Oct 202018
 

House on Haunted Hill actually was an okay flick for the first two-thirds which had some nice and sometimes spooky atmosphere aided by some nice set designs, but all that is thrown out the window with a finale that was so dumb combined with some laughable visual effects.

 

 

House on Haunted Hill
— Collector’s Edition —
(1999)

Genre(s): Horror, Supernatural
Shout Factory | R – 93 min. – $34.93 | October 9, 2018

Date Published: 10/20/2018 | Author: The Movieman


MOVIE INFO:
Directed by: William Malone
Writer(s): Robb White (story), Dick Beebe (screenplay)
Cast: Geoffrey Rush, Famke Janssen, Taye Diggs, Ali Larter, Bridgette Wilson, Peter Gallagher, Chris Kattan
DISC INFO:
Features: Commentary, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Theatrical Trailer, TV Spots
Digital Copy: No
Formats Included: Blu-ray
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.85
Subtitles: English SDH
Disc Size: 44.9 GB
Codecs: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A

Shout Factory provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post.
The opinions I share are my own.


THE MOVIE — 2.5/5


Plot Synopsis: One night in the house, one million bucks, no questions asked. But there is a catch for anyone who accepts the offer: they must survive the night. Twisted theme park bigshot Stephen Price (GEOFFREY RUSH) is hosting a scary/jokey birthday bash for his estranged/bitter wife Evelyn (FAMKE JANSSEN) at an abandoned institute for the criminally insane, shut down in the 1930s. Four guests mysteriously were invited, none by Mr. or Mrs. Price, including former baseball pro Eddie Baker (TAYE DIGGS), Dr. Donald Blackburn (PETER GALLAGHER), executive Sara Wolfe (ALI LARTER) and unemployed television host Melissa Marr (BRIDGETTE WILSON). These strangers are locked inside along with the Prices as well as anxious building owner, Watson Pritchett (CHRIS KATTAN).

Soon enough, spooky things begin to happen with strange noises, a maze of corridors where people get lost and other things that go bump in the night at your standard haunted structure. Tempers flare up and it would seem the building comes to life as the people begin to turn on one another.

Quick Hit Review: House on Haunted Hill is a remake of the 1959 horror classic and while there are certainly some great moments, it’s a rather bland late 90s supernatural film that is one of many of this type that came out in that timeframe (see Thir13en Ghosts and The Thirteenth Floor) with thinly written and/or over-the-top characters intermixed with some laughably bad visual effects, even when taking into account the era. That said, the first two-thirds or so was halfway decent with great atmosphere and a cast of actors who I genuinely enjoyed, especially Geoffrey Rush and Famke Janssen, even if their characters weren’t written all that well.

However, once we get to the finale, that’s when things fall apart and devolves from fun stupid to just plain stupid. Making matters worse, the CGI usage was absolutely dreadful (think The Rock in The Mummy Returns), albeit also laughable, and it’s not just a few minutes, but the effects comprise a fair portion of the scenes that it was terribly distracting. Perhaps if this were made later, it might’ve been acceptable though this film still would have had plenty of problems.

House on Haunted Hill was directed by William Malone, who would go on to helm the awful Feardotcom, from a script by Dick Beebe (Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2). Not exactly a pairing made in heaven…

 

SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.25/5


This “Collector’s Edition” release comes with a matted slip cover and the interior cover is reversible.

Audio Commentary with Director William Malone.

Interviews:

  • Director William Malone (37:30) – The director discusses how he came to the project to the production process.
  • Composer Don Davis (9:40) talks about his process of scoring the film.
  • Visual Effects Supervisor Robert Skotak (18:42) recounts his work and challenges on the film.

Galleries:

  • Concept Art and Storyboard (2:53)
  • Behind the Scenes Visual FX (5:44)
  • Movie Stills and Posters (4:37)

A Tale of Two Houses (19:14; SD) is an older featurette with some interviews about casting and comparisons with the original.

Behind the Visual FX (7:01) is another vintage featurette looking at the effects work.

Deleted Scenes (12:04) – There are a few scenes that were cut and include intros from Malone.

Rounding things out is the Theatrical Trailer (2:13) and TV Spots (1:05).

 


VIDEO – 3.75/5


House on Haunted Hill comes to Blu-ray through Shout Factory and given a new transfer culled from a new 2K scan from the original film elements. The picture quality is pretty good for the most part with fine detail, if not a bit soft though that might’ve been due to how the film was shot. Colors are fairly bright which contrasts against deep dark levels.

AUDIO – 4.0/5


The film has been given a surprisingly strong DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which provides both crisp and clear dialogue to go along with some heavier aspects, particularly during the visual effects heavy finale, where the LFE channel also kicks on for an extra measure of depth.

 


OVERALL – 2.75/5


Overall, House on Haunted Hill actually was an okay flick for the first two-thirds which had some nice and sometimes spooky atmosphere aided by some nice set designs, but all that is thrown out the window with a finale that was so dumb combined with some laughable visual effects. This “Collector’s Edition” release offers respectable video/audio transfers and a fine selection of bonus material.

 

 

 

Check out some more 1080p screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.

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