HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1958)
Article #567 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 10-3-2002
Posting date: 2-26-2003
An eccentric millionaire invites five strangers to spend the night in a haunted house for ten thousand dollars each.
For my money, this is William Castle’s masterpiece (as a director, that is, which is just my way of saying that ROSEMARY’S BABY belongs to someone else). Granted, it isn’t the type of masterpiece that bears close scrutiny; if I wanted to, I could poke plot holes in this one all day if I wanted to. The fact is, however, I don’t want to; I just enjoy the darn thing so much. William Castle set out to scare, and here is where he pulls it off the best. It doesn’t have his best extended scare sequence (that honor goes to THE TINGLER and the nightmare of the dumb lady), but it does have the best single scare (the old lady in the cellar), and it is consistently fun even when it doesn’t make sense. Good work from Vincent Price, Carol Ohmart (who would later pop up in SPIDER BABY) and Carolyn Craig, though Elisha Cook Jr. steals the movie for me; I just love the fact that almost every single line he utters is some variation on “The ghosts are going to get us and we’re all going to die!” (My favorite is “It won’t do any good to say ‘Good Night'”). I will warn those who want to play the Elisha Cook Jr. pool game (see my review of THE HAUNTED PALACE) that they should proceed with caution on this one.