Boo! Boo! Boo!
Did I scare the piss out of you? Probably not, but then neither does Hollywood most of the time, and I bet I tried harder than those braindead starfuckers.
"The House on Haunted Hill" was not previewed for critics like most movies. Why? Well, studios don't preview movies they think suck. What I find amazing is that they don't realize more of their shit sucks. I mean, they'll happily send critics to free previews for Adam Sandler movies, and hand out free popcorn, and his shit is nasty. But if they make a cheesy horror movie with no pretensions, they're afraid critics will dump all over it. On the sucks-smelly-ass-scale, Haunted Hill is a masterpiece compared to almost anything starring Robin Williams.
It's a super-cheesy, cornball movie with the worst ending ever, but it's also scary in a fun-house kind of way. The way to watch it is like you would watch a porno. As a movie it's shit, but it's effective at delivering what you want - scary shit.
The house of the title is actually a massive old psychiatric facility that has been closed since its sadistic and insane director and all its violent patients burned to death in the thirties. Now, an amusement park magnate (Geoffrey Rush) who has made his fortune from scaring people has reopened the house to throw a birthday party for his wife (Famke Jannsen). Four strangers, and Chris Kattan (who I happily report dies a brutal death - but far too long into the movie) are invited to spend the night and whoever survives will win one million dollars. If anyone dies, their share of the money will be split amongst the others. Rush's plan is to subject them to a night of his manufactured chills and thrills and try to scare the piss right out their urethras, down their pants and onto the floor.
Once inside the clinic, however, the guests become trapped. Rush and Jannsen can't stand each other and spend the night trying to kill each other. The rest of the cast quickly discovers that the house really is haunted by the ghost of Dr. Vannacutt (Jeffrey Combs), the insane director, and he's a brutal fuck. As the real haunting and Rush's planned haunting get tangled, various people die, or appear to die, or just disappear. By morning, only two people survive. Believe me when I say it makes no difference (or sense) who survives because you never give a flying fuck about any of them. The thrill is in seeing them meet up with gruesome deaths.
And for the middle hour of the movie, there is some kick-ass bloodshed. Director William Malone doesn't shy away from making things freaky. One of the dumb actors goes into an abandoned operating room and sees through her camera viewfinder the images of ghosts performing a surgery. Wham, she's axed to bits. Faceless mummies creep around, a pale head of a man with a zippered mouth appears. Rush is tossed into a dizzying, murderous zoetrope, and the basement is crowded with dissected corpses. It's packed with so much spooky gore that at least some of this shit is sure to keep you awake. Heck, it's a haunted nuthouse, so everywhere they go there is antiquated, bloody and rusting medical equipment under buzzing lights.
The plot is incredibly lame. Not stupid, not inexplicable, but lame beyond belief. It's like the creaky pulleys of the fun house. You know it's all mechanical and it's only there to get you to the next scare. And the plotting is like a porno. In a porno all you want is the fucking and sucking, but they have to put in some breaks of hack dialog and lame acting so the sex has a context and doesn't become a boring long orgy. Well, here the scares are separated by lame acting and the worst dialog since "Look Who's Talking Now."
"The House on Haunted Hill" doesn't know whether it is about the people, the house, or the ghosts in the house. Personally, I wanted more ghosts fucking shit up, and less "It's the house" nonsense. The subplot of who is trying to kill who is all right, but sort of raised and dropped as needed. And you are expected to believe utter nonsense, such as one character is saved after he explains to the house that he was adopted, or that characters would spend a whole night, even after people have died, walking around going, "I'm so scared here in the creepy basement. I want to get out of here. Oh, what's behind this door?"
The acting is cheesier than the white stuff you find under a guy's foreskin if he doesn't bathe for a few weeks. That was fine with me, though, because the people are just props and reasons for scary shit. The writer doesn't even bother trying to get us to like them. Geoffrey Rush bites into his role with all the relish of a community theater actor on angel dust and it's kind of fun to watch. I think he knows he's acting like a retard. The rest of the cast is completely interchangeable and forgettable. One exception is the caterpillar eyebrows of Peter Gallagher, which threaten to leap off the screen and devour children. Oh, and Chris Kattan proves once again that he probably is the most annoying man alive. His voice has the pleasantness of a cheese grater across your shin, he looks like a goat, and he's about as funny as blood in your stool.
The dialog is so chock-a-block with unnecessary uses of the word "fuck" by everyone all the time that I thought maybe Quentin Tarantino polished the script. They say "Fan-fucking-tastic" and "spec-fucking-tacular" and probably "boo-fucking-bies" and "fu-fucking-cking." Not a sentence can get past Mr. bad-ass script writer Dick Beebe without him tossing in the big word. I suppose it's to make the characters tough, but if fuck is such a tough word and I say it all the time, how come I got the shit beat out of me in the Safeway parking lot by two trenchcoat teenagers? Fuck.
And the ending is so fucking bad that it's amazing even a syphillitic monkey wouldn't have noticed during production. When
Getting hacked up is spooky, crazy ghost killers are spooky,
furry bush is not unless it's got lice. Three fingers
for the scares, but a suggestion to anyone who wants to see "The
House on Haunted Hill." Leave as soon as you see the pubic