Alright, we’re venturing once more into the much debated universe of REMAAAAAAAAKES. This time around, a timeless classic versus the beginning of the late 90s, early 2000s…. dark ages of horror remakes.
With one of my personal favorites (you’ll see which…)
House On Haunted Hill
Alright, so we’re going to start with the 1959 CLASSIC HORROR FILM (am I showing my hand on this one yet?) starring the immortal Vincent Price. Described by the lords at IMDB as …
A millionaire offers ten thousand dollars to five people who agree to be locked in a large, spooky, rented house overnight with he and his wife.
Pretty straight forward, and 55 years old. This great old black & white film has aged wonderfully, and horribly in certain aspects, but over all the movie is still incredibly strong all these decades later. The cast is charming and likeable, the plot is silly but still somehow manages to make sense. Not to mention, at the end of it all, it’s not really about real ghosts at all. A murder and revenge plot between a bitter husband and his wife and her lover. All under the guise of a haunted house party.
The whole movie clips along quite fast (which they tend to do at only 75 minutes long!) and actually provides a few genuinely scary moments through out. Not to mention, it stars Vincent god-damn Price, who is a charisma-machine from start to finish. Plus, that voice, am I right ladies? Anyways. Over all, with the exception of a few dated references to ‘hysteria’ and some VERY ‘1950s’ attitudes towards women, the movie has aged very well and it works really well as horror movies go. It’s fun, it’s silly, it’s short it’s scary, and it’s insanely enjoyable from beginning to end.
If you were wondering where to start your Vincent Price adventure, you could do much worse than right here.
Fast forward 40 years… to the pre-millenial year of 1999. It was a new time for movies, we were making SLICK, SEXY, VIOLENT horror movies, and we were setting the stage for a trend of 2000 horror movies that we would not soon forget. Movies followed like Fear Dot Com, Ghost Ship and Mind Hunters… but first, there was this remake from 1999…
House. On. Haunted. Hill.
This time around they were going to give us something that wasn’t your grandad’s horror movie, this was going to have MORE TITS, MORE GORE, AND MORE ACTION. This one, as IMDB says…
A millionaire offers a group of diverse people $1,000,000 to spend the night in a haunted house with a horrifying past.
First off, not a house. This one is set in an insane asylum, that they keep calling a house for no discernible reason. Also, since its 1999, the stakes are raised to ONE MILLLLLLLION DOLLLLLLLLARRS.
We open with Geoffrey Rush, who I have to say is a pretty solid actor… most of the time. He plays Stephen Price… (get it? GET IT?!) … an eccentric millionaire who designs…roller-coasters and scary rides? I guess. Anyways, much like the first one, he and his wife hate each other. However, they lack 110% of the chemistry that Price and Carol Ohmart shared in the earlier version, but I digress. The movie does carry on similarly to the first, with one major exception.
This movie is actually about ghosts. Actual. Ghosts.
The party invites are sent out to complete strangers by a GHOST IN THE COMPUTER (BECAUSE ITS THE NEW MILLENNIUM BROO. DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THE INTERNET?!?) and the strangers are picked off one by one until only Ali Larter and Taye Diggs are left alive. OH! AND THEY ONLY SURVIVE BECAUSE THE GHOST OF CHRIS KATAAN SAVES THEM. ugh.
Anyways, this version is joyless, offers no genuine scares, and really just falls flat. It proves that no amount of sped-up movement or random flashes scary images can make your movie scary. Also proof that Geoffery Rush is NO replacement (try as they might to make him look the part…desperately) for Vincent Price.
There is one shining moment though, and it’s criminally short. At the beginning of the film we have a cameo from James Marsters (Spike, from Buffy) — it is easily the most charming part of the entire film.
Over all, this one is a home-run, there’s no contest. This is coming from someone who really did enjoy House On Haunted Hill as a bit of a guilty pleasure flick. However, when you stack them up, they really don’t even come close to each other. The original is a genuine classic, and the remake… the remake is really not very good, but might hold it’s place as a minor guilty pleasure.
FINAL GRADES :
1959 : A
1999 : D