Favorite things about… House on Haunted Hill (1959)

A note from Lindsey: Today is my birthday, and it is also the anniversary of the release of William Castle’s The Tingler! How lucky am I to share a birthday with one of my favorite films? To celebrate the release of that fantastic film (which I’ve already done a Favorite Things About… post for) and Castle’s work as a whole, I’m going to be spending the next couple of days taking part in the William Castle Blogathon. The Last Drive In and Goregirl’s Dungeon are the hosts of this wonderful event. Head over to their blogs to check out more William Castle-related fun, today through August 2!

The favorite film:
House on Haunted Hill, the ultimate camp-horror film, released in 1959 and directed by William Castle.

The synopsis:
Frederick Loren and Annabelle – his fourth wife – invite a group of strangers to a supposedly haunted house for a ghostly party. Frederick is a millionaire, and he’ll give $10,000 to anyone willing to attempt to survive an entire night in the house — provided that they do survive.

(Image: Wrong Side of the Art)

(Image: Wrong Side of the Art)

The cast:
Vincent Price as Frederick Loren
Carol Ohmart as Annabelle Loren
Elisha Cook as Watson Pritchard, the owner of the haunted house
Alan Marshal as Dr. David Trent, a party guest
Richard Long as Lance, a party guest
Carolyn Craig as Nora, a party guest

Fun facts:

  • The house used for the exterior shots in the film was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It was built in the 1920s and it is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
  • William Castle, always a king of the gimmicks, used the “Emergo” technique in theaters to make a skeleton float over the heads of the audience in the scene where the skeleton comes out of the vat of acid.
  • The film was shot in only 14 days, about six months prior to its release.
  • “Skeleton” is listed as playing himself in the film’s credits.
  • Remade in 1999 by director William Malone. The remake stars Geoffrey Rush and Taye Diggs.
  • Vincent Price liked the idea of the film so much that he agreed to make two films with William Castle if he could star. The second film was The Tingler (a TMP favorite!).
  • This film allegedly inspired Hitchcock to make Psycho, because he knew what a low budget Castle had worked with and saw how well the film did at the box office.  Alternately, Castle was a fan of Hitchcock’s work and imitated it in a few of his own films.
  • The film is in the public domain and has been released on DVD by both Warner Bros. and Fox, as well as many smaller DVD producers.
(Image: Wikimedia Commons)

(Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Favorite things:

  • The opening of a dark screen with huge screams
  • FLOATING VINCENT PRICE HEAD
  • “There’ll be food, and drink, and ghosts…”
  • Falling chandelier… DUN DUN DUNNNNN
  • “Friends? Do we have any friends?”
  • PLAYBOY KILLS WIFE WITH CHAMPAGNE CORK
  • “Do you remember the fun we had when you poisoned me?”
  • Seven ghosts… AND MORE BY MORNING
  • The ghosts “marking” their targets by sending “blood” droplets down from the ceiling
  • “I’VE NEVER SEEN SO MANY DOORS! Closet… bottles.” (And then Lance disappears!)
  • Amazing score
  • Hyst-ear-ia!
  • Lance and Nora: Working Together to Solve Ghostly Problems
  • Rigor mortis old lady “ghost”
  • “It doesn’t run away, it just FLOATS.”
  • Annabelle tells everyone not to go anywhere by themselves because the house is so SPOOOOOKY
  • Frederick’s constant bickering with Annabelle
  • “All you want to be is a lovely widow.”
  • COME WITH US BEFORE HE KILLLLLLS YOU, says the man who tries to kidnap Nora
  • The caretakers have locked them all in two minutes early! OH NO!
  • “Party favors” in mini-coffins
  • And by “party favors” I mean guns, of course
  • “Fear makes people do amazing things.”
  • “Would you like to see one of those heads? WOULD YOU ALL LIKE TO SEE ONE OF THOSE HEADS?”
  • “They’ve taken her! In a little while she’ll be one of them…”
  • Hanging not-dead Annabelle
  • “So beautiful… so greedy… so cold.”
  • “Pritchard, I’ve had enough of your spook talk.”
  • Everyone getting suspicious of Frederick
  • Let’s all isolate ourselves! There’s no such thing as power in numbers!
  • It is a dark and stormy night.
  • Hidden rooms! Trap doors! Barred windows! Oh my!
  • The “ghost” attacking Nora with the rope
  • The organ playing itself
  • Annabelle and her hanging harness
  • The skeleton scene!
  • The ending. YESSSSS to the fourth wall breakage.
(Image: Trailers from Hell)

(Image: Trailers from Hell)

wcb1

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21 thoughts on “Favorite things about… House on Haunted Hill (1959)

  1. This is THE BEST LIST… I’m so glad you’re here with us on Haunted Hill today. The William Castle Blogathon wouldn’t be the same without you! Thanks so much Lindsey- you’re a treasure that just keeps giving us gems- Cheers my friend

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  2. Pingback: Welcome to The William Castle Blogathon: Day One! | the last drive in

  3. Happy Birthday. Mine was three days ago on the 26th. Hope it’s a fabulous day for you. Awesome fun facts and favorite things list. I always loved the way that Nora said “heads”. :)

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  4. Pingback: DAY ONE of The William Castle Blogathon & Fun with GIFs: The Castle Edition! | GOREGIRL'S DUNGEON

  5. Happy Belated birthday Lindsay. This is one movie I need to watch. I just wish that I could have seen it when it was in theatres. Can you imagine if something like that was used in todays horror movies.

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    • Thanks! I would love to see any one of Castle’s films in a theater. I’m holding out hope that there will be a revival showing of The Tingler some day!

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  6. Great post! I love the Price/Castle films. There are so many cool things to love in this movie. Like: “Pritchard, I’ve had enough of your spook talk.” Just epic. Can’t wait for the rest of this blogathon. Happy belated birthday!

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  7. Hope you had a great birthday! I have this movie in my collection so I think you’ve just inspired me to watch it on my birthday as well (in August).

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  8. Pingback: Step Right Up! It’s The William Castle Blogathon: Day Two! | the last drive in

  9. Pingback: Step Right Up! It’s The William Castle Blogathon: Day Three! | the last drive in

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