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House On Haunted Hill – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

Way back when, which “when” is October the ninth of 2018, Scream Factory unleashed the 1999 remake of William Castle’s House On Haunted Hill. The original was a Vincent Price classic, and in a time when remakes weren’t really a thing yet, this got a 1990s Scream-era makeover. And oddly, its been one of them that’s been absent from the Blu-ray library this whole time. There has been a German release from 2010 and a Spanish region one from 2014. For those who can’t import or go region free, it does them no good. But when someone like Scream Factory gets the helm, it makes it somewhat worth the wait. The straight to video sequel of all things, has been available this whole time though. Heck, that came out during one the inaugural years of the format, even! This Collector’s Edition ports over all the bonus materials on the previous release as well as a couple of new interviews. None of the cast came back though, sorry. Order yourself a copy of this classic now by clicking the Amazon link following the review.

Film 

A millionaire with theatrical tendencies, Stephen Price invites a number of people to stay in a vast creepy building that used to be an insane asylum. Stephen, accompanied by his bitter wife, Evelyn, offers a million dollars to anyone who can stay the whole night without leaving out of fear. When Stephen and Evelyn become trapped with their guests, they quickly realize that the house really is haunted — and the spirits dwelling within are very angry.

Its crazy, I’ve long been a fan of the 1999 remake of House On Haunted Hill. I saw it opening weekend in the theater. It was also a Halloween weekend movie too. I enjoyed it quite a bit, but I don’t remember it having positive reviews or being that well liked. Scooch forward now and it seemingly has a pretty positive legacy following it around. I’m pretty sure in the heat of the moment, that discussion probably wasn’t trending upward.

William Malone’s big feat here is that he assembled quite a star studded cast for the film (Back then and now, actually). Geoffrey Rush and Famke Jannssn chew up so much scenery and have a great repor when they are together in a scene. They even have a hand in horror street cred by having the one and only Herbert West, aka Re-Animator aka Jeffrey Combs. Many other recognizable faces here do well, too. It was a typical 90s things to float heads on a poster with their horror film and young hot names to sell it on.

One thing that’s very cool in this film is that it has some pretty legit gore going on and it nonchalantly goes about flaunting it. You wouldn’t think this movie or era would provide something as ruthless as this, but here we are. There are some good head traumas and impalements seen (Real or unreal). There is also a little hint or homage at times to the late 1970s/early 1980s bright red blood from the inspired Giallo subgenre.

House On Haunted Hill was a terrific modern (for its time) makeover of the classic William Castle tale. It manages to both do its own things while keeping story beats and a narrative intact. It carries a lot of the 1990s characterizations and fun along with it while actually crafting out a real sense of dread and genuine jumps. As mentioned, I’m happy to see this one land a positive legacy as I don’t remember it having a warm reception upon release. Its a solid little horror film, able to stand with the original as a compliment or its own kind of separate cinematic entity.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: House On Haunted Hill boasts a new 2K scan from the original film elements. Overall, this is a rock solid transfer that is a very nice improvement over the DVD edition that we all held onto for too long. Details are strong enough, though notably better in close-up and medium shots.

Depth:  There is some decent spacing going on here. Its not the best, but there’s some good separation of character and background during this interior based movie. Movements are more confident and cinematic in appearance with little distortion issues.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and plenty consuming at times. While no crushing was witnessed, there is a bit of murkiness in some of the lower level exploration stuff and information does get lost in the shadows here and there.

Color Reproduction: This one doesn’t feature a wildly vivid experience, but does have some nice reds and blood can splash quite brightly here. When appropriate a color will give a little bit of pop from the screen.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish of the film. Details are strong in close-ups and most medium shots.

Noise/Artifacts: N/A

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: House On Haunted Hill debuts on US Blu-ray with a deep, rocking 5.1 track. This thing can get in your face during appropriate times where it wants and/or needs too. Some things land harder than others, but its all plenty effective. Intricate detailing and layering is okay, but could have been better. Overall, this is more than going to get it done for most people.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: This track has some good intensity to it, pounding with gear turning, glass shatter, music stings and much more.

Surround Sound Presentation: A lot of motion and action is handled and traveled upon up front with those three channels. The rear channels are utilized in building and crafting ambiance for the house as well as giving musical cues (Like Marilyn Manson’s take on “Sweet Dreams”) a concert feel.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clean and clear.

Extras 

House On Haunted Hill – Collector’s Edition comes with reversible cover art featuring the original theatrical poster.

Audio Commentary

  • With Director William Malone

Interview With Director William Malone (HD, 37:30) – Malone doesn’t just talk about his career and doing this film, but he also does a pretty nice dive into the original movie as well.

Interview With Composer Don Davis (HD, 9:40) – Davis goes over his inspiration and the goals and experimentations he as a composer put in to making House On Haunted Hill.

Interview With Visual Effects Supervisor Robert Skotak (HD, 18:42) – He goes over different effects in the film while also giving a bit of a matter of fact approcah.

Concept Art And Storyboard Gallery (HD, 2:53)

Behind The Scenes Visual FX Gallery (HD, 5:44)

Movie Stills And Poster Gallery (HD, 4:37)

A Tale Of Two Houses: Vintage Featurette (SD, 19:14) – A comparison of the two films while putting a bit of a focus on the remake, because this is EPK stuff.

Behind The Visual FX: Vintage Featurette (SD, 7:01) 

Deleted Scenes (SD, 12:04) – Includes William Malone introductions about the scenes.

Theatrical Trailer (SD, 2:13)

TV Spots (SD, 1:05)

Summary 

House On Haunted is a fun and effective horror remake that still works today. Scream Factory has put out its first real Blu-ray release and given it the care it was able. The film has a nice, more than solid presentation in audio and video. Its a shame that zero of the cast came back to talk about the movie, but the interviews we do get are pretty awesome. Pick this one up easily if you enjoy haunted house films or the 1990s Scream-like films.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

1 Response to “House On Haunted Hill – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. tazz

    Just wondering if you’re going to update the Naptown Nerd blog again? Enjoy the retrospectives but noticed it hasn’t been updated in years