Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Stuck in an Abandoned Art Deco Insane Asylum with Famke Janssen, or Thoughts on House on Haunted Hill

By now you must be aware of my intense and almost pathological disdain for remakes, and yet here I am talking about another one I enjoy, Dark Castle’s House on Haunted Hill (1999).  This is the first of two William Castle remakes (the second being 2001’s Thirteen Ghosts), and stars Geoffrey Rush doing his best Vincent Price impression (complete with ascot) as Steven Price, a twisted theme park owner.  Famke Janssen, in an acting style that can only be described as slinky fatale, is his bored and bitter trophy wife Evelyn. 
To paraphrase F. Scott Fitzgerald the rich are different than you and me, and Evelyn decides to celebrate her birthday at the abandoned Vannacutt Institute for the Criminally Insane.  Five strangers are invited and presented with an intriguing challenge; if they can survive the night they’ll leave with a million dollars (this is lifted directly from the 1959 version, though back then it was only 10 grand).  The house of course, is haunted by the dead patients and staff, lead by none other than the always welcome Jeffrey Combs  as Dr. Richard Vannacutt.
A stylish high tech haunted house movie that is both respectful of the original and full of practical effects (at least until the overblown CGI finale), House on Haunted Hill features Chris Kattan, stealing every scene he’s in, Ali Larter, or Claire Redfield from the Resident Evil franchise, and Bridgette Wilson from IKnow What You Did Last Summer (1997).  Supermodel and impossibly handsome Taye Diggs, (who follows me on Twitter) is Eddie Baker, one of the guests, and be sure to look out for Lisa Loeb ref Fright night 2011 as a Channel 3 reporter (and James Marsden, you know, Spike from Buffy The Vampire Slayer as her camera guy).

my first novel?  thanks for asking:)  it’s a the first book in a 4-volume supernatural martial arts series chock full of killer kung-fu witches, haunted carnivals, punk rock assassins, and a 24-hour diner with the best pie in town…
read for free on kindle unlimited or buy the paperback, available at fine bookstores everywhere (amazon).