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Despite a weak ending this is a surprisingly creepy Hollywood horror
bob the moo21 October 2002
Rich but eccentric millionaire Steven Price is looking for the ultimate scares. He invites a group of people to spend the night in the former Vannacutt Psychiatric Institute for the Criminally Insane – where the inmates revolved in a orgy of violence against the cruel regime of Dr Vannacutt. The one who does spend the night will get $1million dollars. However it soon becomes evident that not all the scares are set up by Price himself.

This remake of the old 1958 movie sees the plot expanded and made a lot more creepy and enjoyable. In fact the end point of the original is only the halfway mark of this one. The plot may not be imaginative but the delivery is very good for this type of film. I'm not a big fan of horror or this type of Hollywood slasher movie as I find them too obvious and not scary. However here the gore is well used and the general creepy mood wins the film. The movement of the deceased Dr Vannacutt is very creepy and is much better than some of the gore.

Sadly the final 20 minutes feels it needs to reveal a bigger evil and the secrets of the house are brought to life in boom of CGI beasties. At this point it reverts to form and because just another Hollywood creature feature and it is a bit of a let down. However up to this point it works very well and it's real creepy.

The cast are all pretty good and do `camp' when necessary but don't take away from the terror that's coming later. Rush plays nicely to the camp in his homage to Price's role in the original. Jensen, Diggs, Gallagher and Kattan all do well and the cast do better than the scream queens that usual inhabit these films.

Overall the film starts like any other Hollywood horror but the clever direction, creepy music and imaginative visuals of Dr Vannacutt all create a creepy feel to the film that is better than the gore that also comes. The final section slides back into standard fare with the old CGI evil coming to get us – but up till then it's surprisingly good stuff.
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Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
BaronBl00d6 May 2001
Asylums. Crazy people. Insanity. Mental therapy, mental hospitals, mental patients have been used time and time again in horror fiction and horror films. Why? I'm not sure; maybe, it is the normality of being like those that are insane which brings a more genuine horror to us. Whatever it is, House on Haunted Hill certainly uses all the mental derangement cliches to full effect. I could easily pan this film by saying(and rightly so) that its predecessor, the original House on Haunted Hill directed by William Castle, is a far superior film. That Castle's film was filled with better acting, better timing, and easily a better script. But I liked this film, which is not really a remake entirely. It has many elements that are not in the first film; most of them centering around the mental aspect aforementioned. The house in this film was once an asylum where people...thousands perhaps..were brutally butchered in the name of mental good health. The house is scary. Empty corridors, large, vast rooms, incredible special effects all add to the frightening aspects of the film. The biggest problem with the film is that much of it just doesn't add up in terms of making sense of the plot. The film fortunately is more special effects driven than plot driven, and at least is able to deliver the goods in that arena. The acting is pretty good with all the leads really doing quite a good job. Geoffrey Rush gives his best Vincent Price impression(pencil-thin mustache and all) delivering lines with bravura gusto. The other exceptional standout is Chris Kattan as Watson Pritchard. Kattan is just wonderful in the role showcasing his obvious talent. As far as great horror films go...this film is adequate, yet very thrilling, exciting, and entertaining. If you are like me and love the old one...just look at this film as a totally different entity. It is. One thing is for sure...it is one heck of a rollercoaster ride!
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7/10
A Terrifying movie, with no ending
Quicksand30 October 1999
For once, a movie even scarier and more horrifying than the trailers for it. BUT......

The whole was not equal to the sum of its parts. Geoffrey Rush (what's HE doing in this movie?!) as Steven Price is actually a very interesting character, which can be attributed to either the effort the script takes to set him up, and/or the brilliance of the Oscar-winning actor in the role. Price's wife, Evelyn, gets similar treatment, but it is here the screenwriter(s?) get lazy.

The strangers in the house DO get a minimal amount of character set-up, i.e. who they are, what they do... but this information is never touched on again. One would HOPE that all ths information is being displayed for some higher purpose-- the background of these five strangers, the cat-and-mouse game played by Mr. & Mrs. Price, and Mr. Price's fascination with fear that is set up so intensely in the movie's opening minutes.

But alas, none of this GOES anywhere. It is all completely independent from the agenda of the House when I felt like it should all tie together, somehow. There are three forces at work here-- the ghosts who haunt the house, the humans who are trapped in it, and the Darkness that lives beneath it. These are all separate entities, we find, but for what purpose? This movie could have gone on another ten minutes, some loose ends could have been tied up, and I could have given it a much higher score.

