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Horror Classics, Vol. 3: The Bat/House on Haunted Hill

DVD Video

DVD

4.2 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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(Oct 26, 1999)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The Bat: The fourth film version of the Mary Roberts Rinehart/Avery Hopwood stage chestnut. Agnes Moorehead plays mystery novelist Cornelia Van Gorder, whose remote mansion is the scene for all sorts of diabolical goings-on. The 'maguffin' is a million dollars worth of securities, hidden away somewhere in the huge and foreboding estate. Vincent Price co-stars. House on Haunted Hill: A perennial favorite of the Shock Theatre TV circuit. Directed by the legendary William Castle, House on Haunted Hill stars Vincent Price as a sinister gentleman who owns a sinister mansion on a sinister hill. He offers several of his enemies $10,000 each, if they agree to spend the night in the crumbling old mansion... The Roan Group legacy began in 1992 with the critically acclaimed laserdisc of the Bela Lugosi masterpiece White Zombie. Troma will carry on the legacy of The Roan Group's DVD library that includes over 60 Westerns, Dramas, Musicals, and classic films of all genres starring John Wayne, James Cagney, and Roy Rogers to name a few. Roan Group is known for their pristine restorations, many are from original film elements. The Roan Group has been featured on Siskel & Ebert, and Leonard Maltin and Entertainment Weekly have praised The Roan Group's restoration quality. Video Watchdog writes that Roan' s White Zombie proves that a pristine image is still the most important, and Films in Review asserts, Cary Roan has done film history a service.

Amazon.com

In The Bat, top-billed Vincent Price brings his silky sinister elegance to the second remake of the hoary "old dark house" stage play, but the real star of the show is Agnes Moorehead as an eccentric mystery writer who decides to pull off the million-dollar bank heist and the steel-clawed killer known only as "The Bat." Price's devious doctor is but one of a rogues gallery of suspects that include a Johnny-on-the-spot police detective, a chauffeur turned butler with a checkered past, and a housekeeper with echoes of Rebecca's Mrs. Danvers. Moorehead is a kick as the spirited author and makes the most of her expanded role, but fans of the early film productions (1926's The Bat and 1930's The Bat Whispers, both directed by Roland West) will be less forgiving of other changes, especially writer-director Crane Wilbur's decision to draw the story out over a succession of nights. Wilbur loses the tension and claustrophobia of the originals with handsome but airy photography, more appropriate to an episode of Perry Mason, and a rambling pace. Moorehead and Price bring a little spirit to the otherwise bland film, but not quite enough.

William Castle's gimmick-laden comic thriller House on Haunted Hill is not so much a horror movie as a fairground fun house come to life. Vincent Price stars as a deliciously silky millionaire married to a greedy gold digger (Carol Ohmart) who refuses to divorce him. When he turns his wife's idea for a haunted-house party into a contest--$10,000 to whoever can spend the night in "the only truly haunted house in the world"--it seems he may have found an alternative to divorce. Five strangers gather to test their stamina, Price hands each of them most delightfully twisted party favors ever imagined (loaded handguns, delivered in their own tiny coffins), and the spook show begins. Blood drips from the ceiling, zombielike apparitions float through rooms, severed heads and skeletons suddenly appear, and then a guest is found hanging in the stairwell. Full of screams and shocks and things that go bump in the night, House on Haunted Hill isn't particularly scary and often makes little sense, but, like a Halloween haunted house, the gag-laden spectacle of spook-show clichés is quite entertaining and Price makes a sardonic master of ceremonies. The original theatrical presentations featured a typically outrageous Castle-engineered gimmick: Emergo, which was nothing more than a skeleton that appeared to fly out of the screen and over the audience on a guide wire. --Sean Axmaker


Special features

  • The great Vincent Price stars in these two late-50s horror gems: The Bat (1959, 80 min., LBX 1.66:1) & The House on Haunted Hill (1959, 75 min.) Price's first film for gimmick genius William Castle

Product details

  • Actors: Vincent Price, Carol Ohmart, Agnes Moorehead, Gavin Gordon, John Sutton
  • Directors: Crane Wilbur, William Castle
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Dolby, Letterboxed, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Unrated
    Not Rated
  • Studio: ROAN
  • DVD Release Date: October 26, 1999
  • Run Time: 155 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
  • ASIN: 6305436452
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #186,355 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
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