(Author’s note: I wrote this movie review while watching the movie, and it’s too long to proof read, so there are probably mistakes all over the place. Read at your own risk. Also, there are spoilers, if it’s possible to spoil a movie that’s six years old.)
All right, kids, here’s what we’re rollin’ with tonight: a few beers, a bottle of whiskey, a bag of beef jerky, a can of Pringles, and the 1999 version of House On Haunted Hill—which I picked up for four bucks the other day. In a perfect world, I would also be chain smoking, but I don’t get to do that anymore, as it kills me, and some of my loved ones don’t like that idea (although some of my loved ones think that anything that gets me off the planet a little quicker can’t be a bad thing).
I watched this movie back in the day, when it first came out, and I remember being pretty unimpressed. It’s got Famke Janssen in it though, as well as Bridgette Wilson. In case you don’t recognize these names, Famke Janssen is the hottie from the movie Rounders (not Matt Damon’s bitchy girlfriend, but the cool chick) and Jean Grey from the X-Men movies. Bridgette Wilson is the hottie from the Mortal Kombat movie and Billy Madison. I’m sure they’ve been in other stuff, too, but unfortunately, those are the first movies that pop into my head. I think it should be said that I had movie-star crushes on both of these women when I was younger.
I think it should also be said that I’m not good at scary movies—even scary movies that aren’t scary scare me. What can I say, man? My imagination takes up where the crappy film making leaves off, and I end up freaking my shit out for days. Also, I don’t like it when shit jumps out at you, you know? I mention this only because I never would have watched this movie if it weren’t for the aforementioned women.
Anymore, I have all the pretty woman I need, so the only reason I bought this movie was because I was walking by and saw that it was on sale for four bucks. I’m an idiot, okay?
Anyways, enough about that. Grab a beer, grab a seat, and smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em, because it’s time for another Really Long Review.
Credits, and some pretty wicked claymation action going on. Like if Gumby had a nightmare, this is what you’d be seeing. Lots of creepy images flashing real quick on the screen, as was all the rage in horror movies a few years back—you know, bloody fingers, a doll’s head, the words Chris Kattan. Oh, shit, this is going to be even more frightening than I remember.
Creepy whispering, screaming child, blah, blah, blah. Pretty terrifying, I suppose, unless you work in customer service—then it’s just another day at work. Which is also pretty terrifying, when you get right down to it.
Okay, shh—the movie’s starting. I think I just saw the house on haunted hill. How you gonna buy this place without realizing your shit’s going to be whacked out?
Some guy, he’s putting on a record, sharpening his pencil, and suddenly you see a doctor performing a surgery, cutting this guy open, I don’t know why. A nurse is recording it, and the mental patients look in from the windows. Wait. Mental patients? Oh yeah. Everywhere. The guy that was sharpening those pencils earlier? Yeah, he just got stabbed with them.
The doctor performing the surgery? Dead. Nurses? Tops ripped off, then killed. Why were their tops ripped off? So we could see a little boob, and now we have a real horror flick. You can tell it’s going to be scary if they flash a little tit at you right off, right? Wrong. I would flash tit at the very beginning of a total crap movie, just to keep you watching. But that’s just me. Nevermind the boob flash, and nevermind that I picked this up in the bargain bin.
Okay, now there’s a black and white news reel, “All but five perish” it says. I think it’s a clue. Okay, so this doctor guy, he was killing patients, I guess.
Ah, and here is Famke, in the bathtub! Covered by bubbles, watching a news report about the house on haunted hill. She’s calling her husband—he’s got an amusement park, I guess. He hangs up, and we’re suddenly following this guy around instead of hanging with Famke in the tub. That’s why this thing was only four bucks.
Okay, so they’re going up in the elevator, and it’s suddenly breaking, they’re falling, they’re going to die! But wait…just a trick.
So the people are on the roller coaster now, and the track breaks, oh no! They’re all going to—oh, wait…nope, just another trick. So now Famke and her husband are talking about her birthday. He’s supposed to make a list of the people that are invited, but because him and his wife aren’t getting along, he decides to put people on there that she doesn’t like. But wait! What’s this? After he leaves the desk, his computer erases everything and starts typing by itself.