Instead, what was truly an INTENSE build-up, sputters out at the very end of the movie. It didn't even feel like an end, it just felt like the movie stopped, and we're left without an explanation to what happens to the survivors-- including the most interesting character in the movie, the House itself.

7 out of 10. Fun to watch, truly terrifying, but incomplete.
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9/10
Not bad at all for a remake (and maybe better than the original)
berjohn1217 February 2003
I've seen some of the comments on the film here, and would beg to differ with many. I found the film to be entertaining (wouldn't William Castle have wanted that?) and that it actually paid homage to the original in so many ways (how many remakes ever do that? Generally they add a flavor-of-the-month star, a bunch of irrelevant plot changes and a soundtrack from a has-been band or one that should never have been). As a bonus, a supernatural element was brought to this film that wasn't there in the original version. I've seen a lot of complaining about the ending, but hey, life sometimes sucks and I could certainly see something like that happening to me. To tell the truth, I'd have to say that this remake was better than the first version. And this is from a stone-cold believer that Karloff was the best Frankenstein monster and Lugosi the best Dracula. Tongue in cheek this movie is -- James Whale would have loved it.
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8/10
NOT A BAD REMAKE
TEXICAN-229 October 1999
This is not a bad remake. It is "R" rated, so parents beware, this is NOT the Price classic of 1958. Within the first scene there is gore (surgery on a wide awake man), violence (the inmates of the asylum break loose and attack the staff), and nudity (uniforms ripped open on the women). This is crucial to the plot (Hill House is not the same murder house from the original, it's a former asylum for the criminally insane where torture and experimentations are done on the inmates). A fire breaks out and all but five die.

Jump to present day. Multimillionaire Steven Price (is the name a nod to Vincent?) played by Geoffrey Rush, doing his best sideshow barker impersonation/Williams Castle impersonation, and wife (Famke Janssen) are having a party, in the restored former asylum. The guest's trip to the house is still via several hearse and from this point much of the original plot is maintained.

The part that bothered me about the arrival scene at the house, was the inappropriate song. It set the wrong mood, and I worried about what was going to be next. Thankfully, the rest of the score (except the end title) was strictly orchestral, and sent a nice dark mood to try to help to scare you. Applause to Don Davis.

House does rely rather heavily on special effects as do all the current re-makes. Is it really better or worse for it? I think it adds, and they didn't just redo the same show. It's spooky and a good Halloween movie, and a dark theater is excellent for it's effect. I am sorry, but there was nothing that I found really scary or horrifying. Of course, I haven't really been scared by a movie since I saw the Wolf Man (1941), with Lon Chaney jr, in 1958.
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6/10
You've just won a million dollars! You just have to make it through House on Haunted Hill without having nightmares
Kristine23 August 2001
Warning: Spoilers
House on Haunted Hill, my first rated R movie I saw in the theater, huge deal since I was only 13 at the time. But anyways, House on Haunted Hill is of course remake of the same title, back in the day the original star of the movie was Vincent Price, it was spooky and creepy, the only problem? The original has some what lost it's effect it had on people, don't get me wrong, it's still an excellent film, but compared to a lot of horror films of today, it seems rather tame. So of course, you know what that means… Let's remake the story and add tons of computer CGI and gore! But was this remake really that bad? Actually I'd say that I did enjoy it, it had good suspense and very grizzly images that will stay in your head. It's a pretty decent update of this chilling ghost story and never lets go.

The film is set in an abandoned asylum, where numerous murders were committed in the past. The head of the facility, Dr. Richard B. Vannacutt, performed grotesque experiments and medical procedures on the patients, killing many in the process. The hospital was closed when some of the patients escaped, killing almost the entire staff and burning the hospital. We then meet Evelyn, a spoiled trophy wife, and Steven Price, an amusement park mogul with a wicked sense of humor, each of whom would gladly kill the other. Evelyn fancies spectacular parties, so Steven leases the house from the owner, Watson Pritchett, for his Halloween birthday bash. Evelyn gives Steven a guest list two pages long; he shreds it to spite her and then creates one of his own. The five people who show up for the party: Jennifer Jenzer, Eddie Baker, Melissa Margaret Marr, Dr. Donald Blackburn and Pritchett himself — aren't the ones he invited. Neither Evelyn nor Steven know who they are. Despite this, Price continues the party's theme, offering a million dollars to anyone who stays in the house and survives until morning. Of course this isn't any easy task as the ghosts are about and ready for a bloody good time.

