When an eccentric millionaire offer a group of opposites $1,000,000 to spend the night in a so called "Haunted House" with a murderous past, they figure it is a quick way to get quick money and leave. All of them are sure ... more »it is some made up story just to mess with their heads a little and test their courage. But, once they stay in the house they start to think about the mistake they made in coming there when mysterious things start to happen.« less
Jennifer D. (jennicat) from ST AUGUSTINE, FL Reviewed on 3/29/2014...
Good scary movie.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Nikki H. (Tinyavenger) Reviewed on 5/28/2010...
I found this movie to be better than I thought it would be. I still prefer the original a bit better over this version but it had a great story line, Famke Janssen and Geoffrey Rush did great jobs with their parts and Chris Kattan was entertaining. It had a good creep factor and kept you glued to the screen until the end.
4 of 4 member(s) found this review helpful.
Aimee S. (Ariadnae) from SCOTTOWN, OH Reviewed on 11/21/2008...
I highly enjoyed this film, as well as the original. I enjoyed the backstory, I love details about why haunted houses are haunted. Geoffrey Rush and Famke Janssen both do excellent jobs in this film. The special effects were very well done and there are quite a few scary moments. The snappy, less than loving dialogue between the Price's is vastly entertaining and well done. Keep an eye out for the cameo of James Marsters (Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame) as a cameraman. This is a film that I would definitely recommend.
4 of 4 member(s) found this review helpful.
Lance O. from MANSFIELD, TX Reviewed on 5/23/2008...
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Almost Great !
Archmaker | California | 03/23/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Released at almost the same time as the awful "The Haunting" I wasn't expecting much, but this movie delivers.A terrifically creepy and nasty opening and the jolting modern day introduction set us up nicely. An able cast is brought to the haunted house where unspeakable things were done to mental patients who's revenge we witnessed at the outset. Geoffrey Rush is great, doing a nice oily tribute to the inimitable Vincent Price (of the 50's version of this story).Great stuff follows with two plots unwinding simultaneously, the fake and the real "haunting". The images of the good "doctor" appearing in the camcorder and on the surveillance cameras was terrific. I wish the whole movie could have sustained the chills generated by the "just-glimpsed-then-gone" evil and the hackle-raising stare and smile of these apparitions. And, of course Geoffrey Rush's trip in the psychotic chamber is worth the price of admission alone.Unfortunately, someone decided they could forego the sinister doctor and his minions and victims for a big CG finish that ISN'T scary and ISN'T creepy. And so the movie ends with a bang that is actually a whimper. Too bad, they were really on to something in the buildup prior to that. Could have been great.But, the ending is only the ending, and the leadup to it has enough good stuff to make it worth a look."
Better the second time around.
D. Litton | Wilmington, NC | 04/26/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In my hasty review that appears before this one, I truly misjudged the 1999 film "House on Haunted Hill," pawning it off as a cheap teenage horror flick comparable to "The Rage: Carrie 2." However, I was gravely mistaken, for this movie is full of all the elements that make a horror movie great. Based on the 1959 film of the same name starring Vincent Price, the 1999 version updates characters and storyline to suit modern audiences with lavish special effects and superbly filmed horror sequences. The film begins during the house's years as a mental institution for the criminally insane, as Dr. Vannacutt is performing experiments on his patients as a way of eliminating them. The inmates soon take over the sanitarium, killing all but five members of the staff, who escape as the place burns down. Skip ahead to 1999, with Steven Price (Geoffrey Rush) honoring his wife Evelyn's (Famke Janssen) wishes for a birthday party at the Vannacutt Psychiatric Sanitarium, newly remodeled into a residential home. When they arrive at the house, they discover that the guests are not the ones they invited, and both of them deny inviting the people present. The thrills begin when the "lockdown" occurs, a mechanism that encloses all windows, doors, and other means of exit, trapping Price and his guests inside. What truly makes this movie enjoyable is the fact that for the duration of the film, we do not know whether Price or the house itself is wreaking the havoc experienced by those left alive. Geoffrey Rush is terrific as Price, giving the original character, played by Vincent Price, his due justice. Famke Janssen gives sass and haughtiness to the script as Evelyn Price, and her stance and attitude make her character's moves very unique and believable. Taye Diggs (Eddie Baker), Bridgette Wilson (Melissa Marr), Ali Larter (Sara Miller), Peter