Haunted house movies

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Snarky's Ghost, Aug 8, 2017.

  1. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    William Castle's HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1959) has all of the right elements to make up a nifty haunted house movie, and yet none of them at all.

    And it's certainly not to be confused with any number of similarly titled pictures (or their remakes) like HOUSE ON TELEGRAPH HILL, THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE, or, Jesus knows, the 1963 original THE HAUNTING (of Hill House) among many, many others.

    But in this one, HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, an eccentric millionaire pays a group of people he's never met before $50,000 to spend one night in a mansion with a murder laden history.

    The cast is actually quite good -- Vincent Price is, of course, the eccentric millionaire; Carol Ohmart (who could be Meryl Streep's mother if you see her in SPIDER BABY from 1964) is his wife, Annabelle, the couple convinced that each is trying to kill the other in what might be a kinky game of homicidal slap-and-tickle; Nora Manning (played by Carolyn Craig, a terrific screamer and someone who was murdered in real life) a low-level employee of Price whom he's never seen; Richard Long as the down-to-earth Lance Schroeder; Ruth Bridgers (Julie Mitchum) is a columnist with a gambling addiction; and Elisha Cook Jr. as Watson Pritchard, the group's token drunk who waxes on at the drop of a disembodied head about how many murders have occurred in the mansion and how none of the guests have a chance of surviving the night once the ghosts start coming for them.

    The only weak link -- and he almost kills the entire thing, as it were -- is Alan Marshal as Dr. David Trent, a psychiatrist studying "hysteria." The actor's a stiff, and all any William Castle movie needs is a cast member as inert as the script.

    [​IMG]

    They all get party favors in the form of guns in tiny coffins, they wander from room to room learning who once got murder in each one, they mosey through the basement where a vat of acid still bubbles beneath the floor, and there's thunder and lightning, too, usually accompanied by one of Nora's impassioned screams.

    And there are two creepy housekeepers, Jonas Slydes and his wife who looks just like my mother does now, inside and out:

    [​IMG]

    The end of movie makes no sense at all, and as the closing credits roll you realize you've seen absolutely no ghosts, that the characters have experienced no symptoms of ghosts being there whatsoever, yet Elisha Cook assures us it's the only truly haunted house in the world.

    Spoooooooooky.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2017
  2. darkshadows38

    darkshadows38 Soap Chat Fan

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    funny i was just about to post that one. honestly i LOVE the remake and while most remakes are utter shit that one is one of my favorites. did anyone mention The Haunting of Hell house" ? and oldie from (1973)
     
  3. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    It's only mentioned in the very last post. But no one's discussed it yet.
     
  4. darkshadows38

    darkshadows38 Soap Chat Fan

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    ahh good. as for the Original house on haunted hill you are right there are no real ghosts but here is the thing i think that it was implied and that Price's wife though she wasn't a ghost at all was suppose to be one hence a ghost. and honestly let's face it, it's got the perfect ending to a great film.
     
  5. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    Errrrrrmmmmmmm.....
     
  6. darkshadows38

    darkshadows38 Soap Chat Fan

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    it's a B movie from the late 50's with a low budget what do ya expect from a film from that era ya know?
     
  7. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    Now what would this scene be a metaphor for -- beginning around 02:00 ?

     
  8. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    I'm not entirely sure if this qualifies as a haunted house movie or not, but not seen for decades and long-considered the holy grail for horror fans is THE GHOST OF SIERRA DE COBRE (1964) originally shot as a TV pilot by Joseph Stefano (PSYCHO's screenwriter), rejected by network executives for being "too scary" and the only known copy in existence in the hands of recently-deceased Martin Landau, is finally being released on DVD and Blu-ray October 30th.

    Former kids (mostly outside of the U.S.) who saw it on TV in the '60s have often described it as the scariest thing they ever saw, and they never forgot it.


    [​IMG]
     
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  9. Willie O! Tannenbaum

    Willie O! Tannenbaum drilling for soap

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    I watched this movie today. I'm afraid the house did nothing for me (the garden scenes were the best) but the child actors were very good.

    "Kiss me, Miss Giddens" - now that was quite peculiar!
     
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  10. Willie O! Tannenbaum

    Willie O! Tannenbaum drilling for soap

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    I think the house should be the star of the haunted house movie genre. It should be about evil energy, although it probably gets infected by the evil energy of humans.
    But I don't need to see ghosts or killers or whatever orchestrating those eerie events.

    Like some people are born evil, I think it's possible that a house (especially a very big and beautiful house) creates its own evil energy when its being built. A strange combination of vanity, cruelty and a taste for melodrama.
    After all, it doesn't really make sense that a human would build such a monstrosity to live in, maybe some of these houses embrace that insanity and narcissism.