While I would recommend for nostalgic reasons to stick to the original as it is a true classic, I say that this remake is still worth the look. It's definitely worth it in the dark, I can't tell how much this one scene frightened me beyond compare… when the reporter is filming in the basement to get an idea of what the asylum was like and the ghosts only appear on camera, she sees them torturing a patient and they look up at her and goosebumps are the least of your worries at this point. All in all, this is a very decent remake compared to other sad remakes we had that year like The Haunting. But still I wonder what Vincent Price would say if he was able to see how they updated the story… maybe even do his little "rap" Thriller style! You know I had to get that in.

6/10
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7/10
Good scary movie
preppy-310 November 1999
I was expecting the worst--a remake of a lousy 1950s Vincent Price flick (I HATE the original--talk about boring!) and there were no previews--never a good sign. I was surprised to find an intelligent, scary movie. There was gore and violence, but they didn't overdo it (except for the part when someone was given shock treatment--talk about harrowing!). The script was intelligent--all the characters talk and, sometimes, act like real people. And, thankfully, no stupid in-jokes or character to provide "comic" relief. Everything is dealt with seriously which just adds to the tension. The setting is scary--the "house" (actually an abandoned asylum) LOOKS evil, and inside it's all darkness and cobwebs. The acting...well...Rush is having a GREAT time in his role, and it rubbed off on me. Every time he was on screen I enjoyed it. The rest of the cast is OK, but anyone could have played these roles...they were just mostly reacting to special effects. The only real disappointment here was Taye Diggs. He showed that he had charisma, could act and has a GREAT body in previous flicks ("How Stella Got Her Groove Back"; "GO"; "The Wood"). So why does he give such a so-so performance here--he's even worse in "The Best Man". Hopefully he'll start acting again...soon.

I also heard about lousy CGI effects in this movie. When the CGI effects go barreling out of control at the end though, I was scared! I'm a veteran of hundreds (literally) of horror films so I don't scare easy. The only weak part was a real stupid "surprise" at the end that comes out of nowhere. Other than that it worked.

So, this is a good, scary horror film. Worth shelling out full price at a cinema--DON'T wait for the video. This works great in a dark theatre with excellent stereo sound--it won't work on a TV.
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5/10
Grisly update takes few prisoners
Libretio3 March 2005
HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Sound formats: Dolby Digital / DTS / SDDS

Six strangers are invited to a 'haunted house' party at a former asylum - the scene of a massacre many years earlier, when inmates rebelled against the psychotic chief surgeon (Jeffrey Combs) - and the guests are assailed by restless spirits with a murderous agenda...

This remake of William Castle's 1959 shocker was the first title in a projected series by Dark Castle Entertainment, a genre outfit established by the creative personnel behind HBO's "Tales from the Crypt" (Robert Zemeckis, Joel Silver and Gilbert Adler) as a platform for the 'revision' of Castle's entire oeuvre. Working from Robb White's original story, screenwriter Dick Beebe and director William Malone - previously responsible for such unassuming B-movies as SCARED TO DEATH (1980) and CREATURE (1985) - remain faithful to Castle's original whilst goosing the material with newfangled effects technology and levels of gore which Castle had been denied during his lifetime. Production designer David F. Klassen has also updated the eponymous house, a clifftop monstrosity whose plunging Art deco exterior masks the Gothic ruin within, haunted by monstrous spirits who 'come alive' and terrorize a cast of defiantly modern characters, including Geoffrey Rush as a cynical fairground entrepeneur (clearly modelled after Vincent Price), and Famke Janssen as his beautiful, bitchy, duplicitous wife.

