31 Days of Horror: The House on Haunted Hill

ann hale gets a grave encounter…

After watching this week’s episode of American Horror Story Asylum, I’ve realized just how long it has been since there has been a good haunted sanitarium film. Now, before you say anything, please take note of the word “good”. If you come at me with Grave Encounters, I’m going to discount your opinion on everything from here on out.

Tonight I have decided to watch House on Haunted Hill. I did consider the idea of watching Session 9 because, let’s face it, it’s fantastic, but it had a severe lack of Famke Janssen which, in the end, was the determining factor.

The Vannacutt Psychiatric Institute for the Criminally Insane has a dark history. In the early 1940’s, Dr. Vannacutt was known to torture and murder his patients, even using them for experiments. One night, the patients decided to fight back, killing not only the doctor, but all of the nurses as well. Before his death, Vannacutt initiated the lockdown sequence on the doors and windows, trapping everyone inside. A fire broke out and everyone inside burned.

Stephen Price is a billionaire amusement park tycoon, making his money off of the fear of others. His wife, Evelyn (Famke Janssen), wants to have her birthday party at the sanitarium. Strangely, the list she provides Stephen is changed by an unknown force and five total strangers receive invitations to the party offering them $1,000,000 if they can last the whole night inside the house on Haunted Hill. Staying in the house proves to be more difficult than they thought when the lockdown sequence engages and the hauntings begin.

I love this movie. First off, mental institutions are scary as hell to begin with but add ghosts and they are terrifying. Second, there are majorly hot women, namely Famke Janssen, Ali Larter and Bridgette Wilson, plus Geoffrey Rush. He’s not a hot chick but everyone likes Geoffrey Rush. Then there are Peter Gallagher’s eyebrows. When you’re not worried about a ghost murdering someone in the house, you’re terrified that his eyebrows are going to eat his face, kind of like when the little boy’s braces attack his face in Poltergeist 2.

The only part of the movie I hate is the ending. There is a solid plot, decent scares, a nice twist and then there is the ridiculous CGI ghost, which is a collection of everyone who died in the house. And that’s not even the best part. Chris Kattan, who is beyond random in this cast, returns from the dead as a ghost to save two of the characters at the end.

I’m not a fan of the whole ghost saving the day thing they love to do in haunting movies. The graphics are always stupid, it always puts a sensitive moment in a film that doesn’t need one and it is an easy way out. If they wanted a great ending, they would’ve paid Gallagher’s eyebrows to kill them all.

Just a giant nerd in love with horror, 80’s action flicks, Star Wars and Harry Potter. Hit me up on Twitter or Instagram @scarletjupiter to talk horror or just to browse the horror collection.