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Horror Classics, Vol. 3: The Bat/House on Haunted Hill
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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.
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
- 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
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"The Bat" is a creaky old-dark-house kind of tale, and stars Price along with the great Agnes Moorehead. Although not exactly nail-bitingly intense, it still emits a great deal of entertainment (including several unintentionally funny moments -- or at least I *think* they're unintentional). But, no matter. This movie is still very fun all the way around. And Miss Moorehead is always a treat on screen.
"House On Haunted Hill" is a William Castle-directed feature, which automatically means a fun outing at the movies! Castle's "gimmick" in movie theaters for this film was called "Emergo", which entailed a "flying skeleton" jumping out at the audience at just the proper moment in the film. Must have been pretty cool for kids back in '59!
Each film on this disc is shown in Widescreen format, with the original Mono soundtrack. And the picture quality looks A-OK. Very pleasing indeed (especially considering the fact neither film has been enhanced for 16x9 televisions). Aspect Ratio for each of these black-and-white films on this DVD is 1.66:1. The audio for each movie is 1.0 Dolby Digital (Mono).
The DVD is double-sided (therefore no disc art), with one movie residing on each side. There are no extra bonus features at all. But each movie does include several chapter breaks. There's a Chapter List included on a paper insert inside the DVD's Keep Case.
These two late-'50s flicks are essential viewing for any serious (or even casual) Vincent Price buff.
The Bat was Remade Three Times Before Vincent Price, Star or We can say in a Supporting Role. This Version was Made in 1959. The Lead was Agnes Moorehead(The Hit T.V. series-bewitched) as Novelist write about Suspenseful Horror Book. The Bat is More Suspense Film Than A Horror Film, Also a Mystery One, Who Is The Bat?. The House On Haunted Hill is More Of An Film With Surprises.
Technical Information is a Mistake Is Not Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is Actually Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono.
The House On Haunted Hill Real Widescreen Aspect Ratio is 1.85:1 not 1.66:1. Maybe for The Bat but Not The House On Haunted Hill.
Roan Group did a Good Job with the Double Feature Films. The Only Thing is Missing the Usual Traliers on Every DVD Films. For The Bat and House On Haunted Hill. No Production Notes Also. Actually The Picture is More Clearer With The Bat Than The House On Haunted Hill.
Warner DVD Video Relase-The House On Haunted Hill in Pan&Scan And Original Widescreen Format 1.85:1, Original Theatrical Tralier and Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono. The Picture is Much Clearer and We Actually See The String On The Skeleton, When Vincent Character is Scarying His Double Crossing Wife To Death.
Still For Vincent Price Fans, Will Enjoy Double Feature of These Classics Films.
House on Haunted Hill:When five strangers (Richard Long, Alan Marshal, Carolyn Craig, Elisha Cook Jr. & Julie Mithchum) are Invivted by a Millionaire (Vincent Price) and his mean-spirited wife (Carol Ohmart) to the rule of the deal is:If the five stay for the night, they will get $10,000, if they survived the night in this Haunted House.
Directed by Crane Wilbur made a watchable Suspense Thriller. Price plays a Doctor here, not as Sound as House on Haunted Hill, that one was much more Better. DVD`s has a good non-anamorphic Widescreen (1.66:1) transfer and a fine Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono Sound. Grade:B. Directed by William Castle (The Tinger), Well the Best is House on Haunted Hill, the format of the film is a non-anamorphic Widescreen (1.66:1) transfer (Not the Original 1.85:1 Transfer) and a clear Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono Sound. Grade:B+.