The film's uneven tone (veering between horror and humor and back again) is likely to divide viewers from the outset, but the horror scenes are played with remarkable gravity, and attentive viewers will spot visual references to the likes of GHOST STORY (1981) and JACOB'S LADDER (1990), particularly a 'guest appearance' by one of the most hair-raising phantoms from that former title. Some of the original film's charm has been lost along the way, replaced by profanity and splatter (though not as much as some outraged critics would have you believe), and there's nothing in the remake which compares to the blood-freezing shock induced by Carol Ohmart's encounter with a blind, white-haired ghost in Castle's version, but Malone's update deserves a mark for trying. Also starring Bridgette Wilson, Peter Gallagher, Ali Larter and the ultra-beautiful Taye Diggs, alongside comedian Chris Kattan, here playing it impressively straight in a role originally essayed by Elisha Cook Jr.
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6/10
Pathetic ending ruined this one.
HumanoidOfFlesh25 February 2002
I've never seen William Castle's original from 1958,but in my opinion 1999 version isn't completely bad.Director William Malone creates some atmosphere and suspense during the first hour,but everything is almost completely ruined by awful ending.There's some good gore,striking visuals and atmospheric sets,but the conclusion is absolutely lame(the CGI effects look really fake!).If you like horror movies give this one a look,just don't expect something impressive.
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"What good is a million dollars when you're dead?"
utgard1423 June 2015
Eccentric millionaire Steven Price (Geoffrey Rush) throws a birthday party for his wife (Famke Janssen) at a haunted house that used to be an insane asylum before the inmates revolted and killed everyone inside. A group of strangers invited to the party are offered $1,000,000 each if they can survive the night in the house. As strange things start happening, the guests question whether Price is behind it all or if there really is some evil force at work in the house on haunted hill.

Being a big fan of the original House on Haunted Hill, a classic B movie from William Castle, I had low hopes for this remake at the time it was released. I figured going into it that it would have the worst excesses of modern horror films (more violence, gore, nudity, F bombs every other word, clichéd jump scares, etc.). And while it certainly does have some of those things (although not to the degree I was dreading) it also has a lot of humor and a self-awareness about it that makes it fun to watch. The cast is pretty good with Geoffrey Rush and Famke Janssen the standouts. Their scenes together are the highlights of the movie. Chris Kattan is amusing but his part in the climax is the stuff of unintended comedy legend. Also love the nods to Vincent Price with Rush's character. The CGI effects aren't the best but that's a minor complaint in a movie like this. It's not scary in the least but it is entertaining, something it has in common with the original. Not bad for a remake of a classic.
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6/10
A Horror Ghost Train
Prichards123451 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This remake of William Castle's cult horror from 1958 is a reasonably good update, deliberately designed as something of a Ghost Train ride. It's fun and has creepy 20s flashbacks galore, throws in plenty of blood and adds a plot twist or two to the original story.

The plot concerns Geoffrey Rush's amusement park entrepreneur inviting a small number of guests he's never previously met to his wife's birthday party, intending to host it in a disused asylum that was the scene of a terrible tragedy. However the couple hate each other with a passion and each may be planning to murder the other before the night is over. To add to the fun, the guests who turn up were not the ones he invited, though he has offered each a million dollars if they survive the night. It appears they are the descendants of those who died the first time around, and now the house won't let them out...

Rush's character, Steven Price, is surely a homage to good ol' Vincent of that ilk, and super-hero fans can enjoy the sight of Famke Janssen from X-Men and Ali Larter from Heroes amongst the cast. The flashback sequences are excellent, and appear to have had an influence on games like Bioshock; and the old, creepy crypts of the house are genuinely unsettling. House On Haunted Hill has excellent production design, and it's always great to see Jeffry Combes show up as the sinister Doctor. There are flaws, however. The characters are not particularly well-developed, so we don't care what happens to most of them much, and the story is very diffuse, not focusing on anything in detail before moving on to the next set piece. But House isn't bad as horror remakes go - in fact it matches the original, and is bound to keep the gore hounds happy. Recommended as good roller coaster ride.
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Re: Some Moments
Joropukki8 February 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Even the worst of movies can have perfect scenes. This poor one has one such. THIS IS A SMALL SPOILER. When the hapless woman played by Bridgette Wilson goes out for a walk looking around the house through the camrecorder and sees the torturous Dr Vannacutt and the twisted nurses vivisecting the patient, it's sure an awesome moment when the evildoers turn to look at her. Hitchcock never reached such a level of horror.

It's descriptive of the movie that this scene is immediately exploited and wasted. I watched the flick on cable for five times

