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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. Written by
Tony Mayer <email@example.com>
Of the many William Castle directed shockers of the '50's and '60's, this one is probably the most traditional in terms of being a "ghost story". The set up is irresistible (derivative of "Ten Little Indians" in a way.) Five unrelated people are chosen to spend the night in what is purported to be a haunted house. Several murders have taken place in the house in the past. If the participants stay the night, their host (Price) will give them each $10,000 (a nice chunk of change in 1958!) The house is surprisingly non-Gothic on the outside. It more closely resembles a piece of the 1937 "Lost Horizon" set. Inside, it has the more expected old woodwork, creaky doors, curtained alcoves, etc... Price is wonderful, as always, as the sardonic, mysterious host. His wife is played by a former beauty queen (Ohmart) who is attractive, if a bit frosty. They have some interesting repartee which reveals their mistrust and hatred for one another. The guests include leading man-type Long, ingenue Craig, nervous Cook, crusty Mitchum and debonair Marshal. Macabre Price gives the guests loaded guns as party favors! It doesn't take long for the unusual occurrences and minor creeps to begin. Soon, the inhabitants are locked in and couldn't leave even if they wanted to! Long and Craig play Fred and Daphne as they try to unravel the goings-on. Cook drinks and gets more paranoid. Marshal tends to the wounded, getting more involved as the story progresses. Mitchum (Robert's sister!) is given little to do and doesn't appear to be a very significant actress. The film is hokey, campy and illogical...full of contrivances and inanities. Yet, it is undeniably entertaining. All of the hallmarks of an old-fashioned scary movie are in place....the eerie music, the undependable lights, swinging doors, secret passages and without question the most hilarious, terrifyingly ugly housekeeper ever put on film!
Price is right at home in these surroundings and does much to make the film palatable. There are a couple of fun plot twists to keep it from being too stale and the running time is a very comfortable hour and fifteen minutes. It's just a fun, entertaining way to waste an hour or so. Sadly, Craig (who had a real set of lungs on her...one of the greatest screamers ever!) was felled by a gunshot in real life about twelve years after this film was made at age 36. In fact, Marshal was dead within three years of heart ailments at 56 and Long died 16 years after from a heart attack at 47! And they say "Poltergeist" was cursed!
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