House On Haunted Hill


Reviewed by: Symon Parsons

House On Haunted Hill
"Horrendous nonsense, the basic moral of which is that you shouldn't wear a cravat unless you're Jason King."

Hold your nose! Someone's left a stinker in the Public Toilet of Cinema!

The story concerns millionaire funfair designer Stephen Price (played by Geoffrey Rush overacting in a cravat) who offers $1 million to anyone who can spend a night in the old asylum run by a long-dead murderer.

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This being a horror film, the protagonists immediately head for the basement. There they split up for reasons not made clear by the screenwriter (I think he must have popped out for a fag). Bad things happen, but everyone assumes it must be Price's fairground tricks - or is it his scheming wife?

Anyway, things turn serious when the superficial TV babe goes down to the basement on her own - right after the others have just come back from there COVERED IN BLOOD. Why she does this isn't immediately apparent. (The screenwriter must have gone for a pee.) If the screenwriter had written the scene, it could have gone like this:

TV BABE: I'm just off down to the Basement of Sudden Death on my own in order to expedite my hideous demise! Okay then! Byee!

Anyhow, more horridness follows, at which point the surviving members get the wrong end of the stick, blame Geoffrey for everything and lock him in the Saturation Chamber. This is a device like a giant zoetrope which bombards the individual with images and sounds designed to drive a man INSANE. Yes! They're showing Demi Moore films in there! In five minutes Geoffrey's a gibbering wreck, babbling away in the corner about implants.

Anyway, before you know it, poor Geoffrey has accidentally unleashed The Evil, which is played in this film by wiggly special effects that make unpleasant squishy noises. (A digression: How do they make those noises? I suspect that it's either a sound effects guy peeling a banana or possibly someone inserting a microphone into a duck).

Being touched by wiggly special effects is a bad thing to happen, because you are then transformed into a grey lifeless lump (a bit like joining the cast of EastEnders). However, I shan't spoil your fun by revealing who survives and who gets wiggled.

In all conscience, I can't give this film more than 1.5 out of five because it's the most horrendous nonsense, the basic moral of which is that you shouldn't wear a cravat unless you're Jason King.

Having said that, it's just a bit of unpretentious fun like they used to make in the Seventies (Peter Graves even makes a cameo appearance!). I have to admit I enjoyed it, which just goes to prove that there are some guilty pleasures in life which don't involve a nun's outfit and a bucket of syrup.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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A millionaire offers $1 million to anyone who can spend the night in a haunted asylum.
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Read more House On Haunted Hill reviews:

Angus Wolfe Murray ***

Director: William Malone

Writer: Dick Beebe, based on the story by Robb White.

Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Famke Janssen, Taye Diggs, Peter Gallagher, Chris Kattan, Ali Larter, Bridgette Wilson, Max Perlich, Jeffrey Combs, Dick Beebe, Slavitza Jovan

Year: 1999

Runtime: 96 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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