Why doesn’t my computer type by itself? That would be so much simpler than me having to drink all this alcohol.
Anyways, so we see the guests being brought out to the house on haunted hill, and there’s Bridgette. Also, there are some other people…not important. So you’ll know who I’m talking about, though, we’ve got: Blonde chick, guy with glasses that looks like he should be on soap operas, token black guy (actually played by Taye Diggs, whom—or is it “who?” I never remember, and I don’t care to learn—my princess has admitted that she thinks is hot. We’ll hope he dies), and…shit. Here’s Chris Kattan, and he’s already being annoying as hell. He’ll be dubbed annoying guy from now on.
Apparently, annoying guy is supposed to be getting everyone up to the house—he’s in a frantic hurry, talking all fast and…well, being annoying as hell, still.
They get up to the house, it’s very magnificent, and the music plays all majestic.
They get into the house, and Bridgette busts out a camera and takes a picture of the stained glass ceiling. Annoying guy has to explain that it scared him when he was a child. I don’t know why. We find out that Bridgette used to have a TV show, and she’s wanting some wacky footage so that she can get her own show again (hence the camera).
And in walks Famke. She brings in her bags, drops them, asks the people who they are, and the stained glass ceiling shatters, raining shards down everywhere. Taye saves the day, knocking Famke out from under the three-foot pice of glass that slams into the table.
Then her husband shows up, and teases annoying guy because apparently annoying guy’s father and grandfather were killed by the house. We are now subjected to a shitpile of terrible dialogue, in which time I suggest you drink a bunch of booze. Oop, but here’s something that might be important to the story—the guy that was working at the amusement park is now sitting down in a control room, turning dials and eating a sandwich. What does it mean? Ah-ha, I think it means that the husband has rigged the house to be tricky, just like he did at the amusement park. How devilishly clever.
The control guy, he’s looking at all kind of monitors that show various scenes from all over the house. He’s got it all under control, right? Oh, we shall see. We shall see.
Switch to Famke arguing with her husband about the guest list. She congratulates him on picking the stupid guest list, and he congratulates her right back fro hacking his computer and changing the guest list. See, because if the self-typing computer wasn’t clue enough, we now have this little tiff about the guest list, just so we’ll know that something fishy is going on.
But Famke is looking pretty hot, so whatever. And now they’re arguing about her failed attempts to kill him (I guess she once stabbed him with a not-quite retractable knife, and once gave him poisoned Kool-Aid). He pulls her hair and she bites his hand, because they’re fighting. Whatever.
Back downstairs, the husband tells all of the guests about how they get a million dollars for staying in the house over night. Annoying guy wants to leave, and he’s all annoying about it. So the husband writes a check for him, but doesn’t give it to him. Annoying guy gets more annoying. He finally gets his check, but wait! What could it be?
Giant gears in the house, and the house suddenly seals itself up completely. And annoying guy is still inside, dammit. “The house is alive,” he says, “We’re all gonna die.”
And yet, he’s still alive. Rats.
Now everyone gets mad because the husband locked them in, and the black guy and the blonde decide to disable the “lockdown.”
More dialogue—which from this point on will be called “choppy chop,” because dialogue is too hard for me to type—and suddenly the husband is giving everyone guns. They’re store in a bunch of little coffins which are, in turn, stored in a big coffin.
So now annoying guy, black guy, and blonde chick are going downstairs, annoying guy being really, really, annoying. He turns on the light, and we’re suddenly subjected to all sorts of weird…I don’t know if they’re statues or what. It looks like a guy riding a horse, but neither of them have any skin. And then the ceiling falls down and almost hits the blonde chick. Black guy pulls her out of the way, and she tells him he’s pretty handy.
Husband is in the basement with control room guy, telling him that it was a good trick with the lockdown, but control room guy says that it wasn’t him. Oooh.
Husband joins annoying guy, black guy, and blonde chick, and they find some room that’s supposed to be sealed off with brick. They look at it for a second, and then they head off. But the camera stays. And then it zooms in, and we see that the wall is bleeding. That’s how you know that the house on haunted hill is haunted. Because subtlety, right?
