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The House on Haunted Hill (re-make)

Yesterday I watched another re-make (a much more satisfying one, I must say.) I ordered the 1999 re-make of The House on Haunted Hill from Amazon, and sat down to watch it when I got home from work. Now, I must admit that I have never seen the original, so I had no real basis of comparison. However, I will say that the movie pretty much scared the shit out of me, and that's a good thing. I'd probably rank it right alongside Thirteen Ghosts (the remake with Tony Shaloub) and The Frighteners as far as scary movies go. I think to appreciate movies like this, you have to be able to set aside the thinking adult part of your brain and watch with your kid brain--the part of your brain that doesn't consider things like "How are they affording this?" or "Are they REALLY that stupid?" The movie was set in a 1930s era abandoned insane asylum, so right off you've got the super-creepy going on, and the building they used was fantastic. The lead characters were played by Taye Diggs and Ali Larter (Final Destination) and both of them did a great job being sympathetic, but still multi-dimensional. Less well-played were the other members of the ensemble cast. I'm not saying they were bad, just...not as good. Geoffrey Rush played the Vincent Price-like Mr. Price complete with dinky mustache. As usually happens when Rush is allowed any freedom, he immediately began munching the scenery, and didn't stop until the end--luckily, that was sort of what his character was all about, and he was funny, so it wasn't unpleasant. Peter Gallegher and Famke Jansson couldn't act their way out of a paper bag with flashlights and machetes, so I wasn't too disappointed by their wooden performances. Chris Kattan was...Chris Kattan. He was still kind of annoying, but you could tell he was trying really really hard to tone it down. The special effects were fairly impressive (and even more entertaining if you get the DVD and watch the extras featuring the director's explanations of how they were done) and I have to say they definitely managed to keep up a mood of tension and suspense throughout. Mind you, the plot is a bit scattered and it's clear that if you're looking for true character development, you've come to the wrong place. But if you just want to be creeped out and spooked, I recommend this one. (And as I mentioned before, the extras are pretty good. There are a lot of explanations from the director on how various effects were achieved, and also a featurette on adapting the movie from the original William Castle version that's pretty interesting.)

You know, if I were trapped in some house of horrors, you can bet the last thing I'd do is prance down into the super-super-creepy basement with a mere penlight all by myself. Instead, I'd have my butt planted sqare in front of the front door, and I'd be clinging on to whomever I could get ahold of.

I think this may indicate that I am in fact a coward...or that I have common sense. I guess it depends on how you look at it.


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