House on Haunted Hill
Review written by: Alex Sandell

Geoffrey Rush watches his career go up
in a cloud of cheese flavored smoke.

What's the story?

Five strangers are invited to spend a night in an abandoned psychiatric institute which housed the criminally insane, and hid some of the worst experiments in human torture ever performed.  The strangers are invited by famed theme park mogul Steven Price (Geoffrey Rush) as a birthday favor for his twisted wife, Evelyn (Famke Janssen).  Unfortunately, once the guests arrive, it appears that none of them has ever heard of one another, or the people who invited them to this sadistic "party."  Even more bizarre, the people who did the inviting haven't heard of any of the guests.  Could the evil institute itself have tampered with the guest list?  Are one of the guests behind it?  How about the hosts, or the weird guy from Saturday Night Live (Chris Kattan)?  Before anyone has a chance to figure it out, the house mysteriously locks the odd group inside, and puts them through a night of hell . . . one which may never allow them the luxury of seeing daylight ever again.  *Bwah-ha-ha*

So how is it? (Get to the point, already)

House on Haunted Hill is the anti-Blair Witch Project.  Rather than spending valuable screen time trying to convince us that three pretentious film school students and a bunch of trees are actually scary, House on Haunted Hill actually shows us scary stuff.   This is a good thing.  It's also, at least to rabid fans of horror, a very predictable film, at best.  I actually thought the last Buffy the Vampire Slayer was more terrifying.  This is a bad thing, sort of.  There are, as I mentioned prior to immediately contradicting myself, some scary moments in House on Haunted Hill.  The film also redeems itself in all of those special little ways only a true fan of blood, guts and bad dialogue could understand.

The camp value of Haunted Hill won't be the least bit surprising to horror fans once they find out the minds behind it.  It is the first movie to come out of Dark Castle productions, a little company which was dreamed up by those wild and zany "sorta" horror, but "mostly" mainstream, guys; Robert Zemeckis and Joel Silver.  As I'm sure you know, unless you have a life, or some other inane thing occupying your time, Zemeckis and Silver are two of the five minds behind HBO's Tales from the Crypt series of television shows and movies.  Hill also has Crypt connections in its director, William Malone, who was behind the camera for plenty of Tales from the Crypt gore-fests.  So, if you watched Crypt religiously (and, really, who didn't?), you basically know what to expect with House on Haunted Hill: gobs of guts, a ton of tits, horridly bad humor, frantic directing, campy acting, buckets of blood and a fairly crummy storyline, all topped off with a heaping pile of cheese.        

If that sounds appealing to you, in a fun sort of "video game filled with random violence" fashion, you'll probably find House on Haunted Hill to be a fairly enjoyable way to pass the time between Evil Dead marathons.  If you've never had an Evil Dead marathon, you'll probably think House on Haunted Hill is the biggest pile of crap you've ever seen, and I reserve all rights to not respond to your hatemail in regards to my recommending it.  Lastly, if I've completely lost you at this point, may I recommend Music of the Heart?  It was directed by another horror guy (Wes Craven), but I hear it's really boring, sappy and semi-inspirational.  You'll probably get a kick out of it. 

What does it make you feel like eating?

Blood sausage with lots of ketchup.

What are you selling us here???

Some company that makes video cameras and another company that makes those pencil sharpeners that they always have in schools.  I didn't really pay attention to the names, because I was concentrating on not kicking the two teenage girls in front of me who kept saying "boo" to one another and then giggling like a couple of dorks.

If it won an Oscar, what would it be?

It wouldn't win an Oscar.  Sorry.

On a scale of 1-10?

6 (for the pure cheese of it all)

Agree? Disagree? Wanna have cyber-sex? Email me at

Like movies?   LOVE THEM?  Want the inside-scoop, cranky criticism and Juicy movie news, before the rest of the world?  Sign up for the daily More On Movies Newsletter by simply sending an email to   saying "Midgets Love Movies!"  Remember, the last word on film, is Juicy!  

Text (Copyright) 1999 Alex Sandell [All Rights Reserved]. If you copy this, without my permission, I'll sit in front of you for the rest of your life, and say "boo" a whole bunch.   After that, I'll probably giggle.

Pic (Copyright) 1999 Warner Brothers [All Rights Reserved].