House on Haunted Hill (1959)

“I am Frederick Loren, and I’ve rented the house on haunted hill tonight so that my wife can give a party. A haunted house party. She’s so amusing. There’ll be food and drink and ghosts, and perhaps even a few murders. You’re all invited” – Vincent Price, House on Haunted Hill (1959)

Friends…we are one week away from Halloween. Who else is in the mood for a haunted house party? Well, I (and Vincent Price) have you covered. Join me and the eccentric cast of characters in House on Haunted Hill as they attempt to survive the night in the hopes of getting their hands on $10,000 each.

The movie begins with Watson Pritchard (Elisha Cook Jr.), an anxious man who owns the house, and Frederick Loren (Vincent Price) introducing themselves and the haunted house where they are about to spend the night–

–hold on, hold on…so, I happened to write about this film in my Vincent Price mini-bio post I wrote a year ago. When rereading to review what I had already written about this movie, I found that I am happy with what I have already written and would not put it any other way. Therefore, feel free to check out the post hyperlinked above for the synopsis (it’s the second movie I review in the post).

Moving on…

As the night goes on, the guests encounter the paranormal and even some near-death experiences. The group begins to question the integrity of their host and eventually turn on each other. As dawn draws closer, the night’s inhabitants become more deeply trapped in the clutches of the house.

Something I have noticed every time I watch House on Haunted Hill (which is quite often, to be honest) is I feel like I am watching it for the first time. I am always captivated from beginning to end, and I always notice something new. Despite the dated views on women’s psychology and the one jump scare that always gets me, watching House on Haunted Hill is always a cozy and engaging experience for me. It carries the qualities of early-to-mid twentieth century horror that incorporate fantasy elements and romantic art direction to elevate the atmosphere.

I am pretty sure House on Haunted Hill (1959) was the first Vincent Price movie (meaning the “Vincent Price brand” type of Vincent Price movie) I ever watched, the first time being several years ago on a rainy autumn day in my college apartment. Little did I know how this film would lead me to the many other fantastic works of Vincent Price, who is now one of my favorite public figures of all time. When people ask me for Vincent Price movie or classic horror recommendations, this is the one I suggest to everyone. House on Haunted Hill has made many movie nights and spooky seasons special over the years. There are few other horror films that share this combination of story, performances, artful production design and cinematography, scares, humor, and suspense. I wish I knew what happens to the remaining guests by morning, but that omission in the plot only heightens what this horrific tale has already accomplished.

Until next time,

Jordan

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