    Of course I don't mean tacky movies like Paranormal Activity, no no no, it should always be a grotesque house, full of beautiful and bizarre details, strange proportions - but not too obvious. There must be "room" for questions.
     
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  11. ginnyfan

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    ^^^^^ Have you seen The Haunting (1963) ? It's the ultimate, evil, haunted house movie.

    [​IMG]
     
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  12. Willie O! Tannenbaum

    Willie O! Tannenbaum drilling for soap

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    No, only the remake, which was as beautiful as it was boring.
     
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  13. ginnyfan

    ginnyfan Soap Chat Member

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    Oh dear, that remake is one of the worst things to ever appear on screen.:censer:

    You should really check out the original movie because the house in it is pretty much what you described here.

    In fact they use a line that goes something like '' a house that was born bad'' in the move itself.

    Here's the trailer.

     
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  14. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    OMG! Not the remake!!

    The 1963 original is the closest cinema can get to doing a haunted house movie right.
     
  15. Snarky's Ghost

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    Well, now that I've seen THE GHOST OF SIERRA DE COBRE (1965), it's very heavily atmospheric, with a sometimes startling sound track. It looks and feels more like a cross between an early DARK SHADOWS episode and a B&W instalment of NIGHT GALLERY than it does TWILIGHT ZONE (it was intended to be a TZ-type series had CBS chosen to pick up the pilot). It also kept reminding me a bit of Seth Holt's Hammer film TASTE OF FEAR (1961).

    I can see how kids in the '60s found TGOSDC so intensely spooky. It is.

    Dame Judith Anderson is on hand to provide the Scorpio Rising creepy factor (although didn't anybody tell Judy that being billed with your title isn't protocol??) Of course, she and perpetually brittle Diane Baker are the stars of this thing. Don't miss Martin Landau's endearing seaside duck walk in the first reel.

    [​IMG]

    Oh, look, Popmatters just did a little review of it today:

    https://www.popmatters.com/ghost-of...no-2613941069.html?rebelltitem=5#rebelltitem5
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2018
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  16. Snarky's Ghost

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    A nifty little B-plus movie I just saw again for the first time in years, THE SHUTTERED ROOM features Carol Lynley at her most comely as a young NYC woman haunted by her childhood past on an isolated island off the New England coast (although it was actually filmed in Olde England). Her older husband is a pre-murder/suicide Gig Young who suffers a predisposition for those unconvincing period movie judo moves which permit him to fight off a gang of local toughs all by himself. Her Aunt Agatha (Flora Robson) lives in a cool lighthouse tower, windswept earth queen of all she surveys, warning the town folk to stay away from the old mill house where little Lynley was raised until she was four, the mill fraught with a gruesome curse -- and it's most important that Lynley herself stay the furthest away of anybody, her parents both struck by lightning long ago.

    Naturally, she and daddy-hubby move right in to the dilapidated building.

    Like so many thrillers of this era, the principles are compelled to drive far into the country to find their spooky story, and then have trouble getting away from it. The picture is photographed in moody style, with those gauzy shots which change focus from foreground to background quickly, so common in the late-'60s and early-'70s and contribute nicely to any claustrophobic atmosphere, in this case enhanced by the brooding locations and pensive jazzy score mostly by Basil Kirchin. And the actors are all good. Oliver Reed is on hand to provide the Scorpio Rising creepy factor.

    Is this a haunted house movie? Most of the island seems to think so. And the real life locals were appalled when the film company received permission to burn the ancient mill house, and then did just that -- shutters and all -- for the cameras in May of 1966.

    Some people think the concluding revelation is a letdown, but with a film like this, the deliciously wretched ambience is the whole point.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2018
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  17. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    A pre-GODFATHER Francis Coppola shot DEMENTIA 13 for exploitation producer extraordinaire Roger Corman for a few thousand dollars -- Corman wanted sickening gore for the post-PSYCHO era and was reportedly enraged when he saw there was little such violence in the completed project, demanding at least one extraneous murder be added.

    DEMENTIA 13 takes place in a shuddery Irish castle although most of the family seems pretty darned American. After Luana Anders' fat husband has a coronary in a paddling boat on a lake at midnight and she tosses him overboard and pretends he's still alive so she won't get cut out of his mother's will, the Haloran family converges on the castle for an annual ceremony to memorialize Kathleen, the young daughter who'd drowned on the estate years earlier. The girl's surviving brothers, William Campbell and Bart Patton, seem burdened with the memory, but so does their dismissively disapproving mama (Ethne Dunne, who seems more Italian than Irish, but whatever) who believes she's receiving messages from defunct, deeply dunked daughter Kathleen. Patrick Magee is the family doctor on hand to feign authority and figure stuff out.

