House On Haunted Hill - Review, Ice Block Quickie

Overly Reductive Plot Summary

Vincent Price invites a group of 5 folks to a theremin-scored house with the promise of $10,000 a-piece if they survive the haunted evening. If you have a generous friend, they can tie a fake skeleton to some rope and make it dart around the room while you watch.

Significant For...

In 75 brisk minutes, the sheer charismatic power of Vincent Price converted a paltry $200,000 into 1.5 million. Also, this film was originally released in EMERGO!, a special photographic technique in which producer William Castle would tie a fake skeleton to some rope and then make it dart around the movie theatre.

The Entire Film In Three Images

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Elements of the Film Ranked (on a monochromatic scale of 1 to 5)

  1. Suspension of disbelief can only go so far and the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed exterior has nothing in common with the gothic interiors.
  2. This film is a terrific reminder of why theremin should be among the instruments taught in public school. America is no longer leading the world in theremin proficiency!!!
  3. Pay attention, budding writers - shack a bunch of people up together, give them each a murder weapon and dangle the promise of much-needed money in front of them and the comedy, suspense and horror all write themselves.
  4. HoHH strikes a terrific balance between jump-scares and slow burns with all elements fast becoming greater than the sum of their parts.
  5. Vincent Price. He's the bomb-diggity. Let's just do the puns and be done. Vincent is priceless! The Price is right! Name your Price!

Final Verdict

It's a classic, of this there can be no doubt. Towering status is due largely to Vincent Price's acerbic performance. There are some good little scares here and there throughout the film, but nothing compares to the Price's elegance and gallows humour.