Cut back to the exploration crew, they’ve happened upon an electroshock therapy room. Annoying guy tells us the mad scientist from back in the day like to shock people in groups of eighteen. I guess that’s supposed to be creepy, I don’t know. In my head, I can’t stop thinking about a bunch of bitchy customers, “Hey, were are we going?”
“Don’t worry, ladies and gentlemen, we’re just going to get you a new TV.”
“But I had a computer.”
“Yeah, we’ll get you a computer. Just take a left at the end of the hall.”
“What happened to the last eighteen people you brought down here?”
“One thing I for sure didn’t do was fry ‘em in groups of eighteen, just like that movie about the house on haunted hill.”
“Well, that’s a relief, then.”
See the unhealthy grip my job has on me? The haunted house on the haunted hill doesn’t have nothin’ on a good ole fashioned shitty job, huh?
But I digress.
So they stumble into yet another room that would better remain undiscovered, and this one has a big metal box in it called the “saturation chamber.” Apparently, the mad scientist would put people in there and show them all kinds of terrifying stuff. “What would drive a sane man mad would drive a mad man sane,” annoying guy tells us.
And I feel like this is sort of irony, this guy that is driving me batshit crazy saying this line. If this theory is correct, after watching a movie full of Chris Kattan, I’ll either be crazy by the end of this review or more sane than ever. Depends on how I started out, I guess.
Uh-oh, black guy and blonde chick are suddenly separated, how did this happen? Perhaps because they’re in a horror movie. Annoying guy and the husband are now wandering down an entirely different dark, creepy hallway.
Blonde girl, in all her horror movie wisdom, decides to fool around with the electric wires, sticking her bare hand way back in the hidden recesses of the wall. She fixes some of the lights, and then her and black guy flirt around a little bit. More choppy chop. Black guy accuses her of lying about who she is.
She mutters on and on, and finally admits that she’s actually just an assistant to an executive, not an actual executive. The whole time she’s muttering on and on, she’s walking down the hallways, and guess what? When she finally waits for a response from black guy, instead of just rambling on and on, she realizes that she’s all by herself.
And then she sees someone walking down the deserted hallway in a really terrifying manner, and immediately assumes that it’s just him. She runs after the terrifying guy, ignoring that he’s standing around all creepy, all the while totally convinced that it’s just black guy trying to “creep her out.”
And when she sees the thing standing under the light, twitching in a horrifying manner, all fast and scary and noisy, what does she do? She calls out, “Eddie?” That’s the black guy’s name in the movie, by the way.
One thing you should all know, this is not Eddie. I mean, even if you were totally not expecting a ghost to show up, you would know that this thing is a ghost. Like if you were at your sister’s birthday party, and the clown comes out, he’s making balloon animals, your sister is opening her gifts, and you happened to look around and see this thing, you would totally know it was a ghost. Now if you’re standing around in the dungeon of a haunted mental institution? Blonde chick is a moron.
But then guess what? It’s Eddie! And he jumps into a giant vat of blood! So she reaches in to the vat of blood, to save a complete stranger! I’m sorry, boys and girls, but if I just met you ten minutes ago, and you’re already jumping into a vat of blood, you keep that shit to yourself. I’m going to grab a Hot Pocket or something. Bullshit about reaching in after you.
I think that this blonde chick has problems with wanting to be loved or something, though, because she runs up, she’s all floundering around in the blood, and suddenly Eddie walks up and asks her what the hell she’s doing. And then whatever it is she’s been trying to grab suddenly grabs her! Eek!
So she’s being pulled into the giant vat of blood, screaming, resisting, all that. You know what Eddie does? He stands there, watching. Is he going to jump into the giant vat of blood for this blonde chick he just met? Hell no, he’s not, and I’m suddenly starting to agree with my princess about this guy being the shit.
They make their way back to the rest of the group, and annoying guy and husband are already there, and annoying guy keeps talking about evil. Choppy chop.
But somehow, Bridgette has wondered off by herself, into the haunted house. Here’s the thing I remember hating about this movie—here’s this chick that I had a Hollywood crush on ( a Hollywood crush meaning I knew I would never get this chick, but I might think about it sometimes when I was, um…eating breakfast), but she’s doing all this stupid crap that makes me hate her. You don’t wander off to the basement of a haunted house by yourself! You don’t even do it in a group! You sit your ass down in the middle of an empty room, and you make everyone else sit there, too, and you hope that you make it to the end of the movie alive.