and was glued to the screen every time Melissa Margaret Marr goes out for a stroll.
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6/10
Butcher us, mad doctor Combs!!
Coventry2 November 2004
The similarities between William Castle's campy 1959 original and this typical Hollywood remake are kept to a minimum. We have the premise of 5 people who're offered a million $ if they survive spending a night in 'the house' and Rush who brings tribute to Vincent Price (who played the lead role in the original). Other than this, Malone just follows the routine remake-standards meaning bigger, louder and more spectacular. If you're not too harsh, this actually is a pretty enjoyable movie and – at times – a successful mixture between an old-fashioned 'haunted house' chiller and a modern special effects playground. Thanks to some sort of miracle, Malone managed to cast class actor Geoffrey Rush and a more than decent supportive cast. Rush is talented enough to make his performance of eccentric impresario Steven Price look like a homage to Vincent Price instead of doing a lame impersonation. To me, however, the absolute star of this film is Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator) who plays the small role of the demented Dr. Vannacutt. As usual, Combs' character is the cause of all horror and his grimaces are more diabolical then ever. He's an amazing horror icon and I simply can't get why he isn't enjoying an immortal success-status. Until about 5 minutes before the ending, the use of CGI is imaginative and not irritating at all. The finale is overly fake and kinda ruins the film. If you're not too demanding, The House on Haunted Hill guarantees a lot of fun and a few scares. Definitely a better remake than Jan De Bont's The Haunting and Steve Beck's 13 Ghosts.
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7/10
A flawed picture, but one that is true to its gender. *** out of ****
Movie-1229 November 1999
Warning: Spoilers
THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1999) ***

Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Famke Janssen, Taye Diggs, Chris Kattan, Peter Gallagher, and Bridgette Wilson Director: William Malone Running Time: 96 minutes Rated R (for strong terror violence and gore, language and brief nudity)

By Blake French:

It's been such a long time since I have been truly terrified by a movie that is supposed to be scary. To my pleasant surprise, however, "The House on Haunted Hill," did scare me out of my wits at times. Curiously, I find myself disliking the film because of the flawed characters and structure, yet recommending it due to the enticing and thrilling material contained within the tension-filled story line.

The first thing I would like to do in reviewing "The House on Haunted Hill," is compare and contrast it with the milder horror flick released earlier this year called "The Haunting." That film surprised America with an unexpected PG-13 rating, unlike the appropriately R-rated "The House on Haunted Hill." Although "The Haunting" did work due to an intriguing story line, it missed the fact that in order to please an audience attending a scream-feast, it needs to do some experimenting with its atmosphere, characters, and antagonism so we know what we're up against. That film had little to no violent, gory, or shocking material, only contained marginally passable psychological terror. That is the main reason why that very film, directed by Jon De Bont, didn't manage to become a memorable summer movie experience.

Unlike "The Haunting," "The House on Haunted Hill," is not afraid to graphically pick off its characters one by one in a grizzly manor to provoke horrifying fright in an audience. It is great fun to predict who is going to be next to go and how they'll be murdered. Personally, I've been longing for this kind of material for quite some time now.

This film does, however, have a lot in common with "The Haunting." For example, both movies are shot in somewhat of an old-fashioned style--an effective characteristic. Both offer quite a bit of scary material. But "The House on Haunted Hill" seems to be more of an ambitious, if flawed, thriller. The story centers on a clan of five strangers who each are offered one million dollars if they spend the night in a closed-down Psychiatric Institute that was massacred by its own patients after a rebellion in the 1930's. In charge of this whole arrangement, a twisted and rich theme park owner, Steven Price (Geoffrey Rush), and his wife, Evelyn (Famke Janssen), who have been experiencing marital problems for some time now. They're throwing together this party for Price's birthday, but when an elaborate and efficient security system traps them in, weird events begin to occur. Things that may or may not be part of an intricate plan to induce money, murder, and survival.

What, or who, is responsible the unusual assurances at the institute? How did the guest list of the party mysteriously alter itself? What is happening to everyone if this entire situation is a prank? Are these characters that stupid? What exactly is the instate haunted by? Why did the patients rebel in the 30's, and not sooner? Their motives are clear, but why wait so long to do something about the hell accruing because of their doctors? "The House on Haunted Hill" is not the movie to answer these questions. Neither is it the film educated enough to properly develop an explanation of the characters to us. Stephen Price is developed well in one of the film's first scenes. But for the rest of the characters, each of them saying their name and what they do for a living doesn't quite cut it here. Because of this, the movie's many plot and character twists aren't as effective as they should be, because we don't know the characters to begin with. So if the movie tries to tell us that someone is not who they appear to be, how are we supposed to believe it--we never really knew who they were from the beginning?

Also to this film's dismay, the direction is all over the wall here. William Malone does a good job of focusing on each of the scary elements, but not on the characters. When they walk slowly down a dark deserted hallway, they seem to get off focus of where they really are and the circumstances they are in. Also nearly crucifying the production: there aren't any boundaries here. Seemingly anything and everything can happen. At least "The Haunting" had some guidelines of where reality is taken into account.