    Oh, and there's the occasional axe murder.

    Not a lot of it makes much sense, but the atmosphere is rich. And it has all the requisite attributes of a gothic story of this type, especially one from the early-'60s: a haunted child's eye view of emotionally-scarring old murders, often involving something or someone in a lake, some kind of ghostly nursery rhyme ("fishy, fishy in the brook...") , a tragic revelation which shocks everybody, a bottomlessly poignant atmosphere yet cold as ice.

    Just wish the movie was a little better.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2018 at 4:42 PM
  18. Michael Yule Torrance

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    I am having such a hard time with horror movies, because the more they show the less scary they become. In this sense, among those in the last few decades, I have only really enjoyed "Paranormal Activity," which takes place in a house even if it is not the house that is haunted.
    As for actually haunted house movies, I think the 1961 original of the appropriate title is the best.
     
  19. Snarky's Ghost

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    Yeah, that's something I'm terribly opinionated about (imagine that??). Through the mid-'60s, there was an implicit moral center to horror movies: no matter how scary the monster, human or otherwise, the camera is always sympathetic to the victim. Even in PSYCHO, where you were expected to shift sympathy mid-film from victim Janet Leigh to perpetrator Norman Bates, that sympathy was almost reasonable because Norman was so sad and pathetic.

    From the late-'60s onward, along with a myriad of other profound cultural changes, horror films became increasing advocates for The Killer and, more importantly, what the killer was doing. There were some late-'60s shockers which were so repellant and snuffy in their sadism, they trump even more graphic films of later decades or the present; it was the recreational tone of dizzying cruelty.

    Then, with the silly and mostly artless slasher films from the '80s, everything seemed to become a numbers game -- how many cheerleaders and their witless boyfriends can be dumped in a pile in the high school gymnasium?

    In the post-SAW cinematic world, it's even more grisly, obviously. But gory thrillers are now so accustomed to their freedom to "go there" they're almost bored with themselves.

    My point being that any story too fawning of its killer and the blood and sinew he creates is intrinsically so morally muddled that anything as organic as simple scariness is impossible. Which is why the more graphic the movie, the less frightening --- except, possible, sociologically.

    That said, even as a kid -- and I mean literally a child in my first decade of life -- I could see the patterns of horror movies in terms of decades: the 1930s, with all those Universal monster movies, had this raw, hollow, echo-y (the early sound equipment, one assumes) simple sort of vibe; the 1940s horror films were always set inside seaside castles and houses and very physically atmospheric; an additional creepiness entered the genre in the 1950s when, along with the quiet hysteria over The Bomb, horror blended with sci-fi in a "something is wrong with Nature" motif; but I quickly realized the spookiest of any of these eras was the early-'60s, that PSYCHO/ColdWar/JFK/TwilightZone valley where all they had to do was turn a camera on and it was eerie -- even some sitcoms and TV dramas of the period, let alone horror films... it seemed Ground Zero for this kind of material, with no era able to do it more purely, as if the veil between this world and the next had temporarily thinned. Seriously. And it still does,

    As I said, the late-'60s films became more mean-spirited. The early-'70s had a wonderful, shrouded, melancholy mood to their thrillers, where the muted hue/value/register of the color seemed almost its equivalent of B&W (although devil worship was a common theme, not something I find all that compelling). Again, I didn't care for the post-HALLOWEEN brand of shlock-horror from the '80s where even "serious" films like POLTERGEIST had the wrong tone entirely (a dark closet houses a blinding spotlight??). The '90s made an effort to have horror films go straight again, and things like SE7EN and SILENCE OF THE LAMBS serial killer pictures were decent efforts, but I still found the excess in dismember-y slaughter too off-putting and certainly not terribly creepy.

    But that's just me.

    In a late-'90s interview, Janet Leigh reflected something that I had thought before -- that the effect of the legendary shower scene in PSYCHO was derived not from how much you saw or how much you didn't see, but by the orchestration of both, and that that's the combination, when carefully blended, that gets inside the audience's collective and individual brains and sticks with you.

    [​IMG]
     
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  20. Michael Yule Torrance

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    I loved the philosophical idea behind SE7EN but the gore made it appear less serious. As for Silence of the Lambs, the scariest scene is not one of dismembering, but of Clarisse going to meet Hannibal for the first time. But directors don't trust in their film enough to deliver it without the body count expected by the slasher-loving crowd.
     

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