I hate when people do dumb shit in movies. Especially when I’m trying real hard to like the character. Like imagine if your dad was cast to play the part of a creep that raped little kids. You watch that movie, you’re never going to want to be alone in a room with him again, I bet.
Anyways, so she’s all by herself, and ghosts start flying by her, all kinds of loud noises and crazy camera shots. I think I’m going to have a shot of my own. Okay.
All right, so she’s walking around with her camera, looking through the view finder, and she suddenly sees the mad doctor working on a patient. But when she lowers the camera—nothing. Raises the camera—mad scientist. And now him and all his nurses stop working on the patient and all look at her. She turns around and looks down the hall—another ghost. And suddenly there’s that fast-motion shot of the creature coming for her (also all the rage) and another one of those rapid-fire, quick image shots of gross stuff.
I watch it frame by frame and here’s what I see: creepy guy standing there, creepy guy suddenly right in your face, all messed-up looking, and screaming…he does that for a long time, and then you see a couple of demon heads, all blurry. And then two naked chicks with blood running out of their mouths. Where the hell did that come from? Maybe they’re the nurses, I don’t know. Cool that they’re naked though, even if it is too bad about the blood. Then a shot of some corpse doctor or something, reaching for someone who is clearly not Bridgette. Then a lady with her lipstick all messed up, some guy making a weird face (I bet you anything that’s the director), more of the girl that’s not Bridgette (I think it’s her stunt double that’s supposed to be her, but I could be very wrong about that), a dead naked lady hanging from chains, also with blood running from her mouth (same stunt lady), a zombie-looking creature, or maybe the director’s grandma, oh! And then the grandma’s head exploded into a mirror-shot of shaving cream (if you want to know exactly what I mean: 47:13—that means you have to wait a couple days for me to get a screen shot), another bloody mouth (this one missing a tooth, and with another tooth that’s all black).
And then Bridgette screams, and then we’re back in the central hall with the rest of the crew. They all wonder why they just hear her scream, and Famke makes some catty remark. Annoying guy says that she’s dead, remarks upon her cuteness, and mentions that he would like to get laid before he died. He looks to Famke, but she just glares at him.
The group goes exploring, and they find Bridgette’s camera. Someone makes the cliché remark about how she couldn’t just disappear into thin air, and blonde chick follows the trail of blood up to the corner of the room and jumps to the conclusion that Bridgette has disappeared not into thin air, but into the house. I’m sorry, what I should have said was choppy chop. My bad.
Back to the central room, annoying guy is drinking, black guy is all mad, and blonde chick is working on Bridgette’s camera. What they see on the screen is a bloody hand. Choppy chop.
Famke shoots the liquor glasses with her gun, makes a threat to the rest of the group, and goes to bed.
And then—because this is exactly what you’re supposed to do if members of your group are getting killed one by one—the rest of the group disbands. Husband goes down to bitch at control room guy, but finds that control room guy has no face. It’s pretty nasty-looking, like if you scooped out the middle of a cherry pie and left the crust. The husband is all horrified, but manages to look up at the monitors and sees the ghost of the mad scientist running around the house.
Then we get a montage of the group doing various things around the house—black guy and blonde chick trying to break out of the house, the guy with glasses roaming around by himself, annoying guy looking through a book or something, and the husband looking around for the mad scientist.
The montage ends with all the lights flickering, and the group all meets up in the basement again. They run down the hall and find out that the reason the lights are all flickering is because Famke is being electrocuted. What next? She’s dead, with blood pouring out of her mouth. Yeah, that seems to be a running theme in this movie, is blood coming out of your mouth.
Anyways, so now the husband decides that he loves his wife, and immediately starts blaming everyone else for killing her. He pulls a gun, and the black guy knocks him around a bit and takes the gun away. After beating him unconscious, they lock husband up in the saturation chamber, with glasses guy standing guard.
Black guy, blonde chick, and annoying guy all leave. And then, I guess because glasses guy is just a complete dick, he turns on the saturation chamber. And instead of just closing his eyes and putting his fingers in his ears, the husband goes mad. Moron.
