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Overall Rating

Awesome: 17.65%
Worth A Look: 23.53%
Average: 20.26%
Pretty Bad26.14%
Total Crap: 12.42%

7 reviews, 111 user ratings

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House on Haunted Hill (1999)
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Amiable horror trash."
4 stars

One of the many sins of 1999's oafish remake 'The Haunting' -- still my candidate for the year's worst movie -- is that the memory of its awfulness may keep people away from 1999's other remake of an old haunted-house film, 'House on Haunted Hill,' which is actually pretty entertaining.

This update of the 1958 camp-horror chestnut by William Castle jacks up the shock effects and the booty (the reward for surviving the night in the godforsaken house is now $1,000,000, two zeroes more than in the original). It's an unpretentious and cheerfully trashy night at the movies; horror fans could do worse, and lately they've had to.

Amusement-park entrepreneur Steven H. Price (Geoffrey Rush, whose character is named in honor of Vincent Price, who filled this role in the original) is planning a birthday party for his beautiful and hateful wife Evelyn (Famke Janssen), who wants to throw the bash inside a run-down house that used to be a mental institution. This hospital has an ornate backstory: It used to be run by the mad Dr. Vannacutt (Jeffrey Combs in a performance without dialogue, unfortunately for fans of Re-Animator), who was fond of performing cruel surgical experiments on the inmates until they rioted in 1931. A fire was set, the hospital's "lockdown" mechanism was triggered to keep anyone from escaping, and everyone burned to death inside. Great place to throw a birthday party 68 years later.

The people on Price's guest list are deleted and replaced mysteriously by seemingly random outsiders: former baseball player Eddie (Taye Diggs), production assistant Sara (Ali Larter), TV personality Melissa Marr (Bridgette Wilson), and stoic Dr. Blackburn (Peter Gallagher). Also along for the ride: the fearful Pritchett (Chris Kattan, doing a Jeff Goldblum imitation), who owns the house and is renting it to Price, and Price's assistant Carl (Max Perlich, cashing an easy check -- all he does is push buttons and eat sandwiches). They, along with Price and Evelyn, are soon "locked down" in the house, which seems to turn on them with the vengefulness of the insane -- or the dead.

This House on Haunted Hill feels a lot like a 90-minute episode of HBO's Tales from the Crypt, as well it should: The director, William Malone, helmed several episodes of the series, and the movie is the first production of Dark Castle, the new company formed by Crypt producers Robert Zemeckis and Joel Silver to put out medium-budget horror films. The movie doesn't skimp on the gore -- at least two people are relieved of their heads, and one poor bastard gets his face scooped out -- and there are some genuinely creepy bits, such as the opening inmate riot and the sequence when Price is locked into a sort of sensory-overload chamber that drives him temporarily mad.

True, the movie could have been fresher. About five scenes too many depend on characters wandering around in dark cobwebby places; I'm all for that, as long as it's not run into the ground. I expected a juicier performance from Geoffrey Rush, who doesn't camp it up as much as you'd think he'd want to (he was more fun in Mystery Men). And it's hard to defend a film that wastes oddball talents like Combs, Perlich, and singer Lisa Loeb and Buffy vampire James Marsters (Spike) in eyeblink roles. (I didn't even know he was James Marsters until I read the credits.) Overall, though, House on Haunted Hill keeps the scares and laughs coming (Chris Kattan provides most of the laughs). It's a cheesy throwaway horror flick, but it's a tight cheesy throwaway horror flick.

You won't be sorry you saw it -- even if, two days later, you also won't remember you saw it.

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originally posted: 02/02/07 12:02:00
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User Comments

