Director: William Malone

Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Famke Janssen, Taye Diggs

A group of strangers are offered a cash prize to spend the night in a haunted house.

Unlike Jan De Bont’s recent horrendous remake of The Haunting, William Malone’s confident 1999 remake of William Castle’s classic 1958 B-movie House on Haunted Hill is a respectful adaptation that sticks quite closely to the original movie. It eventually adds a few twists to the original story, and takes full advantage of the advances of special effects techniques since the 1950s (with decidedly mixed results) but fundamentally it’s very similar, and even includes a couple of scenes which mimic the original quite closely. The film, about a man (Rush, reprising the role played by Vincent Price in the original) who lures a group of people to a party, promising great rewards to anyone who manages to survive the night, is more overtly graphic, and manages to sustain a genuinely creepy atmosphere, (helped enormously by an elaborate sound mix, and a terrific score by The Matrix’s Don Davis).

Warner’s disc is a blast, featuring a first-rate Dolby Digital 5.1 audio at (384 kbps) and (1.85:1, anamorphic) video transfer and elaborate animated menus. The disc also contains a number of worthwhile bonus features, including a commentary track; six mini behind-the-scenes documentaries; trailers for the 1958 and 1999 versions; a very short trailer for the director’s 1985 movie Creature (a.k.a. Titan Find); a representation of what the Saturation Chamber experience might be like (basically a whirlwind montage of clips and stills with suitable sound effects); a twenty-minute featurette comparing the two versions of the film (and including some material on Castle’s Homicidal); and a number of minor DVD-ROM features. The disc also contains three deleted scenes, accompanied by Malone’s reasons from not using them. These include two different versions of a scene that introduced Sara Wolfe (Ali Larter) and her bitchy boss, played by Debi Mazar (who doesn’t appear in the finished film). Mazar also appears in an unused coda sequence reminiscent of Amicus portmanteau movies like – appropriately enough – Asylum. This sequence features the reappearance of Jeffrey Combs, here adding to his credentials as a genuine horror genre icon.






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