Black guy and blonde girl have somehow managed to lose annoying guy again.
Switch back to the chamber, the images that are supposed to drive a sane man mad and a mad man sane. You know what it is? Flashy lights, and a picture of a butler playing basketball. Whoop, I hope I didn’t cause any of you to lose your sanity (or your madness) just now. But, yep, a butler bouncing a basketball. Uh-oh, but now he’s smiling his butler smile. And now he’s laughing his butler laugh! What next?
Only frame-by-frame can tell. And, ummmm…well, not much else, really. Upon closer inspection, I think it might be a volleyball instead of a basketball, and the picture’s a little blurry, like if you use the “oil-paint” option in Photoshop, and they zoom in real close on his tongue, but that’s about it.
What a gyp.
Oh, but we’re suddenly in a new scene, the husband is on a gurney, he’s got some sort of Michael Jackson face mask on, and he’s suddenly in a room with the naked girl hanging from a chain, and the two naked chicks kneeling (from earlier, when Bridgette was being ghost-molested), and yes, everyone has blood running from their mouths. The nurse with the bad lipstick, she tells the husband that he’s been sick, and then they wrap his head up in plastic and drop him in a tank full of water. Then they seal the tank with butterfly nuts, just so you know it’s secure.
So the husband, he’s swimming, swimming, all over the place, I don’t know it this is just a massive tank or some sort of homage to Trainspotting, but this guy is swimming all over the place. He keeps passing naked women, and I think they’re all dead. I don’t recognize them, though, and I’m not sure if it’s different women, or just the one. And then I see an effect that I’m amazed by. Sort of.
He swims up to one naked chick, and blood starts coming out of her mouth (big surprise there, right?), but what’s cool is it’s just like Sin City—everything is black and white, except for the blood, which is bright red. Not nearly as cool as Sin City, but still. If this is the idea that Robert Rodriguez built from, this whole shitty movie is worthwhile.
So yeah, naked woman, blood from her mouth, and then suddenly it switches to this chick screaming, but instead of a face, she just has this gaping maw full of sharp teeth. And then he’s back in that chamber thing. And there’s the butler again, holding the ball. But wait! It’s not a basketball at all!
It’s a red volleyball! I knew it, man. I freakin’ knew it! Evil butlers always got a volleyball, you know? The butler throws it to some girl that I don’t know, and she bounces it a couple times. But then, eew, it’s the husband’s head instead of the ball, and then we see him back in the chamber, huddled in the corner, a sane man driven mad, I guess. The camera zooms out, and we see that the glasses guy is gone.
Cut to black guy and blonde girl, they’re in some office, and black guy found a picture on the wall. And the blonde girl suddenly realizes that all the guests invited were from the line of the original five people that escaped—all the evil assistants or whatever from back in the day. And then there’s annoying guy again, talking about evil and being annoying.
Ah, but then they realize that Blackburn’s name isn’t on there. “Who’s Blackburn?” You ask. Funny—I asked that same question. It’s the glasses guy, the guy that’s barely had any screen time so far. You know how I know? Because it cuts to him, he’s sneaking in where Famke is dead on the table—I guess they just left her there after she fried to death, what with having to haul her husband to the loony tank or whatever.
So he’s there wiping up that blood that poured out of her mouth earlier, and then he’s making out with her, feeling her up and things, whatever. Then he gives her an injection, and she suddenly wakes up and kisses him back.
Ah-ha. Another trick. Choppy chop, choppy chop, and choppy chop.
What it boils down to is this: Famke is trying to pull off some elaborate thing, I don’t know what, but she was having an affair with glasses guy, and then, BAM! She stabss him. Over and over again. I don’t know, man—chicks are weird.
Dramatic death shot, annnnnd…moving along.
Annoying guy is drunk. Black guy and blonde standing around.
And now someone walking in a dress. Who could it be? Walking to the crazy tank and dumping the husband out on the floor.
Bloody tools, everyone yelling, annoying guy being annoying.
All right, I hate to admit it, but this next scene is my favorite part. Blonde chick, black guy, and annoying guy, they all storm back to the saturation chamber, convinced that the husband is responsible for all this. And they see glasses guy looking through the little glass portal in the metal door. They open the door, and BANG! His head is stuck to the glass, the rest of him falls out.
