House on Haunted Hill (1959)

house on haunted hill poster 1959
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

A classic feeling ghost story

Cheap looking sets, so-so acting

Movie Info

Movie Name:  House on Haunted Hill

Studio:  Allied Artists Pictures/William Castle Productions

Genre(s):  Horror/B-Movie

Release Date(s):  February 14, 1959 (Premiere)/February 17, 1959 (US)

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

house on haunted hill annabelle skeleton carol ohmart

The truth will get you an acid bath

Annabelle Loren (Carol Ohmart) is celebrating her birthday and her husband Frederick (Vincent Price) is going to throw her a party that she won’t forget.  Inviting a bunch of strangers to the legendary Hill House, Frederick offers $10,000 to each person who agrees to stay the night.  Frederick has other motives…he and his wife are feuding and she wants his money.  When Annabelle turns up dead, could it be the spirits or could it be murder.

Directed by legendary horror director William Castle, House on Haunted Hill is a black-and-white horror movie.  The film was a staple of late night TV and had a cult following.  The film is in public domain and can often be found in multipacks with other “free” movies.  Colorized versions of the film also exist.

Goofy, cheesy, but entertaining, House on Haunted Hill is a movie you can quickly watch for a piece of horror history.  It is not the greatest film, but it is a fun watch.

house on haunted hill blind woman carolyn craig

Maybe if you didn’t stand like this all the time, people wouldn’t scream at you, lady…

House on Haunted Hill has all the typical ghost story elements.  The characters must stay in the haunted house from sundown to sunrise for a “prize”.  It is very close to Shirley Jackson’s Haunting of Hill House also 1959 which was made into the superior (but more artsy) film The Haunting in 1963…House on Haunted Hill is more played up for camp and fun than The Haunting.

I don’t know that anyone would ever accuse Vincent Price of being a good actor, but he is a sincere actor who brings his best to every film he’s in.  House on Haunted Hill is no exception.  The movie is predominately held together by Price and his over-the-top acting in his role which is almost at points a supporting role behind the guests Dr. David Trent (Alan Marshal), Ruth Bridges (Julie Mitchum), Lance Schroeder (Richard Long), Watson Prichard (Elisha Cook), and Nora Manning (Carolyn Craig).

house on haunted hill ending vincent price skeleton

I ain’t afraid of no ghosts

The film is very low budget, and this shows in most of the scenes.  I do love the appearance of the blind old woman…maybe if she didn’t stand with her mouth open and fingers curled, people wouldn’t be afraid of her.  The final solution with the acid and the skeleton is also quite weak…the movie is far from scary and I like how they have to add Elisha Cook addressing the audience that the horror could come for them at the end of the film.

House on Haunted Hill is a fun little movie that rises above its cheapness.  It is another case where I wish the film had a slightly bigger budget and some tweaking.  The movie does have a cult audience and has been the subject of Rifftrax.  The movie was remade in 1999.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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