For my tenth birthday, I had a slumber party in which three of my friends and I had planned on staying up late and watching scary movies. As children of the 80s, the quartet of us had seen, at that point, most of the standard fare, mostly through sneaking around: Child’s Play, A Nightmare on Elmstreet, etc. My dad decided to up the ante and showed us jaded kids 1959’s House on Haunted Hill. Guess what? Our little group got nice and freaked out by this one, of all things. In the spirit of the month of scary, I can’t resist recommending this one, even if it is cheesy by most standards. Here are five reasons to watch it this weekend.
|Such a fun cheese fest.|
#1 – The intro
There is something about screams on a pitch black screen that will do wonders for the imagination. Now by modern standards, this isn’t terribly scary, but you will admit that the introduction is rather creepy. It’s nice to sit back sometimes and look at how filmmakers created mood without realistic gore effects. This introduction does this nicely.
#2 – Vincent Price
I’m a total sucker for a Vincent Price movie. I have a soft spot for him that I am compelled to share.He had such a great voice, and his presence on the screen is always a joy to watch. A ham one minute, a deathly serious madman the next – that’s complete glee in one’s job, and it showed with everything he did. The man chews scenery, plain and simple. I will always be a Vincent girl at heart. He’s his wonderful self in this one.
|Love this man.|
#3 – The score
Horns, woodwinds and strings can make for a fun combination. Anyone that can successfully marry an organ with a trombone gets the thumbs-up from me (operative word there is “successfully”). There are some creepy parts to the score; even if you don’t find it creepy, it’s fun to sit back and see where the music goes. The melodrama it can add is fun as well. A score that works in either direction is always a good time.
#4 – Carol Ohmart’s bitchface
Looking like you don’t give two shits about the action around you is an art form that few perfect the way Ohmart does in this movie. One of my favorite nonplussed lines: “This is your room. Depressing, isn’t it?” Class. From the one raised eyebrow to the fixed jaw, she exudes an air of “I have way better shit to be doing. You’re boring me. Get the hell away from me.” In my black-and-white movies, I adore this quality (Technicolor sort of loses this charm for me). She has zero fucks to give and wears it on her sleeve. I love it.
|I tip my hat to you, madam.|
#5 – When in doubt, Riff Trax
The gang that did Mystery Science Theater 3000 now does commentary tracks that you can buy from www.rifftrax.com, and they did one for this movie. Remember how I said earlier that this film is cheesy? Well, it’s far from perfect (there are some evenings where I cannot take Nora screaming, for the love of god), and can easily fall prey to mocking. If you’re in the mood for a very good laugh, get the riff that goes along with this. I promise, it’s funny.
This one is available on Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime. Whether you’re in the mood for a 1950s scare or an inadvertent comedy, give this one a try.