The Psychiatric Institute is a perfect, terrifying atmosphere for this movie to be placed in. The fact that the strange and seemingly dangerous occurrences could be part of Price's trickery, or something else on that matter, just strengthens the drama more and increase the line of raising tension. The filmmakers take advantage of most of the opportunities they receive to use the house's many dark hallways and creepy chambers. In particular, there is a especially disturbing sequence in a chamber, which is supposed to make an insane man sane, or a sane man insane, that produces such a horrifying perspective of a character's mind, it is almost safe to say the filmmakers went too far over the edge here.

I also find to my liking the film's performances, which are creative and full of energy. Geoffrey Rush is a great stuck up fraud, and he is able to accomplish much with his character due to his wonderfully fresh development, unlike the other characters. Famke Janssen ("Deep Rising," 1998) I also am surprised to enjoy, in a sly, conniving role. Taye Diggs can't really do much in this type of movie, he is more fit in films like "The Best Man," or "How Stella Got Her Groove Back," but what he does seems underplayed. Who really stands out here is the always appealing Peter Gallagher, who brings a hidden regularity to his character. But regardless of his character, he doesn't scene-steal, nor does he overact.

"The House on Haunted Hill" may be a very flawed film, but at lest it serves its purpose: to provoke fear in an audience. It is a very close call for me, recommending the film or not, and a medium review is given. Someday I might regret my decision to warrant "The House on Haunted Hill" with a minor recommendation. But as of this day and age, I feel obligated to.

Brought to you by Warner Bros.
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2/10
Bad Film, Nice Actresses
tif210527 April 2000
Warning: Spoilers
Before I can begin to review the "remake" of House on Haunted Hill, we must first throw the plot, effects, and script out the window, because the movie does a pretty good job of that by itself. The only reason (and there really isn't ANY) that you should see this film is for the performances by three lovely and talented actresses: Ali Larter, Famke Janssen, and especially Bridgette Wilson. They make the film worthwhile, or at least the scenes that they're in.

The main reason I wanted to see this movie was because one of my favorite actresses, Bridgette Wilson, was in it and I was excited about seeing her camping it up in a horror movie like she did a few years ago in I Know What You Did Last Summer. And sure enough, there she is, with video camera in hand as pseudo-celebrity Melissa Margaret Marr, the best dressed and biggest ego of the group. Just when I think the movie might not be so bad with her in it, what happens? She dies! That's right. Within the first forty-five minutes, Bridgette Wilson is already gone and there's nothing left but Famke Janssen, who does all she can as Geoffrey Rush's psychotic wife before she herself too, dies, and Ali Larter, who deserves so much better than this movie and can be seen in a much better movie right now, Final Destination. As for the scares, puh-leese. The only frightening thing is that people still pay to see movies like this. The cheesy original was scarier, anyway, and had more fun with its cast. Nothing is truly scary at all, although it is a little gruesome at times. So while I wait for Bridgette Wilson to do another horror film, I'll have to say that HOHH is one of the worst movies I have EVER seen.
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6/10
Okay - but not as good as the original
bensonmum26 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Usually, my first impressions of a movie holds true upon repeat viewings. Unless the story is particularly deep or the plot difficult to follow, subsequent viewings generally do not change my initial reaction to a movie to any great degree. So, as I sat to watch The House on Haunted Hill, I wasn't expecting much. The film is not without some major faults, but overall, I enjoyed my second experience. Scenes such as the operating room flashback or touches like the hall of embalmed bodies are the stuff of nightmares as far as I'm concerned.

The house itself is another major bonus to the movie. The interior is presented, lit, and shot in a manner that creates almost immediate atmosphere. The seemingly endless corridors, the surgical/medical rooms with their devices of "torture", and the blood present almost everywhere added to my feeling that the house is the real star of the movie.

But, as I said, the movie does have its faults. I'll just mention two: First - paper thin characters. It's really difficult to care about many of the character in this movie because we know nothing about most of them. Other than Geoffrey Rush's character, the others are there merely for the slaughter. They aren't real.

Second - the ending. This appears to be everyone's major complaint, and with good reason. All of the atmosphere and creepiness the movie had built is destroyed the moment the CGI "darkness" makes an appearance. It is so out of place with everything that had gone on before. It's to bad that the writers couldn't come up with a good ending - I would have much preferred an ending involving the doctor or former patients. The movie had been heading in that direction all along.

When I initially saw this in the theater, I would have rated it a 4/10. My opinion has now, however, changed. I may never consider it a masterpiece, but there are some moments that are very effective and make it worth watching.
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1/10
They should pay you a million dollars to sit through this movie
nehpetstephen17 December 1999
When five strangers are mysteriously invited to a party held at a haunted asylum, strange things start to unravel.... and everyone in the audience starts to fall asleep.

