Monday, 31 October 2016


Fig.1 'House On Haunted Hill' Poster
'House On Haunted Hill' (1959), directed by William Castle and starring horror movie legend Vincent Price is a fantastically cheesy movie set within, well, a house on a haunted hill. This review will look at the redeeming points in the movie and a brief look at how it compares to horror movies of today.  A reviewer has said that 'This is a wonderful low-budget horror movie for the time and one that people went to see with their boy/girlfriends on a Friday night on the strength of Vincent Price's name.' (Mike, 2016)

Fig.2 Film Still
Now, 'House On Haunted Hill' has many redeeming qualities, first of all, Vincent Price. A gem within the Horror Genre, his performance within the film keeps everything level. His powerful and evocative voice is heard from start to finish. In a way it feels as if Vincent Price's character, Frederick Loren, is telling the story directly to the audience. He looks at the character as if he is asking questions to the audience, breaking the fourth wall and messing with the audience. Always one step ahead of his cast members and the viewing public.
Secondly, the set design is so great to look at, it's your typical haunted house. Cobwebs hang from the lights, there is a spooky cellar, and a cellar beyond that (which is full of acid). It's the aesthetic surrounding the cast that draws the viewer in, making them want to see more of this creepy house and learning about it's mysterious past. 
Sound design also adds to the films horror and tension. Created by Richard Kayne, Richard Loring and Von Dexter, they use the whaling cries of a ghostly woman throughout to lure the audience into a fearful state, add in the banging of piano keys and you'll sure enough be watching in terror.

Fig.3. Film Still
Practical effects are used throughout the film, some as simple as the shutting of doors, scaring the characters beginning their night of horror. One that stands out is the use of a plastic skeleton, this appears towards the end of the film. It's this use of practical effects that gives the movie it's fun, cheesy quality, which ultimately is its last redeeming point. Due to it's gimmicks and it's low budget effects 'House On Haunted Hill' somehow stands the test of time and is still quite appealing to new audiences. It's easy to watch and can give you a giggle or two. Reviewer Julia Merriam sums up the movie quite nicely, she says, 'It's not a benchmark of cinematic achievement, or even something to tell your friends about next week. But, when you've nothing better to do and a bowl of popcorn that needs eating, its a fantastic way to pass the time' (Merriam, 2009)


Merriam,  J (2009) 'House On Haunted Hill (1959) At: Accessed on: 31/10/2016

Mike (2016) 'House On Haunted Hill (1959) Review' At: Accessed on: 31/10/2016


Figure 1. 'House On Haunted Hill' (1959) [Poster] At: Accessed on: 31/10/2016

Figure 2. [Film Still] At: Accessed on: 31/10/2016

Figure 3. [Film Still] At: Accessed on: 31/10/2016

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