Gallagher (Donald Blackburn) and Chris Kattan (Watson Pritchett) are brilliant as the five guests invited to the bash, each one with their own style and ability. Sound effects, lighting and set design add creepiness and terror to the house itself, which never fails to scare its inhabitants. The ghostly apparitions seen by those in peril are fantasticly crafted, and increased camera speed and thundering noises set the tone for terror. The ending of this movie, while tying the plot together and giving the answers as an ending should, may come as a letdown to some. The special effects and CGI used to create the "smoke" that permeates throughout the house in search of its last victims isn't authentic enough to scare people, and one might stop to think, "Why didn't they just use real smoke altogether?" But the rest of this film is enough to make up for it end, and remains as one of the better creepy films of the horror genre. The DVD edition of the movie is a big plus, with a dual-layered widescreen format that hosts brilliant colors, solid blacks and natural fleshtones. The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound is excellent, and if you have a Pro Logic receiver like I do, it still delivers room-shaking sound. Special features are all the craze, with a comparison of the old and new versions, trailers for both versions of the films, audio commentary by the director, deleted scenes (including a very funny sequence that hosts Debi Mazar as Sara's boss), and interactive menus. Another winner from Warner Bros, and one of the better examples of movie remakes in this day and age."
Nicely rendered remake of a classic.
D. Litton | Wilmington, NC | 03/12/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The opening sequence of William Malone's remake of "House on Haunted Hill" is a wonderful setup for the rest of the movie, which is brilliant mish-mash of horror, gore, intelligence, wit and frights galore. It's a feast for the senses that never lets up nor fails to please. While not the best remake of a movie in history, it is a valid and admirable effort, and has quite an adult feel to it that rises over that of the teenage horror films that have dominated movie screens the past decade. The opening sequence takes place in the secluded Vannacutt Psychiatric Institution for the Criminally Insane, where Dr. Vannacutt's unethical experimentation on his patients leave nothing to the imagination. One night, the patients lead a bloody rebellion, trapping everyone in the asylum and setting it aflame, killing everyone inside; only a handful of the staff members survive. Scoot ahead to the present, where amusement park tycoon Steven Price is being haggled by his narcissistic wife to have her birthday party at the newly remodeled insitute, which has been converted into an expensive mansion. Sound like contrivance? It is, but hey, give it a break: it's a horror movie. Price puts the finishing touches on his wife's guest list, but when everyone arrives at the mansion, they discover they were not the ones intended for the party. Husband and wife think that the other is responsible, while the guests, Eddie, Sara, Melissa, and Donald, are just as confused as to the reason for being invited to a total stranger's party at an even stranger location. Price explains to the group that if they stay in the house throughout the remainder of the night, they will receive $1,000,000 each, despite the repeated warnings of Pritchett, who is convinced the spirits of past inhabitants permeate the house. When the house closes in on everyone, trapping them inside, all things begin to go awry. They begin seeing strange images and hearing frightening sounds, and soon no one is able to discern reality from a mind trip.The movie has a nice flow to it that keeps it moving, and shifts sometimes between fast-paced fright and slow intensity. I enjoy being scared, and more importantly getting that feeling in the pit of my stomach when something is about to happen. "House on Haunted Hill" delivers that feeling quite commendably, keeping the chills coming while keeping its predictability factor at an astonishing low. Sure, when it looks like someone is going to die, they usually end up dead, but the way in which they die always remains a mystery until later in the film. The movie's plot, cast of actors, and stylish appeal give it a fresh look that makes it so much more appealing than the teenage horror franchises Hollywood continues to pummel us with. The plot involves no college students, no high school groupies, no serial killer in a ghost mask or carrying a fishhook. The cast is more adult than other horror films, and much more intelligent and witty. The films also has a setting and visual integrity to it that set it apart. The mansion is barely lit in the interiors, and the majority of the light comes from outside search lights that swing in the night. THe basement, which was never renovated and left in its original form, is the ultimate scary setting, embodying a moldy, decrepit feel that adds lots of creepiness. The movie's gore content is a majorly high one, and becomes more of a shock than a gross-out. Most of these scenes