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Before the remake hit theaters, Warner Home Video did a truly brilliant thing; they released the original version of HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL ($20) on DVD. Sure, this William Castle fright fest is corny by today's standards, but I love it anyway. After ally, how can you not love a horror movie that stars Vincent Price? The plot of HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL is simple enough; an eccentric millionaire invites five total strangers to an overnight party in a haunted house where seven murders have taken place. If they survive the night, Loren will pay them each $10,000.00. Vincent Price portrays Frederick Loren, the eccentric millionaire and Carol Ohmart is his disagreeable forth wife Annabelle. At midnight, Loren, his wife and their five guests are locked in the house until the next morning- when the caretakers are scheduled to return.

Of course, every one of the guests have been selected based upon their need for the money, so almost no one is really willing to leave before the party games begin. During the course of the night there are some goulish happenings, as well as a murder. Did the ghosts claim a new victim, or is there a very human killer loose in the house? The cast of HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL also includes Richard Long, Alan Marshal, Carolyn Craig, Elisha Cook Jr., Julie Mitchum, Leona Anderson and Howard Hoffman. Director William Castle will be remembered for the "gimmicks" he deployed in his movies. Unfortunately, the "gimmick" that was part of this film's theatrical presentation could not be contained in the DVD's cardboard and plastic packaging. Still, HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL is good fun for anyone who loves Vincent Price or is having a horror movie marathon. Heck, the HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL even manages to elicit a few unintentional laughs for those fans of bad horror movies.

Warner Home Video has made HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL available on DVD, in both full screen and wide screen presentations on opposite sides of the disc. If you want to get your money's worth out of the DVD, watch the 16:9 enhanced version of HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL. The wide screen presentation offers the film in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, which looks well balanced. HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL was produced in 1959 and the black and white film elements do occasionally show signs of age, with an occasional marking on the film element used to make the transfer. The transfer itself is, for the most part, sharp and detailed. However there are individual shots that look a bit softer than the rest of the film. Usually, these shots are part of an optical effect or dissolve. Film grain is occasionally noticeable during the unspooling, but never really becomes obtrusive. Blacks are a genuine ebony black and the image has very good contrast. With a 75 minute running time, HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL does not test the limits of the DVD's storage capabilities, so digital compression artifacts are never problematic.

The Dolby Digital soundtrack is one channel monaural and is fairly clean sounding for its age, although with significant amplification a mild hiss will become apparent. Subtitles are available on the DVD in English and French.

The simple interactive menus provide access to the standard scene selection and setup features. A theatrical trailer has been included on the DVD as supplement.


House on Haunted Hill



DVD reviews are Copyright 1999 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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