House on Haunted Hill (1959)

Old Man Winter finally decided to visit Reno. There’s nothing better on a chilly winter evening, than hot-buttered popcorn and a classic fright flick.

Five strangers are invited to a haunted house party thrown by millionaire, Frederick Loren and his fourth wife, Anabelle. The only thing the five have in common is a desperate need for money. Each member of the party who survives the night will receive $10,000. The house is reputed to be haunted by spirits of those who were murdered there. For “party favors” Loren gives a loaded gun to each of his guests. But can mere bullets offer protection against murderous spirits?

Vincent Price’s performance alone makes this film worth watching. He infuses a sense of menacing grace to millionaire, Frederick Loren. The film features another notable icon. A national landmark, the Ennis House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright makes a cameo appearance as the exterior of the haunted house.

Even with the usual features of a haunted mansion (creepy servants and a chandelier that suddenly plummets to the ground) it becomes apparent that the guests have more to fear of the darker side of human nature than what may lurking in the shadows. Readers what are some of your favorite classic fright flicks?


  1. I love the premise of this movie. I keep toying with the idea for a book that's similar. Extended family gathers at a creepy old house for a reunion, but one of them turns up dead.

    As for favorite horror flicks - I don't think I've watched one since college. I loved American Werewolf in London - probably for the comedy elements.

    Great post!

  2. Now I want to go rent that movie! Hmmm. Maybe I can find it at iTunes or something. :-)

    Two of the horror movies that affected me most deeply in life:
    At eight years old, the Leo G. Carroll 1950s flick about the giant spider. Can't remember the name, but I will never forget the scene where it climbs over the foothills, appearing inch by horrifying fuzzy tarantula inch (scarier in B&W)!!! I had nightmares for weeks!

    The other one, much later in life: The Shining. Even now, when the slow pace (compared to today's movies) drives me crazy, I refuse to watch that movie alone. "Daddy's home!" *shudder*

    Great blog, as always!

  3. Well, I agree, Vincent Price makes this movie. I bought a DVD of it a while back and both my girls liked it, too. Sure, it's dated, but the creepy factor still had power. lol

    Scary movies-- I really like the Werewolf in London. As a kid, I liked Vincent's Price's the Last Man on Earth. It was part of the pack set of DVDs I purchased for my girls to watch. The movie was really cheesy, but as a kid I thought it was scary. lol My girls thought it was funny more than scary. lol

    I really liked the remake with Will Smith, 'I Am Legend."

  4. Jannine,
    A gathering at a haunted house is a great premise. Actually, 1999 they did a remake staring Geoffrey Rush and the surviving guests receive $1,000,000 (how's that for inflation?) I haven't seen the remake yet, but it is on my TBW list.

    The images from The Shining stay with you long after the fade to black--not one to watch alone! I discovered The House on Haunted Hill on a Horror Classics DVD--with a total of 50 flicks. I believe the 1959 version is public domain.
    Karen Michelle,
    I really like the Werewolf in London and I am Legend. It is always interesting to see the spin remakes do on older movies.

  5. I remember watching this movie long ago and absolutely loved it. There's nothing like the old horror classics. Vincent Price was the greatest. Creepy and refined all at the same time.

  6. Isabella,
    I agree, the classics are the best. Another favorite leading man of horror for me is Bela Lugosi. He also has a sinister sort of elegance. Thanks for stopping by!


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