LAST NIGHT: HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1959)
“A woman was just hung in the stairwell; there was a severed head in a girl’s suitcase, we all have loaded guns and Vincent Price is our host. Well, good night!”
William Castle’s 1959 schlock-fest House on Haunted Hill is iconic and ridiculous. If Vincent Price offered you $10,000 to spend a night in a haunted mansion, would you go? No, of course you wouldn’t. Because he’s VINCENT PRICE. But apparently the five idiots who accompany him didn’t know that. Thank God, for otherwise this movie would not exist and we would all be the worse for it.
I have no idea what to do with this movie. It should be terrible – because it is. The acting is largely atrocious, the plot nonsensical, the script alternately slow and sudden. And yet…and yet. I loved it. Every second of it. Why? WHY? Well, one why is Vincent Price, who no matter how many bad films he made always injects an edge of class and camp into his performances that made him the go-to guy for schlocky horror. The other why is the crazy factor of the whole enterprise. We have seven people locked in a haunted – high modern mansion, and what does their host do? He gives them loaded guns. There are severed heads that appear randomly in closets which everyone seems to take in stride. There’s a fucking vat of acid in the basement and this does not cause any great consternation. These people are insane.
House on Haunted Hill is the best of bad 50s horror – total fun with a few proper scares.