25 July 2004 | The_Void
Vincent Price is outstanding
Vincent Price plays Frederick Loren, an eccentric millionaire that invites five very different people to a haunted house for a party, and offers them $10,000 if they can stay the night... This film benefits emphatically from the presence of the legendary Vincent Price. As usual, Price gives a commanding performance and completely steals every scene he's in. Price is undoubtedly the star of the show, but he's not the only star in the show; Elisha Cook in particular gives excellent support playing the wimpy owner of the house; much the same character that he played in the Kubrick masterpiece; 'The Killing'. The rest of the cast is largely made up of unknowns and b-grade actors, but they also all perform to relatively high standards in their respective roles.
House on Haunted Hill's best feature other than the legendary Vincent Price, is undoubtedly the atmosphere of the house. Throughout the movie, there is an abundant sense of dread that is perpetually present and it serves the film well in that it brings the house to life; at every point in the movie, the audience is made to believe that there is something unseen in the house that will cause bad things to happen; and this is obviously exactly what a haunted house film needs. The film is very creepy in that way. That's not to say that this film is without its flaws; at times, the plot meanders and as the film only has a 75 minute running time, that's not good. It can also become a little dull at times as there isn't always a lot going on. This is, however, somewhat combated by the acting performances and defined characters as they usually manage to keep it at least interesting, if not enthralling throughout. House on Haunted Hill is topped off by a brilliant double twist, and it is also given certain originality by that also, although the twists do beg the question of whether or not the film has an appropriate title. The walking skeleton is hilarious, though and worth watching film for alone.
Overall, House on Haunted Hill is a lovely little b movie; it's creative, it's atmospheric and it stars Vincent Price. Highly recommended viewing, especially for horror fans. Definitely not recommended for anyone though, is the dire 1999 remake of this film, and the equally appalling remake of William Castle's other ghost story; '13 Ghosts'.