The text below the break is part of a theatrical review originally published on October 29, 1999*.
Here are some updated thoughts: The tagline “Evil Loves to Party” should have been enough to warn us away from this piece of shit movie. But it didn’t. Horror movies really have become a joke in the past couple of decades. Maybe it’s that many of us have become desensitized to things that would normally scare, terrify, or horrify us, so our view of the horror genre is strangely twisted. Today if you want a good horror story just turn on the world news and you can get your fix. People being slaughtered, murdered, tortured, beheaded, burned alive . . . anything. Less to inform and more to fulfill society’s sick fantasies while being gladly delivered by main stream media behind the veil of false concern. That mini-diatribe aside, this movie sucks. Yes, that’s a blunt, but true, assessment.
And of course it somehow spawned a sequel, with the original title of . . . Return to House on Haunted Hill. Yeah, that seems like a great idea. Let’s go BACK to the haunted insane asylum!
I was in such a festive mood Amy. I carried home a mini-pumpkin from work (the perks of working for a billion dollar company, woohoo!), it was a dark and rainy Friday night, and it was close to Halloween. I really wanted to be scared! But alas, today’s movie makers have lost all touch with all that is scary and creepy. Blood isn’t scary, a body without a head isn’t scary, and loud noises aren’t scary. All faux frights! I knew this movie has a paper-thin plot going it, but thought maybe, just maybe, the creepy-crawlies could at least make it entertaining. Well guess what? This plot is the weakest I’ve seen this year, almost to the point of being laughable. It is beyond paper-thin . . . it is on the molecular level! Five people stuck in a haunted house during the night. Those who survive split $5 million! Weak.
The underlying murder plot between the Prices does nothing to save this lame duck. The acting is campy at best, with the only good performance being put in by Saturday Night Live regular Chris Kattan who plays the part of comic relief. There were a few things in the movie that did creep me out. The blurry, shaking people kinda give me the willies . . . don’t know why, they just do. The rest of the movie was straight up dumb. And what’s the deal with Geoffrey Rush? He goes from winning an Academy Award for Shine, to making two pieces of crap like Mystery Men and House on Haunted Hill. His career is going down the toilet and he’s leaving skidmarks the whole way! Save this puppy for a rental . . . a cheap rental.
Wow . . . I didn’t think I could hate a movie much more than I hated Event Horizon after the whole “it’s pure Evil” thing, but I guess I can, and do! I had a feeling that this movie was simply going to be special effects eye candy, but it wasn’t even that. In fact, I was pissed off from the very beginning with the shaking camera and scratchy film of the opening credits. I should have just fallen asleep then and there and at least gotten in a good nap. At least Event Horizon started out good with an interesting story . . . it didn’t suck until near the end. House on Haunted Hill on the other hand went far beyond sucking . . . with an ending that was so incredibly pathetic that the screenwriters need to host their own little party at the house on Haunted Hill to put me out of my misery.
So, why am I even giving this bomb one star instead of the zero it deserves? Well, I did like a few things about it. I agree with you that Chris Kattan’s character was entertaining (minus the cheesy ending . . . give me a break!). I also liked the roller coaster scene in the beginning of the film — I dig roller coasters. Finally, as much as you find this completely disgusting, Neal, I like Marilyn Manson’s remake of the Eurythmic’s Sweet Dreams. You can take the girl out of the ’80s, but you can’t take the ’80’s out of the girl! So, my advice to all you Movie Fans is to find the mp3 of Sweet Dreams, visit your favorite amusement park for a thrill ride, take a nap for a couple of hours, and miss this movie at all cost (including the “cheap rental”)! Now, I need to go hide in the closet so I can freak Neal out with that whole shaking thing.
*Note: I’m revisiting and re-posting many older articles (almost 200) I’ve written (or contributed to) over the years, either for my own purposes or as contributions to other sites now long digitally decayed and dormant. These reviews/articles will appear in their nearly raw, unaltered form, with a few updated thoughts at the beginning of each.
He Said, She Said was a movie blog (before blogs were a thing) where Amy and I would go to movies and write short and easily accessible compare & contrast reviews. Sometimes we agreed . . . and sometimes not. Above all we never took the movies, or ourselves, too seriously.