An amusement park mogul offers a group of diverse people $1,000,000 to spend the night in a haunted house with a horrifying past.An amusement park mogul offers a group of diverse people $1,000,000 to spend the night in a haunted house with a horrifying past.An amusement park mogul offers a group of diverse people $1,000,000 to spend the night in a haunted house with a horrifying past.
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.
- Mar 3, 2005