Okay, before you start calling me a lunatic, I want you to know that this is not my favorite part because of the decapitated head. I just like everyone’s expressions. You want to see ‘em, though, you just have to watch the movie. Good acting, in my opinion, if only for a moment.
Blondie is ready to kill now, I guess, walking around with her gun like she’s some sort of pimp. For about two seconds, then she’s afraid again, begging for companionship.
And there’s the husband again, out of nowhere, what’s he want? He’s all bloody, and I can’t understand a damn thing he’s saying. He’s begging for help. And she blows him away, man. Blam blam blam blough blough blam!
And here comes black guy and annoying guy, they escort her up stairs, telling her don’t look. And then here’s the lady in the dress again, walking to the dead husband.
It’s Famke, and she kneels down in front of him, and starts talking shit. And then…he wakes up and starts choking her.
He starts throwing her around, pulling off his special effects, he’s pissed off. And because he’s so dramatic, he starts making this huge speech about how he’s going to kill her, and then he…wait, what? He throws her through a brick wall! Did I somehow blunder into a bad comic book movie.
No. Sadly, no.
She’s on the floor, and suddenly this darkness (looks like shadows, but makes noises like those bugs on The Mummy) starts trying to get her. And the husband, he starts telling her get up, like he’s all concerned about her again, after throwing her through a brick wall.
Man, I’ve seen some on-again-off-again relationships, but once you’re throwing some broad through a brick wall, I think it’s time to call it quits.
Famke hangs out on the ground for a bit, just for the sake of drama, and then jumps up at the last instant, and the shadow bugs climb the wall and then attack her. And then she’s enveloped in shadowy hands, whatever, she becomes part of the house.
The husband finds Bridgette, finally, all dissected and pinned to the wall, and then the shadowy bug things come after him, too. This is where they just ran out of money, I think, because the special effect get all silly, and the movie starts making even less sense.
He runs runs runs, with alternating scenes of the rest of the crew trying to pry open the door. So they’re all in the hallway, he’s pounding on the door, and the cartoony shadow things are climbing the steps to get him. Annoying guy opens the door at the last minute, just as the husband falls to the side, and the cartoony shadow things grab annoying guy. He’s sucked to his death, and the husband escapes out to the hallway with blonde girl and black guy.
What follows is what is supposed to be a really intense escape scene, but what it really is, is a few people running from a cartoon. Then the floor starts exploding, and they’re running from that. Blonde girl and black guy run to the attic, husband runs to the basement. He starts beating on things with a pipe, I’m not sure why, but he loosens some gears, and the metal panels that have them all locked in start to rise. And then they’re running from the cartoon again.
Choppy chop, only this time with running instead of talking. The husband, he gets got, and turns in to what looks like burned leaves. Black guy pushes blonde chick out a window, but then the panel falls back, and he’s stuck inside with the shadow cartoon monster, whatever. And you know it does then? It starts talking shit.
Yeah, dude, this evil incarnate that has been just wiping everyone out in a matter of seconds, it now pauses to talk shit. And black guy he screams, “I have nothing to do with it—I was adopted!”
And then—get this—the ghost of annoying guy starts pulling on the chain that lifts the metal panel, so that black guy can escape, and blonde girl pulls him out. So they’re sitting out on the ledge, the sun’s up, and the blonde girl finds the checks—five million dollars or whatever. They chuckle gleefully, and then…pan out to the sea, and another shot of them sitting like twenty stories up on this house, and end credits.
A little Manson music, and the movie’s over.
So that’s that, kiddies. I’m going to try to get some screen shots of this stuff, but we’ll see—I think writing what is basically nine pages about a crappy movie constitutes more than enough wasted time. Should I really dedicate another hour or so getting pictures to go along with an article that no one will ever read all the way through? I don’t know, man—I might.
To tell you the truth, I kinda dig this movie. It’s gross and it’s ridiculous, and it’s got it’s plot holes, but I still dig it. It didn’t scare the shit out of me this time, but I think it could have, had I not been writing a ridiculously long review about it, and watching scenes in frame-by-frame. Should you buy it? If you can grab it for four bucks, yeah. Should you spend any more than that? Why not. But not much more.