This movie is everything a movie should not be. It is a horror with no real scary parts in it. It has plenty of gore, and some good special effects, but aside from that, this movie has nothing in its favor. Maybe that's all you need to scare eight year olds and idiots, but for the average viewer, that just isn't going to cut it.

The characters are completely one-dimensional and have no motivation for anything they do. They are so undeveloped and stupid, you actually find yourself happy when they are killed. The plot, too, is undeveloped. What could be a great psychological horror falls short when the writer decided to tell nothing about what is happening and why. Why are the patients revolting? Why is the doctor commiting these horrible crimes?

Chris Kattan from Saturday Night Live makes an appearance, and this brought my hopes up thinking he would provide some sound comic relief, but instead he spends the whole movie ranting about how "the house is alive," something we have known since the first five minutes.

Avoid this movie at all costs, it has enough holes in it to drive a Mack truck through. I gave it two stars instead of one because of one somewhat exciting scene at the beginning.
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1/10
Not scary, not interesting, just plain boring
Tasos Tz.23 February 2002
I was hoping that 'House on Haunted Hill' was going to be better than 'The Haunting', but this is even worse. It's supposed to be a big ride into horror, but it's not. The director tries to create some 'disturbing' images, but the timing is always wrong and the way things are shot stresses out his lack of craftsmanship. It might scare some kids, but it's not for the horror fans. The characters' background is not developed at all, so it's not even interesting to watch the movie for the sake of the story. At least 'The Haunting' had some well developed characters, which made it watchable.

Well, I believe that if 'House on Haunted Hill' or even 'The Haunting' were filmed in the 80's, they would have been a lot more successful in their goal (which is to scare the audience). Maybe it's the digital age that it's not suitable for horror movies yet (was 'The Mummy' scary at all?), but maybe it's just the lack of talent of some directors.

You want to see something scary and disturbing? Watch 'Hellraiser'!

1/10
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1/10
Shockingly Awful Waste of Film and Money!!
davekelly26 May 2000
I saw the trailer for this film at the cinema and was impressed by the special effects. When i actually watched the film on DVD this week i soon realised that the decent special effects featured on the trailer were in fact the only special effects in the film. Though i quite like the original, i absolutely hated this movie, and if it is true that Dark Castle productions are indeed planning to remake a whole host of William Castle movies then i hope they do a better job! The script was perhaps the worst i have witnessed in a long time, the characters were all so instantly annoying that i found my self wishing them dead with in the first fifteen minutes. It actually took me two sittings to watch the movie, it was either that or i would have found myself fast forwarding through it. The plot, what there is of it, doesn't make much sense and the film doesn't explain why certain things are happening, Price's wifes relationship with one of the guests for example. This movie was so bad i ended up feeling frustrated and cheated, it actually made me so angry. Avoid this like the plague.
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1/10
Welcome To A Thrillless Thrillride
walken_on_sunshine13 January 2007
No amount of Famke Janssen awesomeness can save this poor attempt at horror that spewed from Dark Castle pictures.This movie starts off very abruptly and just sort of speeds up what little character development there is so the house scenes get shown.The storyline is absolutely ridiculous which is good because it matches the equally ridiculous attempts at scaring an audience over 6 years of age.There is nothing even remotely scary in this film as the ghosts look very cheap and well nothing like a ghost one of them looks half woman half meal worm.Even the gore isn't enjoyable as this film suffers from Jelly like blood disease which doesn't add to the realism of the movie however the movie has absolutely zero realism at all so i guess the blood effects were just blending in with all the other crappy things about this film.The cast is actually solid i surprisingly had expectations due to Famke Janssen,Geoffery Rush,Ali Larter, and Tae Diggs but the films terrible well everything else ruined any chance of these actors to stand out.This movie is almost exactly like The Haunting (1999)big cast, lots of hype but an equally bad storyline and equally bad special effects.There is nothing terrifying about any CGI generated creature especially the CGI ghost thing in the end what was that supposed to be?Scary?Intense?It was neither just extremely over the top and extremely stupid.This movie has absolutely no scares it tries to have scares but well when the freaky images aren't freaky and the music that's supposed to create suspense creates boredom the movie really is not a horror.This was like watching Clue the whole time i was waiting for someone to say "It was Evelyn in the library with the candlestick" and i would be less than shocked if that was in the script.Overall this piece of garbage should be burned it makes no sense and fits into no genre unless there is one for bad attempt at a mystery/horror.
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2/10
I'm going to keep this short and sweet.
welshy0232 June 2008
To stop you from spending anymore time on this movie I will give you the best possible piece of advice by saying some words of wisdom.

