Released theatrically on October 29th 1999, House on Haunted Hill was the debut film produced by production company Dark Castle Entertainment that was founded by film-makers Joel Silver, Robert Zemeckis and Gilbert Adler. The goal of the newly formed company was to remake William Castle’s horror films of the 1950s and 60s but fortunately moved on to producing original films after only two remakes; the other being the abysmal Thir13en Ghosts from 2001. House on Haunted Hill performed poorly both critically and financially, falling over $3 million dollars short of its $40 million budget. It’s become mostly forgotten by horror fans, pushed into that far dark corner where many other horror remakes and unwanted sequels dwell. I however have been a huge fan since seeing it at my local cinema back in ‘99. The engrossing atmosphere combined with plenty of shock value along with some very twisted and horrific imagery plus the visually striking production design created a movie-going experience that was truly terrifying and memorable. The film also pay wonderful homage to the Castle’s original, mainly through the film’s star Geoffrey Rush as amusement park mogul Steven Price who’s in Vincent Price mode the entire time but with a slightly more sinister edge.
I enjoy revisiting this much underrated remake again and again, experiencing the same sensations I felt when first seeing it 15 years ago. And remembering how much of a crush I had on Ali Later at the time. It still is a funky old house, ain’t it?