A millionaire offers a group of diverse people $1m to spend the night in a haunted house with a horrifying past.
Release Date: 29 October 1999 (USA)
Director: William Malone
Writer: Robb White (story), Dick Beebe (screenplay)
Cast: Geoffrey Rush, Famke Janssen, Taye Diggs
When it comes to making remakes out of films that have already been successful, there are few instances where this actually works out. Films within the horror genre are especially prone to remakes with several being done in just the last year alone. House on Haunted Hill was first produced in 1959 with the amazing appeal of Vincent Price as Frederick Loren, an eccentric millionaire. While this movie did not go on to win any big awards it has been heralded as one of the best films within its genre. For many years this held true until director William Malone, and screenwriter Dick Beebe got a hold of Robb White’s original story. In 2000, they released the remake of this incredible suspenseful horror flick to the delight of many moviegoers.
Wasting no time getting into the action, suspense, and thrill of House on Haunted Hill, Malone sets the tone very early and continues it to the final end. Twists, turns, and major plot changes happen throughout to keep you guessing and feeling a little bit scared of being in your own home.
The updated version of the movie remains basically the same as the original. While the characters have all been given different names, the premise is the same. Stay locked in a haunted building (in this case an insane asylum) until morning and you will be able to win a cool $1,000,000. A rather unique group of people, from different walks of life, are given invitations to millionaire Stephen Price’s birthday. Thinking that it is going to be pretty easy to stay until morning, they quickly jump onto the invitation for dreams of big rewards. Little do they know that the house actually has other plans.
House on Haunted Hill stars a few of the more believable character actors for this type of genre. The enigmatic Geoffrey Rush plays the eccentric amusement park mogul Stephen Price. Add to the mix of party goers, his beautiful, but disinterested wife Evelyn (played by Famke Janssen) and you have a pretty volatile situation that is rife with not only suspense, but humor at the expense of Price. As the plot plays out you are given insight into the lives of the strangers who have been assembled for this night of becoming a millionaire. Taye Diggs, Peter Gallagher, Chris Kattan, Ali Larter, and Bridgette Wilson are all a part of the assembled cast. Characters that seem to work quite well together—at least until they begin scheming for the million dollar prize.
Viewers of House on Haunted Hill will be pleased that this remake does not follow the trend of others by being completely subpar to the previous. With a win for Taye Diggs in Favorite Supporting Actor – Horror at the Blockbuster Entertainments Awards, it has plenty of merit as a viable contender for top horror movie in recent years. Edge of the seat thrills, with just enough gore to make it good, and sudden revelations, twists, and turns all provide viewers with a very pleasant movie watching experience.