. But, too many filmmakers merely believe that throwing new technological image-making capabilities into a movie will make it appealing to modern audiences. They forget that the attitude and fun of the original must be maintained.
Disney’s recent TARZAN movie brought new images and kept the spirit and fun of the originals. THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL had no press screening, a sign usually meaning that the filmmakers and distributors didn’t believe it had the ability to generate good buzz. They were right.


In Brief:

THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL remakes the 1959 Vincent Price horror classic of the same name. SHINE star Geoffrey Rush plays Steven Price, an amusement park designer who enjoys creating thrill rides. Price is able to obtain an old abandoned insane asylum where a bloody massacre took place in 1939. There, Price stages a birthday party for his bickersome wife, Evelyn. Five strangers answer a call from an unknown host to spend the night in the house in exchange for $1 million. When all are gathered in the main room, they are trapped inside and spend the night avoiding death and scares while trying to find a means to escape.
While remaining essentially true to the original story, this movie delves into occult territory. Thus, the spirits of the asylum’s formerly deceased inhabitants haunt the party goers. In the end, it turns into merely loud, special effects-filled hooey, proving once again that suspense and the power of suggestion are often more frightful than ghouls and gore. The movie also contains some strong foul language. Remakes are not necessary unwarranted, but too many filmmakers merely believe that throwing new special effects into a movie will appeal to modern audiences. The fun of the original must be maintained and here it was not.