11/02/11 kenny chill out it's pretty fun 3 stars
1/25/10 Chad Dillon Cooper Bloated needless remake for teenieboppers. 1 stars
9/19/09 Pavel It's a great underrated horror movie! A lot better than the original. 5 stars
8/28/08 Shaun Wallner Great Horror film!! 5 stars
6/14/08 Karrie M scary and full of gore, it was alright, started out good anyways 3 stars
2/18/07 Nick Maday I don't remember much about this, but I do remember not liking it very much. 2 stars
1/27/07 action movie fan not scary, lame remake of lame film-don,t bother 2 stars
12/22/06 David Pollastrini not great, not terrible 3 stars
12/14/06 Browncoat What are you people, a bunch of fucking back-births?This movie sucks! 1 stars
10/28/06 matt a very underrated film, good imagery and scares throughout 4 stars
6/04/06 William Goss Surprisingly well-acted, creepily atmospheric, and just lots of fun. Somewhat underrated. 4 stars
5/26/06 Michele cool coaster at the beginning, nice to see james marsters 3 stars
1/03/06 cody a ok gory and spooky horror flick, ok actors , two problems were thin plot and silly scares 2 stars
11/07/05 Lauren A great, splashy, spooky, horror flick! A lot of fun. 5 stars
8/12/05 ES Way better than 'the Haunting', Rush is the man 4 stars
7/02/05 Indrid Cold Surprisingly nasty, semi-humorous tone makes it worth a look. Somewhat underrated. 3 stars
6/11/05 Anthony G Not bad, could of been better though 3 stars
5/10/05 Roger Roller coaster & Geoffrey Rush - both great. A fun movie. 4 stars
3/26/05 Denise loved the rollercoaster 4 stars
3/25/05 indrid cold Bad, but surprisingly over the top, which makes it watchable. 2 stars
3/17/05 Alice Colwell not bad 3 stars
3/13/05 Tamara Burks This movie is a blast and Geoffrey Rush does a great impression olf Vincent Price. 5 stars
3/04/05 Chris Stephens It was OK 3 stars
2/28/05 Diane Stedner Great. 5 stars
2/26/05 James Kiang Despite an over-the-top Rush, this was a pleasant surprise genre film. 3 stars
2/22/05 Debora Browning Thiis was a decent horror flick 4 stars
2/21/05 fiona it was well made, but...just a non event for me. I expected more. 2 stars
2/20/05 Carolyn Rathburn Gory, senseless violence, didn't care for it. 2 stars
2/19/05 Denise good 4 stars
2/19/05 Brenda Riley Couldn't compare with the original! 3 stars
10/16/04 Don Eckert The 14% that thought this was Awesome must be a kindergarten class. 1 stars
8/20/04 justin i liked it it was awsome i wana no what that song at the end was bye 5 stars
4/24/04 star seen it 5 times, the spinning room is a trip, blood fun, all else sucks 3 stars
2/14/04 Naturezrevenge Abysmal reviews, jacob's ladder meets hellraiser imagery,not as abysmal as one would think. 4 stars
2/08/04 john bale Rush is not Vincent Price and this remake is no better than the first 3 stars
1/05/04 Janey Let down by a bad ending - should have kept plot more realistic. 3 stars
11/02/03 American Slasher Goddess Rush and Janssen turn in good hammy perfomances, but otherwise it's pretty unspectacular. 2 stars
10/02/03 Mopsa I admit it: I loved this movie! Scary and funny and misunderstood 5 stars
9/06/03 Andrew This is actually a rather good film. The soundtrack is great! 4 stars
7/14/03 Samuel Justus Most likely one of the best ever! 13 ghosts and Ghost Ship were good but this was better! 5 stars
6/20/03 Mystique revolting, cool, frightening and RUSH ROCKS ! 3 stars
11/24/02 Charles Tatum Lousy ending, but scary all the way through 4 stars
10/03/02 snowconehead Chris Kattan gets killed, which justifies the rating 4 stars
2/01/02 Ashley Corpening look up WASTED in dictionary -oughta find casting of Bridgette Wilson & Ali Larter in this! 2 stars
1/12/02 Audra I loved the movie. Not really scary. Only Famke and Chris were good in the movie. 5 stars
1/04/02 Andrew Carden Good Premise To The Original, but Very Weak and Not Scary At All. 2 stars
12/04/01 auroradae the best horror movie i have seen, and i've seen many, i was actually scared once 5 stars
12/01/01 Joe The begining is awesome.. the middle part is all right.. then the last bites ass 3 stars
10/20/01 Tam TOTAL BOLLOCKS! Boring, tedious, over-acted! BIGGEST STINKER IN HISTORY! 1 stars
10/17/01 Hum some good ideas but this film is sooooo dumb! 2 stars
10/04/01 mark conway this movie was no more than average, with little thrills or scares. 3 stars
8/29/01 Sarah I wasn't scared at ALL!It was suppose to be a horror movie at what moment? 1 stars
8/10/01 Audra I couldn't finish the movie; it was way too gory. But there were scary scenes. 2 stars
8/09/01 E-Funk Some genuinely creepy moments, but the end is worse than blue balls. 4 stars
7/21/01 Robert closest to a scary movie i have seen in a long time 5 stars
7/11/01 ALEXIS Hey I thought it was pretty scary, but the ending was kinda crappy 4 stars
6/19/01 King Jackass Your crazy... this is an awesome movie! 5 stars
6/18/01 Monster W. Kung Could've been decent if they kept ripping off Tool videos, but as it was it sucked, badly. 1 stars
