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  • Gareth Crook

House on Haunted Hill (1959) - 7/10

I’m watching this in prep for the 1999 remake, but this is quite arresting from the get go. We’re told of a haunted house by Frederick Loren (Vincent Price), whose wife Annabelle (Carol Ohmart) is throwing a party at said house, it’s her party, remember that. Not a regular party though. One that if you survive, you pocket 10 grand… if. Everyone is introduced and knows what they’re getting in to and they all need the money. It’s like a Twilight Zone episode with the emphasis on ghosts. The location looks fantastic and I believe is still standing high up in the Hollywood hills. Five souls enter and soon realise they’re not leaving unless they survive the night. Price is at his very best. Suave and sinister. He unsurprisingly carries this, but the cast are all good. Like Prichard (Elisha Cook Jr.) who knows of the house’s history of murders and sets the skittish tone. He’s a believer. Lance (Richard Long) and Nora (Carolyn Craig) are the young beautiful skeptics, but they’ll soon be convinced. As will I. This may be an old kooky black and white b-movie, but the scares are effective. Granted they might feel a bit tropey to modern eyes, but it’s genuinely thrilling. Are there really ghosts, or just a cunning killer and if it’s the latter, just who might that be. It’s wonderfully creepy. The score is brilliant. The lack of colour only helps with the spooky shadows and Carolyn Craig sure can scream! It’s got its flaws, but it’s still very entertaining and 65 years on, that’s not bad going. The remake has big boots to fill.



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