I was a bright spark of light before this curse of a movie was brought upon my television.

This was 90 minutes of wasted life on the most shockingly clichéd horror film to date. I'm not even going to go into the plot as to not remind me of the unintentional horror the movie provided. If I can save one person, be it man, woman or child from seeing this movie my life's purpose will be fulfilled. So please, next time you read a positive review, hear from a friend that it was actually OK, or decide you might give it a go, do not.

It is terrible.
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8/10
Different But Guilty Pleasure of the Original 1959 film.
Lucien Lessard29 June 2005
A cold hearted wife (Famke Janssen) of a twisted theme park big-shot: Steven Price (Oscar-Winner:Geoffery Rush) decide to give a party at an abandoned institute for the Criminally Insane but when her husband decides to host a scary/jokey birthday bash for his wife at that house. When five strangers (Taye Diggs, Ali Larter, Chris Kattan, Peter Gallagher & Bridgette Wilson) are mysteriously assembled for the event. Steven promises to give one million bucks, no question asked if they spend the night could make them very rich or profoundly dead but that abandoned institute is a murder way of life at the House on Hanuted Hill.

Directed by William Malone (Creature, Feardotcom) made a well made horror film that has little resemblance of the original 1959 cult classic. The film has a few good chills and good performances from the cast especially by Ex-Saturday Night Live Comic:Kattan. Some will dislike the remake but for those, who enjoy the remake will have a good time. This Remake is Certainly a lot better than the Flawed and Very Undercooked-The Haunting (1999). The visual effects might be a bit heavy handed towards the end but it's a enjoyable jolting fun film.

DVD has an sharp anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1) transfer and an terrific:Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. DVD has an entertaining running commentary track by the director, behind the scenes documentaries, deleted scenes with intro by the director and more. This film won't start the party without you, Horror Fans will love this more than others. Don't miss this trashy but creepy fun remake. Jeffery Combs from the Re-Animator Trilogy/The Frighteners Fame has a bit role also. Produced by Joel Silver (The Lethal Weapon Series) and Robert Zemeckis (Cast Away). (****/*****).
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7/10
Enjoyable, freaky, undemanding fun.
BA_Harrison7 September 2007
In an early scene in this remake (of sorts) of the classic Vincent Price horror, Geoffrey Rush's character, a multimillionaire theme park owner, proudly show off his latest attraction: a roller-coaster that fools those brave enough to try it into thinking that the ride is faulty, by sending the speeding car immediately in front of them (which is full of dummies) hurtling off the track.

This is dumb in a number of ways: anyone queueing for the ride would see this happen, and the shock element would be lost; no-one would bother riding the coaster more than once (if at all!); and the time needed to put a new fully-loaded 'fake' car into position before each ride would cause massive queueing problems.

Yes, the idea sure is dumb—but very effective. And that pretty much sums up the whole film: House on Haunted Hill is very silly, but a whole heap of scary fun.

Rush plays Stephen H. Price, a man who has dedicated his life to delivering unbeatable thrills. When Evelyn, his money-grabbing wife (Famke Janssen), asks him to organise her birthday bash at an old abandoned sanitarium with a horrifying past (don't they all?), he has a few surprises up his sleeve for the party-goers.

The guests have all been lured to the spooky nut-house with the promise of $1,000,000 if they can survive the night. But with Evelyn planning her own surprises, and an asylum bursting at the seams with pure evil, how many will remain in the morning to collect their prize? With a solid cast, decent direction from William Malone, some weird visual effects guaranteed to freak you out, and plenty of unsettling gore (from makeup FX masters KNB), House on Haunted Hill does what a good horror film should do: scare!

Once the initial premise is set up, much of the time is spent following the characters as they wander about the haunted loony-bin, but with such a wonderfully realised and very creepy setting, that's really all that is needed. Grimy corridors lit by flickering lights, blood splashed operating rooms, weird scientific equipment of dubious purpose: this film is packed with so much twisted stuff that one can't help but admire the attention to detail.

Only in the final act, when a glut of CGI effects are allowed to flood the screen, does Malone lose control of proceedings somewhat. A shame, because up until then, he was going great guns.
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