involve bodily harm and mutilation, and there's a lot of blood and gory effects thrown into the sickening mix. But the fact that there actually is a story behind all this is what makes it better, giving it a glossy finish while keeping it from becoming an out-and-out splatter flick. Acting is one of the film's many strongpoints, and the most effective in bringing the story to life. Geoffrey Rush is a standout as Steven Price (his character is named after Vincent Price, who played the same character in the original film). Rather than sink into the regular acting we see from characters like this in other horror movies, Rush comes off as his usual self: witty, cocky, and brimming with intelligence. He brings austerity and pomp to the role, while also bringing on the dark humor. Famke Janssen portrays his wife, Evelyn, and this role also provides her with a witty sense of charm as well. The chemistry between these two is so offbeat and cumbersome that they fit the roles perfectly when it comes to dishing out the insults. Ali Larter, Taye Diggs, Chris Kattan, Peter Gallagher and Bridget Wilson round out the supporting cast, and each of them brings added style and life to the film. "House on Haunted Hill" wastes no time in getting to the goods, and does a good job at that. The story has a solid base to it that sets it apart from other films of the genre, is far more intelligent and witty, and does a nice job of giving us chills and intensity. The gore may be a put-off for some, but the script and ability of the cast make this a sleek and stylish film that looks glossy though decrepit."
Horror finally makes a come-back ...
D. Litton | 02/07/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After such disapointments as the Blair Witch Project and The Haunting, it's great to at lats see a geat horror film in the cinema, even if it is a remake.The film is just like a good oldfashioned horror movie (a remake that has stuck to old principles), with a laughable storyline, and great characters (half believable, half not). The organ music is a perfect accompaniment and will certainly make you jump as often as the scenes will. The manner in which the gore is presented is a bit more artistic than in most modern films - again adding to the atmosphere. The effects are not cutting edge - but the evil spirit is simple and fairly unique - very effective. And what's a horror film with perfect effects anyway ? These days usually useless. And, in good old days tradition, the laughs are in there as well.And, of course, there are enough plot twists to keep you thinking a little bit - if you're not too on edge as it is.I thouroughly recomend this to any horror fan - especially those who are getting a bit sick of the junk which is passed off in cinema these days."
Could have been a great modern horror
Andrew White | Washington, DC | 03/08/2000
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I had awaited a film that the Times reviewer had called, "so scary I actually had to look away". I didn't look away. It starts so promisingly I was thinking modern horror classic. Unfortunately, producers Joel Silver and Robert Zemickes did not have to courage to see it through. 1931. A glorious art-deco Asylum stands at the top of a hill. We watch as a nurse operates a hand cranked camera. It is trained on an operating table as a doctor operates on a still conscious patient. They notice a growing mass of faces watching from above. They continue the operation. Suddenly the patents burst in. The doctors are overrun and there the violence and imagery is quite shocking. The camera falls. The doctor screams as the knife is turned on him. Present day. Four limousines wind their way up the hill. We see beautifully framed shots of the participants as they glance at their invites. I'm thinking film-noir here and it fits perfectly. And here we must leave the narrative. For after setting the tone, the story and giving the audience some very unsettling images already, the film takes the downward turn that will continue to its conclusion. It backs away from a what could genuinely have been one hell of a ride. The set-up, the setting, the tone, the classic story (5 strangers must stay alive 'till morning to claim $1 million) was perfect; the execution is not. And who do we have to blame for this? Simple: the studio. Apparently, Warners wanted a sweet little horror/comedy. The director did not and with producers with the power of Silver and Zemickes, no pushovers by any means, it looks like they were in spilt minds themselves. What we get is a cheap, simply bad CGI finale. When will filmmakers learn that computer graphics can never be scary? But the original ending was indeed shot and all we do see, one brief shot of the mad doctor, provides one of the most effective moments of the movie. Alas, it was all ripped out. What we do have here is an initial 20 minute grounding that could have provided the basis for one hell of a creepy, very effective addition to the horror genre. What we do have is a disappointment. Roll on the uncut DVD version. * This is a title that can only be said as they do in the trailers: gravely voice and with a fast tempo."