5/14/01 Amorill Great horror movie. Although I must admit that the ending was way too nice and predictabl. 5 stars
4/19/01 Tam Tedious crap, with plenty of gore but no scares. Wooden acting & a bad script didnt help. 1 stars
3/23/01 Terrie Smith Not much with this one; Geoffrey Rush receiving a easy pay cheque for doing nothing. 2 stars
3/11/01 Yamara Better than X-Files At Sea. No, wait, *I* made that movie. No, it sucks. Chris Kattan rocks 3 stars
3/04/01 ThunderCloud Matrix I loved the movie mostly because of the orginal wicked-asylum plot, but the acting sucked. 4 stars
3/01/01 John Trent Yeah,one of the best horror films ever!Loved the ending,buy the dvd and see the alt ending! 5 stars
2/17/01 Steven Armet I still can't sleep at night almost as scarry as deliverance 5 stars
2/11/01 KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi I was too busy committing suicide to finish watching it... 2 stars
2/01/01 Vivien Leung i just wanna know how they could get down at last? ( bloody but not scary) urghhhh!!! 1 stars
1/16/01 Aurora This was the fisrt horror movie to actually scare me for almost a decade! It was horrific! 5 stars
11/05/00 Boy In The Designer Bubble A bad movie made worse by bad writing. 1 stars
10/29/00 Timothy L. Herzog Lame... 2 stars
10/23/00 John medium scares, good plot, really bad ending 3 stars
7/23/00 Woerkilt Better than most "Hollow"wood feces-on-film. Blood, severed heads and acid-trip ghoulies. 4 stars
6/08/00 Lizzard Queen The movie started out great and had some great visuals, but the ending was a disappointment 4 stars
6/06/00 Bender The first 20 minutes are good, but the movie becomes less and less interesting 3 stars
5/13/00 melissa honke is the house true as in is it R 4 stars
4/18/00 Ken Krysa I liked it better than The Haunting. Creepy and great visuals. 5 stars
4/09/00 EMagGaRony nothing special, , what's with "scary" movies that don't even scare you?? 3 stars
3/19/00 Joel Harwood . 4 stars
3/03/00 Matthew Bartley A lot better than I thought it would be, Dodgy ending though 4 stars
3/03/00 Patrick Annis-Brown Very creepy, but a sucky ending 4 stars
2/21/00 jj it is cool 4 stars
2/16/00 Add Started interesting then the budget took over, damn it, this really sucked!! 1 stars
2/12/00 arnold blew haunting away,kattan is great,ending sucked,and there was some pretty cool horror bits 4 stars
11/22/99 Phreezer Good (Stay for til' the very end of the credits or miss out on some creepy shit) 4 stars
11/20/99 Amy Spencer awesome! 5 stars
11/13/99 merrip absolutely beautiful set design and awesome visual/audio stuff. ending sucks all ass. 3 stars
11/11/99 Buttman suck-tastic 2 stars
11/11/99 Queen of the Amazon Vamps I want to hop on Famke Janssen twice! 1 stars
11/10/99 Ryan Philippe gets hit by a car and it rules I hate you Kenny 5 stars
11/08/99 focus not as bad as The Haunting, but still a craptacular movie 2 stars
11/08/99 Ben Ryan Is it possible for a movie to ever live up to the previews? no! 2 stars
11/07/99 JonnyAngel I was gonna write a review, but Hawk did it for me 3 stars
11/07/99 great....exept for the end... 4 stars
11/07/99 Obi Wan Was pretty good up until about 25mins to go, felt like movie was rushed to ending!! ROBBED! 2 stars
11/05/99 "bob" i saw this movie while i was high,it scared THE SHIT out of me! 5 stars
11/05/99 Jonathan Pinkerton Somewhat scary must mostly a gorefest 3 stars
11/03/99 Delta Yankee I liked the original a hell of a lot better. 2 stars
11/02/99 PhilmPhreak Well, it was better than The Hauntimg. 3 stars
11/02/99 Mac The chick should have killed Taye, pulled the checks from her blouse, house then kills her 2 stars
11/02/99 Stephanie The ending sucked! What a letdown! 1 stars
11/01/99 Arshad Nice sets, effects, TERRIBLE dialog, plot 3 stars
11/01/99 Phil. God damnit, the ending sucked. God damnit! It was probably rushed for halloween. Or not? 1 stars
11/01/99 Lucas Coffey It should've cut everyone up and went with the after credit ending. 4 stars
11/01/99 Vampyre9mm Good gore, but that's about it. Stupid plot, bad characters, TERRIBLE ending. 2 stars
11/01/99 mason the original is one of my favorites and this is suprisingly bad-ass , except for the ending 5 stars
10/31/99 pixie one of the scariest movie's i have seen... UNTIL the end. inconsistent ,& suck dead ass. 4 stars
10/31/99 Dylan Great movie but worst ending ever. Seems like it was thrown together at last minute 4 stars
10/31/99 Lame-Oh Not as good as The Haunting, but still a sorry-ass movie 2 stars
10/30/99 Odd Pieman 80% of this movie is scarey as sweet jesus but becomes a horrible piece of crap at the end. 4 stars
10/30/99 Steve Price Inconsistent with horrible dialogue, but some creepy moments & a cool Chris Kattan 4 stars
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  29-Oct-1999 (R)



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