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House on Haunted Hill

3.6 out of 5 stars 350 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

When an eccentric millionaire offer a group of opposites $1,000,000 to spend the night in a so called "Haunted House" with a murderous past, they figure it is a quick way to get quick money and leave. All of them are sure it is some made up story just to mess with their heads a little and test their courage. But, once they stay in the house they start to think about the mistake they made in coming there when mysterious things start to happen.


House on Haunted Hill is one of the new breed of waste-no-time thrill machines, like Deep Blue Sea, and a particularly effective example at that. The plot is pure contrivance: For a party stunt, a wealthy amusement-park manufacturer (Geoffrey Rush) offers five people a million dollars if they spend the night in a former insane asylum where the patients murdered the sadistic staff. But it turns out the five people who arrive aren't the five he invited--did his wife (Famke Janssen), who hates him, make the switch? From there events unfold with a smart combination of human and supernatural machinations; spooky jolts are dispensed at regular, but not entirely predictable, intervals. The visual effects owe a considerable debt to Jacob's Ladder, a much more ambitious movie; House on Haunted Hill just wants to get under your skin, and succeeds more than you'd expect. Rush is his entertainingly hammy self; Janssen, Taye Diggs, Ali Larter, and Bridgette Wilson are attractive and reasonably straight-faced about it all; and Chris Kattan is genuinely funny as the house's neurotic owner. Some elements of the plot seem to have been lost in the editing process, but it hardly matters. More bothersome is that the scares go flat when computer effects take over at the end--the digital images just aren't as creepy as the more suggestive stuff that came before. But that's just the very end; most of the movie has a lot of momentum. Watch until the end of the credits for a final bit of eeriness. --Bret Fetzer

Special Features

  • Deleted footage
  • Trailers from both the 1959 and 1999 versions
  • DVD-ROM Features: Escape from the House, 2 Essays, Website

Product Details

  • Actors: Geoffrey Rush, Taye Diggs
  • Directors: William Malone
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: April 18, 2000
  • Run Time: 93 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (350 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00003CWRF
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,236 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "House on Haunted Hill" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. Litton on April 26, 2000
Format: DVD
In my hasty review that appears before this one, I truly misjudged the 1999 film "House on Haunted Hill," pawning it off as a cheap teenage horror flick comparable to "The Rage: Carrie 2." However, I was gravely mistaken, for this movie is full of all the elements that make a horror movie great. Based on the 1959 film of the same name starring Vincent Price, the 1999 version updates characters and storyline to suit modern audiences with lavish special effects and superbly filmed horror sequences. The film begins during the house's years as a mental institution for the criminally insane, as Dr. Vannacutt is performing experiments on his patients as a way of eliminating them. The inmates soon take over the sanitarium, killing all but five members of the staff, who escape as the place burns down. Skip ahead to 1999, with Steven Price (Geoffrey Rush) honoring his wife Evelyn's (Famke Janssen) wishes for a birthday party at the Vannacutt Psychiatric Sanitarium, newly remodeled into a residential home. When they arrive at the house, they discover that the guests are not the ones they invited, and both of them deny inviting the people present. The thrills begin when the "lockdown" occurs, a mechanism that encloses all windows, doors, and other means of exit, trapping Price and his guests inside. What truly makes this movie enjoyable is the fact that for the duration of the film, we do not know whether Price or the house itself is wreaking the havoc experienced by those left alive. Geoffrey Rush is terrific as Price, giving the original character, played by Vincent Price, his due justice. Famke Janssen gives sass and haughtiness to the script as Evelyn Price, and her stance and attitude make her character's moves very unique and believable.Read more ›
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Released at almost the same time as the awful "The Haunting" I wasn't expecting much, but this movie delivers.

A terrifically creepy and nasty opening and the jolting modern day introduction set us up nicely. An able cast is brought to the haunted house where unspeakable things were done to mental patients who's revenge we witnessed at the outset. Geoffrey Rush is great, doing a nice oily tribute to the inimitable Vincent Price (of the 50's version of this story).

Great stuff follows with two plots unwinding simultaneously, the fake and the real "haunting". The images of the good "doctor" appearing in the camcorder and on the surveillance cameras was terrific. I wish the whole movie could have sustained the chills generated by the "just-glimpsed-then-gone" evil and the hackle-raising stare and smile of these apparitions. And, of course Geoffrey Rush's trip in the psychotic chamber is worth the price of admission alone.

Unfortunately, someone decided they could forego the sinister doctor and his minions and victims for a big CG finish that ISN'T scary and ISN'T creepy. And so the movie ends with a bang that is actually a whimper. Too bad, they were really on to something in the buildup prior to that. Could have been great.

But, the ending is only the ending, and the leadup to it has enough good stuff to make it worth a look.
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Format: DVD
The opening sequence of William Malone's remake of "House on Haunted Hill" is a wonderful setup for the rest of the movie, which is brilliant mish-mash of horror, gore, intelligence, wit and frights galore. It's a feast for the senses that never lets up nor fails to please. While not the best remake of a movie in history, it is a valid and admirable effort, and has quite an adult feel to it that rises over that of the teenage horror films that have dominated movie screens the past decade.
The opening sequence takes place in the secluded Vannacutt Psychiatric Institution for the Criminally Insane, where Dr. Vannacutt's unethical experimentation on his patients leave nothing to the imagination. One night, the patients lead a bloody rebellion, trapping everyone in the asylum and setting it aflame, killing everyone inside; only a handful of the staff members survive. Scoot ahead to the present, where amusement park tycoon Steven Price is being haggled by his narcissistic wife to have her birthday party at the newly remodeled insitute, which has been converted into an expensive mansion. Sound like contrivance? It is, but hey, give it a break: it's a horror movie.
Price puts the finishing touches on his wife's guest list, but when everyone arrives at the mansion, they discover they were not the ones intended for the party. Husband and wife think that the other is responsible, while the guests, Eddie, Sara, Melissa, and Donald, are just as confused as to the reason for being invited to a total stranger's party at an even stranger location. Price explains to the group that if they stay in the house throughout the remainder of the night, they will receive $1,000,000 each, despite the repeated warnings of Pritchett, who is convinced the spirits of past inhabitants permeate the house.
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Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
HoHH follows the modern horror convention of too much CGI and gore and not enough tension, fear and suspense. The first third of the film looks reasonably promising - a group of strangers is invited to a derelict (though remarkably well decorated) mental asylum to spend the night for $1 million. There's the promise of crazed ghostly inmates butchering our common sense-challenged group and seeing who makes it to the end.

But it quickly goes downhill. Geoffrey Rush and Famke Janssen have some sort of masochistic marriage thing going on that never really develops. The rest of the crew argues in alternating pairs every 60 seconds to get from action piece to action piece. And when the CGI arrives it's underwhelming. There seems to be about 5 sets in the whole film and it seems like we're taken from one to the next constantly. I haven't seen the original but it must have been better than this to warrant a remake. It's a passable way to spend Halloween but pales in comparison to really great horror movies.
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