52 SONGS

...the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

House on Haunted Hill

75 min. | Dir. William Castle | NR

There are few better ways to prepare for Halloween than by spending time with Vincent "Thriller" Price, who stars in this gleefully ridiculous movie, directed by huckster auteur William Castle, a filmmaker who used to drive from town to town and rig up the theatres showing his movies for a truly interactive experience. For The Tingler he wired selected seats to electrically jolt moviegoers at key “boo!” moments. This movie, Haunted Hill, featured a climax where a skeleton came toward the camera and then magically burst through the screen to fly over the audience’s heads1. (Don’t expect the Bay to reproduce this effect: it requires destroying the screen.) Vincent Price plays a mad millionaire with a bombshell of an unfaithful wife (his fourth!), who invites assorted broadly drawn characters to a party at the titular house, promising $10,000 to each guest who makes it through the night without fleeing, or getting murdered. They arrive to the party in hearses. What else do you want from a movie? (Saturday through Wednesday at the Bay Theatre in Seal Beach.) //CHRIS DAVIDSON

[Published in the current print edition of The District.]

1. I wrote a poem called "Halloween" that includes this particular episode from cinema history.

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